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The best 15 last-minute Christmas gifts for 2023

These gadgets are small and affordable, and should ship quickly in a pinch.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

The holidays are right around the corner and you might be a little more behind on your shopping than you’d like to admit. We don’t blame you — between family gatherings and the final work rush before PTO kicks in, it’s hard to find the time to go to a store to pick out presents. And once you get there, you could find half-empty shelves and very few choices. But that’s why we have the internet: you still have time to buy holiday gifts online.

USPS, UPS and FedEx have laid out their holiday shipping deadlines for 2023: Ship your items via USPS by December 16 to have them safely arrive before Christmas, while FedEx and UPS have deadlines of December 15 and December 18, respectively, for standard shipping. At this stage in the game, we recommend picking up small, affordable gifts that will ship quickly so you have plenty of time to wrap them up nicely and make it look like you had everything well-planned from the start. Here are the best last-minute Christmas gifts you can get right now and still have in time before the holidays.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

The Echo Dot is often talked about as an affordable way to get Amazon’s Alexa in your home, but it’s really a great all-purpose smart speaker. The Dot with Clock makes a particularly good gift for anyone, since they could use it as an alarm clock, a compact speaker in their home office or a voice-assistant anywhere else in their home. Recent updates make it a more powerful speaker than you might think, with clear vocals and deep bass, plus its LED display can show the time as well as weather forecasts, song titles and more. The Dot can also act as an Eero extender, so if your giftee has an Eero Wi-Fi setup, they can get an extra 1,000 square feet of coverage with this little device.

$71 at Macy's
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$60 at Target$67 at Bloomingdale's
Freelancers / Plaid Hat Games

If Dungeons & Dragons is a bit too intimidating for you but you like the idea of such a game, try Freelancers instead. It’s a story-focused, choose-your-own-adventure board game with fantasy and magical elements including unique dice, spells and monsters. You play as a “freelancer,” a being in a post-apocalyptic hellscape who will take any job, no matter how questionable, to make a living in this broken world. The key to this game is its companion mobile app — whereas you need a game master to play Dungeons & Dragons, the app handles all of the actual storytelling in Freelancers, complete with narration, a soundtrack and more. Best of all, you can play an entire game in one night, and start things up again the next day with a totally new game and experience.

$58 at Amazon
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

You can never have too many portable chargers, and the Anker 511 power bank is one that would make a great gift for anyone. It’s a 5,000 mah battery with up to 20W of power output, so it should be able to fast-charge most smartphones. It’s close to the size of a lipstick tube, making it compact and easy to throw into nearly any bag (not to mention a stocking). But what makes it stand out is its built-in foldable plug that lets you use it as a wall adapter too. It also only takes about 2.5 hours to fully recharge the battery itself, so your giftee will be hard pressed to find themselves without extra juice.

$26 at Amazon
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Yes, you can get a decent pair of wireless earbuds for $25. JLab’s Go Air Pop earned an honorable mention spot in our best budget wireless earbuds guide thanks to their lightweight design, decent isolation, IPX4 water resistance and over eight hours of battery life on a single charge. Not only do their onboard touch controls actually work quite well, but JLab also has a feature that lets users swap between three different EQ presets directly from the earbuds themselves. The included charging case adds another 24 hours of use and they have a built-in charging cable so your giftee has one less thing to worry about losing.

$18 at Amazon
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$25 at Verizon$25 at Lenovo

TP-Link’s Kasa smart light bulbs are some of our favorites and they make a good gift for tech nerds or anyone who just moved into a new home. They provide two things above all else: convenience and color. TP-Link’s easy to use mobile app lets you set on/off schedules for each bulb or by room pairings, so your giftee will never have to remember to shut the lights off before going to bed or leaving the house. When we tested these bulbs out, they stayed reliably connected to Wi-Fi at all times and we were impressed by their responsiveness: your recipient will be able to simply drag their finger across the in-app color wheel to see the rainbow of colors at their disposal. Whether they’re using these lights to set the mood for their holiday party or unwind before bed, they will get a ton of use out of them.

$30 at Amazon

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who leaves home without their phone, and PopSocket’s phone wallet can make it easier for them to bring their most important cards and IDs with them every time. The slim accessory sticks to the back of smartphones and holds 3-5 cards, or a small bit of cash and an ID if that’s what they prefer. It has a traditional PopSocket built in as well, which will make it much easier for them to hold their phone one-handed. While you can pick a color that suits your loved one’s personality, they can change the style of the grip if they choose thanks to the fact that it can pop out and be replaced with a different one.

$24 at Amazon
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If you have a tech-lover in your life who hasn’t yet started their own smart home ecosystem, a smart plug is a good place to start. Amazon’s Smart Plug in particular has a low barrier to entry: plug it in, follow an easy setup process in the Alexa mobile app and turn a “dumb” device into a smart one. It’s made even easier by Alexa voice commands — using the mobile app or an Echo device they already have, they can ask the voice assistant to turn off that bedroom lamp before they go to bed or turn on the coffee machine to get it percolating in anticipation of their morning cup of joe. Plus, the Alexa app lets them set schedules and routines for the plug, so that new smart gadgets can run in the background of their lives without missing a beat.

