20 gift ideas if you really want to sleigh Christmas this year

What makes the perfect Christmas gift? Something that tugs the receiver’s heart strings? something the receiver has already asked for? or something the receiver didn’t know they even needed in the first place? It of course depends on the individual (and the gift-giver), and that should be your first consideration when trying to find the perfect Xmas gift.

The second: that’s where we come in. Below you’ll find some of the best products we’ve played with in 2019, from three of the best smartphones on the market right now, to our favourite personal audio devices, and even a revolutionary take on the classic umbrella (in case you know anyone obsessed with levelling up their everyday essentials).

Be mindful that there are plenty of sales going on at the moment, so shop around online for the best price. Cashback has also been picking up in Australia as well, so you might want to check out Shopback to save some money.

Smartphones

Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei changed the very idea of smartphone photography earlier this year for the P30 Pro, their new powerhouse flagship which has remained one of the most in-demand phones on the market, even with stiff competition from Apple and Google. If you know someone looking for a new phone, or someone that just wants to up their travel photography game without the use of any bulky kits, then do not look past this. The stunning 50x zoom is just the beginning for this bad boy (hint, tell them to practice using night mode in the daytime).

You’re looking $1099 if you buy this from JB HiFi.

Google Pixel 4

The best Android experience available, plus a camera that barrels ahead of most of its competitors. The Google Pixel 4 is a workhorse of a phone, focusing on subtle experiences to rethink the entire smartphone experience. Google have gone with intelligence for this one, with features like Motion Sense where you can control certain functions with a simple wave over the phone, and – my favourite – a finessed recording app which transcribes audio in real-time. If you know anyone who works in media especially (needing to interview multiple people), then this gift will go a very long way.

You’re looking at a starting price of around $899 if you buy this from JB HiFi.

Google Pixel 3a XL

Although the Huawei P30 Pro and Google Pixel 4 are the best options if you really want a powerhouse Android phone in 2019, they aren’t to everyone’s budget. Google’s attempt at capturing the mid-range market by distilling their Google Pixel 3 for a less expensive market paid off brilliantly for them this year. It’s an incredible Android experience, has the best camera you’ll find for that price (especially the Portrait mode), sports a huge battery life and – most importantly – has the sorely missed headphone jack.

Know someone constantly bemoaning the loss of a headphone jack who also loves to take portraits of food and people? This phone. Now.

You can check out our full review HERE.

If you’re buying this from JB HiFi you’re looking at around $679.

Moment Lenses

Heard of Moment? Nope? I don’t blame you. Neither had we until a professional photographer started raving about them to us earlier this year. Fast forward a few months and we’re converted.

Moment is a company that makes premium, ultra reliable detachable lenses for your smartphone, allowing you to up your photography game in ways that just weren’t possible before. Phone doesn’t have a wide angle lens? Grab one from Moment and it does now. Need something to add a bit of drama to your videos? Grab an anamorphic lens and start putting those YouTube travel vloggers to shame.

If you’re phone already has a portrait mode (like the Google we’ve suggested above), grab a telephoto lens from Moment and thank us later. Just get a case from their website, then whatever lens you need – they twist on and off seamlessly.

Prices vary so best check out their official website.

Audio

Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6

One of the most refined and well thought out Bluetooth speakers on the market right now, the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 represents an elevated and immersive listening experience anyone can appreciate.

Savvy shoppers should look to Telstra for this one, where customers can pay in instalments of $10.66 per month over 36 months. That’s a minimum total cost of $383.76. Alternatively, you can get it outright via Telstra for $384.

The design-forward speaker features a signature round silhouette, premium fabric cover and aluminium handle for easy portability, carefully built so the device can offer a sturdy IPX7 waterproof rating for outdoor use. You’ll get up to 8 hours of playtime on a single charge, and a superior performance which can be boosted further by wirelessly connected two Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 6 speakers.

Sony GTK-PG10 Party Speaker

Are you looking to blow out a few eardrums during Christmas lunch? Don’t be ridiculous, of course you are. Sony’s GTK-PG10 Party Speaker is the kind of all-in-one outdoor audio solution the regular social butterfly dreams of. Huge, balanced sound. Bluetooth. USB. Tuner. Karaoke functionality. A 13-hour rechargeable battery. PA mount. Cup holders. Sony truly has thought of everything with this one.

