August 11, 2022


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The best tech gifts that aren’t gadgets

My favored getaway tech reward doesn’t need batteries or application updates. It’s not even a gadget, while it was built with technological know-how.

Can you guess what it is?

A handful of a long time ago, my spouse experimented with her iPad and a digital stylus to make electronic illustrations. Making use of Procreate, a drawing application, she loaded a photograph of our beloved corgi, Max, as a reference to trace around before embellishing the graphic with a polka-dot bow tie and a cartoonishly extended tongue. I preferred it so considerably that I picked a history shade that would enhance our dwelling and uploaded the illustration to the application Souvenir, a printing company that assembles your images in a great frame prior to offering it to your doorway.

A huge, framed portrait of Max now hangs as a centerpiece in our residing home in all its two-dimensional glory. It would make me smile and is generally a conversation starter when we have attendees more than. That is more than I can say about other tech gifts that I have gained over the decades, this sort of as video game titles and clever speakers, which only brought quick-lived joy.

This type of gifting exercise — tech-adjacent offers that do not include hardware or thoughtless Most effective Invest in present cards — may possibly be particularly welcome this calendar year. Which is mainly because we are residing in a pandemic-induced period of scarcity driven by a global chip lack and offer-chain disruptions that have designed typical presents challenging to invest in. (Any individual trying to acquire a sport console for the very last year understands this pain.)

So here’s a list of thoughts for tech items we can give with no in fact purchasing tech, from the provides you can make to encounters that will last a lifetime.

The present of correcting

Last week, I told a good friend I had a exclusive existing for her: I would take care of her Iphone challenge.

She had complained to me about her 5-year-old Iphone SE. The device could no more time choose photographs or put in software package updates simply because virtually all of the device’s information storage was used up.

So prior to she still left for her Thanksgiving family vacation, I satisfied her for lunch and walked her as a result of the procedure of backing up shots to an exterior push right before purging all the illustrations or photos from the gadget. Then I plugged her mobile phone into a laptop or computer to back up all her info ahead of putting in the new operating process.

She was thrilled to have this problem fastened prior to her trip. She can now choose plenty of photos on vacation. In addition, a new Apple software update has a software to add a electronic vaccine card to the iPhone’s wallet application, which can make vacation journey a little a lot less demanding in the pandemic.

For those who are somewhat tech savvy, this may possibly provide as a template. Hear to your beloved ones’ grievances about their tech and provide the reward of solving the issue. If it’s a sluggish Wi-Fi link, see if you can diagnose the challenge to enhance speeds. If it’s a limited-lived cell phone battery, look at taking them to a maintenance store to get the battery replaced for a compact sum.

In some ways, this beats offering a new gadget because it spares them the headache of finding out how to use a new piece of tech.

Photos can be a good place to start for creating a personalized illustration, calendar and other gifts. (Mary Lam via The New York Times)

The gift of development

Apart from the illustration of the digital illustration of my puppy, there are loads of other techniques we can use tech to develop for mates and relatives.

For a person, I’m a lover of image publications that can conveniently be designed with web instruments. A couple many years ago, a colleague’s Solution Santa reward for me was a calendar she made working with Google’s photo textbooks company. She made it by pulling shots from my dog’s Instagram account and compiling them into a calendar — each month was a diverse image of Max posing future to an entree cooked by my wife and me. I was delighted.

In general, photo-printing providers provide pleasant ways to flip electronic shots into bodily keepsakes in the variety of old-school, significant prints and even mugs and Xmas ornaments.

The gift of knowledge goes a long way and sometimes gives back, like when the recipient of online cooking lessons shares what they learned with a meal. (Glenn Harvey / The New York Times)

The reward of understanding

In advance of the pandemic upended our lives, my wife bought a DSLR, the sort of digital digicam utilized by gurus, with the intention of discovering a lot more about electronic photography. Then the lockdowns happened, vacations turned into staycations and the camera finished up living in a drawer.

My system for a holiday break present for my spouse is a two-hour electronic pictures lesson with a photo studio in San Francisco that usually takes learners on a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge when training the fundamentals of pictures. (Hopefully she does not read through this column.)

What would your close friends and spouse and children like to learn? We have lots of selections for potential gift classes, because the pandemic drove many instructors to offer you digital instruction on line, together with cooking lessons and workout routines. The reward of knowledge goes a lengthy way and sometimes presents back again, like when the recipient of on the web cooking classes takes advantage of that newfound knowledge to make you dinner.

The present of no tech

The pandemic may well have uncovered us to much more monitor time than we could ever envision enduring, so a good present this year could also be something that can take our notice absent from tech.

That could be renting a cabin in an place with no cellular service, tickets to a play, a wintertime hike and a picnic — anything that offers us respite from our inevitable return to screens.