$25 at Amazon
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$26 at Staples$25 at Best Buy
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

It’s easiest for most people to use their phones as their primary speaker for listening to music while hanging out with friends or jamming in their home office. But you can give them a little more oomph with a Bluetooth speaker like the UE Wonderboom 3. This small, barrel-shaped speaker packs a punch with 360-degree sound, and an outdoor EQ mode that will make music sound even better in a wide, open space. It’s also IP67-rated against dust, dirt and water, so they can take it outside, on hikes or to the beach without babying it (and if it takes an accidental dunk in a pool, don’t worry, it’ll float). Add a 14-hour battery life on top of all that and you have a gift that anyone would be happy to receive.

$72 at Amazon
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$100 at Verizon$62 at Daily Steals

Quencher cups may be all the rage right now, but Stanley makes a bunch of solid drinkware that make for great gifts. The IceFlow tumblers have made it into gift guides in the past thanks to their folding handle that makes it easy to tote them around, and the flip-down spout that should keep things a bit more sanitary than a stationary straw. They have a double-walled, insulated design that keeps cold drinks chilled for up to 12 hours, and they should fit in most cup holders, too. They’re also available in more than 20 fun colors and patterns, so chances are you’ll be able to find just the right one for your recipient.

$35 at Nordstrom
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$50 at Amazon

If you need a gift for an iPhone user, you can’t go wrong with Anker’s 10,000mAh magnetic power bank. It snaps neatly onto the back of the latest iPhones and powers them up quickly and efficiently. They’ll get an additional 22 hours of life out of their phones while using Anker’s accessory, and they can even charge up the power bank itself while also using it to give life to their iPhone. Its flat, deck-of-cards style design means it won’t add a ton of bulk to their iPhone, and the handset will still be usable with one hand.

$40 at Amazon

If someone on your holiday shopping list is particularly forgetful, a Bluetooth tracker like Apple’s AirTag will come in handy. These devices let them keep track of things like their keys, wallet or bag, and Apple’s does so via the Find My network. Those with the latest iPhone can even use the Precision Finding feature to get on-screen directions that will guide them to their lost items, provided they are still within range of the stuff. As you might have guessed, AirTags will only work when paired with an iPhone, so if you have an Android user on your list, you may want to consider the next gift idea instead.

$25 at Walmart
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$39 at Amazon$60 at HSN
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Unlike AirTags, Tile trackers work with any smartphone, making them great gifts for almost anyone. And thanks to its keyring hole, the Tile Mate can attach to your giftee’s keys or fit snugly inside a pocket of a wallet or backpack to monitor the location of their stuff. Tile’s companion app will show them the last known location of their misplaced belongings and, if they are still within Bluetooth range, they can use the app to ring the Tile so they can more easily find their stuff.

$25 at Amazon
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$25 at Walmart$25 at Target

We’ve long recommended the Blink Mini for anyone who wants a compact, wired security camera to watch over a small space. The pan-tilt version takes it up a notch, letting you watch over more of that space by moving the camera left and right, and up and down. You can get a 360-degree view of your space with this camera, so consider positioning it strategically so you can see all of the most important things — entrances, windows, pet’s bowls or baby’s cribs. In addition, this cam gives you all of the features found in the standard Blink Mini: 1080p recordings, motion alerts and two-way audio so you can hear and speak to whomever you see on the other side of the camera.

$40 at Amazon
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$40 at Kohl's$40 at Target
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If you have a gamer on your gift list — regardless of if they play casually or have a strict Twitch streaming schedule — they’ll be happy to receive the 8Bitdo Pro 2. It has the same general layout of a classic SNES controller and sports two back paddle buttons, plus a switch that lets them toggle among three unique, customizable profiles. It’s one of our favorite controllers for the Nintendo Switch, but it can be used with a bunch of other platforms as well: iOS, Android, Steam Deck and Raspberry Pi, to name a few. It connects via Bluetooth or USB-C, and it’s compact enough that they could bring it with them when they want to have an on-the-go gaming session.

$51 at Amazon

If you have a book lover in your life or someone who just loves to learn new things, an Audible subscription is a great gift that you can give to them almost instantly (that’s the beauty of digital gifts). The Premium Plus membership will give them one credit each month to use towards an audiobook of their choosing. But on top of that, they can immediately access a library of content that’s included for all Premium Plus subscribers, including books, podcasts and Audible originals. Members get exclusive access to sales throughout the year as well, giving them ample opportunities to pick up audiobooks for just a couple of dollars sometimes. Best of all, Audible’s holiday sale is still going strong: through December 31, you can get four months of Premium Plus for only $6 per month, much more affordable than the standard $15 monthly price.

$6 at Amazon