It’s only 6kg, you can take it anywhere and it’s durable as hell. It’ll make a splash no matter where you put it, and its powerful speakers make short work of open, outdoor spaces.

Pick this one up for $340 from sony.com.au.

Sony WF-1000XM3

In case the constant “sold out” signs aren’t enough to tell you, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is the best pair of in-ear truly wireless headphones on the market right now. Not only do they feature an exceptional sound profile, but they last all day, sport a sleek design, and seamlessly refine the Bluetooth experience for uninterrupted listening. Oh, and the noise cancelling is outstanding on these things. We don’t leave home without them anymore, and neither will whichever lucky fam/friend you choose these for. You can check out our full review HERE.

You can pick these up for $399 from JB HiFi.

Bose NC700s

Never count Bose out when it comes to the increasingly competitive truly wireless noise cancelling headphone market. This year, they bought the very, very sexy NC700s and bounced back onto the scene with impact. Their microphone system is the best you’ll find right now, and no one can beat this for comfort at the moment. The holistic approach to the entire listening experience that Bose have taken here is intelligent and makes the 700s some of the best over-ear headphones you’ll find.

If you want these from JB HiFi be prepared to pay $595.

Productivity

Surface Laptop 3

Microsoft are in the midst of a huge product line push, and while there’s plenty coming from the company that will push more than a few boundaries, we’re just enamoured with the Surface Laptop 3. For the first time, Microsoft’s reliable laptop has been offered in two different iterations, with the most powerful being the new 15″ model with it’s 2496 x 1664-pixel touchscreen and AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 chip with up to 32GB of RAM. That’s some serious power right there, so if you know of anyone looking for a trust clamshell laptop, look no further than the best on market right now.

Prices start from $1359 (for the 13.5″ version) from JB Hi Fi

Body+

You know scales are getting smart too, right? The Body + is a Body Composition Wi-Fi Scale for anyone who is really pedantic about keeping track of every single thing about their progress. It coaches, rewards and automatically sends all data automatically to a companion app, elevating accountability to a fine (and convenient) artform, with high accuracy guaranteed thanks to position control tech. Plus, the battery lasts for up to 18 months.

You can grab this one for $134 from JB HiFi.

Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit put a lot into this new iteration of the Versa, refining what made the original so popular and rethinking new features that add greatly to the holistic lifestyle experience. Built-in voice command, nuanced activity and sleep tracking, contactless pay and a 5+ day battery life are just the beginning for this potentially life-changing device. Fitbit is consistently one of the most popular gift ideas in the world for good reason.

Get it from JB HiFi for $329.

Steel HR Sport

Affordable, stylish, efficient and reliable. The Steel HR Sport is a hybrid smartwatch that plays well in the mid-range price. It’s got all the fundamentals you’d expect, including a heart rate monitoring system, multisport tracking, GPS, a fitness level assessment via V02 max estimation, silent alarms and sleep scores, and – wait for it – up to 25 days battery life with a trusty water resistance up to 50m. Plus, it just looks so damn incredibly slick, so if you know someone who’s been wanting a smartwatch but doesn’t like the usual look – get them this.

Pick this one up for $254 from JB HiFi.

Home & Lifestyle

Hue Outdoor Lighting

Hue’s range of outdoor lighting has been picking up in popularity thanks to the increase in DIY modern smart homes. If you someone who really pays attention to the entire aesthetic of their property, dipping into this range will score you brownie points. There’s several different designs, but the most flexible would be the Lily Outdoor Spotlight and the Calla Outdoor Bollard.

Prices vary so it’s best to check out the entire range over at the official website.

Braun Products

Too many people go for cheap when it comes to grooming products, and they usually end up regretting it. Upgrading is not often at the top of anyone’s personal shopping list throughout the year, which is why they make such good gifts every year. Look on over to reliable brand Braun for the beauty goods

For her, you’re looking at a Braun SensoSmart Silk Epil 9 Epilator if you want the best for this price range, with the 4-in-1 taking care of multiple functions in one device. It epilates more hairs in one stroke, shaves sensitive areas, exfoliates, tones and refines skin with SensoSmart technology. If that’s something one of your loved ones can use, then might as well get her one that does it all.

