Looking for a gift that’s not too expensive but also not too cheap? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up a slew of ideas that won’t break the bank, with some of the best gifts in the $50-100 range. In our affordable lineup, there’s everything from awesome tech gear to something for the audiophile, fitness fiend or aspiring cook in your life. And all of the gift suggestions here have been fully reviewed or anecdotally tested by CNET or Chowhound editors.
Before we dive in, though, some news of note that you should consider before buying anything:
And now, on to our picks.
Edifier, which makes some impressive PC speakers, has done a good with its Edifier TWS NB2 noise-canceing earbuds. Their angular design reminds me of the Libratone Track Air Plus, which has come down in price (it’s now $120) and is also good. The Edifier TWS NB2 distinguish itself with a comfortable fit, decent noise canceling and nicely balanced sound with good clarity and well-defined bass. They’re smooth-sounding earbuds.
Voice calling is also above average — noise reduction outdoors was decent and callers said they had no trouble hearing me (there’s a light sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice in the buds as you talk). Battery life is rated at up 7 hours with noise canceling on and these have a IP54 rating, which means they’re splashproof and are fine for working out (I ran with them).
Hyperice’s original Hypersphere massage ball ($150) is quite powerful but a bit on the large side and requires its own power adapter to charge it. Meanwhile, the new smaller Hypersphere Mini ($99) — about the size of a softball (3-inch diameter) — charges with a micro-USB cable (a full charge offers more than two hours of battery life) and actually works better for rolling out your muscles, with 3 speeds to choose from. It also travels better.
Buying for someone who’s gaming on their phone? Whether they’re iPhone users subscribed to Apple Arcade or Android owners using Xbox Cloud gaming (with a Game Pass Ultimate subscription) or Google Stadia, the Razer Kishi is a top option. Similar to the $80 Android-compatible model (Android phone owners can play Xbox Cloud gaming with a Game Pass Ultimate subscription), the iPhone version is MFi-certified and will work with the iPhone 6 Plus and any newer model. It connects via Lightning and has pass-through charging but no built-in battery to supply extra juice. There’s an Xbox-optimized one for Android owners, too, for $100.
The controller works nicely with mobile games that have game-controller support (and benefit from it) and anybody who plays a lot of games on their phone would appreciate it as a gift — just make sure you’re matching the right model to their phone.
Bose’s SoundLink Micro ($100) delivers impressive sound for its size and is fully waterproof. Since it’s been out a while it frequently gets discounted, particularly during the holidays — usually to $79 — which makes it a perfect pick for any audiophile on your list. I haven’t heard of anyone not liking this as a gift.
Read our Bose SoundLink Micro review.
The Upright Go 2, a little device you stick onto your skin at the top of your back (between your shoulder blades), monitors your posture and vibrates when you’re slouching. Using the companion app for iOS and Android, you can set up training regimes and keep track of your progress. This new second-generation version is 50 percent smaller than the original. Additional adhesives cost $10 for a 10-pack but some people use double-sided tape to save money.
The adhesives (10 are included) kept the Upright Go 2 on my back just fine — I barely noticed the device was there except for when it vibrated — and you can wear it for several days without replacing the adhesive. Eventually the adhesive needs to be replaced, however, or you risk having the device fall off your back.
The JBL Clip 3 is arguably the best travel-friendly wireless speaker, but if you’re looking for stocking stuffer ideas, the UE Wonderboom 2, which offers improved sound and battery life over the original, is a great choice. This wireless speaker is available in about a dozen fun colors, it really can float and it sounds great, too. Its list price is $100, but sometimes goes on sale.
Read our UE Wonderboom 2 first take.
If you’re looking to do some Xbox Cloud gaming on your Android phone, the PowerA Moga XP5-X Plus is both a wired and wireless game controller for Android smartphone that’s also is compatible with PCs. It includes a detachable phone clip, integrated power bank, and mappable Advanced Gaming Buttons, plus combo micro-USB and USB-C cables to charge or play in wired mode. The Razer Kishi controller is a more compact solution but the PowerA Moga operates like a standard Xbox controller with better ergonomics.
