2019 TIRL Holiday Gift Guide — Treat Yo’ Self Edition

This isn’t a Holiday gift guide to help you figure out what to buy for your friends and family. Nope. This is a POST-Holiday gift guide to help you discover tech toys you didn’t receive as a gift and should go buy for YOURSELF. Yes, the Holidays are a season for giving. And giving is great. But there’s also a time to treat yo’self. And that time is now.

So without further ado, I present to you the 2019 Tech in Real Life Holiday Gift Guide — Treat Yo’ Self Edition!


Subscription services for products once purchased at your local drug store (razors, feminine products, toothbrushes) are all the rage these days. Quip is one such product that is trying to tackle bad dental hygiene habits. The Company feels that the sleek, user-focused design of its toothbrushes is all that is needed to break those bad habits (i.e. not brushing long enough, not changing your brush head regularly enough). Oh, and it also offers an automatic-refill program for the brush heads and toothpaste. Full disclosure, I haven’t actually TRIED a Quip brush myself, but I’ve been intrigued by them and might give one a shot at some point. You can’t pause your subscription (yet), but you CAN skip a refill and cancel your subscription at any time.

Tom’s Guide has a pretty good review that you can check out if you’re interested in doing a little more research before taking the plunge.

Cost: You purchase the toothbrush upfront for about $45-50. The refills will cost you $5 a month if you choose the subscription plan, or you can pre-pay for the refills upfront and save a few bucks. All in, a year with Quip will cost you about $55-60. They also offer couples and family packages.


I have always been a fan of Bose’s portable speakers, and I actually bought Cody this one for Christmas. The sound is great, it’s waterproof (shower music, yay!), and has great battery life. It also comes in a few fun colors (I’m a sucker for colors), and is very reasonably priced. This alternative was pretty popular over the holidays too and is comparably priced!

Cost: $99


Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire Stick, and the Roku Stick are streaming beasts. All of them will give you access to thousands of services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Now, Pandora, Spotify, and Sling TV (to name a few). Where these really shine above and beyond Google’s Chromecast is their great user experience, intuitive menus, and standalone remotes. Depending on which version you buy, you can even stream 4K and HDR if you have a compatible TV.

Cost: Roku Streaming Stick+ is $60

Cost: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is $50

Cost: Apple TV’s 4K version will cost you between $180-200 depending on the storage size


I listed Google’s Chromecast by itself because (IMO) it’s a streaming device that you should have on TOP of one of the others listed above. While it WILL stream many of the same services as a Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV, I like that it also easily “casts” content from your Chrome mobile browser onto your TV. That has come in handy MANY times when there has been something I’ve wanted to quickly share with someone at our house (or something they’ve wanted to share with us). Yes, Apple TV can use AirPlay to screen-mirror what is on your iPhone, but yes, Apple TV is also much more expensive and doesn’t work with Android phones. The Chromecast is super affordable and I love that it tucks away neatly behind your TV. It doesn’t come with a controller and doesn’t have a standalone app, but again, that’s why you should have one of the other devices too!

Cost: $35


I’m a child of the 80’s/90’s so the original Nintendo was my first foray into the world of video games. While I struggle to build gaming hours into my often boring, always over-scheduled adult life, there’s nothing like turning this baby on for a few minutes, firing up Mario Kart, and reminiscing about simpler times. They can be hard to find, but if you DO find one, the price-tag is hard to beat. Nintendo released a mini version of the OG Nintendo as well, so if you have the money, it’s totally worth picking up both for your collection!

Cost: $80


It’s thinner, lighter, and water-resistant, and continues to do what Kindles do best: hold hundreds (if not thousands) of your favorite books, comics, and magazines. I am still a fan of physical books, but you can’t beat a Kindle for traveling. I’m often bouncing between a couple of books at any given time and being able to throw a Kindle in my bag instead of lugging around multiple books has been a game-changer. Additionally, these things last FOR-EVER. I JUST upgraded to this version of the Paperwhite after owning my previous version for 5-6 years.

Cost: $130 (this will change slightly based on the storage size you choose and whether you allow “sponsored content” to appear on your Kindle’s home screen — which I can assure you is actually not as annoying as it sounds!).