Get it from shavershop.com.au because it’s on sale for $229 right now (RRP $329).

For him, you’re going to want a similar all-in-one device. That’s the Braun Series 9, and while it’s pricey, it’s worth dipping into the funds for the world’s most efficient electric shaver. He’ll definitely appreciate the five shaving elements which capture more hair in one stroke for the perfect shave. It’s suitable for wet or dry shaving too, so it’s ideal for the traveller who constantly forgets their shaving cream (me; probably him too).

Get it from shavershop.com.au where it’s currently on sale for $499 (RRP $749).

Dyson Pure Cool Me

The punishing heat in Australia will unfortunately be sticking around for the next few months. With more people moving away from traditional air conditioners the time is perfect to start looking into portable fans. Dyson have always been reliable when it comes to that game, but this year’s Pure Cool Me is perhaps their most thoughtful and valuable device to date. It’s not quite as wide-reaching as the Hot+Cool. Instead this is a personalised air-purification experience that sucks up the immediate air around the user and purifies it. It then blasts it out as an incredibly breezy line of cool air. The fan works like a charm, is incredibly unique and smart in its design, and sticks true to Dyson’s uncanny ability to subvert expectations and find new angles.

You can grab a Pure Cool Me from the official Dyson website at a RRP of $499. Get the alien-esque gunmetal/copper iteration (pictures) if you really want to make an impression.

TruSens Z-1000 Air Purifier

The perfect gift for the allergy sufferer in your life. A good air purifier helps filter airborne allergens like dust, pollen and pet hair and store them for safe disposal. Think of it like a vacuum for the air in your house. TruSens’ air purifiers also come in a range of models to suit rooms of any size. Better yet, they start at under $250 and won’t break your Xmas budget.

Small, sleek and modern, TruSens’ air purifiers will fit into just about any home aesthetic. They also run quiet so you’ll barely know it’s on.

You can pick one of these air-cleaning godsends up for $299 from trusens.com.

Phaidon’s Latest

Sheer depth of information, incredible illustrations and fascinating topics: three things that define a Phaidon book. The publisher is known for these beautiful works of art that keep us coming back for more each and every time. Two of their latest include Signature Dishes That Matter, a deep-dive into the history of gastronomy told through iconic restaurants and dishes from the past three centuries, and Great Women Artists, a compendium of more than 400 artists from over 50 countries spanning 500 years of creativity. IF you’ve got someone in your life looking for more than just any old coffee table book, then take a look through Phaidon’s range.

Books are usually around $65. The range can be found at Phaidon’s website.

Style

Ethnotek Cyclo Travel Sling

Any frequent flyer or urban explorer will appreciate such a beautifully designed and highly considered carry solution as the Cyclo Travel Sling from social enterprise Ethnotek. They’ve reimagined the classic bum bag as a much more comfortable, sizable and functional sling scaled to fit passports, plan tickets, shirts, books, tablets and headphones for easy travel.

You can order one of these from the Ethnotek website for a starting price of AU$129. Note that the price will vary based on what fabric you choose.

Blunt Umbrella

Award-winning Blunt Umbrellas have officially launched into the Australian market, after picking up numerous accolades overseas. Unique, function-forward design has put them on the radar for those looking for something a bit more unusual, making them ideal for design lovers. The definitive smooth, rounded edges and fully tensioned canopy that come with all variants of this sturdy necessity ensure Blunt won’t be just another cheap throwaway treading its inevitable path to landfill.

If you want to give someone a gift that’s a bit unexpected, take a look at the Blunt Umbrella range. The Metro – designed for city use – starts at $99, while other variants can shoot up to around $139. Take a look at bluntumbrella.com.au.

Skechers Heritage Collection

Skechers are one of the best brands out there if you’re looking for a balance between affordability and comfort. Luckily, they’ve just released a brand new collection of four premium, limited edition heritage styles in time for the holiday season, each distinctive modern takes on contemporary luxury streetwear trends.

From a chunky sneaker with red leopard print, tassels, blue overlays and an intricate rope collar (Skechers Energy), to a subtle luxe look with soft black leather and gold chain detailing (Skechers D’Lites – Golden Idea), the capsule is a smart choice for the kind of casual wear that will never go out of style.

Each of the Premium Heritage styles is available at skechers.com.au for $199.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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