2020 Gift guide: Smart home gadgets for the tech lover

Deck the Halls with Tinsel & Tech this Christmas.

Here is my 2020 roundup of the best items to convert your home into a smart home! All (but one) of these are items that we’ve used in our short term rental properties, personal home, & are ones that we are gifting this holiday season. Absolutely EVERYTHING here can be found on Amazon & there is a little bit of everything for anyone on your list at any price point. From luxe to budget-friendly tech, each of these gifts are magical because they SAVE SO MUCH TIME and are fun to use.

GE Nugget Ice Maker – We just got this amazing machine for our personal kitchen. WOW! Literally have pellet ice for all the crunching and on the go drinks. I’ve used this EVERY DAY since we’ve got it & it works like a charm with the water line we have running off of our refrigerator. This is a great gift for a couple like your parents, sibling + spouse, or even your significant other!

Philips Hue Lights: Bulbs & Light Strips

Bulbs – I’ll admit it…I was totally skeptical when Jay first brought 12 of these babies home in our first house together. I told him I didn’t want anything tacky (haha) as he was extremely excited to be able to change the lights with a swipe of his finger on the app or via Smart Home Devices (such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa). Right after I burst his bubble and told him that I thought he bought too many & I already didn’t like them…he grabbed the ladder & began swapping them out. Fast forward 3 years later & we are in our new home with EVEN MORE of these incredible lights!

Strip Lighting – Not only did Jay buy the light bulbs but he also grabbed two of these light strips too. Again, I was really worried initially that our house would look like a college party or a carnival rave. But we chose to put these Philips Hue Strip Lights behind our tv in our bonus room, a projector, behind our headboard for ambient lighting, and even under the lip of our bar in our bonus room. These are flexible and can be connected. What’s awesome too is that once we moved into our new home, Jay chose to add these around the ceiling of our gym too. These are so great in literally any situation for your home that I think anyone would love. Y’all, ESPECIALLY on gameday too! We will light up each room with our favorite team colors. If lights can make me this happy, that’s the easiest thing to add to a home to create a great impact on your mood and the visual aesthetic of the room.

Google Echo Dot-This is a fantastic Christmas gift for any age. I feel like the Google Home or Google Echo Dots are very convenient for any price point and personality. I have a few of these in my house that is connected to my Philips Hue Lights (see above) and use them as a multipurpose tech tool for EVERYTHING around my house. I use my Google Echo Dot as a sound machine to play “rain” every night. I use it to check the weather every morning and read me the news when I’m getting ready. These are basically our version of a “universal remote” in our personal home. From music player, while I’m cleaning to turning off all lights (both indoors and outdoors) with a simple voice command makes it hassle-free and fun to talk to your tech without even moving. I know that sounds lazy in a way but it’s super helpful as I hop in the shower and forget to turn on my music. =)

Smart Plugs-I’ve never used these until the past month where I connected them to my Christmas Tree and Google Echo Dot (see above) in my living room. GAME CHANGER! So easy and again a simple, budget friendly plug can then be used to activate SO many items that are plugged into it such as lamps while traveling, etc.

Ring Doorbell-Okay guys and gals! This is one of my favorite inventions for personal home security! Fun Fact: I actually gift all of my Buyers a Ring Doorbell at closing for the purchase of their new home (with a review of course haha). These fantastic doorbells give us so much peace of mind in all of our short term rentals to know our clients aren’t having more guests than their stay permits, that they check in and out on time, that our cleaners are running on their tight schedules, and even provide security when there are no guests and the properties are sitting vacant. There was one instance where we even were able to help another neighbor by sharing footage for petty theft just from having this in a good placement of the main road, driveway, and front door. This is a personal MUST for any homeowner and that’s why I like to honor my clients’ business they’ve entrusted to me with a gift that will truly keep giving to their family as one they will continually use.

Sonos Speakers-Don’t the the price tag scare you. These Sonos Speakers are 100% worth every penny. It’s actually embarrassing how many of these Jay has purchased in our home and how often we use them. We have two of the speakers below in our living room, each of us have on in our offices, I have one in our kitchen, and we have some larger ones mounted to the retaining wall by our pool, and under our outdoor pavilion. These speakers are sexy, sleek, and pack a serious sound punch. We honestly have too many because they GET LOUD! In the best way…except when my husband plays “Rocky Top” during every touchdown on game days. It’a quick 30 second blast but I’m sure the whole subdivision knows when Tennessee gets a touchdown because these bad boys can link up and sound share. The ones I shared below are also portable which are so handy when we want to carry one into the garage to workout with music. This is a high quality gift that will last for years and can be used with your tv everyday.

Apple TV-The are the true Holy Grail. I’m not even kidding, these Apple TVs have completely SAVED us in all of our properties that we own to allow any TV to be a Smart device. They are Apple and user friendly because you can add multiple apps to them. We don’t provide cable services in any of our rentals so for just a few nights’ stays, we have our property management accounts that allow our guests during their stay to have access to Netflix, Disney+, and movies they can rent directly from this device. This is a great gift for the home, a college student, or even for investors who want to provide something for guests but not a full-time cable service with locked-in plans.

