The ultimate WIRED Christmas gift guide for 2019

You could go for the traditional bar of soap, some ghastly own-brand shower gel collection, or even socks. All will suffice for what could technically be termed a Christmas “gift”, but none would likely be welcome, or thoughtful.

However, if you truly are out of ideas then, joy to the world, we have selected a comprehensive list of clever/fun/awesome/stylish/dependable/odd (delete as appropriate) present ideas ideal for even the hardest relative or friend to buy for in the festive period.

Looking for a new way to scuba dive without all the cumbersome kit? Done. The only guitar you’ll ever need? See below. Even a banana stand capable of accelerating ripening. In short, there’s something here for anyone at any budget. Merry Christmas.

Bendo Bunch banana stand

Like bananas? You’re not alone. But the world’s most popular fruit is facing extinction, and scientists are racing to save it. How can you do your bit? Well, treat your curvy consumables right! This minimal banana stand protects from bruising while allowing air circulation to assist in ripening. Usually only available in Australia and the US, the good folks at Make will ship the Bunch from Oz if you email and make a request.

Price: £15.63 (plus shipping) | Make

Ikea Tradfri vintage smart light bulb

If you can believe there’s such a thing as a statement smart bulb, this is it. Tinted glass and glowing faux filament LED make this the only Tradfri smart home hipsters will countenance. The bulb, variously known as Edison and its Ikea model number, produces the kind of warm glow that facilitates both earth-shattering collaborations and face-numbing after dinner chat. It can be controlled by a £6 remote control wireless dimmer.

Price: £10 | Ikea

Fender Acoustasonic

Quite possibly the ultimate all-round guitar. Two-and-a-half years of research from Fender has resulted a guitar that not only can replicate the sounds of numerous types of acoustic, it can also reproduce the sound of a Fender electric. The killer hook? You can plug in any pedal, even overdrive, and thanks to some digital wizardry supplied by the Fishman-designed Acoustic Engine, play metal-level distortion with no hint of feedback from this hollow-body axe. Three separate pickup systems mean you get more sound combinations than you’ll ever need. Multiple acoustics and an electric guitar all in one instrument. It sounds too good to be true, but we’ve tried it and it works.

Price: From £1,649 | Fender | Andertons

Snow Peak Tramezzino

We love Snow Peak. We could easily spend a small fortune in their new London store. This three-in-one outdoor saviour – a grill, two-sided grill and sandwich maker (tramezzino is Italian for “sandwich”) – functions as well as it is designed. Made from die-cast aluminium to be lightweight and durable, the bamboo handle also has a lock to keep it sealed shut and secure when turning over those gourmet toasted sarnies. Short on packing space? The handles fold away and the sides are detachable so it’s compact and easy to clean.

Price: £84 | Amazon

Rapha Roll-Top Commuter Bag

Joining Rapha’s city Travel tote in its catalogue of urban biking backpacks is this tough and rowdy sibling, the Roll-Top Commuter Bag. Ideal on it’s own or paired with the Vanmoof X2, it sports an unfussy, wide-mouth opening modelled on bike messenger bags such as the Ortleib Velocity. Finished in a military-style, abrasion-resistant material, we’re particularly taken with the Rapha Roll-Top’s supportive, sturdy base, rendered in reflective Scotchlite for night-time rides. Inside, you have a padded 15in laptop sleeve and zipped, fluoro pink pocket for essentials.

Price: £100 | Ribble Cycles

MiniBrew Craft

Know someone who fancies themselves a craft-beer connoisseur? Watch their hipster beard curl in excitement as they unwrap their MiniBrew Craft. This is a compact all-in-one self-cleaning beer brewing machine. Fully controllable via an app, MiniBrew lets you control both the brewing and the fermentation process. Keep tabs on the keg while nature works its magic, and you can even drink straight from it once your batch is done brewing. And if you want to brew more than one beer at a time, you can swap out the kegs. It’s worryingly hassle-free craft beer brewing and should keep any domestic ale aficionado occupied well beyond New Year.

Price: €1,199 | Minibrew

Fossil Hybrid HR Collider

Many have come for the smartwatch-that’s-not-a-smartwatch crown, but almost all have failed. It’s no surprise, though, that Fossil Group has put out this stylish, thoughtful contender in the form of the Hybrid HR Collider. It’s an anti-Apple Watch of sorts that should win over even the most ardent of wearable haters. There’s a low-power, e-paper display that lasts two weeks; real, honest-to-god watch hands and indices, and a choice of tidy silicone or leather straps. The Hybrid HR Collider does more than you’d expect, too, with music controls, activity, heart and sleep tracking and customisable dials.

