A Guide to the Best Holiday Gifts for 2016 | Extra Mile

The holiday season has arrived, bringing with it the same question that plagues celebrants every year: How do you find the perfect gifts?

Amid the flurry of holiday distractions and stress, with a list of recipients to shop for, you can’t count on gift-giving inspiration to strike out of the blue.

But that’s OK because we’ve got you covered. Make your list (and check it twice) with the help of this guide to the best holiday gifts for 2016 for your spouse, kids, and grandchildren.

Gifts For Your Spouse

A night under the stars

This home planetarium from Hammacher Schlemmer projects more than 8,000 stars, including 61 constellations, onto the walls and ceiling of your bedroom. Its built-in Bluetooth speaker works with both Android and iPhone devices to play soothing music while you and your main squeeze fall asleep under the night sky in the comfort of your own home. (Note: If you have a popcorn ceiling, the projection may look a little distorted.)

Cost: $130

A gift that keeps on giving

Subscription boxes are more popular than ever this year, and there’s a box for everyone. These boxes allow you to continue delighting your loved one long after the decorations have been taken down with a gift tailored to their personal interests.

Here are a few options:

Cost: For the subscriptions listed above, $3 to $86 a month

A key to the past

A six-month membership to Ancestry.com will allow your spouse to explore the branches of their family tree. Membership provides access to birth, marriage, death, and census records; tools to create and organize a family tree with photos and stories; and a forum for interacting with other members. Using these features, your spouse can play detective, unearthing details about their family history.

If your loved one wants to delve even further into the past, consider gifting them a DNA Ancestry Kit, like this one from National Geographic’s Genographic Project. Not only will they be able to learn more about their “branches on the human tree”, but they’ll also be able to contribute to a multiyear, worldwide genetics research initiative.

Cost: $99 to $199 for Ancestry.com subscription (AARP members can save 30 percent); $179.95 for DNA Ancestry Kit

An amazing experience

Why not skip the gift and get your significant other an experience? Is there something your spouse has always wanted to do, like take a gourmet baking class, ride in a hot air balloon, skydive, or attend an opera at a famous opera house? You can browse for ideas on TrulyExperience.com, where you can filter by interest, price, and recipient. Or simply create your own gift by booking an adventure, a class, a spa session, or a weekend getaway.

Cost: From under $100 to over $5,000, depending on the experience you choose

Gifts For Your Son or Daughter

Better photos from a phone

The ExoLens, which snaps onto an iPhone, allows the photographer to take stunning photos. ExoLenses are professional quality lenses made from machined aluminum and the highest grade optical glass, designed to marry high photographic quality with the convenience of a smartphone. The company offers an array of products, including telephoto and wide angle lenses. Not only is this a great gift for a daughter or a son, but it’ll probably result in better photos of the grandkids, too.

Cost: $100 to $200 depending on the lens

Stylish fitness tracking

The new Fitbit Alta is sure to be on many holiday wish lists this year. This slim, stylish fitness wristband complements everything from yoga gear to business wear. The device tracks your workout, your sleep, and more, and even nudges you to get up and move when you’ve been sitting for too long. Changeable accessory bands allow you to swap out colors and materials, so you can match the device to any outfit. Tech site CNET calls the Alta “the most visually appealing” fitness tracker available.

Cost: $130 for the device (Accessory options: $30 for a classic colored band; $60 for a leather band; $100 to $130 for a metal band that fits over the Fitbit to turn it into a silver or gold bracelet)

Yoga all year long

When you’re juggling family, work, and other responsibilities, life can be hectic and stressful. Give the gift of relaxation with a membership to Yoga Download. The service offers access to hundreds of online downloadable yoga classes with nationally known yoga instructors. There are targeted programs too, including yoga for beginners, yoga for weight loss and yoga for runners.

Cost: $120 for a one-year unlimited subscription (or $18 a month if you prefer to pay monthly)

Gifts for Your Grandchildren

The hot toy of the year

Every kid has different interests, so there’s no way to name one toy as the hottest toy of 2016. But here are a few contenders:

  • Hatchimals start out as colorful speckled eggs that, with a little encouragement, “hatch” to reveal unusual stuffed creatures with glowing eyes that can “learn” to walk and talk.
  • Enchantails mermaid sleeping bags come in rich colors, each with a matching book for bedtime stories.
  • For older kids, the SelfieMic lets kids sing and create their own music videos.

Need more ideas? Toys “R” Us offers a list of hot holiday toys for 2016, and FatBrainToys.com allows you to shop by age for toys that both entertain and educate.

Cost: $25 for SelfieMic; $60 for  Hatchimals; $150 for Enchantails

Regular learning activities

Perfect for tots to teens, Kiwi Crate will send your grandchild a kit containing a fun project that focuses on building skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. The kits contain materials and instructions for the project, and you can purchase one kit or a monthly subscription.

Little Passports kits help kids learn about the world. You can choose the USA Edition, which teaches kids about U.S. states, or the World Edition, which showcases a different country each month.

Wonder and Company offers a Mystery Box for Kids that will allow your grandkids to unwrap a whimsical new adventure every three months.

Cost: $12 to $24 per month

Safer wireless headphones

Help your loved one stay safe and aware of surroundings while they listen to the music they love. AfterShokz wireless headphones transmit sound via bone vibrations. They sit outside the ears, allowing the wearer to hear what’s going on in the world around them as they walk, jog, or bike. These sleek headphones come in cool colors, from pink to ocean blue to metallic green. A bonus: they can also be used with Bluetooth technology for making and taking calls on the go—especially to or from Grandma or Grandpa.

Cost: $99 to $129

Use this handy 2016 gift guide and your shopping should be a snap—leaving you with more time to spend enjoying the company of your loved ones this holiday season.

Next: Tell us about your best all-time gift–given or received–on Facebook!

Disclaimer: This article is meant for information purposes only. The Hartford does not endorse or have any association with the products and/or services referenced.

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