Covid-19 is forcing shoppers to rethink holiday gift-giving. Concert tickets? Can’t go. New sweater? No one will see it.
But there’s plenty that loved ones could use to get through the long days of work from home and general pandemic loneliness.
Here are some recommendations that have been 2020-tested by members of the Bloomberg Opinion team:
SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder, referring to when seasonal changes — usually the transition to winter darkness — lead to depression. These lamps try to mimic sunlight to help boost one’s mood. They can be useful for those stuck working indoors all day, especially if one’s makeshift home office lacks windows. Plus, they have another benefit as a practical work-from-home tool: creating a flattering and professional influencer-like glow during work videoconferences. $119.99; h/t Beth Williams
Smart digital picture frame
Trying to keep elder relatives safe sadly means time spent apart. And they probably aren’t frequent users of social media, where young people maintain a sense of human connection by being able to constantly see new videos and photos of people they know. A great gift for grandma — or anyone you’re missing — is a WiFi-powered digital picture frame. It allows you to refresh the photos remotely via an app or email so you can keep brightening their day from afar. $169; h/t Brooke Sutherland
Surprise someone with a new plant each month for however many months you choose. Or for next-level horticulture, there are services that deliver seeds that are in season to plant on your own. That could even be a good activity for a parent to do with a child. Starting at $14.99/month; h/t Susan Warren
Cameo is an app that let's you hire a celebrity to record a personalized video message. During lockdowns, my family used it to have my mom’s longtime favorite soap-opera star wish her a happy Mother’s Day (thanks, Maurice Benard!). The list of celebrities runs the gamut from top actors to reality-TV personalities, and musicians to athletes, all charging various rates. “90 Day Fiance” couple David and Annie will send virtual Christmas cheer for $57, but Snoop Dogg will cost you $1,000. Prices vary; h/t Jessica Karl, another recent Cameo recipient
Give your family foodie a unique monthly subscription to a service such as Goldbelly. It curates monthly boxes of favorite specialty food items from restaurants and shops around the country, or ones specific to certain cities including New York and Miami. (There's even a bacon lover's box.) For a sweet tooth, try a dessert-oriented service such as Sugarwish, which ships a box of candies or gourmet cookies of the recipient’s choosing -- they'll get an e-mail prompt to make their selections before the package ships. And there are gluten-free, keto and vegan options. For something a little stronger, there are niche liquor-delivery services such as Sake Social, which can ship to most U.S. states. Prices vary
With all this sitting, it has been an especially painful year for our backs. Office furniture such as ergonomic chairs can still be hard to find online — and they’re not cheap. A thoughtful gift might be a lumbar support cushion and footrest to turn a regular chair into a more comfortable work seat. And for non-work hours, a comfy wedge pillow will prop you up while watching TV from bed. $32.95
A phone stand is another item that can be handy both during and after work. If your loved one regularly Zooms from their phone or tablet, this will help them set up the right angle and keep their delicate device secure. It’s much better than trying to balance a phone upright on an empty Amazon shipping box (guilty). Perhaps you know a teen with iPhone forehead, the condition caused by watching online videos while lying down until inevitably dropping one’s phone right on one’s head. There are all sorts of “lazy” phone holders out there — ones that can be worn around your neck or clamped to a piece of furniture — for less accident-prone scrolling. $4.88; h/t Sarah Halzack
Think of the brides. They’re having to postpone weddings (perhaps more than once), skip bachelorette parties and bridal showers and cancel honeymoons. It can be a bit deflating when you can’t celebrate an exciting time with friends and family. So if there’s a “coronabride” in your life, sign them up for a subscription box that will surprise them each month with fun for-the-bride gear and useful wedding-planning items. (There are groom boxes, too.) Starting at $34.99
Brides aren’t the only ones stressed out. Gifting a subscription to a guided-meditation app such as Calm or Headspace may help a person discover a new healthy hobby. Reminiscent of being read a bedtime tale as a kid, Calm’s sleep stories — narrated by some recognizable celebrity voices such as Matthew McConaughey and Kelly Rowland — are another way for adults to unwind. $69.99/year
While our shoes collect dust in the closet, slippers are upgrading from “nice-to-have” to “must-have.” Can’t go wrong with a pair of classic shearling moccasins. There’s also the felted wool bootie variety for the quarantined fashionista. Sarah Green Carmichael suggests splurging on both kinds to have “work slippers” and “weekend slippers.” $125
And if you're not buying for a friend or family member, perhaps there’s another someone special on your Covid Christmas shopping list (wink):
Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.
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