By Sheena Vasani / @SheenaV123
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Believe it or not, not every holiday season requires you to break your budget in order to obtain that perfect gift, especially when some of today’s best tech can be had for less than a Benjamin.
If you’re on the hunt for something affordable this year, we at The Verge have come up with a selection of great gifts catered toward a range of passions, all of which you can buy for $100 or less. We’ve chosen gifts fit for book lovers, including Amazon’s new Kindle ($90) as well an annual pass ($80) that’s ideal for those who prefer to get lost in the woods rather than read. We’ve also included a few budget picks for gamers, such as Govee’s immersive backlights ($75) and 8Bitdo’s Pro 2 controller ($50) along with a classic thermos ($45) for those looking to eschew their tech tendencies and gift something a bit more analog.
Take a look at the assortment of ideas below and see if you can find the right gift — or even just a little inspiration — ahead of the holidays.
Key rings are a dime a dozen — quite literally, in some cases. Hay’s Cane durable key ring is more attractive than the usual fare, however, making it a slick gift for loved ones who often leave their keys at home or misplace them before heading out the door. The attractive aluminum loop features a snap hook that allows you to hang it to your belt loop or backpack strap, and it comes in an assortment of two-tone designs that will help it stand out on a rack.
The Roku Streaming Stick 4K is one of the easiest ways to ensure you always have access to your favorite streaming apps. The handy device is no bigger than a pack of gum, yet it supports 4K HDR content along with Dolby Vision and Apple’s AirPlay 2, which makes it easy to play content from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. The best feature, however, is that it remembers all of your login info, so you don’t have to bug your friend for their Netflix password for the fifth time.
Now that the pandemic is not as much of a concern and everyone is traveling again, a good toiletry bag is an absolute must. Fortunately, Topo Designs’ triangular Dopp Kit is small enough that it’ll easily fit in your luggage yet roomy enough you’ll be able to store everything you need. Plus, it’s made of a durable nylon, allowing you to keep your belongings secure and dry even when you’re toting your luggage in a downpour.
When they’re out for a run, your giftee will appreciate Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series. The solid pair of true wireless earbuds come with multiple ear tips and protruding wings for a secure fit and produce better sound than many earbuds in this price range. Plus, they allow Pixel owners to use hands-free “Hey Google” voice controls via Google Assistant, meaning they can quickly adjust the volume and access features like real-time language translation while abroad.
Lego’s Succulents kit isn’t like most Lego sets. Instead of spending hours assembling busts of Baby Yoda or the inner corridors of Hogwarts, you’re building cacti, which can be an inviting creation for your coffee table or bookshelf. And unlike most plants, you don’t have to ruthlessly monitor their water intake in order for them to survive. How’s that for convenient?
With the mercury dropping outside and winter on the way, keeping things comfy inside is a must. Thankfully, Amazon’s Alexa-equipped thermostat lets you control your central air and heat when you’re away while helping you cut back on your energy usage. The modern smart thermostat is also one of the cheapest you can buy and is designed to be installed without professional help, making it a great starter model or gift.
Given it retails for less than $100 and offers parental controls, Amazon’s Fire HD 8 is the kind of tablet you can safely gift a child without having to worry. It’s also a good gift for everyone else on your list since the inexpensive device lets you stream content from Amazon Prime Video, access ebooks, and control your smart home. It’s not nearly as powerful as an iPad, sure, but it does a good job of delivering on the basics with support for USB-C.
For many, there’s nothing sadder than taking down festive decorations after the holiday season ends. A smart light strip, however, is a wonderful replacement that can add a touch of color to any space, whether it’s the stairwell or the mantel that once held stockings. Luckily, the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus kit comes with everything your giftee needs to get started with smart lighting, including a six-foot Bluetooth-enabled LED light strip and a compatible plug.
With the Amazfit Bip S, your giftee can focus more on running a mile than running out of battery. Not only can the budget-friendly fitness tracker last up to two weeks on a single charge but also it sports all the other features your loved one needs to keep tabs on their health, including built-in GPS, advanced sleep tracking, an always-on display, and continuous heart rate monitoring.
Outfitting your desk with a fast charger and an abundance of power plugs is certainly possible, but it typically requires multiple charging devices. Thankfully, Anker’s handy MagGo charger is an eight-in-one solution that can push 7.5W of power to an iPhone 12 and newer models with the help of magnets. It also has three power plugs, two USB-C ports, and two USB-A ports. Voila.
