The ‘Untech’ Holiday Gift Guide

December 25, 2015, 1:13 AM UTC
Shoppers Inside A Kmart Store Ahead Of Black Friday Sales
Shoppers enter a Kmart discount store, operated Sears Holdings Corp., as the doors open ahead of Black Friday in Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers are expected to hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Photograph by Luke Sharrett — Bloomberg via Getty Images

The holidays are upon us, which is always an excellent time to put smiles on the faces of loved ones. Of course, the tech industry has never lacked to produce fantastic gifts. From phones to smartphones, video games, gadgets, connected devices, the list goes one.

But this year, we thought that maybe it was time to unplug. Here’s a short list of “analog” gift ideas if you’re still looking for some gifts:

1. Notebook

This year, Apple introduced the iPad Pro, a tablet with a 10-inch display that can be used with a stylus. Microsoft came out with the Surface Pro Book tablet to compete against newcomer tablets from a number of other companies.

But what's the fun in mobile electronics, with their cold metal casing and glass screens that can't seem to stay free of fingerprints? Instead, give the gift of a notebook this season—one made of quality paper and binding.

A favorite of many casual and professional writers, Moleskine's notebooks are a bit pricey (depending on the size and type, anywhere from $7 to $20) but worth it. They're made of high-quality paper and come with soft or hard covers, in a variety of classic colors.


2. Wristwatch

A wristwatch produced by Konstantin Chaykin, a Russian watchmaker, at the 2014 Baselworld luxury watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland.

In 2015, Apple finally shipped its first smartwatch, joining several other companies that make what are essentially wrist-sized computers.

But then again, who really needs a dozen of sensors strapped to their wrist all day? Not to mention that so far, most (not all) available smartwatches look like an athletic device that has no business being worn with anything other than gym clothes.

Luckily, there are still plenty of classic watches around and they're sure to make for a pleasant gift surprise to your loved one. Depending on your price range, you're sure to find something that fits your needs, but companies like Swatch, Fossil, and Citizen are good places to start. Swatch's unisex Black Rebel watch at $70 or Fossil's Pilot 54 Chronograph Light Brown Watch for Men at $125 are modern and classic watches.

3. Puzzles and board games

The rise of smartphones meant, among other things, the rise of mobile games. From Words with Friends, to Floppy Bird, to Kim Kardashian's game, and everything in between, mobile games have become a booming business in that last several years.

Not to mention other platforms like gaming consoles and PC gaming.

But this holiday season, break out some jigsaw puzzles and board games—it could finally be the day you beat your know-it-all brother at Monopoly ($12.49 on Amazon) and taste that sweet revenge. Or prove to everyone in your family that you really are the cleverest of the gang with a round of Cards Against Humanity, the popular card game for matching the funniest answers to the most absurd questions ($25 on Amazon)

Head to, Amazon, or large retailers like Target and Walmart to pick up your favorites.

4. Chalk, sports balls, jumprope

Virtual reality is poised to forever change how we do certain jobs, communicate over long distances, connect with others, and play games. But why spend money and time on virtual reality instead of experiencing real reality?

Pick up a set of colorful chalk (Crayola's 16-count chalk for $3.48 on Amazon), a baseball mitt ($10 and up on Amazon) or a basketball ($12 and up on Amazon), or even a jumprope for your favorite child (or child-at-heart) as a gift this year. It might not cost as much as a fancy VR headset, but you're telling them you care about their experience of the real world. Also, no software updates necessary!

A local sporting goods store or large retailer should have everything you need.

6. Bicycle, skateboard

Hoverboards became the hottest futuristic toy this holiday season, albeit they are not welcome everywhere. Some major airlines banned them over fire safety concerns because of their batteries, and so did New York City.

But skateboards—you know, some wood on wheels—are just fine as long as they're in your checked luggage. And they have a cool California image that any recipient is sure to appreciate.

Alternatively, a bicycle can be just as practical to get around town, or even for more serious exercise and adventures (see mountain biking). And both options are sure to help your loved one cut down on that monthly Uber bill they've been racking up.

Your local sporting good store should be a good place to start, or a specialty store if you have one around.

7. Discs, tapes, books

Betamax VCR manufactured by Sony, Japan. In 1974 the Sony corporation released the first VCR on the market, heralding the arrival of the video age. Within a decade the Betamax had become virtually obsolete.

Movie streaming is taking over the world, blah, blah, blah. Sure, a Netflix or Hulu subscription can be quite handy at home or while in a hotel room while traveling.

But this holiday season, what could make for better family quality time than the joy of picking up a real-life VHS tape—or DVD disc—of a favorite movie and gathering the clan around for some cinematic art. Unlike online streaming, tapes and discs let you feel the movie in your hands. Remind yourself of the fun of pushing buttons on the DVD player, rewinding VHS tapes, and watching the extras on the bonus disc that came with the luxury edition of a blockbuster film.

Or buy a book as a gift (for some of Fortune's favorites, look here and here). It's a cool way to time travel back to when people actually read on paper.

Finding tapes and discs might be tricky, but some large retailers like Target still carry some, as does Amazon. And while shopping, don't forget to pick up a DVD (starting around $25) or VHS (starting at $100 for a VHS/DVD combo) player if you or your gift recipient doesn't have one. For books, find a nearby bookstore or head to Amazon.

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