Amazon’s smallest Echo Show lists for $90, but frequently sells for less than $70. If you’re looking for a video-enabled Echo device for your nightstand or kitchen, this is the most affordable option. The Echo Show 8 lists for $130. It should also be on sale for the holidays and may dip below $100.
Read our Echo Show 5 review.
Last September Logitech unveiled the MX Master 3 ($100), the third generation of its premium home/office mouse. Now, a year later, we get the $80 MX Anywhere 3, the third iteration of the company’s premium “mobile” mouse — and it may just be my favorite Logitech mouse yet.
The MX Anywhere 3 comes in a couple of versions. There’s the standard “universal” version that works with Windows, MacOS, iPadOS (13.4 or higher), ChromeOS and Linux computers via Bluetooth or Logitech’s Unifying USB dongle, which is included. MX Anywhere 3 for Mac works only via Bluetooth and is optimized for Macs and iPads. Both mice are available in pale gray and MX Anywhere 3 (with the dongle) is also offered in rose and graphite.
The ultimate gift for someone who’s always losing things, Tile Stickers are little round trackers that pair with your phone. To find one, you just tap the app to make it ring. But you can also use a smart speaker. Now, instead of having to find your phone before you can find your other stuff, just tell Google to help you locate the missing thing.
The MX Keys is arguably the smartest low-profile Logitech keyboard I’ve used. It has “spherically dished” keys that kind of cradle the tips of your fingers, and the keyboard is responsive and tactile. In that sense, it’s similar to Logitech’s Craft keyboard, which lists for twice the price.
The keys light up as your hands approach and there’s a sensor that adjusts the illumination according to the lighting conditions. You can also turn off the light if you want to save battery life. The dual layout is designed for both Mac and Windows users, and MX Keys is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android systems.
Using illumination, you can get 10 days of operation on a full charge or up to five months with backlighting turned off. When it’s time to recharge, the battery indicator LED glows red and you can continue using the keyboard while charging via USB-C.
If you want to keep appealing your to computer-tethered giftee, a gaming mouse would likely be a welcome addition.
Read our Logitech MX Keys first take.
Assuming there’s still someone who doesn’t own one of these, an Instant Pot is a perfect gift both for people who love cooking and those who hate it. It can pressure-cook, slow-cook and just about everything in between. Right now, the best deal is at Amazon, where the 6-quart model is $79.
However, this is just the first of what promises to be many Instant Pot deals. Word to the wise: Don’t pay more than $60 for this often-discounted appliance. Check out CNET’s list of the best Instant Pots of 2020 for more inspiration.
It’s been out a while but if you want to give a smartwatch within your sub-$100 budget, the Amazfit Bip is still your best bet. Despite the low price, it’s got an always-on display, water resistance, heart rate tracking and — most importantly — battery life that blows away the Apple Watch. It really goes above and beyond any other stocking stuffer ideas we’ve seen.
Read our Amazfit Bip review.
Fitbit has several fitness trackers under $200, but only one new adult model in this price category: the Inspire 2. If you want the name brand cachet and superior smartphone apps, the Fitbit is a good trade-up from the Amazfit mentioned above.
Read our Fitbit Versa Lite vs. Inspire HR vs. Charge 3 comparison.
It’s pretty easy to fill up the storage space on your gaming console, which is where an external drive like the WD Black P10 comes in. Starting out around $75 for the 2TB version, this compact drive attaches to the USB port on your PlayStation 4 or XBox One and immediately gives you a lot more room to store your games (and not worry about deleting titles as you add new ones). The drive also comes in a 5TB Xbox version with a white trim (pictured on right), but it costs $140. Either version can also be used with PCs and uses a USB 3.2 Gen 1 interface. It’s not as fast as a more expensive SSDs (solid-state drives), but the P10 has transfer speeds of up to 130 MB/S. Your games will run just fine from it.
Yes, the Kindle app is available for free on phones and tablets. But if you’re buying a gift for a book lover, the Kindle Paperwhite beats a phone app because it offers distraction-free reading. Other ways the Paperwhite beats a phone: It’s readable in full sunlight or in a darkened bedroom, it’s fully waterproof and its battery lasts days or weeks, not just a few hours. While this great gift idea normally retails for $130, it’s often on sale for $90, which is why we’re including it here.
Read our Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) review.