Not to be cynical, but like, what happened, Amazon? You search for cool holiday gifts, and next thing you know there are 47 sponsored listings for the same item, from brands like XIPOSIRPOWR and HARINGOH-783.
On the other hand, Amazon is often where a lot of small businesses launch, where specialty toys have their own storefronts when they don’t yet have distribution (and don’t get squeezed on wholesale margins), and where cool brands offer some exclusive collabs. It’s just a little hard to find the good stuff sometimes.
It’s also where you can get amazing deals on big-ticket items like electronics and appliances, without having to pay a ton for shipping.
Amazon can also be an important launching pad for up-and-coming authors, especially if they make trending and best-seller lists. We’re pushing indie bookstores with great passion this year (so I didn’t include books on this list), but of course plenty of shoppers rely on Amazon for the low prices and the fast shipping.
So if you’re already on Amazon right now, just trying to weed through all the stuff (God, so much stuff!) I’ve put together 10 of my favorite holiday gifts on Amazon right now that I think you can feel good about buying.
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1. Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle
Kate introduced me to Fellow, one of the hottest up-and-coming small businesses in the coffee and tea world — they are making gorgeously minimalist products from brewers to vacuum insulated mugs. But it’s this electric tea kettle that seems to be one of the hot gifts this year, and their Amazon shop offers black, white, or pink. Plus accessories of all kinds.
I love the basic version, but if you want to trade up, their Bluetooth enabled kettle lets you do all kinds of cool stuff with their companion app.
2. Kaya Lavender Bath + Body Gift Set
Did someone say, “please lock yourself in the bathroom for two hours by yourself, run a hot bath, and don’t come out until you’re good and relaxed and prune-y?” You don’t have to tell me twice. If you know someone in the same boat, this gift set a perfect holiday gift on Amazon, from Kaya Soaps, hugely popular Indiana-based small business that sells on both Etsy and their own Amazon storefront. And hey, it’s hard to find small business beauty brands here that aren’t kind of uh, iffy. They have plenty of smaller gifts too, from tea lights to organic lip balms.
Related: 20 of our favorite self-care gifts for moms in 2020
3. Trufflin Sriracha and Ranch Gourmet Set
Being at the top of the Amazon list of Oprah’s Favorite Things from Black-Owned Businesses definitely had a lot to do with this small business making it to the #1 new release in the grocery category — and one of my favorite gifts on Amazon. As in, I want one. Or two. In fact, I may have ordered two, one to give and one to keep. If you know people on my gift list, don’t tell them.
4. Bitsbox STEM Subscription Box
Our Cool Mom Tech team named it one of our favorite STEM subscription boxes for kids this holiday, and this kit has been a favorite gift for kids 6-12 since it first launched. Kids get a box to help them master a new coding concept each month, then each subsequent box builds on those coding skills. This way, as kids grow their skills, they can kids progress to building increasingly complex apps in themes like robots, fantasy, and space.
Bonus mention:The Not Parent Approved Game, which remains one of our favorite family games since we first wrote about it when it launched a few years back. It’s the original “like Cards Against Humanity, but for kids” game and we still play it all the time. Plus, you’re supporting a cool mom-run business.
Related: More than 50 amazing holiday gifts for kids under $15: Like, GOOD gifts. Not stocking stuffers.
The Cool Mom Tech team has been longtime fans of the Cinemood projector, which launched in 2016 but has never been more relevant. This tech startup has created a legit palm-sized portable theater, that lets you stream Netflix, Prime Videos, educational Disney shows, anywhere you like. As in, your kids’ bedroom wall, or outdoors in your own backyard, whether you’re “camping out” in tents, or planning a socially distant outdoor viewing of Elf. Tip: Save yourself 50 bucks getting the white one over the black one.
6. Handmade Whiskey Glasses or Pint Glasses from Black Lantern
This is a really amazing Denver-based shop that makes all kinds of nature-inspired, printed items, but the glassware is particularly cool. Hey, as long as we’re drinking at home these days, might as well enjoy it that much more. They make the kind of goodies I’d normally find in local maker makers that are sadly closed these days, so I’m glad to find them here. Plus, a portion of profits goes to the National Park Foundation, which I love. Isn’t this octopus tentacle print amazing?
Comes in a set of two. Which means you need 4 sets, for a full set of tentacles.
Related: Our top 10 holiday gifts for men in 2020
7. Pixar Soul Hoodie by Bee Harris
I fell in love with the art of Soul when I saw a preview of the film over a year ago — and can’t wait for the Disney + streaming release on Christmas Day! I guarantee you’ll be a fan, so be sure to browse the entire Soul Store on Amazon, featuring talented Black designers credited for their work behind the designs. (It’s always nice to get to know the names and faces behind the designs we love, right?)
Shown here: Bee Harris’s illustration of Joe’s village of women, which is the design that really speaks to me most. You can also find it on a tote bag, tee, cozy throw and. more. But the hoodie will get a whole lot of use for us WFH-ers this winter.
With so many people cutting the cord these days, a subscription to Prime Video gives you access to so many streaming movies and shows — plus music, free Kindle eBooks, and an increasing number of high-quality original productions like The New Yorker Presents (above, which I love), The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and What the Constitution Means to Me.
A 3- or 12-month subscription is a really thoughtful gift for grandparents (or other family members) to help them get through a long winter indoors. Come on, like your Grandma isn’t dying to see the new Borat movie?
Plus, you can create a Watch Party to watch it together. (Well, maybe not Borat with your grandmother, but hey, I don’t know your grandmother! I know my own kids’ grandmother loved it!)
Electronics are generally a good bet on Amazon, provided they’re from a trusted brand and a trusted seller. (Do your research!) And I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a practical luxury gift more than I’ve wanted this Roomba. You guys...it empties itself. Enough said? PC Magazine called it “the strongest, most autonomous robot vacuum” — and the most expensive. But that was before it was $400 off on Amazon. If you plan on getting a new pet for the holidays, make sure you get one of these too.
10. A tribute donation to one of nearly 400 charities
Some of us struggle with gift-giving, because we have people on our lists who are lucky enough to have everything they need right now. In which case, put your Alexa to use and make a tribute donation in their name. Alexa supports close to 400 charities and all you have to do is say, Alexa, make a donation to the Feeding America Covid Relief Fund. Now that’s a great use of technology.
Bonus: A gift card…and not just to Amazon
I used to think that gift cards were a cop-out. (Seriously, read our old posts!) Mea culpa. Now that I have teens who love to shop for themselves, a gift card may be the gift that they really love best. It’s easy to find Amazon gift cards on Amazon, duh, but you can also get gift cards to Apple, Twitch, DoorDash, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Ulta and more. Especially good if you need a bunch of different ones ASAP, and find it easier to buy them all in one place.
Be sure to keep an eye out for gift card deals; as I’m writing this, I caught a 60-minute only flash deal on a $50 Twitch gift card for $40.