Even with inflation on the decline, it often feels like it’s an uphill battle to find the right gift at the right price. Dollars simply don’t stretch like they used to, at least not in a world where high-end handsets and handhelds reign supreme. Luckily, you’re in the right spot if you’ve found yourself working with a limited budget.
Like in previous years, we’ve taken the accumulated knowledge of The Verge staff and set out to find the best bang for your buck across several categories, resulting in a selection of gifts that are cheap only in price. Our low-cost collection includes an assortment of well-loved tech staples, from charging cables to gaming mice to a wired pair of earbuds that — gasp! — come in more than one color. And because many of us are obsessed with more than just gadgets behind the scenes, we’ve also included a few non-tech gifts. After all, you never know who in your orbit might be a wannabe dungeon master or an aspiring Top Chef contestant with a competitive edge and one ruthless picadillo.
Dash Mini Waffle Maker
Eggo waffles are overrated. Luckily, it’s not tough to whip up the Belgium classic from scratch with a single-serve waffle maker like the Dash Mini. The nonstick appliance lets you create pillowy waffles in a matter of minutes, whether you want them to come in the shape of a four-inch circle, a rabbit, a pineapple, or a variety of other adorable objects.
Topo Designs Accessory Bag
A good catchall bag can be as clutch as, well, a clutch. Topo Designs’ ultra-durable accessory bags come in three convenient sizes that make them perfect for stowing earbuds, charging cables, and a host of other small items. Plus, they’re available in an array of two-tone designs, allowing you to add a splash of color to any packing kit.
Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds
If you don’t want to deal with the fuss or cost associated with a pair of wireless earbuds, then Panasonic’s ErgoFit are an inexpensive solution. The ultra-cheap wired earbuds are good enough for taking Zoom calls thanks to their built-in mic, and they’re available in a slew of charming colors you simply can’t get with most earbuds. Plus, there’s something oddly freeing about never having to charge your headphones again.
iFixit Moray Driver Kit
If your giftee loves to fix things, iFixit’s Moray Driver Kit is the perfect gift. The 32-bit toolkit comes with everything they’ll need to make minor repairs and adjustments, whether to their laptop or the seat on their ’82 Schwinn. It’s also relatively tiny, meaning they can easily store it in the glove box of their car to make simple repairs on the go.
8BitDo Retro Receiver for PS1, PS2
Psh. Who needs a Resident Evil 4 remake when you can play the original title on the PlayStation 2 with a modern wireless controller? 8BitDo’s latest adapter allows you to connect Sony’s DualSense controller and a host of other newer gamepads with either the PS1 or PS2, giving you a more convenient way to revisit the classics.
1Password subscription (individual plan, annual cost)
1Password stores your login details on unlimited devices and offers security features like authenticated encryption to keep your data safe.
Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology
Ellen Ullman’s Life in Code provides a 20-year look at the tech industry, from the mid-’90s through the Y2K craze and into 2017, when the world felt more connected (and chaotic) than ever. The insightful series of essays packs an undeniable sense of style and documents the burgeoning tech scene from the inside, highlighting both its optimism and its exclusionary gatekeeping.
Onn Google TV 4K Streaming Box
Don’t let the Onn’s rock-bottom pricing fool you — Walmart’s new Google TV box is an absolute steal at just $20. It may lack support for higher-end specs like Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, but the inexpensive streaming device still touts built-in casting, Google Assistant integration, and the same content-forward interface we love on Google’s 4K-ready Chromecast.
LifeStraw Peak Series Straw
If you’re heading into the backcountry or going on a big vacation and concerned about the quality of local drinking water, you can’t go wrong with a LifeStraw. And while the latest model certainly doesn’t give you carte blanche to drink from any body of water — we still primarily recommend the personal filter for lakes, rivers, and streams — it does feature an improved design that doesn’t clog as easily.
Matador Pocket Blanket Mini
We know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but we promise the weather will one day be warm enough again for picnics, concerts, and other outdoor festivities. The Matador Pocket Blanket Mini can prove indispensable when that time inevitably comes, providing you with enough room for two people and ensuring you’ll always have a clean, dry place to sit, no matter where you go.
Barebones Classic Work Glove
It’s a dirty job, and someone’s gotta do it. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do it in style. Barebones’ leather work gloves come in three sizes and three attractive colors, and while they’re very affordable, they also look nice enough that they can almost double for equestrian riding or as a pair of fancy-schmancy driving gloves. Almost.
The Alchemist is one of those books that everyone should read at some point in their life — and not just because it’s a staple of every high school curriculum. Paulo Coelho’s tale about a young shepherd in search of hidden treasure is a modern classic because it’s an incredibly lovely, thought-provoking piece of literature, one that’s equal parts self-help and entertainment.
Anker PowerLine II USB-C cable
Anker’s PowerLine II USB-C cable may not seem like an exciting present, but this 100W cable can save your giftee a ton of time. It offers 10Gbps transfer speeds in addition to the ability to charge everything from smartphones to Apple’s latest MacBook Pro, making it a solid option if your giftee intends to transfer video footage from one device to another.
Goodr Circle G sunglasses
Goodr’s Circle G aren’t just a stylish set of sunglasses but a polarized pair that can help protect your eyes from the sun. The circular frames come in an array of handsome colors and are designed to fit securely, too, so you won’t have to worry about them slipping off while you’re working up a sweat at the gym or riding your bike around town.
Logitech G203 Lightsync
They say less is more, which is precisely what you get with Logitech’s wired G203 gaming mouse. The bare-bones accessory doesn’t feature an adjustable build or robust programming options, but it does offer two side-mounted thumb buttons, an accurate sensor, and a scroll wheel for under $20. It’s available in multiple colors, too, each with customizable LEDs around the palm.
