It should go without saying, but the best gifts aren’t always the most expensive. There are plenty of affordable pieces of tech and non-tech items that would make for great gifts or stocking stuffers, many of which should still arrive in time for the holidays despite fast-approaching shipping deadlines. If you’re in need of ideas, we recently polled The Verge staff to curate a budget-based wishlist that spans our favorite tools, gadgets, and other goodies that can typically be had for around $25 or less.
The responses we got ranged from practical to personal, from helpful to hilarious. Whether you’re in the market for a vest to keep your beverage from getting chilly, a sadistic puzzle that will take any Rubik’s Cube fan down a peg, or chopsticks from a galaxy far, far away, our budget-friendly gift guide is a manifestation of everything that you want, but nothing you need. Even if you’re shopping for yourself instead of someone special, we know that our suggestions will help make your life a little easier or, at the very least, coax out a smile. After all, pens that say what we’re all thinking tend to have that effect on people.
Anchor headphone hook
The real estate on your desk is valuable, so stop monopolizing it with your headphones. This hook comes with a secure 3M adhesive and can hold two pairs of headphones wherever you stick it. The sturdy wood and silicon construction also ensures that the hooks will likely outlive whatever you decide to hang on them.
The Tile Mate, a now-ubiquitous tracking device compatible with Android and iOS, is a fantastic way to keep tabs on anything located within 200 feet of you. You can secure the tiny Bluetooth tracker to just about anything, ensuring that your most important items never go missing.
AirPods cleaning kit
Anyone who has ever looked at their earbuds knows how gross they can get even after just a week of sustained use. With this 203-piece cleaning kit, however, your giftee will never have to tote around a pair of AirPods that look anything less than spotless.
RDS Game Traveler Deluxe Case
Whether you've been a longtime Nintendo Switch owner or recently picked up the new OLED model, it pays to have a protective case to stash it in. Thankfully, this durable hardshell case from RDS Industries can house both your Switch and a cartridge case. There's also an adjustable viewing stand for propping up your Switch while inside — a nice touch given the flimsy kickstand on the original model.
Stop opening your Amazon packages with a pen like a scrub and invest in this keychain tool from Gerber. You'll never be without something to poke, prod, pry, or slice something open when the need arises.
Puffin beverage vest
Arguably functional but definitely adorable, the Puffin beverage vest might be the cutest koozie we've ever seen. This beverage accessory is available in a variety of colors and styles, including flannels, parkas, and life vests.
Comfyable slim protective laptop sleeve
A classy sleeve for any 13- to 16-inch laptop, this slim, waterproof, faux-leather cover comes in a variety of colors. The inside lining is also covered in microfiber to prevent scuffs and scratches, making it a great accessory for anyone who wants to add a little professional flair to their laptop.
Price: $20 to $26
These itty-bitty, inexpensive headphones from Skullcandy come in a wide array of fun colors and feature IPX4 water resistance. Moreover, the true wireless earbuds can last for up to three hours on a single charge or 12 hours with the included charging case.
Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod
Not only is Manfrotto's Pixi Mini the cutest of tripods, but it gives you a stable shooting platform for both stationary and mobile use. The featherweight device can easily fit in your back pocket, too, and can even be adapted for use with smartphones.
TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug
This adapter is a quick and simple way to add smart home connectivity to any device that uses a wall outlet. The TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug can pair with Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, allowing you to toggle power states with simple voice commands.
Price: $10 to $18
Anxiety Pen Set
The Anxiety Pen Set is the ideal gift for anyone whose life is constantly on fire. Each pack comes with five, medium-tip ballpoint pens, providing just the right amount of levity for when your life is falling apart at the seams.
Turtle Beach Battle Buds
These unique earbuds from Turtle Beach — which are typically on sale for under $25 — are some of the only earbuds that come with their own boom mic. Because they use a 3.5mm audio jack, the Battle Buds are also compatible with any console, and they come packaged with a number of ear tips to ensure a comfortable fit.
Creative Pebble 2.0 speakers
These diminutive, wired speakers from Creative are a great way to punch up the sound of your laptop without having to put on headphones. The Pebble 2.0 are compatible with any laptop or device that has a USB port and 3.5mm headphone jack, and their small footprint and minimalist design make them perfect for desks of any size.
Echogear On-Wall Surge Protector
Echogear's surge protector lays flat against your existing wall outlet, doubling the number of outlets and adding a pair of USB ports to charge your phone and other gadgets. Perhaps its best feature, however, is that the wall outlets can pivot 45 degrees, which is especially handy when a cord is preventing you from laying something flush against the wall.
Sharper Image Word Clock
It doesn't tell time, it spells it out for you. This LED clock from Sharper Image is a clever little conversation piece available in matte black or wood grain. Perhaps the best feature of this clock, however, is that it uses a USB-C port for power, making it easy to hook up without a dedicated outlet.
If you're buying for a foodie who also happens to be a Star Wars fan, a pair of battery-powered Chop Sabers isn't a bad way to go. While it might be tempting to use the light-up chopsticks on a bowl of glass noodles, a more creative application would be to use them to tie up your hair. Just a thought.
Haitral Retro Vintage Table Lamp
For anyone who's a fan of simpler times and rugged design, this industrial desk lamp is the perfect accent to any table or desk. Composed of wood and iron, Haitral's steampunk-inspired lamp is built to last and can accomodate a variety of bulbs.
Tlinna LED coffee thermos
Tlinna's thermos is a smart take on the classic, double-walled design that proliferates coffee shops across the country. The thermos comes in a variety of fun colors, each with an LED display on top of the lid that shows you how hot or cold your liquid is. Plus, each stainless-steel bottle comes with a built-in tea infuser.
A more eco-friendly way of cleaning out the crud that accumulates under your keyboard, this soft bristle brush comes with a keycap puller and a wedge-shaped cleaning tip for getting dirt out of those hard-to-reach places without damaging your keyboard.
Nanoleaf Essentials A19 Bulb
For those looking to bring intelligent lighting into their home for just $20, there's Nanoleaf's hub-free smart bulbs. Each LED bulb is compatible with a number of virtual assistants — including Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit — and can be adjusted to suit a variety of scenes and vibrant colors via the Nanoleaf app or your voice.
Anker PowerCore Slim
If you've got room for a phone, you've got room for the Anker PowerCore Slim. The 1,000mAh battery pack is roughly the same size as your typical smartphone yet provides enough power to top off most phones at least once, ensuring you'll never be without juice when you need it most. Just make sure you have your own USB-C or Micro USB cable to go with it.
Everyone has at least one obsessive journaler in their life, so why not gift them something that's unique to them? This personalized journal from Etsy has a virtually limitless number of customization options. You can tailor everything from the color to the font to the overall design, making it easy to pick out a notebook that's perfect for your friend or loved one.
Field Notes: National Park Series (three-pack)
Field Notes are as basic as it gets, which is precisely the point. The pocket-sized memo pads are a great way to jot down passing thoughts, to-do lists, and other bits of info on the go, saving your giftee from having to fumble for their notes app when time is of the essence.
Price: $15 to $17
Luci Outdoor 2.0 inflatable light
MPOWERD's portable light packs flat, but can quickly inflate to serve as a lightweight lantern. Rechargable via an integrated solar panel, the Luci Outdoor 2.0 provides up to 24 hours of light on a single charge and features a waterproof design, making it an ideal companion for camping or backpacking.
Ghost Cube Puzzle
The Ghost Cube Puzzle is the perfect gift for that friend that continually brags about having finished a Rubik's Cube during quarantine. Unlike a traditional cube, the sly modification is uniformly white and each piece is a unique geometric shape, making it far more difficult to solve than its well-known predecessor.