You might love your razor, your toothbrush, or your toaster oven — or you might not really think about them all that much. But often it's the menial, mundane tasks that impede upon our journeys to greatness, so that appliance you never think about may actually be extremely important to you and the ones you love. A mediocre shave here, too long spent vacuuming there, and you could lose opportunities and waste time that could be spent making your life the best it can be.
What are the holidays made for if not optimizing your situation and that of those around you? When you make your holiday list, think about the things you take for granted — the best version of that regular, run of the mill home security system could totally change your frame of mind when you're on vacation, like a toothbrush that reminds you how long to brush could cut down on dentists visits. With just one present, you could be seriously improving someone's situation (or your own).
Whether you're a shave-down-to-the-skin kinda guy or are sporting an impressive amount of facial moss, every man needs a good razor. Sometimes taking care of a beard actually requires more nuance, skill, and better tools than are necessary when you're just trying to get a clean shave. Although that mountain man look might be appealing, it needs to be done right— you need a good line, and a symmetrical shape. Meanwhile, for the clean shaven man, the wrong tools will not only cut you up like a boy just learning his stuff, but they'll keep you from being all the man you can be.
The Philips Norelco Beardtrimmer 9100 is a slick beard trimmer that'll tame your scruff without muting your manliness. Its 17 easily-adjustable length settings are already on-board with no attachments needed, and the trimmer's cutting-edge laser creates an impossible to miss road map for that perfect look. Say goodbye to having to constantly swap out different tools to get the length you want. $99.99.
If you happen to be a fan of baby smooth cheeks, the Philips Norelco Shaver 9700 provides a closer shave, and does so more quickly than other razors. Contour Detect technology flexes in eight directions, catching more hair at every pass. SmartClean is its all-in-one accessory that cleans, dries, charges, and lubricates. This means more time in the morning to get things done, and a more efficient day over all. $349.
Your home needs cleaning, but who has the time to clean it? There have been robotic vacuums on the market for awhile now, but besides making excellent feline conveyances, they haven't before reached the heights we were promised in our favorite futuristic cartoons — until now.
The Deebot D77 3-D Vacuuming Robot takes automated cleaning to another level. It cleans any floor type, empties its own dust pan, and won't fall down stairs. $699.
Meanwhile, once your floors are clean, the WinBot will take care of your windows, meaning all you actually have to do is sit back and revel at the spotless glory of your sparkling clean house. Starting at $399.
We all like eating food, right? There's just so much work involved with making the good stuff. If only we lived in a magical age where intelligent people made clever gadgets that made the toils of cooking and eating easier...oh, wait, we do.
The West Bend TEM500W is the least tech-y and most delicious time saver in this entire guide. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, sure, but preparing a good one always takes time away from sleeping, unless you have this beauty, which will make you an entire breakfast sandwich in one fell swoop. I'm generally not overly affectionate toward inanimate objects, but the TEM500W is a temptress. It can also toast bread products of all shapes and sizes, and can heat pineapple (seriously, it's one of the product claims) if that's what your heart desires. $59.99
We're all already using our phones, tablets, and laptops in the kitchen, but the Xperia Kitchen Edition lets you do so with ruining an expensive device. It's water-resistant up to 3 feet so you can rinse it off when it gets covered in flour or splashed with soup, and it comes loaded with a wireless digital thermometer and more recipes than you'll be able to make in a lifetime. $549.99
The movement toward locally-grown, locally-sourced food has taken over to the point where it's no longer a trend but a way of life. Where better to source your spices from than your own garden? Of course, not everyone has the green thumb necessary to carefully tend to their own plot of fresh herbs. That's where the Miracle-Gro Aerogarden comes in, using aeroponic technology to help you grow your own herbs and salad greens — plus flowers and vegetables — year round, indoors. Never again will you have to settle for wilted, out-of-season basil in your homemade pasta sauce. $169.95.
[Bonus Round: It's not out yet, but Lynx Grills has a smart grill in the works that asks you a few questions before cooking your food exactly the way your taste buds like it.]
We all want our places of residence to be safe. It's where we keep our best stuff. Like beds, desk lamps, cat food, and even the occasional family member or two. Unfortunately, I've never had an employer who was willing to pay me to sit at home with a shotgun keeping all my stuff safe, and I'll wager you haven't either.
Home security systems with cameras have been around for a while, but Piper is an affordable home solution that will allow for constant vigilance at a reasonable price. It's a smart home security system that streams live, 180-degree views from inside your home to your mobile devices. It will record, notify, and forward you footage of any motion you weren't expecting, and it can also be used to automate other accessories in your house if you care to get even more bang for your already solidly-spent buck.
You might not have known that your smoke/CO alarm wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but you will after meeting Nest Protect. Nest's human-voiced notifications tell you which part of your house is currently burning or being poisoned and specifies the severity of the issue, allowing you to deal with it before too much damage is done. $99.
Reclaim all those badly-spent hours searching for lost door keys with the Kwikset Kevo lock. With your phone and your keys in your wallet and the Kevo installed, easy entry is literally at your fingertips: all you have to do is touch the lock, and you're in. $199.
Teeth are important for so many reasons, but for some reason, many people don't care for them properly. How often do you go to bed without flossing? Admit it. Even if you're a meticulous flosser, however, there is more you can do for and learn from your teeth with the right tech.
Although it's not on the market yet, the Kolibree promises to be one of the most advanced smart tools out there — this data gathering toothbrush syncs with your smartphone or other health apps to track your dental hygiene and give you info on the areas of your mouth that you might not be brushing properly, or those that are getting too much attention. Available for pre-order soon.
If performance is more important to you than all that data, the cadillac of toothbrushes is the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean. It includes Charging Glass and USB Charging Travel Case so you can charge your Philips Sonicare anywhere you go, uses sound waves to sing your pearly whites into pristine condition, and has 5 different modes to ensure that your mouth is dentist-clean every single time you brush. $219.99
Jake Roberson is a writer and social media strategist living at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. When he's not in the middle of enjoying them, he writes about tech, pop culture, food, and being a dad.