I’ve written about these devices before, and in 2019 I’m still a fan of smartwatches and activity trackers. Fitbit finally came out with a model that is fairly comparable to an Apple Watch (definitely in looks, a little less in features), and costs a lot less. Bottom line: if you want a TRUE smartwatch, you use Apple products, and you can pony up a little extra money, I think the Apple Watch is the way to go. If what you really want is a device that will track your steps, exercise, heart-rate, and sleep and need something more reasonably priced, then Fitbit’s Versa is a very worthy compromise. For the record, I wear an Apple Watch and Cody wears a Fitbit Versa and we’re both happy with our choices!


$400 for the basic casing and GPS but no NO cellular capabilities (can’t use it to make phone calls unless it’s connected to your phone)

$500 for the basic casing and GPS + Cellular (CAN make phone calls even if your phone isn’t in range)

$700 for the nicer casing and GPS + Cellular

$800 for the nicer casing, a fancy band, and GPS + Cellular

Apple also has some outrageously priced Hermès models but let’s not even go there…

Cost: $200 for the basic version of the Versa; and $220 for the Special Edition Versa (comes with an extra band and Fitbit Pay, which is like Apple Pay)

Fitbit is running a sale right now through 1/19/19 and you can get $30 off both models!


Ahhh, vacuums. What an adult purchase. Before companies like Dyson and Roomba came onto the scene, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a vacuum on any tech gift holiday list. But times have changed, my friends! Now, these are hot, must-have household items. And since they do carry such hefty price tags, great items to ask someone else to pay for! This one is actually on MY wish list, so hopefully we’ll strike on one at some point this year. Being able to vacuum without snagging the stupid cord on everything in my path will be a beautiful thing.

Note: Dyson offers several different models within its cordless vacuum series (because why not make things more complicated!), but after a little bit of research I’ve determined that the V8 Absolute is the one to get. And it’s currently $100 off on Dyson’s website!

Cost: $400 (regularly $500)


I wrote a gushing post about my beloved AirPods and how I felt they were THE best tech purchase I had made in a very long time when I bought them back in late 2016. You’ll be happy to know that I STILL feel that way, and even though I think the battery has taken a little bit of a hit, they’re still going strong.

There ARE some rumors that Apple is about to release a “refresh” to the original AirPods (finally!). So while I think the biggest difference is that they will have wireless charging capabilities (right now you have to put them in the case and plug the case into the wall), you may want to wait a month before you pull the trigger and potentially end up with an outdated version.

Cost: $160

And finally, if you aren’t an “Apple person” or Apple’s earbuds don’t fit comfortably in your ears, these Jabras seem to be a pretty popular alternative.

Cost: $165


Loopy Cases and Popsockets are two other products that I wrote about in 2017. As I’ve mentioned before, I have always HATED the idea of putting a case on my phone. Despite the potentially devastating consequences of going “naked”, I’ve always been willing to take the risk in order to enjoy the beautiful aesthetics of the modern day smartphone. However, now that we have a dog and we spend more and more time around small children, I realize that having a case on my phone is probably the wise thing to do. So while phones in cases crush my soul a little bit, I guess that’s better than a broken phone crushing my wallet.

I’m currently rocking a Loopy Case and I’m actually loving it more than a little bit. Not only do I no longer have to worry about Dexter (our puppy) knocking my phone off the table or out of my hand while we’re taking a walk, but the loop makes it so much easier to hold and carry if I’ve got a bunch of other things in my hands. I’ve also used Popsockets in the past, and love them too. They have tons of fun designs, and you can even upload your own image. If you already have a case you love, then sticking a Popsocket on the back shouldn’t be a huge adjustment.

Cost: $40 for a basic Loopy Case (what I have), and $50 for one with extra protection (thicker); you can also buy additional loops in various colors to customize the look of your case.

Loopy is having a New Year’s sale right now and you can get 10% off one case, or 15% off two or more (until 1/19). When that expires, you can use the promo code of one of my favorite Instagram follows Ashlee Nichols: ASHLEE10 (10% off one case), ASHLEE15 (15% off two or more). And no, we’re not friends — she has no idea who I am!

