The holiday season can quickly sneak up on you before you know it, and you don't always have a sizeable stack of money saved up to spend on everyone. Thankfully, there are great gifts for $50 or less that are sure to please the people in your life.
From an affordableto that will simplify your life, this year you can buy a perfect gift for the holidays for under $50. Note that several and Cyber Week discounts are still available throughout the month of December.
The JBL Bluetooth speaker that received the biggest improvements for 2021 is among the company's smallest. The JBL Go 3 has a completely new look -- it's now covered in durable fabric instead of having the naked plastic design of its Go predecessors -- and that new design, coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its small size, makes the Go 3 one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.
Available in multiple color options, it has an IP67 water-resistance rating (it can be dunked in water and is dust-proof). Plus, the battery life is rated at up to five hours. It's a great gift for the music lover in your life.
Weighted blankets have become a popular item that people use to sleep better. They hug your body and distribute weighted glass beads evenly in small pockets. This blanket is breathable and machine-washable in a cleaning bag on the gentle cycle. And you can't beat the price.
If you're on the hunt for a decent pair of budget sunglasses, Knockaround has various models, including those with polarized and mirrored coatings, for $25 and even slightly less (prices start as low as $15). They're not premium glasses obviously, but the lenses are pretty decent and the glasses look more expensive than their low price would indicate. These designer sunglasses also seem pretty durable. Several different styles, colors and lens options are available.
Here's a gift that anyone who's susceptible to losing things will appreciate. Apple's AirTags accessories work with any Apple device and use the company's FindMy network -- the same one used to locate lost iPhones. Attach them to keys, a backpack or just about anything else. It's $29 for one and $99 for four, and if you buy them through Apple, you can get free customized engravings, too.
If you're looking for a compact external battery pack for your iPhone (or any smartphone), Mophie's pocketable Power Station Mini (2022) features a 5,000-mAh internal battery and 20W USB-C PD fast charging. (You'll need a USB-C to Lightning cable to take advantage of that fast charging if you're an iPhone owner.) That battery will allow you to fully charge your iPhone.
For $20 more, you can pick up the 10,000-mAh version with dual USB-C ports -- both come in black or blue colors. Also, note that Zagg, Mophie's parent company, offers a 20% discount off your first purchase, so that model (it's simply called the Power Station) is actually $50.
Created by former NFL fullback Chris Gronkowski (brother of Rob), the Ice Shaker not only keeps your beverages hot -- or cool -- for hours -- but comes with a removable twist-in agitator to help mix your protein shakes (or anything else that needs mixing). Available in a few different sizes and many fun colors, they have a built-in handle for easy carrying and start at around $35. It's one of the better insulated bottles I've used and a great way to make sure you stay hydrated.
Rated up to 45 hours
On-ear wireless headset
No IP rating
Known for its value headphones and earbuds, JLab has released a pair of on-ear headphones with an integrated boom microphone -- it can be rotated up when just listening to music -- and multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect them to your phone and computer simultaneously. I'm more partial to the Jabra Elite 45h, which lists for $100 but usually sells for around $75. But if you don't want to spend quite that much, the Go Work is a solid pair of headphones, and headset, for its modest price. They're also comfortable to wear, with a lightweight design. You won't mistake these for premium headphones but the build quality seems fine.
Battery life is rated at up to 45 hours at moderate volume levels, and you can mute calls using the multifunction button (an LED lights up at the end of the boom mic when the call is muted). I wouldn't call the sound quality for music listening and the headset performance stellar, but they're good, particularly for the price. For music listening, there's ample bass and clarity and a cable is included for wired use. The headphones charge via USB-C. Bottom line: This is a solid gift for anyone who spends some or all of their time working remotely.
I was a fan of the original Earfun Free buds, and now there's an upgraded version called the Earfun Free 2 (which has been subsequently upgraded to the 2S). They're not a huge upgrade, but like the originals they fit my ears well and deliver decent bang for the buck with strong sound -- it has just a touch of treble and bass boost (there's plenty of bass) -- and extra features such as wireless charging.
Battery life is rated at up to seven hours at moderate volume levels, and these buds are fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating. These are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and use Qualcomm's QCC3040 chip that includes support for the aptX audio codec if you're using a compatible device (certain Android smartphones support that protocol).
Note: Enter the code BFFREE2S4 at checkout on Amazon to get an additional $13 off.
