- Facebook Portal for $179: As of this past August, you can now make and take Zooms video chats on the Portal. Stay in touch with your folks by giving them the 10-inch-screen version smart assistant with built-in Alexa. WIRED senior writer Adrienne So has been using it for Zoom these past few months, and it's her new favorite way of joining into our WIRED zoom calls. The camera automatically tracks the subject and auto-focuses on them if they move around during a call. I've got to say, of everyone on our Gear team, she has the best camera.
- Google Pixel 4A for $350: WIRED editor Julian Chokkattu called the Pixel 4A "nearly perfect" when he gave it a 9/10 score and WIRED Recommends award . It punches way above its weight at this price. If your mom or dad need a good, new smartphone but have no use for a $1,000 model, buy them an unlocked Pixel 4A that they'll be able to use with any carrier. (Here are a few other great options .)
- Lovebox Messenger for $100: It's a beechwood box with a simple screen underneath the lid. When the heart on the outside of the box starts spinning, they'll know a message has been received, like "Happy Holidays, Pop. Miss you and talk to you soon" or "I love you, Mom and Dad, but please stop." You can send any message you want, up to 168 characters, through a smartphone app. Up to 20 Loveboxes can be linked too. It's also available at Urban Outfitters.
- Aura Mason Smart Digital Picture Frame for $199: I know what you're thinking—digital picture frames are old news. But on a good one, photographs look better than on an Amazon Echo Show display . The Aura Mason has a clear, 1,600 x 1,200 pixel resolution on a 9-inch screen—higher than an Echo Show 10's 1,280 x 800 pixels. It also has Alexa capabilities if you pair it with an Echo, so even if you're a thousand miles away, your mother and father will be able to ask it to bring up pictures of past holidays and vacations to reminisce. There's an included app so they can share photos from phone to frame easily, and it comes with unlimited cloud storage for free, so you can keep them updated with photos of your life and, if they've got 'em, pictures of their grandkids.
- Nintendo Switch for $299: Whether you realize it or not, your mom and dad played probably video games at some point. Just because they never joined you in Halo or Day of Defeat doesn't mean they didn't haunt the arcades and hook up NES consoles in their youth. The Switch is already a classic console, and it's packed with the kind of side-scrollers and arcade games they grew up on in the 1980s and 1990s. You can also find the Switch at Best Buy.
- Nintendo Switch Online for $20 a Year: Nintendo's monthly subscription service includes more than 60 NES and SNES classics, including Super Mario Kart, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, and Super Mario Bros. If you've got a Switch and they've got a Switch, you can play online together, no matter how far away or unreachable they may be during the pandemic.
Shopping for your parents this holiday season is a little different. This year has probably left Mom and Dad, like all of us, a little worse for wear. You may not even get to see them during the holidays. It's hard. No matter how far away they are, you can still give them a meaningful gift, whether it's a way to stay in touch or a way to make sure they're practicing self-care. These are some of our favorite picks.
Gifts to Stay in Touch