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The Great and Good SmSh Taobao Gift Guide 2019

35 tried and tested items we actually use.
Last updated: 2019-12-10

Taobao has everything. That doesn’t help narrow things down when it comes time to buy someone (or yourself) a gift. So we made our Editorial Team scroll back through their 2019 purchases and pick out products they’ve actually bought, use and continue to recommend, from a digital Polaroid camera to a Japanese cleaver to an ayi-on-demand. Consider this to be a guide for tried-and-tested gadgets, services and other purchases from our family to yours.


Songbei Zhang, Editorial Intern

Polaroid OneStep Instant Camera

Price: 919-1,469rmb
Why it's good: Stop applying Instagram filters and just get a camera. This Polaroid for the digital age does all types of things the old model couldn’t do, like manual settings, a self timer and double exposure. Then, with Bluetooth, you can send those photos straight to your phone. For, um, Instagram.
The link: Buy it here

Automatic Pet Feeder with Wifi and Camera

Price: 258-529rmb
Why it's good: A lifesaver for travelers with pets. This one saves you when you’ve suddenly got to be out of town and can’t find a pet sitter; it holds two kilograms of food (four liters volume), enough to feed your pet for at least 3-5 days. After downloading the app on your smart phone, you can choose an option to feed your pet manually, or set the feeder to auto. The advanced model also comes with a camera (and night vision) so that you can watch your pet eat, or less creepily, check if your pet has eaten. The advanced model will even allow you to record yourself calling your pet’s name, and then set that to play before feeding. Works for both dogs and cats, but naturally, the larger your pet, the more they will eat and the quicker the food will run out.
The link: Buy it here

Mini Home Projector by Alibaba AI Lab

Price: 1,499rmb
Why it's good: This popular Alibaba projector comes at a reasonable price with a lot of features: auto focus, 1080p resolution, a Wifi connection to streaming platforms (Alibaba Films, Youku, Tudou, Hua Shu, etc.) and an Infinity by Harman speaker. It also allows you to project your phone screen without interfering with you normal phone use. It’s also tiny, at 11cm square and 0.7kg.
The link: Buy it here

MAOKING Bluetooth Stereo/Radio

Price: 399rmb
Why it's good: It’s standard for any Bluetooth stereo to sound nice and function properly these days. Next consideration is looks. This one has that vintage aesthetic but doesn’t lack the mod amenities. It can also be used as a regular, wired speaker with the aux cable or as an FM radio.
The link: Buy it here

HyperIce Hypervolt Fascia Releasing Massage Gun

Price: 3,420rmb
Why it's good: Expensive but a nice gadget for the fitness freak. These fascia massagers have become very trendy recently (you can find others for less than 1,000rmb on Taobao) but Hyperice is the original brand.
The link: Buy it here

Essential Oil and Moisture Dispenser

Price: 39-105rmb
Why it's good: Winter AC air is stuffy, smelly and drying. This is one of my most used items at home, especially in winter. It moisturizes and scents the air, and works just as well as the one from Muji but at a much cheaper price. It has a two-hour and four-hour timer and a small light – excellent for setting the mood.
The link: Buy it here

Rebecca Hu, Directory Manager

A cleaning person straight to your door

Price: About 40rmb/hour
Why it's good: Great if you don’t need a dedicated ayi, but still want someone to drop in once or twice a month. Yep, Taobao has that. Order a day in advance, and the agent will confirm a time and your address and send the cleaner to your door. He or she will probably call you to ask what cleaning equipment you have at home. If you don’t have any, they’ll bring their own. The good thing about this is that you can rate the cleaner with the company. If they really weren’t good, the company won’t charge you.
The link: Buy it here

Shower Drain Hair Collector

Price: 16.50rmb
Why it's good: If you live in old lane houses or apartments, the shower drain has definitely caused you trouble at least once. This hair collector is very easy to use—you peel off the back paper, stick it onto your drain and let it catch the stray follicles. Peel it off and throw it away (dry garbage).
The link: Buy it here