Price: From £189 | Fossil

Amazon Kindle Kids Edition

It’s difficult to fathom why the Kindle hasn’t always been this fun. Could the e-reader for adults not have been improved with cheerful, animal screensavers and bookworm reading badges? Apparently not. And yes, this is a tweaked entry level Kindle with some parental controls, extra features, a blue or pink case and a year’s subscription to Fire for Kids Unlimited thrown in. But if your gift’s mission is to encourage older kids, eight and up, in particular to read more then the Kindle Kids Edition should do the trick.

Price: £100 | Amazon

Holden Apres Boot

Welcome to the wonderful world of the slipper/shoe hybrid. Made for either padding around the house or possibly a post-ski perambulation, the upper is water-repellent and lined with PrimaLoft Eco recycled insulation for warmth. The sawtooth sole means optimal grip on snowy slopes and icy pavements, then the laminated toe and heel caps add durability. Interested? Then heed these words of caution: due to the Apres Boot’s prodigious insulation, make sure you go up one full shoe size for the best fit. Available in black and camo.

Price: $120 | Holden Outerwear

Amkiri Original Scent

If we all must venture out in the cold in search of parties, tell your dearest to double up on perfume and body art with Amkiri’s two-in-one inks. The idea is to paint temporary tattoos with the unisex fragrance, which combines ginger oil, juniper berry, spearmint, musk and cedarwood notes, onto neck, décolletage and wrists with the intricate stencils. Available in charcoal and white, the hypoallergenic inks are sweatproof and last 12 hours.

Price: £40.50 | Amkiri | Feel Unique

The 2001 File: Harry Lange and the Design of the Landmark Science Fiction Film

As the cinemasses squabble over which 2010s Nolan movie to anoint, turn instead to this book on the Nasa illustrator who designed the iconic sets, props and costumes for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Harry Lange. It’s full of rough sketches and rejected concepts from the man who Kubrick once told “I can get better illustrators than you… but they don’t have the background. You’ve been around rockets of all shapes and purposes, you know what they look like.”

Price: £45 | Amazon

Steamery Cirrus No. 2 Travel Steamer

For the person with 27 passport holders and 41 luxe luggage tags, this handheld travel steamer could do the trick without adding to the pile of tat they’d never take away. Weighing a manageable 590g, the Cirrus No.2’s stainless steel front plate heats up in just 25 seconds, and the 75ml water tank is good for six minutes of steam, which should cover one creased and wrinkled outfit from the Arlo carry-on (see below).

Price: £110 | Selfridges

Britsoft Hardware print V&A

To some, Google Stadia, the cloud game-streaming service, is something of a heresy, an insult to the memory of consoles past. Sadly for this cohort, it’s simply not practical to have Commodores and Atari’s in absolutely every single room of the house. This illustration of the 39 platforms of the early British games industry, produced for the V&A’s Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt exhibit by design studio Julia, will make a tasteful shrine out of bathrooms and hallways.

Price: £30 | V&A

Aecorn Apertifis

From the sister company to alcohol-free drinks brand Seedlip, Aecorn Aperitifs launched in the American Bar at the Savoy and Notting Hill’s The Ledbury, but you can also buy a bottle at Selfridges. Based on a 17th-century recipe for ‘acorn wine’, the no-alcohol aperitifs – available in dry, bitter and aromatic flavours – are blended in England from pinot noir, meunier and chardonnay grapes pressed early, together with herbs, roots and botanicals. To be served as a Spritz with sparkling water or tonic.

Price: £20 | Aecorn Aperitifs | Selfridges

Le Creuset Star Wars Han Solo Cast Iron Roaster

The famous kitchenware brand’s Star Wars collection has proved so popular that there is now a wait list for most of the products, but Force fans should be willing to wait, just as they had to with the very first Star Wars toys back in Christmas 1977. Le Creuset’s all-black Han Solo Carbonite Signature Roaster has a flat lid with a casting of Jabba the Hutt’s favourite decoration: Corellia’s beloved smuggler suspended in carbonite. Even heat distribution means it’s great for roasted Porg, while a last detail sees the lid’s interior embossed with word “France” in Aurebesh, the recognisable written language of the Star Wars galaxy.

Price: £360 | Le Creuset

Ember Mug 2

The perfect gift to stop anyone from complaining about their tea getting cold when they really should give their brew the attention the best non-alcoholic drink in the world deserves. Oh, it also works with coffee. Ember’s new second version of its smart mug will not only keep your mug of rose warm for a long 1.5 hours, it will also control the exact temperature via Ember’s app. The best part of this Mug 2 is the increased capacity to 414ml, because the old 295ml model simply didn’t fit enough in it for our liking.

