By Wes O’Donnell
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‘Tis the season for America’s annual capitalist consumer extravaganza, where the best way to show someone you love them is to buy them exactly what they asked for, wrap it in glossy paper and hide it under a dying tree (or next to a menorah for eight nights if you prefer.)
Except this year, we celebrate the holidays with a twist. It’s 2020, and everything is just terrible.
Indeed, it can be difficult to want to spend quality downtime with the family when you’ve been spending mandatory time with the family for the past nine months.
And yet, there may still be some magic left in the air. At the time of this writing, a COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed in unmarked trucks all over the country in preparation for the first wave of inoculation. You could be forgiven for allowing yourself a sliver of hope, because, despite record numbers of coronavirus cases nationwide, a light has finally appeared at the end of this yearlong tunnel.
So perhaps holiday gifts this year should focus on two things: Taking your mind off the pandemic and making life at home more comfortable. After all, despite positive vaccine news, we’ll likely be stuck at home for some time yet.
Without further ado, here are our five custom-curated, hand-picked holiday gift ideas for our winter of discontent.
#5 Mind the Gap Board Game
This game is great for holidays, game nights, bat mitzvahs, get-togethers and “Survivor” cast reunion shows. Now it’s time to settle once and for all which generation is the best. (Spoiler – it’s Gen X.) Unlike other trivia games that make you feel dumb for not knowing 18th-century French literature, these questions focus on information relevant to your generation.
It’s time to settle the feud between Baby Boomers and Millennials once and for all. The Boomers might have had the best music, but at least Gen X didn’t destroy the planet. This is your opportunity to finally tell grandpa “OK, Boomer” without being disrespectful.
Buy it here $29.95
#4 The Comfy
Brian and Michael Speciale took the world by storm when they debuted their product, The Comfy, on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank.” The Comfy is now Shark Tank’s 5th best-selling product of all time.
But what exactly is it?
Imagine wearing a hoodie that’s about 10 sizes too big for your body. Or, to put it another way, it’s a blanket that you can wear.
The Comfy is one of 2020’s most in-demand holiday gifts. As a result, there are already a dozen knockoffs for sale online. Even my daughter has The Comfy on her Christmas list to Santa.
For those who like to snuggle up while binge-watching “The Mandalorian,” The Comfy is one product you need on your wish list.
Buy it here $32.97
#3 HBO Max
I know what you’re thinking: “Not another streaming service that wants to separate me from my hard-earned money!” A week ago, I would have joined you in your distaste for the splintered, decentralized streaming industry.
But Warner Bros. Studios just made a huge announcement that has movie theaters seeing red. A few days ago, Warner Brothers (the owner of HBO Max) announced that all 17 films they scheduled for release in the United States in 2021 would premiere on HBO Max in addition to theaters.
Let that sink in for a moment…If you have a subscription to HBO Max for $14.95/ month, you can watch “Wonder Woman 1984” from home on Christmas Day when it releases in theaters on the same day. Ditto for “The Matrix 4,” “Dune,” “Godzilla vs. Kong” and many other movies being released in 2021.
The pandemic has changed the way we consume entertainment. And while nothing beats experiencing a movie the way it was meant to be watched — in a theater with complete strangers and a $10 candy bar — this move by Warner Bros. makes HBO Max a must-buy service for Holiday 2020.
Buy it here $14.95/ month
#2 Retro Typewriter Keyboard for PC or Mac
Growing up in the 1980s, I remember using my grandmother’s old-fashioned typewriter to write fanciful and ridiculous stories of adventure and travel. Fast forward 35 years, and keyboards have become increasingly lifeless.
Those old typewriters had character! Each letter you typed was an event; you knew it happened because you were rewarded with a satisfying “ka-chunk” sound.
Not today. The wave of design minimalism that swept the nation in the 2010s made typing on a modern computer the equivalent of poking a dead fish.
Fortunately, there is an entire retro industry whose only goal is to elicit nostalgic purchases from aging Gen Xers like myself. The Azio Retro-USB Mechanical Keyboard allows you to experience precise travel distance and tactile feedback with every keystroke. Not to mention the fact the keys are round! This keyboard oozes style and will make a statement at your computer desk.
Buy it here $109.99
#1 Carex Day-Light Sky Light Therapy Lamp
Let’s face it: the only thing worse than being stuck inside because of a pandemic is being stuck inside during the winter during a pandemic. For much of the country, winter means less sunlight, a Vitamin D deficiency and a sour mood, especially in the long stretch between the holidays and the spring.
Bright light therapy experts recommend BrightZone Technology that delivers 10,000 LUX in a broad field of illumination. The Carex Day-Light Sky Therapy Lamp provides a maximum dose of 99.3% UV-filtered white light and projects light from above for effective therapy.
Bonus: It helps keep you lit during the two dozen daily Zoom meetings you have to be in for your job! If positioned correctly, it will keep your mood well-adjusted in the winter months and make you look like a movie star at work!
Buy it here $119.99