Staff picks: Best gifts for 2019

Last Updated August 2020

Here at BestReviews, we’re gearing up for the holidays and preparing our wish lists to send out to our families and friends. And our wish lists are a little bit more honed in than most because of the fact that we track all of the most popular products and trends year-round.

If you’re brainstorming and you need inspiration, check out the things that made the top of our lists this year — whether you ask for it yourself or you’re shopping for someone else.

Winter is here, but your drinks still need to stay cold

$249.99 on Amazon

We know, we know, it's cold outside... but the gift of a high-quality, virtually unbreakable Yeti cooler is always a gift that will delight. In our testing, ice stayed frozen for a solid week, meaning its perfect for camping trips and tailgates alike. We like the portable 35 size because it still holds up to 20 cans but is small enough that one person can carry it. 

A cozy comfort

In our testing of gravity blankets, we’ve found them to be comforting in a way that makes us believe the hype. Specifically, they ease anxiety and provide for a more restful time at home. Plus, the holidays have our head of marketing thinking about all things cozy, so she can’t wait to cuddle up underneath the warm hug of her very own weighted blanket that’s at the top of her wishlist.

A sturdy kitchen tool

Our editorial director loves to prepare Asian-inspired dishes and loves that cast iron cooks evenly without needing special nonstick coating. Cheaper woks coated in Teflon or made of simple steel get scraped and rusty quickly or tend to overcook delicate veggies like scallions and bok choy. We love our Lodge cast iron skillet, which we’ve found to be durable and reliable, so we know this wok will make for a great gift. 

Top-of-the-line sound

Our editorial manager is asking for the Sonos Playbar to improve the speaker system in his house. Not only will it mount to the wall and look great under the TV, but it also can complement his Sonos Move, our favorite top-quality portable speaker. The Move will sync easily into the new system and can then be used as a part of the TV's system or anywhere else in the house (or on the road). 

To capture every memory

Though this is an expensive ask, we’re putting it on our lists anyway in hopes that someone will buy it for us. Worth a shot, right? Our photography director chose this particular camera because he wants something portable that’s easy to take on trips and that also has solid specs for image quality.

Shampoo for shiny hair

$38 at Nordstrom

Our editorial intern absolutely loves this shampoo (as well as the accompanying Virtue Recovery Conditioner), and it made her list because she can never have too much. This shampoo leaves the scalp feeling fresh and dandruff-free, and hair shiny and soft. Plus, it’s free of all those scary things like sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic colors, and dyes, but it still lathers, unlike most shampoos without parabens and phthalates.

A traveler's must-have

Those of us who spend a lot of time on planes or public transportation know that a solid set of noise-canceling headphones is a must. However, we don’t always want to be totally in our own world; that’s why these wireless over-the-ear headphones by Sony made the list of our editorial assistant. The noise-canceling feature is adjustable, meaning you can tune in or out when you want, so these are good in any situation.

For the everyday barista

Caffeine keeps our office powered throughout the day; we rely on coffee to wake us up in the morning and to keep us going through the post-lunch slump. That’s why our photographer wants this drip coffee maker: It makes it easy to make a fresh cup whenever without needing to stock up on disposable filters because the brewer itself is made of fine mesh that allows everyone, from beginners to baristas, to make a delicious cup.

To simplify morning routines

Getting ready in the morning can be a struggle, and there’s nothing worse than putting on clothes for work, only to realize your shirt looks too wrinkled and frumpy to function. That’s why a handheld clothes steamer made the list of our digital content producer: it will help her get to work on time, and it will make mornings much simpler (which we all need). 

Bubbly water with less waste

We’re hooked on fizzy water. Who isn’t? It’s so much easier to stay hydrated when water is sparkling and flavored, but we hate that the habit can lead people to be constantly running to the store to grab crates of cans all the time. A SodaStream helped us solve this problem in the office and will let you drink fizzy water all day, every day, with less hassle and less waste — that’s why our head of business development added it to his list for home.

The busy chef's best friend

When our marketing analyst was making his list, he couldn’t decide between an air fryer and an Instant Pot, which is why he went with the Ninja Foodi: It combines both. It can prepare dinners after a long day at work, create healthier versions of favorite comfort foods, and cut down on appliances while optimizing cabinet space. The preset options make it easy even for those who are clueless about cooking to pull together a delicious meal quickly and simply.

The gift of safe driving

Safety is our priority, which is why our head of operations is asking for this front and rear dash cam. It increases visibility when driving, helping prevent accidents, making parking a breeze, and providing footage in case something happens. We’ll also be buying this for all the new drivers on our list or for those with an older vehicle that doesn’t have an integrated backup camera.

A present for parents

Those of us who have kids, like our designer, are definitely putting this Magna-Tiles set on our lists. Not because we want to play with them ourselves, but because our kids love them so much that they’ll stay occupied and give us some time to relax. What better gift is there than the gift of peace and quiet?