Yalan Bao, Editor

LED disco ball lamp

Price: 19.90rmb
Why it's good: Too cold to go out at night but still want to party? Disco ball at home! Perfect for a dance party in your living room and a great mood-lifter for the chilly season. So cheap but so enjoyable.
The link: Buy it here

Electric Hot Pot

Price: 139-169rmb
Why it's good: Winter is the hotpot season, and nothing beats hotpotting at home with family and friends. This multi-use pot can be used for simmering, steaming, stewing, frying, and grilling but the best use is for hotpot. The non-stick surface is easy to clean, and it comes with protection from overheating.
The link: Buy it here

Electric Drinking Water Pump

Price: 11.80-98rmb
Why it's good: This gadget turns any big bottle of water into a dispenser. It has a charge-able battery that lasts for months and it’s altogether easier than flipping bottles on to stand dispenser.
The link: Buy it here

Adjustable Laptop Stand

Price: 79-139rmb
Why it's good: Great investment for anyone who spends hours every day hunched over a laptop at their desk. This one has six height settings and a rubber pad to avoid the laptop from slipping. Works like a charm.
The link: Buy it here

Angela Leung, Photographer

Electric Hand Warmer

Price: 39.90-139rmb
Why it's good: Keep your hands warm at work with this rechargeable warmer, with a USB cable. Great for the office. Also good for women to place against the stomach for cramps and discomfort.
The link: Buy it here

Toilet Seat Cushion

Price: 12.90rmb
Why it's good: Cheaper than an electric toilet seat and solves the same problem: bare cheeks on icy seats.
The link: Buy it here

Philips Sonic Care

Price: 1,299-2,099rmb
Why it's good: Sonic waves clean your teeth better than just bristles. This one, which vibrates up to 30,000 times per minute, helps deep clean teeth. It’s pricy but not as pricy as tooth decay.
The link: Buy it here

Brandon McGhee, Senior Photographer

Four Roses Whisky

Price: 99rmb
Why it's good: For making holiday eggnog recipes or just general imbibing. Get a bottle for the price of two drinks at a bar. One drink at some bars.
The link: Buy it here

Laser Depilator, Hair Remover

Price: 500.94
Why it's good: The subtlest hint you can give your partner.
The link: Buy it here

Cat Tree

Price: 348rmb
Why it's good: Cheaper than a new couch.
The link: Buy it here

Zhiyun Gimbal

Price: 699-974
Why it's good: Get smooth motion on all your WeChat moment vids of you pretending to work out at the gym.
The link: Buy it here

ST-767 Blender

Price: 260.70rmb
Why it's good: A 1,200 watt commercial blender equivalent to a Vitamix. I've had mine for eight years, use it daily and have made various nut butters with it.
The link: Buy it here


Price: 98-118rmb
Why it's good: For zesting lemon, grating ginger or nutmeg, and making quick work of peeled garlic. If you're in the kitchen, you need one.
The link: Buy it here

Saphir Rénovateur

Price: 168rmb
Why it's good: The standard for conditioning fine leather products.
The link: Buy it here

Spyderco Sharpmaker

Price: 418
Why it's good: A sharp knife is a kitchen necessity. This tool sharpens knives in minutes with no practice or fancy technique.
The link: Buy it here

Alex Panayotopoulos, Deputy Editor

Pet Gloves

Price: 8.60-28.80rmb
Why it's good: Does a thin layer of animal hair cover your apartment, clothing and major internal organs? Do you like to stroke your pet? The Pet Glove lets you give your pet the greatest back scratch it has ever received, while also stripping it of loose fur. Peel it off and throw it away in a giant, satisfying chunk. Cannot stress enough that it is not suitable for masturbation.
The link: Buy it here

