Apple holiday gift guide: The best products to buy this season

Apple holiday gift guide: The best products to buy this season

Holiday season is upon us, and Apple devices are premium products that your loved ones will appreciate. Whether you plan on buying an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or an accessory — such as the AirPods 3rd Gen — we’re here to help you choose! You can spend so little on an Apple Polishing Cloth or a fortune on the latest MacBook Pro 2021. Either way, you’re in the right place to find a suitable pick, no matter what your budget is.

Navigate this guide:

Best for:

Best for affordability: Apple AirTag

Apple's AirTags in a red leather key ring along with some keys.

An Apple AirTag is the best gift to get if you want something both affordable and useful. It costs a mere $29 in the US and its replaceable battery lasts for a whole year. It’s the perfect gift to buy for a distant relative or friend whom you want to share the joy of the season with. An AirTag is also a great option if you’re a student who can’t afford buying your loved ones more expensive gifts. It’s a sweet gesture that both young and older adults will appreciate alike.

With Find My Network support, an AirTag can be found if any Apple device passes next to it. So it has better coverage than rivals, such as Tile. AirTags can be used to find anything and everything you might lose — except for your happiness; an AirTag can’t help you with that, unfortunately. However, it will definitely bring warmth to the heart of whomever you gift it to during this jolly holiday.

AirTags were announced earlier this year, so they’re still relatively new products. There’s a high chance the person you want to gift it to hasn’t bought one yet. And if they already have, you can never have enough of them. They may want to attach it to their keys, backpack, luggage, wallet, or even car. A person has already found his stolen car thanks to it, and many users utilize it to remember their parking spots.

These coin-sized tracking devices only come in one color, unfortunately. However, there are plenty of colorful attachment accessories out there that will give them a fun vibe. If you crochet, crocheting a keychain for the AirTag and including it with your gift can make it a very personal and unique one. Handmade presents always reflect that you actually care, no matter how simple they are.

AirTags also come in a pack of four for a discounted price. So if you feel like one isn’t enough but you still want something affordable, this would be the optimal selection. They can toss one in each of their valued items and never lose them again. A pack of four costs only $99 in the US, so it’s still budget-friendly, relatively speaking.

    Apple AirTag
    The Apple AirTag is the most affordable device in our guide. It's a useful Find My Network tracker that your friends and family will appreciate as a gift.

Best for versatility: Apple Gift Card

apple gift card

If you’re not sure what your friend or family member likes in particular but you know that they’re in the Apple ecosystem, this one’s for you. An Apple Gift Card allows you to pay them as much or as little (between $25 and $200) in Apple credits. You can add a personalized message to your card, so when the email reaches their inbox, it doesn’t arrive as any other generic one.

Speaking of personalization, Apple also allows you to choose one out of five different patterns. So you can go for the design that best matches your vibe or theirs. What’s great about this digital gift is that you can schedule it beforehand, and it’ll arrive whenever you want it to. So if you tend to be forgetful during this season, you can buy it right now and have it delivered to them on Christmas.

When it comes to the amount, Apple lets you choose between $25, $50, $75, $100, $150, and a custom number. The custom field can be filled with any number between $25 and $200. However, you can also select the quantity of cards. So if you want to pay someone more than $200, you could always increase the quantity of cards sent. What’s so great about this card is that you can also send it to up to 999 different people at once. So you don’t have to manually buy one for each of your friends and relatives.

So what can they do with Apple credits once they redeem it? Anything Apple related. They can use the money when buying actual Apple products or for digital goods. So, through it, they can buy games, apps, in-app purchases, third-party app subscriptions through the App Store, Apple subscription services, and more.

Apple Gift Cards are truly the best for versatility. Your beloved ones can use them however they want, and you won’t have to worry about spending too much if you’re on a limited budget. They’re also eco-friendly, considering they’re delivered as an email and don’t go through a production and packaging process.

    Apple Gift Card
    The Apple Gift Card is a versatile present that can cost as little as $25. Your friends and family will be able to spend it however they want inside the Apple ecosystem, whether on hardware or software.

