The holidays can be stressful as the number of people you need to buy gifts for grows with each passing year. You may not be able to control that, but you can still find good presents for everyone on your list while sticking to a budget. To help you do so, we’ve gathered all of the items in our holiday gift guide that come in at under $50 right here.
But before we get into the list, we wanted to call out two specific guides in which almost all of our recommendations are under $50: our digital and subscription gift guide and this roundup of our staff’s favorite books, music and media. Check out those stories for digital gifts you can send loved ones that you can’t see in person and for the best media that’s been keeping us entertained this year.
Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon’s Echo Dot provides a lot of value for only $50. It performs all of the standard Alexa tricks, delivering spoken weather forecasts, controlling smart home devices and streaming music until you tell it to pipe down. Once you start using Alexa to do things like set timers and alarms, make hands-free calls, keep track of shopping lists and more, you may wonder how you got on without this tiny smart speaker in your home. Both the 3rd-gen and the 4th-gen Echo Dots have the same set of features, but we like the 4th-gen’s new orb-like design. Spring for that one, unless there’s a killer deal on the 3rd-gen when Black Friday comes around.
Roku Streaming Stick+
It’s easy to recommend the Roku Streaming Stick+ thanks to its portable design and versatile feature set. It’s one of those devices you can plug in and use almost immediately, with minimal setup required. While it can live in your home, you can also take it on trips so you can stream 4K HDR content from Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, HBO Max and others wherever you are -- and it’s easy to control using the included voice remote. Plus, the Roku Channel gives you a bunch of free content to watch, too.
Lenovo Smart Clock Essential
Lenovo’s standard Google-powered Smart Clock has been a big hit -- so much so that the company made a cheaper follow-on model. Although the Smart Clock Essential can do the same things as any other Google-powered smart device, its streamlined display only shows the most important things: the time, date and weather forecast. It doesn’t display much else, but some might argue those limitations actually make it a better smart clock. It also has a nightlight built in, an extra USB port for charging your other devices and a mic-mute button for when you need some privacy.
Logitech K480 Multi-Device keyboard
This multi-device keyboard from Logitech makes it much easier to browse the web, draft emails and do anything text-heavy on your smartphone or tablet. You can use it with your computer, too, or you can switch between paired devices quickly by using the built-in dial. We also like the K480 for its relatively compact design that makes it easy to bring with you and the built-in cradle that props up your devices at a viewing angle that’s great for typing.
Ivoler Adjustable laptop stand
If you’re constantly struggling to find the right position to use your devices, Ivoler’s adjustable laptop stand can make a big difference. It may be dubbed a “laptop” stand, but you can use it to prop up smartphones and tablets, too. It has six different viewing angle adjustments and folds down into a flat, portable shape that will easily disappear in a bag. It’s sturdy enough to handle a 15-inch laptop and its silicone foot pads ensure that the stand itself stays in place and that your furniture remains unscratched.
Anker PowerWave Fast Wireless Charging Stand
Charging cables are annoying -- fumbling with them, remembering where you put them and taking them with you when you know your phone is just an hour or two away from dying. Anker’s PowerWave Qi wireless charging stand lets you sit your smartphone down horizontally or vertically, and forget about it while it charges. This particular stand fast-charges the newest iPhones and Samsung devices and it even has obstacle detection, which will change the LED indicator to let you know if there’s something obstructing the charging mechanism.
C by GE LED smart lights
It doesn’t get much easier than GE’s smart light bulbs: They don’t require a hub or a bridge, so you can plug them in, connect to WiFi through a companion smartphone app and start using them. Not only can you change the color of the lights and save presets for movie night, game night and other occasions but you can also set routines that automatically turn lights on and off and activate specific colors. To make things better, GE’s smart lights support Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, so you can control them with voice commands.
Kalita Wave 185 dripper
If the idea of making your own pour-over coffee intrigues you, the Kalita Wave 185 is arguably the best and most affordable way to start. It fits over most cups, mugs and carafes to let you easily and quickly brew a fresh cup of coffee. You only need the dripper and Kalita’s filters to get started (plus your favorite coffee, of course), and we think once you give it a go you won’t want to go back to your bedraggled old pot again.
This is the more compact version of the original Aeropress, one of the newest ways to brew a rich cup of coffee. Not only is the Go smaller and more backpack-friendly than the original, but it remains easy to use and just as easy to clean. This is ideal for people who go camping frequently, and those who travel often and can’t bear to live without a fresh cup each day.
Phone cases make great gifts because they not only make a smartphone a bit stronger, but they can also be an expression of one’s personal style. Spigen makes a number of affordable yet durable cases for many smartphone models, while Otterbox is your best bet if you want the most reliable protection against all sorts of hazards. We also like Casetify’s plethora of unique and colorful cases, and you can even choose to create a smartphone case from the ground up.
Skyrocket Pixel Stars Dreamhouse
Pixel Stars Dreamhouse is a virtual character game you can turn to when taking care of your Tamagotchi is a bit too stressful. You play as a character you design and build a virtual dream home, completing minigames and collecting coins along the way that you can use to buy virtual accessories. It’s also a completely local game so there’s no way for an Internet connection to pose an additional distraction.
Hot Wheels Cybertruck
You can still play around with Tesla’s Cybertruck even if the actual car is a bit out of your price range. Hot Wheels created a 1:64 scale Cybertruck that you can control with a remote, racing it on or off the company’s tracks. If you have one of Hot Wheels’ track loops, kick the Cybertruck into Sport Mode to truly see it fly.
Spin Master Ninja Bots
Instead of your kids pretending to be ninjas, hopping around the house and knocking over valuables in their path, they can train their own Ninja Bots. These little fighters have IR sensors that recognize hand movements, so you can actually “train” them with gestures. The more you train and battle, the better fighters they become. With a bunch of weapons to choose from and over 100 sound effects, Ninja Bots can give kids the feeling of being a ninja without the physical consequences of, you know, actually being one.
Please excuse the Tamagotchi references, but Pomsies Lumies are truly larger, fluffier versions of the pocketable friends from the 90s. These creatures are sustained by colors, so all kids need to do to keep them happy and “fed” is touch them to different colored items -- and the Lumies will glow to match. Music mode also lets them turn colors into beats, with over 1,000 mixes possible.
Barbie Astrophysicist Doll
Barbie’s had a lot of careers over the years, but never one as out-of-this-world as this. In partnership with National Geographic, astrophysicist Barbie celebrates space, the stars and the wonders of galaxies far, far away. She makes a great companion for any young space explorer on your list.
Laugh & Learn Babble & Wobble Hub
Think of this as your baby’s own smart speaker. It’s not quite as intelligent as Alexa or Siri (which is probably for the best), but it responds to your baby’s babbles and sounds, no matter how incoherent they might be. That feedback is great for kids, especially those up to three years old who are learning how to speak. The hub also has four buttons at the top that little ones can press to hear animal sounds, various music and educational songs and phrases about the alphabet, the weather and other topics.