Lumbar Support Roll

Price: 40.41-61.69rmb
Why it's good: Sitting sucks. It does all kinds of horrible things to your back. Most of us won't buy wheeled thrones designed by Swedish chiropractors, but your awful default office chair can still be improved with a lumbar support roll. It might be too soft/hard depending on the specific nightmare that is your back, but it's cheap and better than a pillow.
The link: Buy it here

Bamboo Straws

Price: 22.48-24.81rmb
Why it's good: The plastic straw scandal didn't do much except make a lot of noise, but you should get bamboo straws anyway. One, it's probably good karma. Two, they're easy to wash. Three, they don't bend and break. Four, the flavor goes away after a couple uses. Six will set you back about 25rmb, including the washing brush and a storage box.
The link: Buy it here

Christopher St. Cavish, Managing Editor

Morita Electric Blanket

Price: 378-558rmb
Why it's good: The single best investment you can make for Shanghai winter. You spend 1/3 of your day in bed; that’s eight hours you could be out of the cold and on this hot teppanyaki, flipping around like a salt and pepper shrimp. (Not recommended to leave it on all night.) But seriously, sliding into a warm bed in the middle of January after you’ve been stomping around with wet socks all day… there’s no better feeling. You can get more expensive options (which work by circulating water) and cheaper options (no precise temperature controls) but this one seems like the happy middle.
The link: Buy it here

Icebreaker Merino Wool Socks

Price: 134rmb
Why it's good: Merino wool never smells, is anti-bacterial, breathes like no other type of wool, and keeps you incomparably warm in winter. No more stinky, sweaty socks. Icebreaker is perhaps the best brand. Expensive? Yes. But two pairs will get you through an entire Shanghai winter.
The link: Buy it here

Misono Cleaver

Price: 880rmb
Why it's good: Every couple of months, people ask me where to buy the best Chinese knives. Japan, I tell them. I wish I knew better and could recommend a high-quality, beautifully built Chinese cleaver but of the hundreds I’ve seen, they all seem to value functionality over price and aesthetics. Misono is a highly respected knife brand, a favorite of many chefs, and the makers of one of the most beautiful, understated vegetable cleavers out there. (This is NOT a meat cleaver for breaking through bone.)
The link: Buy it here

Godox Led Photographers Light

Price: 248rmb
Why it's good: The single best thing you can do to improve your food pictures. If you are serious about taking nice shots in a restaurant and don’t mind nerding out on a light, this little guy is what you need. We have them strewn around the SmartShanghai office and often use them for our own shoots.
The link: Buy it here

Topdown Cat Litter Box

Price: 89-121rmb
Why it's good: Completely solves the litter-on-the-bathroom-floor problem for the price of a decent cocktail. Only caveat: older cats or cats with mobility or joint issues won’t be able to use it.
The link: Buy it here

Xiao Mi Wifi Power Outlet

Price: 49rmb
Why it's good: Control your lights from your phone, no matter where you are – in the other room or across the city. Plug this thing into your power outlet and plug a light into the Xiaomi outlet, and you’ve got a Smart Light, or Smart Any Other Appliance.
The link: Buy it here

Goo Gone

Price: 128rmb
Why it's good: Gets goo gone.
The link: Buy it here

DJI Osmo

Price: 2,499-3,347rmb
Why it's good: Super fun little toy for making smooth, cinematic 4k videos. Fits in your pocket, connects to a phone or operates independently and makes all your videos look pretty bad-ass. Really good for Instagram and Instagram Stories because you can rotate it to shoot in portrait mode too.
The link: Buy it here

IKBC Mechanical Keyboard

Price: 319-469rmb
Why it's good: Perfect for annoying your colleagues with its loud mechanical clicks. But also perfect for anyone who values the old-school feel of actual keyboard keys, not the Apple pad-keys. Really good if you use a keyboard for most of your professional work, which is why writers and programmers love mechanical keyboards. This is one of those Chinese brands that do a great job at a premium product for half the price. Good stuff.
The link: Buy it here