Stocking Stuffers

child with presents under Christmas tree, image from ShutterstockStocking Stuffers: a reader asks…

Hi Coach, I’m shopping for stocking stuffers for my family, do you have a list of small tech things I could use?

While it’s a bit late for full-on online gift shopping (delivery before Christmas), stocking stuffers are easy to come by in a variety of stores. I do have a list and am happy to share it with you. These cover the gamut from kids to adults, and from physical things to apps, software and services. You can find many of these at Amazon.com or via a Google search. Be sure to avoid shopping at unknown sites, stick with well-known online shopping sites including Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, NewEgg.com, and Staples.com. Here’s my stocking stuffer list in no particular order:

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  • Thumb drive: the ubiquitous small item, these have come down enough in price that you can get a handful to stuff stockings. they come in all sizes, I wouldn’t bother with less than 8gb these days. Prices from $5-100.
  • Gift subscription to LastPass Premium, a leading password manager. $24 for one person for 1 year.
  • Smartphone Earbuds: easy to find, they come in all colors. You can’t have too many of these! You can go with wired earbuds for $10 and up, or wireless (Bluetooth) for $100 and up. I really like the Airpods for that iPhone user (at $160).
  • Dongles: For that new Mac owner who only has USB-C ports, you can get a variety of dongles that convert USB-C to other USB formats, or various video formats. There are even dongles that convert USB to Ethernet. Dongles are short adapters that convert from one plug type to another
  • Online Shopping: If they don’t already have it, buy them an Amazon Prime membership ($99/year) and make them oh-so-happy! There’s a boatload of benefits including a reading library, Amazon Prime Video and music library, not to mention free, fast shipping.
  • ravpower-6-port-usb-chargerUSB charger: You can buy a multi-plug charger to replace all those little charger wall warts on a power strip. I like a high-powered version like this one for $26.
  • Power Bank: a small battery that fits in a pocket, these can plug into your portable electronics and charge up their batteries. They come in all sizes and shapes. For the outdoorsy people, there’s even one that has solar charging capabilities.
  • Travel adapters: for that jet-setter, travel adapters convert electrical plugs from one type to another.
  • Power Strips: 2 plugs in an outlet is never enough, and a simple power strip can let you plug in more goodies. Be wary of the cheapest ones though, it’s worth sticking with a known brand like Belkin or APC
  • Spare Power Adapter: also for travelers, a spare power adapter for their laptop means they can leave one at home and have one in the laptop bag. Make sure you buy one that works with their particular brand/model of laptop – often easiest to buy from the laptop manufacturer.
  • FM/Bluetooth Transmitter: for the owner of an older car and a newer smartphone, this plugs into the cigarette lighter and lets you connect your smartphone to it via bluetooth. It retransmits any audio from the smartphone through an FM radio channel so they can listen to their tunes (Spotify, Pandora, etc.) through the car’s audio system.
  • Device Tracker: a small thing that clips onto your device and allows you to track its location. Such as the Tile Mate Key Finder, or
  • iTunes Gift Card: for the person who likes to buy music from iTunes, an iTunes gift card will be a very-much-appreciated gift, also if they like to buy apps for their smartphone. Google users may like a Google Play gift card.
  • Auto Mounting bracket for smartphone: Some clip into the vent louvers, some use magnetic mounts to secure a smartphone to a car for hands-free use. Way better than dropping the smartphone into a cup holder. I really like the Steelie Mag Mount.
  • Tablet: from an Apple iPad Mini to a Microsoft Surface Pro, there are tablets in all sizes. Hint: avoid the cheap knock-off tablets, stick with the higher-priced but reliable models from a well-known manufacturer.
  • Various video service logos, Hulu Plus, iTunes, Netflix, and amazon.comNetflix Gift Subscription: Available just about everywhere, this can give someone a years worth of entertainment. Alternatively, there are several others including Hulu Plus.
  • Chromecast or Fire TV Stick: Much less expensive than an Apple TV or Roku, these small devices can bring internet TV to any HDMI-capable television.
  • Small speaker: a Jambox or other small, wireless, battery-powered speaker can play tunes from your smartphone.
  • Cloud Storage: a gift subscription to one of the popular cloud-based file storage services, like Dropbox, can be an easy way to help someone backup their photos or other electronic files.
  • Smartphone: when money is no object, one of the newest smartphones, like the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S8, or iPhone (X or 8) would make great gifts.
  • Home Assistant: such as an Amazon Dot, Google Home Mini or their larger brethren can let you join in the home assistant wave that’s rising in popularity.
  • Stand for Smartphone: great for having Facetime, Duo, or Hangouts with your friends, a stand for the smartphone (like this one) is a smart gift!
  • Fitness Tracker: everything from a simple Fitbit to a fancy Apple Watch will fit nicely in the stocking. There’s even a fitness ring for a finger!
  • Smartphone Case: Find one to fit your giftee’s smartphone. Lots of different models including one that has a built-in wallet, one that has a built-in folding stand, and one that has a built-in ring stand.
  • Drone: from the small micro-drone toys, to cheaper drones with cameras, to full-size, high-end drones, there’s a drone for every budget.
  • Security Camera: A bit pricier than cheap IP cameras but much more secure, a Nest Cam IQ can monitor the inside of your home nicely. Or an outdoor version for monitoring your property.
  • Doorbell Camera: replace your current doorbell with a smart version like this one from Ring.com and be able to see visitors at your door from your smartphone
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