We all know what Thanksgiving is supposed to look like: cute grandkids, fond memories and turkey dinners as polished as a Pinterest board. But let’s be honest: Even if we love grandpa, we’ve heard the same story every year since 2003. We’d rather talk movies than aunt Mildred’s political platform. And maybe it’s time uncle Larry laid off the Merlot.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a Thanksgiving survival guide: eight gadgets for putting up with eight troublesome family members.
The relative: Grandpa
The problem: Tells the same story 13 times in a row
The solution: Headphones
We’ll admit: this is a delicate one. After more than 80 years of hard work, tough luck and thankless children, the least grandpa deserves is a glass of scotch and some listening ears. It’s just that you already know exactly when he thinks the country “took a wrong turn” and precisely “how things were at your age.” So instead of telling your gramps to keep quiet, wait for the right moment and throw on a pair of discrete noise-cancelling headphones.
The Audio Technica ATH ANC23BK’s are low-profile, affordable and well-reviewed—the perfect pair to slip in once grandpa rounds the country’s-gone-to-pot bend for the sixth straight time.
The relative: Aunt
The problem: Can’t stop talking about politics
The solution: A lightweight laptop
There’s one aunt in every family who has a knack—even talent—for turning every conversation back to politics. Your body armor? A light, inconspicuous laptop. Each time your aunt raises her finger with another opinion, calmly perform a search to confirm or refute her claims. The key here is de-escalation: you’re simply the keeper of a small fact-checking tool, not a worthy antagonist.
With a sleek frame and 12 hours of battery life, the MacBook Air 13-inch is the ideal device—small enough not to threaten your aunt but efficient enough to outlast even the most tireless debater. Problem solved.
The relative: Grandma
The problem: Assumes command of the entire house
The solution: A vacuum cleaner
It’s a familiar story. Grandma arrives, the family members hug, and after two quiet beats, the power shifts, imperceptibly, from hosts to matriarch. Grandma is now in charge. Get caught watching football, and you’ll be summoned to wash the potatoes. Flip on your phone, and you’ll be lectured for ignoring the family. The answer is a luxury vacuum—the sort of device that simultaneously says “I’m working” and “don’t bother me.” Even grandma can’t blame you for checking Twitter while hunting for dust bunnies.
More tech marvel than classic vacuum, the Dyson DC40-Origin handles like a dream and maneuvers like butter. After two minutes, you’ll volunteer for full-time vacuum duty. And besides: that carpet in front of the Cowboys-Eagles game isn’t going to vacuum itself.
The relative: Dad
The problem: Just a little too protective of the turkey
The solution: An outdoor grill
If there’s one thing men do well, it’s internalizing stress from work and taking it out on loved ones. For dads, this means demanding complete control over all turkey-related matters, from cook time to temperature to presentation. Our advice? Double-down. Buy dad a BBQ grill so he can have his own private workspace. Instead of grumbling from two feet away while you mash the potatoes, he’ll be standing outside, manning the grill and ignoring suppressed feelings of incompetence. But don’t worry about the weather: dads thrive in the cold.
With seven separate burners and gobs of space, dad can prepare the whole meal on a single Napoleon Mirage 7-Burner. If nothing else, it’ll help him forget how cramped he is in his work cubicle.
The relative: Nephew
The problem: Just a little too proud of his new job
The solution: A big tablet built for productivity
You’re 15 minutes into dinner when your nephew finally rolls in, loudly ending a phone call while running his hand through a $300 haircut. He drags a chair up to an empty slot at the table, noisily removes his coat, then tells the family he doesn’t “mean to interrupt.” Five minutes later, he launches into a 30-minute treatise on his new company’s “sales philosophy.”
You can’t beat him, so play into his unbridled enthusiasm with a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Casually leave the device on the coffee table, preferably open to a PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet. With any luck, he’ll spot the device and snap into corporate mode, critiquing the slides or reviewing the balance sheet. Meanwhile, the rest of the family can get back to arguing about The Voice.
The relative: Niece
The problem: Obnoxiously smart
The solution: A pre-loaded e-reader
Smart, industrious and impossibly successful, the Ivy League-educated niece is a staple at Thanksgiving. Publicly, everyone applauds her achievements, but privately, you’re just sick of all the one-upping. Your son passed his high school biology class; your niece just got into Harvard Medical School. Your daughter wrote an op-ed for your town’s dying newspaper; your niece is already a syndicated columnist for The New York Times. The best defense? Load up a few academic journals—or better yet, her textbooks—on an e-reader, then see that she finds it shortly after dinner. The overachiever in her will spend the rest of the evening reviewing biochemistry and less time reminding everyone how average they are.
The Kindle Voyage is the company’s latest e-reader, and still the class of the market, with better lighting, an improved screen and the best e-ink tech in the business.
The relative: Uncle
The problem: Three bottles deep by 2 p.m.
The solution: Wine chiller
You wouldn’t say your uncle has a problem, but there’s just something about turkey, family and the holidays that brings about an overly festive spirit. Without a proper plan, he’ll be drunk by lunch and asleep by dinner. The answer: buy a wine chiller. With a pane of glass and semblance of order, your uncle’s consumption will slow just enough to keep him in the “silly” zone before he spills over to “slob.”
With two temperature zones and a surprisingly affordable price for its features, the Winter WC-212BD is a solid choice for any wine enthusiast. As a backup plan, tell your uncle he can “manage the temperature zones:” he’ll be so excited about dividing Pinot Noir from Pinot Grigio that he might just skip a glass.
The relative: Mom
The problem: Wants five full family photos on the hour, every hour
The solution: A wide-angle camera lens
They might be terrible shots by any objective photographic standard, but it’s just a fact: Moms love staged family photos. Humor her by supplying her with a wide angle camera lens. Instead of the usual 15-minute circus (step closer; okay, turn your shoulders; I still can’t see you), she’ll be able to snap the pic in 10 seconds flat, even if your tipsy uncle is still trudging over from the opposite side of the room.
With a minimum focal length of 10mm, the Tamron SP 10-24mm is an extremely wide-angle lens, perfect for family photo efficiency. It’s got plenty of space to fit everyone in the frame, while it’s acceptable to Mom and respectful of personal space: a win-win.
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