Amazon’s second-gen Echo Show 5 is a gift that just keeps giving. Not only does it make for a terrific alarm clock — one your giftee merely needs to tap to snooze — but also it functions as an Alexa-enabled smart display. That means your giftee can use it to play music, stream Netflix or Hulu content, and control their various smart home devices with their voice. Plus, the display measures a mere 5.5 inches, making it suitable for just about anywhere you might want to place it.
For the person keen on exploring their roots and finding distant relatives, there’s Ancestry’s apt-titled DNA test. The insightful kit includes a prepaid package and testing tube your loved one can use to send in a saliva sample, which AncestryDNA will then analyze within six to eight weeks. Afterward, your giftee will receive a comprehensive report regarding their family history, with detailed insights into their ethnicity and other historical context they may not have known.
If you’re looking for a premium controller but don’t want to buy Nintendo’s first-party model, the 8BitDo Pro 2 is a fantastic choice. The controller touts many of the same features as Nintendo’s official Switch Pro Controller but works with a range of devices via Bluetooth and costs roughly $20 less. It can’t turn on your Switch remotely and lacks Amiibo support; however, even with those omissions, we still wholeheartedly recommend this gamepad for Switch enthusiasts. Price: $49.99
An AeroGarden is a thoughtful gift for plant or organic food lovers, particularly those who live in an apartment or a cooler climate. That’s because the countertop-friendly hydroponic garden is great for growing a small selection of herbs, vegetables, and flowers at home. The LED-equipped planter is easy to use as well and comes with a complimentary seed kit containing basil, parsley, and dill, so your loved one can begin fleshing out their garden immediately.
With an Instant Pot, you’re gifting your loved one two things everybody wants more of: time and good food. The six-quart Duo can do everything from steam to sauté, so your friend or family member can whip up a set of ribs, soups, stews, rice, eggs, and a range of other dishes with minimal effort. The stainless steel appliance is relatively easy to clean and offers 13 presets, too, so your giftee can spend less time cooking after a long day at work.
You could always gift a video game, but if you’re looking for an affordable gift that is more unique, Govee’s reactive backlights have you covered. The colorful light strip can sync to whatever content is on your display and bathe your walls with the same colors, upping the ambiance and adding another level of immersion to whatever you’re watching. Just be aware that the bias lighting is best suited for TVs between 55 and 65 inches in size.
If your giftee enjoys throwing expansive holiday parties — or just smaller gatherings with friends — Elite Gourmet’s stainless steel server could make their life just a little easier. The no-frills device will let guests serve themselves buffet-style, while an adjustable warming tray will help ensure your grandmother’s mashed potatoes don’t go cold while you’re waiting on those who continually insist on being “fashionably late.”
Sleep trackers can provide useful insights that can help you improve your sleep and ultimately your well-being. The problem? A lot of them aren’t the most comfortable to wear, which is counterproductive when you’re trying to get some rest. Withings Sleep mat, however, is a nice noninvasive alternative that easily slips underneath your mattress. It’s great at tracking your sleep cycle as well as other stats, including heart rate and various breathing disturbances.
Stressing out over whether to gift a traditional gift like a framed photo or something a bit more modern? Google’s second-gen Nest Hub represents a healthy compromise. The seven-inch smart display makes for a terrific photo frame that can cycle through your Google Photos library, yet it’s also capable of tracking your sleep patterns, streaming music from Spotify, and carrying out a host of other tasks via Google Assistant. The fact it also acts as a great alarm clock is just a plus.
A Kindle is one of the best gifts to buy the friend who always has their head buried in a book, whether they’re into Stephen King or J.R.R. Tolkien. Amazon’s latest model comes with USB-C support and twice as much storage as the base Kindle Paperwhite, along with weekslong battery life and an excellent high-resolution display that’s as easy on the eyes during the day as it is at night.
What’s more convenient than taking a smartphone snap of the Eiffel Tower? Being able to print it just a few seconds later, that’s what. Polaroid’s excellent Hi-Print instant photo printer is small enough that your giftee can carry it while traveling, allowing them to quickly capture and print 2 x 3-inch photos with ease. They can even use the companion app to add text and a selection of colorful frames, just in case good color and contrasts are not enough.
Lyric’s Massage Gun might not be as powerful as a Theragun or other premium models, but it remains a relatively low-cost and feature-packed option. It’s ideal for pain relief or relaxation, and it includes an extension and four massage heads for digging into tender spots in the perfect way. Whether your giftee is active or just needs to loosen a few muscle kinks, this is a gift that shows you care about their quality of life.