D&D Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle
We get it. There are few tabletop roleplaying games as daunting to pick up as Dungeons & Dragons. Fortunately, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, the latest boxed starter set, provides five premade characters, a rulebook, a set of dice, and everything your giftee might need to embark on their first journey into the Forgotten Realms. Now, all they need are some adventurers to experience it with.
Adrian the Cassette Player Squishmallow (8-inch)
Furbies might be making a comeback — or trying to, at least — but Squishmallows still reign supreme. The bulbous, wide-eyed plushies are a lot easier to come by than they were during the pandemic, yet they’re just as cute as when they first launched. Plus, there are more than 1,000 characters to choose from, from Pikachu to house plants.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription
Gifting someone a few months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate grants them access to hundreds of quality titles across Xbox and PC — including Starfield, the latest Forza Motorsport, and some of the biggest games of the year. There are also surprise hits like Lies of P and indie works of art like Cocoon, making it quite the curated collection of games.
Verve instant coffee
Instant coffee has come a long way since Folgers and Nestlé took the world by storm more than 70 years ago. There are now several small-batch roasters dishing up instant coffee that doesn’t suck, including California-based Verve Coffee Roasters, which makes some of the most robust, nuanced coffee you can take with you into the backwoods.
SanDisk Ultra microSD card (128GB)
An affordable microSD card is the easiest way to add a sizable amount of storage to a handheld gaming console like the Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, or Asus ROG Ally. Even a 128GB card, which may seem like a modest amount today, can triple the storage capacity of the Switch OLED, giving you plenty of space for games (especially indies).
The Reverse Coloring Book
Unlike most coloring books that demand you stay inside the lines, The Reverse Coloring Book gives you the freedom to create your own. Each one of the 50 pages includes unfinished watercolor paintings that invite you to doodle away your worries and transform them into whimsical artwork, the kind well suited for a fridge or frame.
Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp
Most phones offer a flashlight function, but we’d argue nothing beats a dedicated headlamp when you need some light for an extended period of time. Black Diamond’s rechargeable Astro 300 is a solid option that offers a commendable 300 lumens of brightness, IPX4 waterproofing, and the ability to run on AAA batteries in a pinch, so you never have to worry about keeping things charged.
The humble buff is not the most inspired present in the world, but if your giftee is the outdoorsy type, they make for great stocking stuffers. The quick-drying neckwear can be worn in a variety of ways and offers both warmth and UV protection, which makes it incredibly handy from sea to summit.
Slice Safety Cutter
Here at The Verge, the Slice Safety Cutter is one of those “TikTok made me buy it” gadgets. The tiny, finger-friendly ceramic blade is great for tearing through paper packaging tape and cutting plastic wrapping, and it comes with a built-in magnet and key ring hole for easy storage when it’s not in use.
The Hoptimist is part toy, part desk ornament, all kitsch. The simple spring-loaded figurine is cast from the same plastic as Lego bricks and was created by Danish cabinetmaker Hans Gustav Ehrenreich to spread joy during the late 1960s, which is what the colorful character continues to do more than 50 years later.
Amazon Echo Pop
With its semicircular shape and vibrant colors, Amazon’s latest smart speaker can make any room pop. The tiny speaker is nearly as capable as other Echo devices, so you can use it to play music and podcasts, control various smart home gadgets, and carry out other Alexa-enabled tasks. It even works as an Eero mesh Wi-Fi extender, just like Amazon’s newest Echo Dot.
Hanes EcoSmart Fleece Hoodie
There’s nothing wrong with some affordable, essential fits. This basic hoodie from Hanes comes in various colors and pairs with just about anything. Just remember that the fit is everything, so unless you aim to go big and tack on some metal suds for that gothy early aughts look, be wary of the sizing chart. Either way, no judgment here.
Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler
Look, we all can’t cook like Carmy from The Bear, but with Kuhn Rikon’s reliable Swiss Peeler, you can still feverishly prep vegetables as you chain smoke and argue furiously with co-workers. Okay, we obviously don’t condone the latter two habits, but it kinda completes the vibe of the popular FX show in which you can see this colorful kitchen gadget at work (if you look close enough).
Joby GripTight One GP Stand
With the Joby GripTight One GP Stand, you’ll never again have to worry about your arm making an unwanted cameo in your holiday photos. The tripod’s versatile design allows it to accommodate most smartphones, while its adjustable legs give you a quick way to attach it to branches, railings, or anything else you can find nearby. Trust us: it’s a hell of a lot better than a selfie stick.
A word game like Bananagrams offers a great way to break the ice — or destroy the friendships you've already built. The simple, travel-friendly anagram game has become a modern classic in the vein of Scrabble, one that tasks you with building an ever-growing word grid before your opponent has a chance to yell "peel" at the top of their lungs.
Bodum French Press (34-ounce)
Everyone gets busy from time to time, which makes being able to quickly brew a few cups of coffee pretty important. Thankfully, Bodum's elegant French press boasts solid build quality for the price and can make 34 ounces of joe in just a matter of minutes. There's a reason the Bodum's glass beaker and overall design haven't changed much since their debut in the mid-1970s.
Knog Plus Bike Light
Knog’s tool-less light, which is also available in a red and white pair, is the perfect safety accessory for cyclists, runners, and even dog walkers who find themselves wandering during the wee hours of the morning. You can easily clip the bright LED light bar onto your clothes or bicycle, yet it's also small enough that you can tuck it in your pocket to prevent it from wandering off.