Simple Human Soap Dispenser-In the world of 2020…Who doesn’t love “touchless”. These are fantastic in our office, home, and even outside near our grill where we always have a mess of food. Simple Human is one of my favorite brands for around the house because of their sleek designs that are thoughtful as well as beautiful. My previous boss had one of these in their personal home and it was so nice to not over use any soap because this dispenses just the perfect amount. Battery operated, great price point, and taking up little counter top space are just a few reasons where this could be a perfect but useful tech gift to anyone.

Rumba iRobot Vacuum with Tower-I’ll be honest. We’ve been through plenty of vacuums due to having dogs. No children yet, but I’m sure we would’ve ran through them even faster if that was the case. Now don’t get me wrong…the Rumba iRobot Vacuum below is a serious piece of financial investment to buy. I was extremely worried to spend this much on a vacuum after going through 3 Dysons (which also are NOT CHEAP). But, this one with the tower and self-emptying bag has been my top choice. It’s lasted wayyyy longer than any of the others, has a separate warranty you can buy, and I never forget to empty it because it empties itself. We have it programmed to run our first floor of our home at 11AM every day so that when we get home, VOILA! We have nice and clean floors that we are coming home to. This isn’t a gift that you’d give to just anyone but for a family gift, I do think this is a great one that also will be used every single day and buy back your personal time in the long run which is worth it in my hectic career.

Cosori Smart WiFi Air Fryer-This was on our wedding registry y’all! Jay and I couldn’t believe how well this works and how often we’ve ended up using it. Below is the newer version of the one we own. This one is now a Smart WIFI Air Fryer that you can connect to your phone and turn on with a simple app. Imagine that Super Mom in your life getting this and being so thankful to know they can make an effortless dinner as they are on the way home from basketball practice with the kids and trying to get everyone fed in time before bed. This is a great gift for a graduating senior or anyone who wants to save time with air fryer cooking and technology.

Smart WiFi Instant Pot-This is the ONLY ITEM on this Gift Guide that I don’t personally own but I know so many others who do and I have this on my own wishlist this year from my family (as a group gift for Jay and I). This Instant Pot is Wifi Enabled to allow you to connect to other smart devices and get that cookin’ done in the blink of an eye.

Nest Thermostat-This was my personal first home tech product that I actually bought. I quickly realized how important it was when I saw the change in our bills (minor but major in the long run of year) due to this thermostat saving us money by being insightful about changing temperature while we aren’t in the house. These Nest Thermostats are very easy to install even if you’re not a handyman and they even light up when you walk by to draw your attention to it in case you do need to look at it to change anything. This is also Smart Tech enabled that allows you to control it while not in your house and remotely off your mobile phone.

Nest Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm-I was very excited when we bought our new home and these were installed throughout the home. We’ve learned more about them by linking them up with our app and they do monitoring and sound tests on their own!

Schlage Smart WiFi Deadbolt-Safety Rated-I do believe it’s EXTREMELY important when you are shopping for any tech to understand if it’s Smart Tech that it can potentially be hacked. Jay and I have both done our research to find items that we have tested and reviewed safety ratings. These Schlage Smart Wifi Enabled Deadbolts are ones that impressed us and are much harder to get compromised. We use them in our property rentals and have backup keys as well in case the batteries die. But they are a great way to securely change codes and allow guests to get in and out in the even someone lost a key or drove it off out of state. These are great if you have children that ride the bus but are not at the age where you trust them to carry a key to their personal residence around. Heck, it’s hard enough to keep up with books and a backpack. But, these deadbolts are great to even put on the back of the house where no one else sees them or knows they are there but are convenient for your dog walker, kids, and family to use.

Arlo Wireless Cameras-We own MANY of these and I cannot tell you how awesome they are that they are FULLY WIRELESS. I’m talking, you can pop one of these in a flower pot, or mount it in the corner of a room, or put it on your roof, or hide it in your garage. The possibilities are endless. We do not use these at any rentals because someone could easily just grab and go if it were too close to a hand’s reach. But in our personal home, we utilize these. I had a lot of peace of mind ESPECIALLY when we tried out a new house cleaner, checking on our dogs, and when we had 10+ vendors/contractors in our home a day during the full-blown renovation stages. These too are a great gift of tech that will continue to give but are 100% worth the money and have excellent quality vision both day and night.

Smart Wireless & WiFi Garage Door Opener-How many times have you drove off and wondered if you dropped back down the garage door? Not you? Well you’re doing much better than me! These are MAJOR for the safety of your home and I have had so much peace of mind with these installed in our new home. Great gift for your father-in-law, dad, or husband.

Brilliant Smart Home Control Panel-Not going to lie…A Facebook ad totally got Jay on this one. We have a Brilliant Smart Home Control Panel in our house and it works great. I honestly don’t think I utilize it enough and need to mess with it even more but the features that I have used, I do really enjoy and it integrates well.