Cost: $10 for most Popsockets; $15 for some of their “special edition” options


In my 2018 New Year’s Tech Housekeeping post I wrote about moving my phone out of our bedroom and using a traditional alarm clock to wake me up instead of my phone. Of all the small changes I made to the way I use tech in my everyday life, this was probably the one that had the biggest impact. I have never had an issue sleeping (I could sleep late and nap every day!), but I didn’t like my PHONE being the last thing I looked at before I went to bed, and the first thing I reached for when I woke up. It became a bad habit and getting an alarm clock was a great way to force myself to break it. This Philips alarm clock is actually NOT the one I own (I have this Sony one and have been happy with it), but I’ve heard good things about it and the idea that it slowly wakes you up by simulating natural sunlight is intriguing!

Cost: $90


Cody and I are big Shark Tank fans. We don’t watch a TON of cable TV other than sports, but Shark Tank is one show that we record on our DVR and will throw on when we’re in need of some couch time at the end of the day. Phone Soap was an interesting product that showed up on a recent episode, and unbeknownst to me, Cody bought me one as a Christmas gift. Essentially it claims to sanitize your filthy, germ-covered cell phone with UV light. I used it for the first time today and I hope it worked! I try not to think about how dirty my phone is. And don’t get me started on OTHER people’s phones. Yuck. People’s hands are dirty so their phones (that never leave their hands) are dirty — that fact is unavoidable. But Phone Soap is here to give you a little piece of mind.

Cost: $60


I’m the last person anyone should be coming to for beauty tips, but even I have BASIC personal care needs — and as a woman, a decent hairdryer is one of them. Truthfully, I balked at the idea of a $400 hairdyer, but after reading the reviews for Dyson’s fancy offering, my interest was piqued. I still haven’t actually purchased one, but it might make it onto my birthday gift list. If you’re a man reading this you may question the sanity of a woman that would pay this kind of money for a hair dryer. But just trust us. Sometimes it’s worth paying for quality — especially when it comes to something as precious as the hair on your head.

Cost: $400; or get an even FANCIER 24k gold version for an extra $100 (!!)


I own an Away suitcase and shared my thoughts on it in this post from last year. Spoiler alert: I love it. It’s not the cheapest luggage you can buy, but if you travel even a LITTLE bit you should invest in a decent set of luggage. I used to be the girl that bought cheap luggage over and over again and just kept throwing it out when it either broke or got worn out, but Away changed the way I thought about luggage. The company is fantastic; the quality is great; and I Iove the simple, understated look. And the built-in USB charging port has saved me more than once. If you’re in the market for a new piece of luggage, do yourself a favor and pick up the “The Bigger Carry-On”. Try it out, and then you can decide if it’s worth upgrading the other pieces of your luggage set.

Cost: $245 for The Bigger Carry-On; prices on their other sizes range from $225-345


I’ve been wanting to pick up a portable photo printer for a while, and I just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Canon’s offering seems to be on par with all the other printers I’ve seen out there (Kodak, HP), but I’m partial to Canon. It will print peel-and-stick 2 x 3 photos from your smartphone photo album or your social media accounts, and you can also customize the photos with emojis, text, and other doodles before you print. The downside is obviously having to buy the special photo paper needed for the printer, but that’s par for the course with these things.

Cost: $100; you can get a 50-sheet pack of photo paper for $25


Similar to a portable photo printer, these somewhat-gimmicky Kodak-esque cameras have become trendy these days. Surprise, I own one! It’s definitely more of a fun little toy than a must-have device, but I’ve taken it on several trips and we even ended up using it at our wedding reception. The camera itself is fairly inexpensive, but like the photo printers, you’ll end up investing a bit more in the special photo paper that the camera requires.

Cost: $55 for the camera; you can get a 60-sheet pack of photo paper for $35-40


While I’m completely useless when it comes to beauty and fashion, I’m not AWFUL in the kitchen. I try to make most of our food at home and our crockpot/slow-cooker was on heavy rotation until we received an Instant Pot as a wedding gift. This thing is A-MAZING. Like, 10x more amazing than a slow-cooker — which is saying a lot because we all know how incredible it is to be able to throw a bunch of raw ingredients into a pot and then open it up 4-5 hours later and find a perfectly cooked meal. We haven’t even used all of the different settings and functions on the Instant Pot, but already the biggest game-changer is that it takes SO MUCH LESS TIME to cook things. Example: I can make soup in 30 min versus 4 hours. I am not going to go as far as to say you should get rid of your slow-cooker, but if you cook a lot, you should definitely add this to your lineup of kitchen appliances.