It doesn’t matter if your giftee is a fan of college football or just likes to keep up with the latest hits from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a subscription to the Disney Bundle is a gift that caters to a variety of interests. Gifting it will give your loved one access to Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus, so they can stream sports, watch shows like Andor and The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy recent releases like the scattershot fairy tale that is Thor: Love and Thunder.
True wireless earbuds can be spendy, but if you fear losing them or just want to gift a reliable set with good sound quality for the price, there’s little to lose and a lot to gain by taking a chance on Jabra’s Elite 3. The lightweight earbuds feature a low-profile design, straightforward controls, and even work in mono mode just in case you want to wear one at a time.
If your giftee looks like a pixelated mess on video calls, a webcam like Logitech’s C920s Pro HD will be a welcome gift. While the built-in cameras on laptops have improved, many models still only support recording at 720p, whereas the C920s is capable of capturing 1080p footage at 30 frames per second. It also includes a pair of built-in mics and an articulating stand so they can perch it on top of their monitor or screw it into a tripod.
Whether your giftee has a penchant for all things nature or simply loves a good cross-country road trip with the fam or a friend, a National Park Pass is a practical gift that can pay dividends over the course of a year. The annual pass grants unlimited access to all 63 national parks, from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite, along with more than 2,000 recreation sites located throughout the United States.
Stanley’s Classic Thermos is exactly that: a classic. The durable stainless steel vessel is built to withstand harsh conditions, making it a good buy for car campers and other outdoor enthusiasts, and its vacuum-insulated design means it’s capable of keeping drinks hot or cold for up to 24 hours. This way, your giftee can still enjoy their morning cup of coffee long after it’s brewed.
Osprey’s Ultralight Stuff Pack is a gift that will make carrying the essentials just a little easier, especially if your giftee is planning on traveling this holiday season. The spacious water-resistant backpack can hold all of their souvenirs and gadgets without tearing and conveniently folds into itself, allowing them to stow it away in a larger piece of luggage when they’re not using it.
It doesn’t matter how old you are: instant cameras are always fun to play with. The Instax Mini 11 is one of our favorite models, one that’s easy to use and produces relatively true-to-life shots within seconds. All you need to do is point and click to capture and print an image, which you can then hang on your fridge, store in your wallet, or paste into a scrapbook for some truly cringeworthy reminiscing down the road.
If you know someone who buys more games for their Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck than they have the room for, a high-capacity microSD card is a great way to gift them some extra storage space. SanDisk’s reliable options are also a good fit for anyone looking to boost the storage capacity of their tablet or Android phone, especially since their read and write speeds are quick enough for most use cases.
If your giftee is already tapped into the Apple ecosystem, the HomePod Mini presents a nice alternative to what Amazon and Google offer. The adorable smart speaker sounds good for its size and works well with other Apple devices, allowing you to control HomeKit-compatible gadgets and even make calls using an iPhone. It works with Siri, too, so your giftee can ask it to play music, set timers, and carry out a host of voice-enabled features.
We’ve all seen the famed prints of Yosemite and Yellowstone from the late 1930s, but did you know you can also grab a WPA-style travel poster depicting the spice-laden dunes of Arrakis? Well, Sylvan Design Co. makes a vibrant collection of retro-inspired prints showcasing locales from Dune, Star Wars, and some of the most beloved franchises of all time, all of which come in a range of sizes.
Sketch artists, journalers, and other creative types will have a ton of fun with an ArtSnacks membership. Each subscription box is filled with an assortment of art supplies — from double-ended markers to brushes and mechanical pencils — as well as a “Menu” that describes new techniques to try with each item. A membership also grants you access to the larger ArtSnacks community, where you can share techniques, ideas, and work with other art lovers.
Even in a post-pandemic world, the ability to remain flexible is key. Logitech’s MX Keys Mini is a svelte, platform-agnostic keyboard built with versatility in mind. It ditches the numpad and tacks on keys for sending emojis and controlling media, as well as those for flipping between up to three different Bluetooth devices. The concave keys are also great to type on, regardless of whether you’re using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Alas, until Apple truly opens up the MagSafe charging system to third-party developers, a standard Qi charger like iOttie’s magnetic offering is probably the best option for your car. The accessory’s adjustable foot allows it to accommodate pretty much every phone on the market — from iPhones to Android handsets — and it features a one-touch mounting mechanism that let’s you attach your phone just by plopping it in the cradle.
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The 35 best cheap gifts under $100 for 2022 – The Verge
By Sheena Vasani / @SheenaV123