Oh, what a year it’s been! The pandemic. The wildfires and hurricanes. The election. Now we’re heading into gift-giving season, and who knows what to get for their spouse or partner who they’ve spent every waking minute of the past 250 days with?
Working from home is kind of a new world for a lot of people, and most of us have at least a few months more of it ahead of us. I’ve been full-remote for a number of years, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorite difference-makers to give you some ideas.
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SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Headset
First on my list is the Arctic Pro Wireless headset from SteelSeries. They’re expensive, but I decided it’s worth it since I spend most of my days and many of my evenings in them. Prior to these, I’d had connection problems with wireless headsets — even expensive ones. I love the freedom of being able to walk around while on a call or make a quick run to the kitchen, though, so I gave these a shot, and I haven’t had any problems at all. Sound quality is great, but my favorite feature is the hot-swappable battery. The USB receiver base acts as a charger with an extra battery. So, if the headset battery dies, you do a quick swap and you’re back in business, lickety-split. The battery usually lasts all day, too, so the only time it dies is when I forget to swap it.
They’re comfortable and versatile. I love that they work via USB, stereo cable, or Bluetooth. This makes them really great for travel (remember what travel was?) because you can plug-in for the airline’s inflight movie or use Bluetooth to watch shows or listen to music on your phone or tablet. The noise-canceling is great, too. My wife often complains about how I can’t hear her and the kids.
For a more affordable option, check out the wired Arctis Pro. They give the same comfort and sound quality for half the price!
My parents got me a Yeti Rambler as a gift a few years ago. I admit, I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about receiving it, but I became a huge fan after using it. It keeps your coffee hot for so long!
Since then, I’ve picked up a few more. I love the feel of the colored ones more than the stainless steel, but it’s mostly an aesthetic choice. They also make wine tumblers, which I picked up because I was tired of hand-washing wine glasses.
iOttie Wireless Charger Phone Mount
I needed a new phone mount for my car, and I loved the idea of charging automatically any time I put the phone in the cradle. Part of the problem, though, is that I didn’t have a phone with wireless charging. Turns out, that’s not a problem. After a bit of research, I bought a Qi Wireless Charger Receiver for my Pixel 2 XL. It’s very discrete and works through my phone case, which was a major concern for me when purchasing.
For the phone mount, I got the iOttie Wireless Charger. It’s really cool. It’s motorized and uses sensors to open automatically when you hold your phone near. Now, when I get in the car, I put my phone in the cradle and — boom — it’s charging. I also picked up this Anker Wireless Charger for wireless charging at my desk.
Speaking of desks, how about a standing desk? I’ve wanted one for a while, but they’re expensive! I found this sub-$300 one on Amazon and have been absolutely thrilled with it. It has motorized controls and memory settings to quick-adjust between heights. It’s sturdy, too. It’s everything I would’ve wanted and expected from a more expensive model for less than half the cost!
The Phoenix Project book
The Phoenix Project is an IT novel that resonated with me and all of my co-workers. It’s a great, quick read that’s both entertaining and valuable in terms of education and professional growth. Highly recommended for any IT professional--even ones that don’t read a lot of books.
Roost Laptop Stand
I’ve been using an old toolbox as a makeshift laptop stand for longer than I’d care to admit. Following the recommendation of some co-workers, I picked up a Roost Laptop Stand this summer, and it’s wonderful. It puts my laptop at exactly the right height to work well along side my other monitors while also making my desk feel less cluttered and more organized. When you’re on the go, it collapses to be quite small — so you can chuck it in your laptop bag or backpack.
The construction is sturdy and feels durable. This was why I chose the Roost stand over other cheaper options. I’m glad I took the chance with this stand; it’s a great addition to my setup.
Zombie Kidz Evolution
Since we’ve had less away-from-home options for entertainment, my family has tried a slew of board games this year. If you’ve got kids, Zombie Kidz Evolution is a slam-dunk. It’s simple and quick, and it’s the children’s game I enjoy playing the most. I love the achievement and progression systems built in, and the envelopes that “unlock” new features kept the kids interested and engaged for weeks.
All-Clad Waffle Maker
And finally, we have a waffle iron. I lived two decades with a $10 Belgian waffle maker before it died. After taking almost a year off from waffles, I decided to go all-in on this All-Clad Stainless Steel 4-Square Waffle Maker. It boasts a hefty price tag, but let me tell you — it’s worth it.
This thing is awesome. It makes big, crispy waffles with amazing consistency. It beeps at you when they’re ready, and it makes four at a time. Starting from scratch, I can make a batch of waffles to feed the entire family, eat, and clean up in less than 30 minutes. I view this as a lifetime investment in delicious waffles. I was skeptical about the price tag but have 0 regrets about it.
So, there you have it — my list of “proven winners” gift ideas for your friends and family who are woefully tied to their desks working from home here in 2020. These have all made my life a little bit better in their own little ways, and I’m happy and confident to recommend them to anyone. Cheers!