No one needs another gadget. Try these low-tech, feel-good gifts instead

Let’s be honest: Some of these can be from-me-to-me gifts—no one’s judging.

No one needs another gadget. Try these low-tech, feel-good gifts instead

Push notifications, social media networks, and CrossFit gyms are all challenging the most important, greatest of all American pastimes: Sitting on your butt and caring about absolutely nothing at all. We live in an era of unprecedented anxiety when nobody really needs more stuff. So let’s channel our inner Marie Kondo with this list of joy-inducing gifts that value comfort and experience for that special someone in your life (even if that special someone is really just little old you). And don’t worry—a few will get you off the couch without forcing you to lift a tractor tire.


A baby swaddle for adults

[Photo: Hatch Sleep]

$110 from Hatch

There’s no feeling quite like stuffing your whole self, from your shoulders to your knees, into an oversized sweatshirt or sweater. Now, there’s a way to do that without ruining your go-to comfort clothing. Called the Sleep Pod, it’s basically a big baby swaddle that wraps around your body and hugs you to sleep. Notably, there’s not room for two. This little luxury is just for you.

Stäk coffee maker

[Photo: courtesy Argodesign]
$200 from Stak


Making great coffee is about more than the origin of the bean, the size of the grind, or the temperature of the water. Making great coffee is a ritual, a meditative few minutes of your day that’s valuable unto itself. The Stäk coffee maker is an immersion brewer (in other words, you plunge the ground beans into boiling water) with ergonomics that are specifically optimized for the experience of making the coffee and sharing it with a friend. Think of it as a tea set for those of us who prefer drinking diesel.

Hövding inflatable bike helmet

[Photo: Alexander Crispin/courtesy Hövding]

$310 from Hövding

Technically, yes, this is a technology of sorts. But the Hövding bike helmet is basically just a necklace you can carry with you instead of a bulky bike helmet. You wear it around your neck whenever you hop onto a bike, and in case of an accident, the Hövding inflates a protective wrap around your head in a split second. The way we see it, biking encourages exercise and exploration. And if you’re the type who lets a lack of a helmet get in the way of hopping on two wheels spontaneously, then this is the product for you.


Vantablack craft paint

[Photo: Black 3.0]

$16, shipping in early December

To see something painted in Vantablack, the world’s blackest black, is like looking into a tear in reality itself. It’s strange, fun, and mind-bending. Now, you can actually buy something pretty close for yourself. Called Black 3.0, it’s a tube of black matte acrylic paint that will block 95% of all light hitting it. That’s effective enough to paint a circle on the ground to simulate a hole that’s been drilled directly to the center of Earth itself. What better way to expand the footprint of your small studio apartment?

Foldable kayak

[Photo: courtesy Oru]

$850 from Oru


It looks like an oversized briefcase. But this bag unfurls to become the Inlet Kayak, a 20-pound origami boat that can live under your bed when you’re not out on adventures. It looks like a lot of fun, but there’s one catch. This product doesn’t ship until June 2020 . . . though just in time for the good weather to return.

Nebia shower 2.0

[Photo: Nebia]

$500 from Nebia

There’s no feeling on earth that’s as luxurious as the perfect shower. And now, that shower can feel great while using less water than ever before. The Nebia 2.0 turns hot water into a fine mist that sprays your body like steam, and in doing so, it uses roughly half the water that your normal shower does. The shower can be installed by hand without a plumber or special tools—really! But make sure your bathroom has good ventilation, or the steam can build up on your walls.


Self-watering plants

[Photo: courtesy MoMA]

$34 from MoMA Store

It shouldn’t be hard to water a plant a few times a week, but life inevitably gets in the way, and your loyal green buddy starts drying into a tangle of vermicelli. But new pots being sold at MoMA use an old technique to stay watered—soaking liquid right into the terra cotta itself. So you fill a pot with water once, and your plant can be watered for weeks.

A big pile of CBD

[Photos: WellBeings, Lord Jones]

I know, I know. You think CBD is a placebo. That’s fine! But much of my 2019 has been spent experimenting with every CBD supplement on the planet, and I am now a very chill fanboy who cares a lot less about the state of his lawn.


Of course, CBD might make a weird gift—though Lord Jones gum drops ($45) could conceivably be brought to a holiday party, and this B.Chill CBD honey ($50) once smacked me so hard in the face with breakfast I felt too calm to be at work. Drop it into a gift basket.

For a to-me-from-me, you might consider some gummies from perfectly named company Sunday Scaries ($31). The price is right, and they’re tasty. Though my personal fave (if you can look past the terribly medicinal container) are the high-potency gummies from Every Day Optimal ($90). And if you’re one of those people who wants instant gratification of a low-key CBD buzz without the worries of vaping or the “is it actually working??” paranoia, try the CBD inhaler by WellBeings ($99). It hits me like an espresso shot full of peace of mind.

Note: All of these hemp-based products are completely free of THC.


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach