Let’s face it: buying gifts during the holidays is almost never cheap. Even picking up something for just one person on your list can put unwanted strain on your budget. And while we can’t teach you how to properly budget your money — there are people far more suited for that than us — we can recommend a number of affordable gifts suited for these times of economic uncertainty.
Each item in this gift guide costs $25 or less and is either entertaining or just plain practical, so your recipient will know that you’ve put some thought into it. That’s the whole point of gift-giving, right? Whenever they look at one of these gifts, they’ll think, “Wow, what a great person.” Well, that and to bring a bit of joy to someone’s life.
At the very least, we hope our expansive selection of cheap gifts helps you kick-start a few ideas. Then again, between Bluetooth trackers ($18), smart plugs ($16), and touch-capacitive winter gloves ($17), there’s bound to be something your giftee will love.
Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Brew Cone
You're either in the "entire carafe of coffee" club or you're not. If you just want to make a single mug of coffee with care, though, a reusable pour-over cone should be in your pantry. Like most, Melitta's basic offering requires paper filters, but it's still easy enough to pack this setup for trips so you can make great coffee wherever you are.
JLab Go Air
Not to sound cliché, but the sky does seem like the limit when it comes to true wireless earbud prices. If you're just looking to gift something cheap, functional, and decent-looking, the JLab Go Air cost about a third of what it takes to replace the battery in a single AirPod. They also offer five hours of battery life and IPX4 water resistance, which is a miracle for the price.
Tile Mate (2022)
While Apple's AirTags are popular for iPhone users, the versatile Tile Mate is a platform-agnostic Bluetooth tracker that works in a similar way (plus, it comes with a lanyard hole). You can attach it to your personal items and track them using the mobile app from up to 250 feet away or locate them using Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri.
TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim
Regardless of how "smart" your home might be, an affordable smart plug from the likes of TP-Link's Kasa brand is a good fit for anyone with Wi-Fi at home. The simple device lets you plug in anything that you want to be able to control remotely, like a coffee maker or holiday lights, and the app offers easy-to-use controls and scheduling options.
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner is probably best known as the driving force behind Japanese Breakfast, an indie-pop band with three terrific records to their name. In her recent memoir, however, Zauner proves that she is just as captivating a writer as she is a musician. It's a powerful examination of biracial identity and loss, one anchored in memories of her late mother and — yes — lots of Korean food.
AirPods Cleaning Kit
If you use your AirPods a lot, they're going to get a little (read: extremely) grimy over time. Thankfully, keeping them clean — and I mean really getting in there to remove detritus — is an easy feat with this 203-piece cleaning kit. It's made for wireless earbuds and comes with putty, brushes, tweezers, and a host of other miniature tools designed to help you keep your tech looking presentable.
Anker 313 Wireless Charger
For those of us who work from home or want to view notifications at a glance, Anker's 313 Wireless Charger pulls double duty. The no-frills plastic stand isn't the fastest charger on the block, but it does feature an indicator light and can keep your Qi-compatible phone topped off while you tackle life at home.
Chef'n Switchit Double-Sided Spatula
If you own spatulas of multiple sizes, you're doing it all wrong. This double-sided silicone spatula from Chef'n gives you both large and small spatula sizes in a single kitchen gadget. The nonstick offering might not have the same kind of scooping power as other models, but it's handy for most cooking duties where you'd typically use one.
Touchscreens and gloves typically don't have a working relationship, but some very clever people figured out a way to fix that for relatively cheap. The low-profile Glider Gloves can keep your hands warm while you tap and swipe away on your phone, meaning you don't have to sacrifice comfort just to tackle the daily Wordle.
Casio W800H-1AV Classic Sport Watch
Not everyone needs or wants a smartwatch, especially when many models retail for well over $300. The Casio W800H-1AV is a mouthful, but it's a dead-simple timepiece that gives you quick access to the time and date. It features a backlit screen, too, along with 100-meter water resistance and a battery designed to last for up to 10 years.
Williams-Sonoma Classic Apron
Kitchen aprons don't cost much, but you get what you pay for. With Williams-Sonoma's personalized apron, you're quite literally getting a heavy cotton apron that's made for you or whoever receives it. It'll have your name stitched into it, plus a large pocket for stowing tools, recipes, and whatever talking points you need to survive Christmas dinner.
Amazon Basics Foam Roller
Getting a basic foam roller for someone close to you may seem like a weird gift, but it's a gesture that they'll feel in their bones and deep into their muscle tissue. These are essential household items that, despite their plain appearance, can provide a fair amount of relief when you roll your back or legs on them.
If you're heading into the backcountry, building out an emergency kit, or going on a big vacation and concerned about the quality of local drinking water, you can't go wrong with a LifeStraw. The basic filter removes unwanted viruses, bacteria, and microplastics as you drink, giving you a safe way to hydrate no matter where you are.
Wyze Bulb Color
There are countless smart lightbulbs out there, but few are as affordable and feature-packed as the hubless Wyze Bulb Color. You can adjust its hue and brightness (up to 1,100 lumens) using a mobile app available for Android and iOS or by using Alexa and Google Assistant, if shouting voice commands in the kitchen is more your thing.
Jisulife Handheld Fan
Even though it's getting chilly outside in most parts of the US, it never hurts to add a portable fan to your arsenal for those toastier days. Jisulife's bag-friendly option charges via USB-C, and its two soft-touch propellers are surprisingly capable of pushing air. Two extra perks include a built-in stand and a USB-A port for charging other devices with its 4,800mAh battery.
Chipofy USB-C LED Cable
People who have powerful devices that charge via USB-C will dig this six-foot braided cable. Not only can it provide up to 100 watts of power but also it can prove it with a built-in LED display that shows just how much wattage is being sent from the wall charger to your gadget. Just note that data transfer speeds top out at 480Mbps.
iFixit Moray Driver Kit
iFixit's repair kits are a must-have if you enjoy tinkering or fixing your own electronics. One of its most affordable kits, the Moray Driver Kit, is a good place to start if you just need a screwdriver and a selection of heads that are commonly used with popular technology. It even comes with a lifetime warranty and a tool for ejecting SIM cards as well as 32 standard bits in total.
8BitDo Wireless USB Adapter 2
8BitDo's USB controller adapter is unassuming, but it's capable of a really cool trick. It can bridge the gap between an array of controllers and gaming devices, allowing you to easily pair whatever controller you already own with a Nintendo Switch, Raspberry Pi, or a computer. It's especially handy for the Switch because it allows you to use your PlayStation or Xbox controller instead of Nintendo's first-party offerings.
Black Diamond Moji Lantern
Here's another gift for the campers or anyone who wants an elegant way to shed a little light when the power zaps out. Black Diamond's adjustable AAA-powered lantern diffuses light at a peak of 150 lumens, which is just enough for you to keep conversations going or do some light reading before bed.
Etymotic Research ER20XS Earplugs
Going to concerts is awesome, but walking out with ringing ears isn't nearly as fun. Instead of subjecting your hearing to potentially damaging volume levels, why not grab a set of Etymotic earplugs? They come in a range of sizes and can protect your ears from unwanted noise, while ensuring what you do hear is clear and natural-sounding.
Basune Magnifying Glass
If the ol' eyeballs aren't what they used to be, an affordable magnifying glass is a practical (and maybe necessary) tool to keep around the house. This affordable rosewood option from Basune looks quite nice, and it includes a fabric sleeve to keep the glass from being scratched.
The Sandman Book One by Neil Gaiman
The Sandman was always one of those comics that was widely regarded as unadaptable, which only makes Netflix's recent crack at the dark fantasy franchise even more impressive. Before you watch the show, however, be sure to check out Neil Gaiman's original graphic novel, which is now available as an affordable paperback or ebook.
The Anchor headphone desk hanger
The best way to take care of a nice pair of headphones is to get them out of your way when they aren't being used. Fortunately, a desk hanger like the Anchor lets you keep them within reach for when you need them but out of reach for cats, dogs, or any pet that might enjoy doing the occasional desk dance.
Carhartt Knit Cuffed Beanie
Carhartt's Knit Cuffed Beanie is to the head what Converse's Chuck Taylors are to your feet. The acrylic beanie dons a classic one-size-fits-all look, and it's available in different colors so your giftee will always be able to add a touch of flair to their wardrobe when they want to stand out.
Lenovo Smart Clock 2 (with dock)
Lenovo's second-gen smart clock is the smallest, most inexpensive way to add a smart display to your nightstand. The diminutive alarm clock packs a lot of functionality in a five-inch by four-inch frame, including the full power of Google Assistant, and comes with a Qi-ready charging dock that offers up to 10 watts of juice and doubles as a great night light.
Logitech G203 Lightsync
They say less is more — which is precisely what you get with Logitech's wired G203 gaming mouse. The barebones acessory doesn't featue an adjustable build or robust programming options, but it does offer two side-mounted thumb buttons, an accurate sensor, and a scrollwheel for under $20. It's available in multiple colors, too, along with customizable LEDs around the palm.
Update December 8th, 4:21PM ET: We replaced the URVNS USB-C cable with the Chipofy USB-C cable after receiving a tip that the original product may have a potential defect.