I love ‘The Awesome’. It’s a place I like to visit in my dreams, on weekends, and when someone offers me free babysitting. You know ‘The Awesome’ when you see it. You may feel warm rays of sunshine, have an urge to do the happy dance, or perhaps hear nothing but the sounds of silence. If you hear the musical stylings of Justin Bieber, BTW, you’re doing ‘The Awesome’ wrong. Sorry.

Anyways, I want you to do ‘The Awesome’ right this year. And to get it right you’ll need to appeal to those human sense things. They’re called sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, people, and these things can unleash happy emotions over the holidays and beyond.

Since gift giving is about hitting the heart with a sense or two, I’m rounding up ‘The Awesome’ gadgets that make my cost-conscious senses tingle.

Here’s are my 10 awesome gadgets worth the money. Maybe.

1. An eReader

I have a thing for books. Books smell good, they feel delicious between my fingertips, and I’ve been known to devour a good read in a single sitting. The problem with dead-tree literature is that crawling babies and feral teens (same thing, really) can tear the pages apart in a single sitting. Librarians are not fond of infant drool, and it’s quite cumbersome (and a little expensive) to carry a 50 book library (which is totally necessary) with you on trips.


Enter the Sony eReader, an awesome reading gadget that allows me to borrow from the public library, download tomes from a variety of stores, and read anything anywhere without some pervert checking out my title.

The ‘digital e-ink’ or ‘e-paper’ is easy on the eyes and looks like reflection-free real paper. Bonus points for being able to increase font sizes and mark pages for later.

If there’s a voracious reader on your gift list, be sure to compare the Kobo, Kindle, Nook, and Sony for the right size, storage, and functionality. Expect to pay at least $100 for this generous gift, and please preload it with Jenny Lawson’s (aka The Bloggess) hilarious bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. You’re welcome.

2. The goLITE BLU

Do you have a case of ‘The SADs?’ The SADs, more commonly known as seasonal affective disorder, hit me like clockwork every November when we’re forced by polite society and electronic peer pressure — my computer changes the time — to move our timepieces back one hour to enjoy a life with less light. This is also the time of year I’d like to tell polite society (and my computer) to suck it.


As the days get darker I feel sadder, and this moody pit is most definitely the opposite of ‘The Awesome’. So this November ‘The Carl’ decided his sad, energy-zapped Squawkfox was no fun, and he made the happy decision to zap me with some serious light therapy.

My happy Smurfy blue glow lamp thing is the Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device (around $120 in the USA and in Canada) and it makes me feel better. There’s some science going on here, but I love this lampy thing ’cause it’s portable, rechargeable, and keeps me from eating my keyboard during the winter. May all your senses feel better. Hugs.

3. The Otterbox

Dropping your smartphone and watching it shatter is not a good feeling. I haven’t upgraded my phone yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to wrap that costly piece of droppable technology in a protective case.

Image: otterbox.com

The Otterbox Defender is a cool cover for any mobile device. Priced from around $20 in the USA (and $35 in Canada), it’s a great gift for any gadget-loving friend or family member you’d like to keep in contact with online and in real life. Touching.

4. Le Creuset

Food tastes better when cooked in my Le Creuset. There’s something about this cast-iron cookware that makes me happy, and it’s not just the pretty porcelain-enamel colors that help turn a plain roast or seasonal stew into something stunning to serve.

le creuset

I’ve cooked, braised, simmered, and scorched (gaw) with mine for nearly 10 years, and the enamel is still practically non-stick and stain-free. Prices start at $200, so a Le Creuset dutch oven is not an inexpensive gift, but it’s a high quality piece of gorgeous cookware that stands the test of time. Many families pass down these pots as emotional reminders of holiday dinners and events past.

5. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Cubicle warriors, frequent fliers, and anyone who likes a little peace with their quite may love a set of noise cancelling headphones. This fancy-dancy headgear is worth the spend if your office or study zones kill your mojo and turn your work into wonk. Just sticking them on your head may repel the office talkers too. Phew.

By sampling the sounds of your environment and digitally playing back the opposite, they cancel out much of the noise. Of course they play your favorite tunes too.

Lifehacker reviewed several, and came up with a list of their top headphone choices. While pricy at $250, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 headphones are their top pick.

6. Yaktrax

Looking for that runner’s high in the icy cold of winter? Not me. I’m just looking to stay vertical while walkin’ the dog during my morning jaunt.


I love my Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats (for Snow and Ice) grippy things since falling is a pain in the ass, and enjoying a toe-tapping winter walk feels great. Priced at $15 and up, Yaktrax are an inexpensive way to stay active for walkers or runners, and make a great gift for those who need a little grip for staying steady on their feet. Getting outside feels nice too.

7. Headlamps

Perfect for flossing your teeth during a power outage is the super versatile headlamp. I stick this thing on my dog’s collar at dusk, mount it on my bike helmet for safety at night, and use it to find my kid’s soother which slid under the refrigerator five minutes ago.



The Energizer 7 LED Headlight is the perfect stocking stuffer for around $15. Let there be light.

8. Label Maker

Declutter that unsightly mess for under $30 with an Epson Label Maker — the most popular maker of labels on Amazon. People love this thing for, well, making labels.

label maker

My label maker is an old Dymo, and it leaves me wanting for nicer fonts and greater print options. I’m big into pretty labels. Sigh. Anyhoo, these gadgets are great for labeling binders full of financial paperwork (or women), keeping a home office tidy, and identifying all those boxes in storage. ‘Cause, well, no one likes hunting through 100 boxes to find the one stuffed with holiday decorations.

9. Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush

A healthy smile can light up any room and keep the costly dentist drill away. Clean teeth feel good and make standing under mistletoe kiss-worthy. Sure, a regular toothbrush can handily get the dental job done, but my electronic buzzing brush does a better job and flosses too.

I wanted to photograph my Oral-B Professional Electric Toothbrush, but decided that showing you my used toothbrush is kinda gross. I’m always happy to smile though, so there’s that. See the headlamps section for my dental refresher.

10. Baby Food Maker

Have you seen the price of jarred baby food? I haven’t done a price check comparing homemade baby food to store-bought (yet) but I know there’s money to be saved by making your own baby chow. I think homemade can be healthier too.

baby food maker

Anyways, the internets can laugh me off the frugal blogosphere for buying a single purpose gadget (bite me) ’cause I love my all-in-one baby food steamer and blender. At first I used my 7-year-old hand blender, various pots, steamer inserts, and more pots to cook, steam, and blend my daughter’s dinners. Then my hand blender broke. Then I got sick of doing 100 dishes. Then I bought this gadget and it’s paid for itself.

The Freshfoods Cook-n-Blend Baby Food Maker is BPA-free, has two blend settings (chunky and smooth), and steams everything from pears to peas. I make up to four days of food in one go, and clean-up is simple.

This awesome gadget puts a smile on my face, makes my daughter’s messy mouth giggle, and ‘The Carl’ even likes using it too. If only it would wipe down the floor and high chair when dinner is done.

There’s the popular Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker as well.

There you have it! All the gadgets that make life more awesome by tingling my senses. What’s on your gift list this year?