EW's 2019 holiday gift guide
This cozy season, our gift to you is a gift guide free of gift guide ennui: We’ve done our best to scour the zeitgeist (plus several high-end elf workshops) to curate a list of exciting, practical, ever-so-pop-cultural products that holiday revelers will actually want to unwrap. Click onward for 60+ of our favorite picks in tech, toys, home, beauty, and food.
Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay Hybrid Instant Camera/Printer
The modern paradox: Just as parents want to start digitizing all their photos, kids suddenly want to start printing them (in real life, on paper — the shock of it all!). Thankfully, this camera/printer hybrid quickly achieves both, leaving you plenty of extra time to scream internally about how technology is just a flat circle.
Sega Genesis Mini
This long-anticipated entry in the mini-console craze lets Sega step into the spotlight this season with over 40 classic pixel-perfect games including Earthworm Jim, ToeJam & Earl, Ecco the Dolphin, and your last pure memories of Sonic the Hedgehog before the (admittedly very exciting) live-action movie.
Beats by Dre Solo Pro Wireless Headphones
The first on-ear noise-canceling headphones in Dr. Dre’s signature line is a versatile, lightweight addition to the brand and confirms Beats as the hottest and best headphones in the biz, capable of making both the gift giver and recipient instantly cool — a true Christmas miracle.
Beats by Dre Studio3 Wireless Headphones
Slightly more elevated than the Solo Pro, these studio-ready noise-cancelers might only seem meant for major music buffs on the surface, but the practical applications for Apple’s high-end headphone also extend to diligent students keen on concentration and exasperated adults hoping to silence roommates, neighbors, and occasional family members.
Mighty Vibe Spotify Music Player
Blue Yeti Nano USB Microphone
House of Marley Stir It Up Wireless Turntable
Case-Mate AirPods Hook Ups Case
Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield (Nintendo Switch)
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PS4/Xbox One)
This seasonal Star Wars standout follows a Jedi on the run after the infamous Order 66 given at the end of Episode III. That alone is a mainstream enough way in for casual fans to get involved with the game without having to have gone deep on Star Wars lore, but the title really shines with both a stellar performance from Shameless’ Cameron Monaghan and the kind of exotic new Star Wars planets, species, and droids you’d expect of any entry in the franchise.
FIFA 20/Madden 20/NHL 20/NBA 2K20 (Multiplatform)
Death Stranding (PS4)
Norman Reedus has made a career of traveling post-apocalyptic countrysides; in this ravishing PS4 game from Hideo Kojima, the Walking Dead star traverses the wasteland as a supply courier linking the United States’ surviving colonies with a communications network. It’s eerily prescient, powerfully weird, and unsurprisingly poignant — it is a Hideo Kojima creation, after all. Any gamer would be lucky to escape their own wasteland by spending a few days unraveling this must-play experience.
Xmas S.O.S. (Tech Edition)
Completely lost? Level up whatever video game your kid is obsessed with by loading up a GameStop gift card (gamestop.com) with funds meant for downloadable content (the kids call it DLC). They’ll appreciate the premium boost they wouldn’t have otherwise had, and you’ll seem significantly more hip than you probably are.
Mega Construx Game of Thrones Daenerys & Drogon
The indisputable board game of the year is this deliciously addictive role-player starring iconic Disney delinquents like Ursula, Jafar, and Captain Hook. It’s not just that the gameplay is ferociously non-stop. or that essential standalone expansions are constantly adding more playable characters like Scar, Hades, and Yzma. But Villainous thrives because it encourages you to openly screw over players yet allows you to safely blame a majority of your evil behavior simply on method acting.
Hasbro Marvel Legends Series Avengers Power Gauntlet
Lego Stranger Things: The Upside Down
Any former kid would tell you that there’s no source of euphoria quite like a giant Lego set. This season’s 2,287-piece de resistance is an astonishing, flippable, fascinatingly detailed recreation of the Byers house, the construction of which would make any Stranger Things fan Millie Bobby Proud.
Blockbuster Retro Puzzles in VHS Video Case
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Illustrated Edition
The fourth book in Jim Kay’s ambitious reimagining of J.K. Rowling’s masterwork will entertain and educate as much as any toy. After you’ve pored through the first three books, let Goblet of Fire take you away with Kay’s gorgeous artwork which includes magnificent new illustrations of three of Harry Potter’s best near-death experiences.
Osmo Creative Starter Kit
If you’ve got an iPad or Amazon Fire to spare, this ingenious tech toy for budding artists animates your tot’s dry-erase drawings into adorable interactive adventures. And if you take our recommendation and your kid grows up to animate a Pixar movie in 20 years, EW reserves the right to demand royalties.
You’ll never triumph nor tank so hard on family game night than with this oh-so-extra extension of the classic Pictionary formula. Instead of sticking to paper and pen, you use smartphones and the fabric of space time to draw pictures in the air that are almost certainly going to be far more hilarious than intended. If the digital future is going to consume us all, might as well have fun with it.
No toy company serves a bigger variety of pop culture interests than the Bobblehead heir apparent, Funko. The signature collectible Pop! line continues to grow in surprising directions, with some of this year’s highlights including Britney Spears with a snake, Rodney Dangerfield with a golf club, Patrick Mahomes with a football, and Don Draper with institutionalized misogyny.
Sesame Street Love to Hug Elmo
Adults, listen up: Many moons ago, a vat of Play-Doh’s new Foam was sent to the EW office, where it has since been repurposed for stress balls, intricate if short-lived pop culture statues, and relaxing bouts of intense taffy-like elongation. It’s all to say that the great Instagram slime craze has led to the creation of this satisfyingly supple, shockingly therapeutic foam compound. Buy one container or buy a dozen, but trust that for adults, it’s a little gift that goes a long, long, and depending how far you pull it, loooooong way.
A Is for Audra by John Robert Allman and Peter Emmerich
A true necessity for any kid’s bookshelf is this clever book of short poems dedicated to an alphabetical runthrough of Broadway’s most iconic leading ladies. Everyone from Audra McDonald to Liza with a Z gets a brief moment in the spotlight (after spending their careers in one) and may just inspire your budding thespian to go down a YouTube spiral that changes their playlists — and potential musical theater careers — forever.
Disney and Pixar Buzz Lightyear Star Command Spaceship Playset
Xmas S.O.S. (Toy Edition)
If you have absolutely zero knowledge about the pop cultural taste of the child you’re spending money on, stick to safe educational gifts. The expansive collection at Fat Brain Toys (fatbraintoys.com) lets you shop by age and interest — and if you still don’t know either of those answers, you must ask yourself whether the real gift this child needs is a better relationship with you.
Juniper Books Banned Books Set
In a world increasingly afraid of common sense, a completely sensible gift is this stylish packaging of once-controversial literary classics (next year’s contenders for which already include the U.S. Constitution and Peppa Pig Goes Apple Picking).
Click & Grow Smart Garden 9
Pottery Barn Friends Peephole Frame
House of Intuition Magic Dusting Powder
This year, we’ll take good vibes anywhere we can get them. Surrender yourself to the universe with these four magic dusts, designed to grant you love, prosperity, protection, or manifestation of whatever intention you need to come your way. Supposedly, celebs like Sean Combs, Lucy Hale, and Jennifer Lopez are fans, if that makes this any more convincing.
Laura Ashley Dogs on Parade Food Bowl
Whether you’re a dog owner, dog neighbor, or you yourself are dog, enjoy this classy little porcelain number that won’t cost you a kibble and bit to eat in style.
FinalStraw Collapsible Straw
truMedic MagicHands truShiatsu Neck and Back Massager
Not all massagers are worth the hype, but you’ll solve any deep tissue trust issue with this versatile shiatsu sidekick (dubbed by Oprah as one of her favorite things this year) boasting three colors and four massage nodes. In literally no other situation except this, four “thumbs” are truly better than one.