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With summer behind us and the fall season underway, you may be getting into the autumnal spirit by leaf-peeping, baking some cozy treats or perhaps shopping for Halloween. However, we’d advise you to think beyond pumpkin patches and spice-scented candles for a moment and consider thinking ahead to the holiday shopping season. That’s right—just like last year, many top products and gifts for the holiday season will be hard to get ahold of.
With the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions became a prominent roadblock for shoppers in 2020, especially around the holiday season. Labor shortages, factory shutdowns and overwhelmed ports and railways were some of the leading causes for supply chain issues, resulting in extreme shipping delays and lengthy product shortages. This year, you can expect a similar shopping experience with barriers and potential delays on electronics, toys, kitchen appliances and more.
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Kate Ellsworth, Reviewed’s executive editor of commerce, says shipping delays and congestion will be especially problematic during high-traffic events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Added costs will also be a roadblock when buying products online. “Shipping rates will likely rise for USPS, FedEx and UPS,” says Ellsworth.
All of this is to say that you should start your holiday shopping soon—perhaps ASAP—if you want to check everything off your gift list. Here at Reviewed, we test and review products year-round, recommending readers the best products at the best price point on the web. Our editors are here to help you buy the best gifts this year, even amid the anticipated shopping chaos.
If you’re ready to start your holiday shopping, here are a few of the top products our team recommends shopping for right now.
1. Small appliances
While you may not necessarily be gifting a brand new major appliance to a friend or family member, if you’re looking to score a deal on a new refrigerator or gas-range stove for yourself, we’d encourage you to keep your eyes peeled now.
Appliances have persistently been a hot (and limited) commodity since the beginning of the pandemic. The increased demand for items like washing machines and freezers comes from all of the at-home time over the past year and along with it, realizations for needed upgrades around the home.
Smaller kitchen appliances are also in high demand, especially around the holiday season. Madison Trapkin, our kitchen and cooking editor, says air fryers are going to be among some of the top kitchen essentials that’ll be hard to grab during the holiday season. Specifically, the Beautiful by Drew Barrymore 6-Quart Air Fryer is bound to sell out around the holiday season, Trapkin says. We tested Drew Barrymore’s ultra-popular air fryer and found its performance to be as good as its beautiful looks. Its frying chamber is dishwasher-safe, the device requires no preheat, and the fryer is a pretty affordable option.
There are plenty of other top-rated air fryers that we’ve tested that are available to buy right now. The Philips Premium Airfryer XXL is a premium choice that yields the crispiest, crunchiest fried foods, sans the deep fryer. For an inexpensive air fryer choice, the Cosori CP158-AF is a solid choice with digital controls, a large “frying” basket and powerful crisping power.
Ryan Waniata, Reviewed’s managing editor of electronics, recommends holiday shopping early in general as “pretty much everything” has been out of stock at one point or another around the holidays. Buying ahead goes beyond TVs—game consoles, laptops, smartphones and wireless headphones will also be in high demand as they are most years. Not to mention, there’s a microchip shortage that’s apt to make shortages even worse.
If you’re in the market for a new TV or are feeling generous during the holiday season, we can help you narrow down your purchase decision. Generally speaking, the best overall TV we’ve ever tested is the LG OLED65C1PUB. It’s a stunning OLED TV with an incredible performance and tons of top-of-the-line features (not to mention, the TV boasts an elegant design).
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly TV, don’t think that you can’t get a truly great TV for $500 or less. We tested plenty of TVs under $500 and found the TCL 5-Series to be our favorite choice. This 4K TV isn’t the most robust one on the market, but the picture quality is stellar for the price point. It also comes in with a built-in Roku smart platform for easy access to all your favorite streaming platforms. And if you’re on the hunt for a TV specifically for gaming, for watching Netflix, or another specific need, we’ve got plenty of recommendations at Reviewed.
While new and popular toys can be hard to get a hold of during any given holiday season, this year’s shortages won’t make it any easier—if anything, it’ll be more difficult. Ellsworth notes that toys are sure to sell out fast this year, so try to secure top toys of the season early on to avoid a ‘Jingle All The Way’ situation.
We’re already on top of the must-have toys to buy ahead of the season, like the highly sought-after Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar, which is already back-ordered on several retailers’ sites. Other ultra-popular toys like Squishmallows are sure to be hard to find around the holiday season, as they’ve already been hard to buy during the summer months. However, despite high demand, many retailers like Amazon and Target are likely to have some Squishmallows in stock. If you have no luck with the big box retailers, Reviewed’s parenting editor, Anna Lane, suggests checking your local independent toy stores.
This summer, many homeowners struggled to find patio furniture in stock due to shortages of “workers, truckers and raw materials”, The Associated Press reports. Now that we’re shifting into fall, seasonal home goods like fire pits or patio heaters may be difficult to get your hands on. Before the holiday season is upon us, Ellsworth says you should start shopping for furniture early.
Looking to heat up the outdoor space as the temperatures start to drop? Remember that a lot of homeowners will be looking to do the same, so the time to snag a patio heater is now. The experts here at Reviewed spent hours digging through thousands of patio heaters online to help you pick the best one for your home out there. The Amazon Basics Propane Patio Heater is one of the best-selling heaters online right now. It’s easy to assemble in less than an hour with simple hand tools and is even easier to use. Amazon reviewers were impressed by the heating capability and the sturdy design of the unit—just keep in mind it’s pretty tall, standing at a full 89 inches.
If you’re feeling stuck about where exactly to shop for furniture online, Reviewed has narrowed down the best places to buy furniture online with brands that feature a wide selection at a variety of price points for every décor style and budget. Some of our favorites include Wayfair, West Elm, Walmart and more.
Get the Amazon Basics 46,000 BTU Outdoor Propane Patio Heater at Amazon for $153.99
5. Robot vacuums
As if these small yet mighty vacuums aren’t popular enough year-round, they’ll be extra popular come holiday season. If you or someone you’re getting a gift for is looking for an autonomous upgrade from their standard upright vacuum, a robot vacuum is well worth the investment.
We’ve tested dozens of robot vacuums by releasing them in specially-designed courses in our labs to see how they tackle pet hair and clean up hardwood floors, among other challenges. As a result, we’ve found the iRobot Roomba i7+ to be the top pick in terms of navigation, battery life, ease of use and overall ability to clean carpet and hardwood floors. For something more affordable, the Eufy RoboVac 11s is excellent at picking up dirt and debris around the house.
6. Holiday decorations, cards and more
While you’re shopping for Halloween décor, you may want to think about picking up Christmas décor while you’re at it. With widespread labor shortages and factory closures, holiday essentials like artificial trees, garlands, stockings and greeting cards will be slim pickings come November.
“Popular holiday items that you buy at big-box home improvement retailers like The Home Depot or Lowe’s will likely sell out far in advance,” says Reviewed’s senior editor for home, Leigh Harrington. “We saw this with patio furniture at the beginning of the summer and we’re seeing it with Halloween inflatables, lights, and other decorations—and we are still more than a month out from October 31. I would anticipate the same for artificial Christmas trees, holiday décor and more.”
We’ve already got you covered with a list of holiday decorations that are in stock and available to buy right now. This includes the best artificial Christmas tree we’ve ever tested, our favorite tree stand and personalized stockings for the whole family.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.