Cost: $130 for the 6-quart model (you can pay a little more or a little less depending on how big of a pot you want)


I was hesitant to recommend these two because a) I feel like they are an almost too-obvious tech gift and recommending them seems kind of overdone, and b) Cody and I have BOTH in our house but have recently been debating if we should throw them in the trash. More on that later. But, since they showed up on every tech holiday gift list, I figured I might as well have them on mine too. Both devices will do a lot of different things, but we mostly use ours to: ask them to play a particular song, set an alarm, turn off the lights (we have some smart lightbulbs), check the time or the weather, and get answers to random questions. While these devices are becoming more and more useful, they are also becoming more and more creepy. But if you’re of the mindset that usefulness outweighs creepiness, then by all means!

Cost: $75 for the standard Echo; $150 for the Echo Plus; $30 for an Echo Dot

Cost: $130 for the Google Home, but it’s on sale for $90 right now!


Staying with the idea of “fancy” staples for your home, air purifiers have come a long way since the basic options you could pick up at Walmart or Target. Nowadays people (including us!) are OBSESSED with the air quality in their homes. Whether it’s because of allergies or just because you live in an area with (what you deem to be) poor air quality, people are dropping significant dollars to clean up the air in their homes. These are three of the top-of-the-line offerings on the market right now. I know they’re (very) pricey, but if cleaner air is your thing, I think any of these would be good long-term investments.

Note: All of these require you to purchase replacement filters at some point; be sure to check the details on each website to learn how frequently they need to be changed.

Cost: $650 for the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool

Cost: $800 for the Molekule

Cost: $600 for the Airmega 400 (this baby will cover ~ 1,600 sq ft of living space)


Tangled headphones are one of life’s greatest mysteries. Put them in your pocket for 3 hours — tangled. Put them in your pocket for 30 seconds — tangled. Only God knows how and why this happens. So that’s why I thought this clever little item should make the list. Taking a few extra seconds to wrap them up will save you who-knows-how-many minutes of aggravation fumbling around trying to detangle them. And at only $6, it’s also a very small price to pay to solve one of life’s biggest small annoyances!

Cost: $6


I think I was one of Tile’s very first customers — way back when they were on Kickstarter. So I’m happy to see that they’ve “made it”. This little gadget will solve ANOTHER one of life’s biggest small annoyances — misplacing your keys, wallet, purse, [insert any other small item here]. You pair the Tile with their mobile app, and as long as whatever item you’ve stuck the Tile on is within 300 ft (Bluetooth range), you can “ring” your Tile and it will play a sound to help you locate your stuff. Alternatively, if you have your Tile, but can’t find your phone, you can have the Tile “ring” your phone. My only complaints (at the time) were that the findable range was kind of small, and the volume of the ring/music that plays when you are trying to locate your misplaced item was low (so if my keys were under the couch cushion it was hard to hear the ring/music). Here’s hoping they’ve improved both of those areas in this latest version.

Cost: $35


It’s because of gadgets like this that we’ve spent about as much money on our puppy as some people spend on a human child. It’s a real problem. We haven’t bought this (yet) because we don’t leave Dexter home alone very much (yet). But when we’re ready to start leaving him by himself, this might find a place in our home. Not only is it a pet camera with 2-way audio (so you can talk to your furry friend when you’re not there!), but it also allows you to toss him/her a treat (or several!). And all this is done through a convenient Android/iPhone app. Brilliant.

Note: Furbo appears to be testing out a new “Furbo Nanny” subscription service that allows for a few extra features (cloud recording, doggie selfies (!?), and other questionably useful features). It looks like if you buy a Furbo Camera, you’ll get a free trial of Furbo Nanny.

Cost: $200; you can get a $25 coupon if you subscribe to their email list


This is basically a really nice looking dock for your MacBook. I don’t own one, but I’d like to. We have a small home office with a small desk, and every inch of it is always covered with stuff. So this stand would help maximize the space while still being able to connect my laptop to an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

Cost: $50


If all else fails and you either have everything on this list, or aren’t interested in owning them, there’s always the option to gift yourself a subscription. There are LITERALLY hundreds of different services and tools that you can purchase via subscription — and many of them can be pre-paid for a year if you’d rather not rack up another monthly charge. Prices obviously vary, but many of them are under $100/year!

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