Price: £130 | Amazon

Vanmoof Electrified X2

It’s one of the smartest e-bikes out there, VanMoof’s Electrified X2 will get you racing at a speedy 15.5mph. But it will also stop bike thieves in their tracks if they try and nip away with your ride. With the bike’s app, you can control the stealth lock in the rear hub. Try and move it while it’s in lock mode and you’ll hear a nasty growl. If it is stolen, VanMoof’s bike hunters will track it down using the GPS in order to return it to you. But the best thing about this e-bike is the boost button. Our reviewer gushed: “We can’t tell you how fantastic this is. Leaving traffic lights? Boost! Out of junctions? Boost! Coming out of a tight corner? Boost! We struggled not to ride the Turbo button ALL THE TIME.”

Price: £3,198 | Vanmoof

Tile Sticker

We’ve all got that one friend or family member who loses everything. Everything. Keys, wallet, AirPods case, self-esteem – you name it, they’ve lost it. Help them start their 2020 off on the right foot by making sure they never lose any of their belongings ever again. Tile’s tiny Bluetooth waterproof sticker allows you to play a noise whenever you’re in its 150-feet range. You can also see its previous known location when it last connected to the Tile app. And if that’s not good enough, then you can recruit the wider Tile community to help you find it by sending location updates when it comes into range of another Tile user. Goodbye, or rather hello, lost things. The self-esteem issue is another matter altogether.

Price: £35 for two | Amazon

Arlo Skye The Frame Carry-On

What makes this suitcase superior is the aluminium frame with two TSA-approved clasp locks that banish the traditional, inferior zipper so your possessions enjoy an extra level of security. Add in an aluminium-alloy exterior, full-grain leather handles, quiet wheels and even an anti-microbial interior lining and you have a 38 litre carry-on to rule them all. Not enough? You can also power-up your phone via the 10,050mAh removable charger. Note: aluminium luggage inevitably acquires dents and dings over time – but what better way to adopt the mantle of a stylish, seasoned traveller?

Price: $550 | Arlo Skye

James The Holcombe

Billed as the brand’s “most minimal two-compartment carry solution”, this smaller, smarter carabiner should see you right for your all-important everyday carry, and at the same ensure your quality denim is not bagged by bulky keys. Speaking of which, the Holcombe has been designed specifically to be one belt-loop wide, so it hangs straight and won’t rock. An added bonus sees the 8g stainless steel Holcombe also pack in a flat-head screwdriver and scraper.

Price: £45 | James

Blu3 Nemo

Fans of scuba diving can all agree on a few things: there is a lot of kit needed, the kit itself can be bulky and isn’t always that portable. The Nemo solves all this as you can now dive beneath the waves without the need for a cumbersome scuba setup. Blu3’s aptly named new device lets you meander with the fishes underwater up to three metres deep, using only a tube attached to an air supply system that floats above on the surface that doubles as a diving buoy. Of course, surface-supplied air devices already exist – so what makes this one so special? It’s about the size of a toaster and runs for over an hour, which should be more than enough time for underwater exploration.

Price: £608 | Blu3

Tumi TUMIPAX Men’s Ultralight Rain Pack

The genius of Tumi’s TUMIPAX range is how the jackets condense down to a form a fraction of their original size. This ultralight rain jacket is no exception. Protection from the elements is matched by a featherweight design of 0.258kg so you will hardly know you are wearing it. Nifty internal shoulder straps allow you to slip your arms out of the sleeves and carry your coat hands-free. Available in men’s and women’s sizes, this machine-washable outerwear, which extends below the knee for full rain protection, stuffs down into a vertical-zip pocket to be stowed in your pocket or a bag.

Price: £275 | Tumi

Keith Folding Spork Ti5301

Keith makes superlative metal cutlery, including a rather natty line in chopsticks. So if you know someone, or indeed are someone, who wishes to be kinder to the planet by shunning not only plastic disposable knives and forks but also the wooden kind often supplied with a workday lunch order, then this is a brand to support. This folding spork is made of pure titanium so it is tasteless, odourless, non-toxic and dishwasher safe. Originally designed for hiking and camping, the exceptional value 17.5g spork makes an ideal office buddy.

Price: €5.29 | Keith

Ministry of Supply Mens Apollo Shirt

If ever there was a WIRED shirt, this is it. Made with the same phase change materials Nasa invented to control astronauts’ body temperatures in space, the Apollo is 19 times more breathable than a traditional cotton shirt. Thanks to its soft piqué-knit fabric, Apollo has a relaxed drape, comparable to jersey and as a result can be worn on its own or with a suit and tie. The wrinkle-resistant construction has a four-way stretch, too, so should be far more comfortable than a traditional shirt. Available in men’s and women’s and in multiple colours including a work-appropriate white. Of a more eco persuasion? Try MOS’s new Aero Zero dress shirt, which is 100 per cent carbon-neutral.

Price: $125 | Ministry of Supply

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