Best for a parent: Apple Watch Series 7

Whether it’s a parent or a grandparent, the Apple Watch Series 7 — for many reasons — is the best gift for them. This smartwatch was released back in September, so it’s still a fresh, new product. There’s a lot to like about it, and you will want to share its magic with your beloved ones.

The watch is available in so many configurations, so you will likely find at least one combo that matches their style. But why would you buy your parent(s) a watch? Health features, for the most part. There’s a reason why the Apple Watch is the best selling smartwatch right now. The technologies it packs in its compact body is unrivaled.

The Apple Watch Series 7 supports:

  • Blood Oxygen measurements
  • ECGs
  • Walking Steadiness notifications
  • Cardio Fitness Level notifications
  • Irregular Heart Rhythm notifications
  • High & Low Heart Rate notifications
  • Fall Detection
  • Emergency SOS
  • Medical ID
  • Loud Noise notifications

So if you’re concerned about their health, getting them an Apple Watch would be a great idea. If they don’t own an iPhone to set it up with, you don’t have to worry about that either. The GPS + Cellular model of the Apple Watch Series 7 can be set up through your iPhone.

The health features on this watch aren’t solely what makes it so great. If your parent tends to miss calls or notifications, the Apple Watch will make sure this never happens again. Not only does it vibrate on their wrist, but it also can play optional notification sounds. This way they’ll never miss a call or text, as long as they’re wearing it.

Speaking of missing calls, the Apple Watch Series 7 supports answering calls right from their wrist. So even if they’re getting a much needed rest on the couch with their phone away, they can answer without moving an inch. They can also ask Siri to send texts so they don’t even have to type or click buttons.

The Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399, which makes it a perfect balance between affordable and expensive. It also comes with a three-month Apple Fitness+ trial, so your parent has someone to guide them with their workouts and motivate them. This subscription service also includes workouts for older adults, so there will always be something for them.

    Apple Watch Series 7
    The Apple Watch Series 7 makes a great gift for a parent or a grandparent. It offers health features unmatched by other smartwatches, in addition to other perks.

Best for someone special — productivity: Apple MacBook Air M1

Apple MacBook Air 13

If you’re looking to buy a special someone an expensive item, you may want to consider a MacBook Air M1. Released back in late 2020, it’s the latest and most powerful Air to date. The base model starts at $999 in the US, so it’s not the cheapest Xmas gift. But if you want to spend a notable amount on a productivity device for someone you love, you’re in the right place.

The MacBook Air M1 has the same design as the previous-gen one. It features two USB C ports and a headphone jack. I’m personally a big fan of its design because it’s very clean, slim, modern, and light. It comes in three aluminum finishes to choose from — Space Gray, Gold, and Silver. While the two colors are somewhat similar, you could always protect it with a case or stick a skin on.

As its name suggests, this MacBook is powered by the Apple M1 chip. If you’re not very familiar with it, here are the first 10 things you should do with an M1 Mac. When it comes to memory and storage, the base model comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD. It’s the greatest device for lightweight productivity.

This Mac supports macOS 12 Monterey, which includes a lot of M1-exclusive features. So fear not — you will be receiving every single new feature, thanks to the processor. We have prepared for you a macOS 12 Monterey review, in case you’re wondering what this new operating system is all about.

So whether your loved one is a student or someone who works in a field that doesn’t require ginormous computing powers, this MacBook will handle their every-day tasks smoothly. It’s safe to assume that it will receive software updates for at least five more years, based on Apple’s history. In a nutshell, it’s a capable, future-proof device that your beloved will appreciate.

    Apple MacBook Air M1
    The Apple MacBook Air M1 is the perfect gift for someone exceptionally special to you and who needs a productivity device.

Best for young adults: Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro on a stack of magazines.

Despite being over two years old now, the AirPods Pro are still my favorite in the AirPods lineup. Why? These true wireless earbuds from Apple offer Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), a feature I use almost every single day. Whether you’re working at a café, commuting on the metro, or merely jogging, ANC offers complete immersion into the music or podcasts you’re listening to.

The AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are the only models that support ANC. So as a fan of in-ear designs — rather than over-the-ear ones — the Pro are what works for me best. The regular AirPods — all three generations — don’t support ANC, which is a dealbreaker for me at this point.

Apple’s AirPods Pro also support Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking. So you get to listen to music the way you are meant to — how the artist visualized it when it was getting recorded. This feature is available on Apple Music and some other third-party services. It also work with the Apple TV app so you can become part of the (supported) movies and series you’re watching.

These wireless earbuds are water and sweat resistant, so working out while wearing them is not an issue. Apple doesn’t cover water damages under its limited warranty, so be careful when you’re jogging during rainy weathers. To make sure these little buds don’t fall out of your ears when running, check the other ear tip sizes included in the package. You can also do a fit test from your iPhone to make sure you’ve chosen the correct size.

Apple offers optional engraving when purchasing AirPods from its online store. So if you want to add a unique touch to make your gift more personal, you can do that for free. They’re available for $249 in the US in white color only. Their charging case supports both Qi and MagSafe wireless charging.

    Apple AirPods Pro
    The AirPods Pro offer Active Noise Cancellation and Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking support. They're a Christmas gift no young adult can resist.

Best for someone special — medium budget: Apple iPhone 13 Mini

If you have an extra special person in your life whom you want to treat but are on a somewhat limited budget, you might want to consider an iPhone 13 Mini. This iPhone starts at $699 in the US, so it’s neither the cheapest nor the most expensive out there. It was released back in September, so it’s a device from the latest lineup.

The iPhone 13 Mini is available in five different finishes to choose from — PRODUCT(RED), Starlight, Midnight, Blue, and Pink. The base model has 128GB of storage, but it can be upgraded to up to 512GB is you think that’s not enough for them. Powered by Apple’s A15 Bionic Chip, it’s the fastest you can get on an iPhone today.

This tiny iPhone has an OLED 5.4″ Super Retina XDR display with a 2340‑by‑1080-pixel resolution at 476 pixel per inch. So it’s vivid, shows accurate colors, and allows you to watch content in crisp qualities. Its display also supports the True Tone technology, which adds a warm layer to the colors depending on the surrounding lighting. This makes the colors look more natural and as they’re meant to be.

The Mini iPhone of this year has decent splash, water, and dust resistance, rated at IP68. So it can last in a maximum depth of 6 meters for 30 minutes at a time. However, it’s worth remaining you that Apple’s limited warranty doesn’t cover water damage. So try to avoid the water as much as you can. See its resistance as a precautionary measure in case of a water-related accident, rather than intentionally immersing it.

When it comes to the front camera, the iPhone 13 Mini supports Face ID and Portrait Mode camera effects, thanks to the TrueDepth camera system. The rear bump includes two camera lenses that support 4K video recording, Cinematic Mode, Night Mode shooting, and more.

In a nutshell, the iPhone 13 Mini is the best gift to get someone who is exceptionally special to you when you’re on a medium budget.

    Apple iPhone 13 Mini
    The Apple iPhone 13 Mini is the cheapest model from the latest lineup. It's a generous gift for someone on a medium budget but wants to get their beloved a high-end device.

Best for students: Apple iPad 9th Gen

ipad 9 e

The affordable iPad 9th Gen was released earlier this year, and it’s most suitable for students who don’t require a Mac. While its power is somewhat limited, considering it’s a mobile device, iPadOS still makes it a solid productivity tool. It starts at $329 in the US and is available in two finishes to choose from — Space Gray and Silver.

The iPad 9 comes with a design similar to that of older models. It features thick front bezels and a physical home button that houses the Touch ID scanner. It’s a slim, lightweight device that anyone can just slip into their backpack and get going. So whether you’re gifting it to high school or college student, it’ll be a decent device for paperless education.

If the student you’re aiming at is in a field that requires heavy audio, video, or photo editing, then this isn’t the right device for you. The iPad 9th Gen is fine for attending online classes, taking notes, reading ebooks, listening to podcasts, and watching TV content.

This iPad has a 10.2″ display that supports Apple Pencil 1st Gen. So if the student you know would rather go for handwriting, there’s a solution for that. The best part? Apple’s Notes app recognizes handwriting, so they can search through their notes as if they’ve been typed on a keyboard.

The front 12MP Ultra Wide camera on the iPad has 1220º field of view. So if they’re moving around while attending a class or a regular video call, the camera will follow them around. However, it’s worth mentioning that this camera doesn’t support Portrait Mode camera effects or Face ID, due to the lack of a TrueDepth camera system.

    Apple iPad 9th Gen
    The Apple iPad 9th Gen is a gift suitable for students who don't require high computing powers for their daily needs. It belongs in the medium budget category of our guide, but it's worth every cent.

Best for someone special — generous edition: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

This one is for all of you extra-generous peeps who are looking to buy something fancy for their other halves. The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max starts at $1099 in the US for the base model, and it’s the most expensive gift in our guide. This is the perfect gift if you want to spend a significant amount of money on your lover’s gift and get them the latest, highest end device.

This iPhone comes in four different finishes to choose from — Graphite, Gold, Silver, and Sierra Blue. It has a Ceramic Shield front, textured matte glass back, and a stainless steel design that makes it look as premium and solid as it gets. While it’s the most durable iPhone manufactured in the past years, it still feature glass fronts and backs, so certain drops might crack them. Repairing the front or back of an iPhone 13 Pro Max costs a fortune, so you may want to invest in a case to minimize potential damages.

This iPhone comes with 128GB of storage and cane upgradable to a maximum of 1TB. It’s powered by the same A15 Bionic Chip that Apple uses across the iPhone 13 lineup — the fastest mobile processor currently available. And just like the iPhone 13 Mini, it has an IP68 rating, making it splash, water, and dust resistant. It can withstand a 6 meter depth for up to 30 minutes at a time. However, always remember, Apple doesn’t cover water damages under its limited warranty. So tread carefully.

This fancy beast has an OLED 6.7″ Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion. The adaptive ProMotion technology allows the refresh rates to reach up to 120Hz. This screen supports HDR content, True Tone technology for warmer and more accurate colors, and has a 2778‑by‑1284-pixel resolution at 458 pixel per inch.

When it comes to the camera, this iPhone also features a TrueDepth front camera for Face ID authentication and Portrait Mode camera effects. On the back it has three lenses — Telephoto, Wide, and Ultra Wide. Thanks to the LiDAR Scanner, this iPhone can even take Night Mode Portraits. Additional features include Deep Fusion, Macro Photography, Apple ProRAW, and Cinematic video shooting.

    Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
    The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max is the highest-end and most expensive device on our guide. It's aimed at people who want to spend a significant amount on their significant other.

The holiday season is a great time to share precious moments with those we care about. While human connections are priceless and no gift can express to what extent we love those around us, exchanged gestures are always a nice reminder of these positive and healthy relationships we have. Apple products are some of the best options out there to share the joy around.

These products are premium, durable, and have high reselling values down the road. My personal favorite is the Apple Gift Card because it ensures the recipient will find a proper use for it. While most people (I would like to think) will value a present anyway, it’s a plus knowing that they actually love and need it. So I’d rather give people the freedom to choose what to do with this money, instead of trying to guess what they really want. If I’m aware they’ve added a certain item to their wishlist, though, then that’s a different story.

Another reason I love digital Apple Gift Cards is them being eco-friendly. Considering the whole process occurs online, the waste they leave behind is nonexistent compared to that of physical products. People are then free to do with their added Apple ID credit whatever suits them and their needs most.

Which Apple products will you be buying as Christmas presents? Let us know in the comments section below.

About author

Mahmoud Itani
Mahmoud Itani

Mahmoud is an Istanbul-based Beiruti who has always sought freedom through writing. His hobbies include keeping up with tech news, writing articles about Apple devices & services, crocheting, meditating, and composing poetry. You’ll likely find him jogging at a park, swimming in open water, brainstorming at a coffeehouse, or merely lost in nature. He can be reached via [email protected] or the provided social links.