These days, it's nearly impossible to get a TV without a bunch of "smart" streaming apps built in. But that's not true of older TVs, and even newer ones don't have all the top new services and simply don't offer the faster performance of a dedicated video streaming box that plugs into an HDMI port. For under $50, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K (2021) boasts access to just about every online video service you can think of, including Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and hundreds more, at resolutions up to 4K. The Streaming Stick 4K Plus comes bundled with a step-up voice-enabled remote for $20 more.
Infinity Lab is Samsung-owned Harman Kardon's new accessories subsidiary and I like its InstantGo 5000 and InstantGo 10000 power banks, which come with an integrated Lightning cable for easy charging for iPhones. The larger 10000 mAh costs $20 more and is heavier and bulkier but it can charge most iPhones twice.
I was a fan of Creative's original Sound Blaster Jam headphones that came out in 2015 and had a decidedly retro look and feel, as well as good sound for the money. Now these headphones are available in a 2.0 version with some key upgrades, including Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C charging, improved call quality and multipoint Bluetooth pairing that allows you to pair them to two devices simultaneously. Battery life is rated at up to 22 hours.
BioLite has several portable lighting options, and the Alpenglow 250 is one of the most affordable. It's a portable "lantern" that has multiple modes and color options. As its name implies, it delivers 250 lumens of light in a few color options.
The step-up Alpenglow 500 (pictured on right) offers 500 lumens for $15 more. Both are rated for 5 hours of battery life on their high setting and up to 200 hours on the low setting.
Here's a deal worth checking out on a set of open earbuds that perform surprisingly well: the Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS. Their list price is $50, but after a 20%-off instant discount, use the code DELXHSPR at checkout to get an extra 10% off (the price drops to $35). The deal is good through Dec. 15 or while supplies last.
What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds -- they're pretty close to what you get from Apple's AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony's LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound, but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They're also good for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode.
Chirp Wheel foam rollers come in a few different sizes and you can buy a four-pack of them if you're looking for a set. But if you want to start with just one, the 10-inch medium size is a good one.
Chirp Wheels, particularly the larger ones, have a bigger circumference than your typical foam roller. They're designed to fit between your shoulder blades, and I did find them better than your standard foam roller for stretching and realigning my vertebrae, though they are pricier.
iOttie offers this MagSafe-compatible wireless car charger with a car vent mount. It has a strong magnet, so your iPhone stays on the mount, and it also has an integrated USB-C cable and cigarette-lighter power adapter so you're ready to start charging out of the box. Note that iPhone "fast" charging caps out at 7.5 watts. It makes for a nice gift for anybody looking for a magnetic car mount for their MagSafe-enabled iPhone.
This one isn't a fun gift, but it's the type of thing someone will use every day. This power adapter is one of the better values out there, with dual USB-C PD (power delivery) ports, a USB-A and a total of 65 watts of power. That will allow you to charge most devices, including some larger USB-C laptops. It uses GaN technology, which helps reduce the size of the charger, and the plug is foldable.
The Echo Show 5 is Amazon's smallest smart display, and is great for nightstands or kitchen counters where you don't want it to take up too much space. Get quick updates on the news, check the weather, update your daily schedule and much more -- all with just the sound of your voice. With a 5.5-inch display, it's also great for watching short videos like recipe instructions, and it's equipped with a 2-megapixel camera for voice calls and checking in on your home when you're away.
Although the Echo 5 lists for $85, Amazon has frequently dropped the price to as little as $35. We expect that deal to return for Black Friday, which is why we're including it here.
Some of our favorite gifts are just a little more than $50 -- but often you will find these items discounted at close to or under $50. So keep your eye out for deals and decide if you're willing to put a little bit of cash with that gift card to grab one of these indulgent finds, which could be a great option as a gift or for yourself.
Back in 2020, Tribit released the StormBox Micro, a budget version of Bose's excellent SoundLink Micro speaker that delivered surprisingly good sound for its size and modest price. The second-gen StormBox Micro 2 offers improved sound and battery life, along with a charge-out feature that turns the speaker into a power bank for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. An integrated strap allows you to clip it to your backpack or your bike's handlebars.
Like the original, it's an excellent value and easy to recommend if you're looking for a super compact portable wireless speaker. It does cost $60 but sometimes goes on sale for closer to $50.
What's cool about Anker's 622 magnetic battery is that it's a wireless battery that has an integrated magnetic flap that converts into a stand. You won't get fast wireless charging from this 5,000-mAh battery (it charges at up to 7.5 watts), but it's slim and easy to carry around.
It charges via USB-C, and if you use a USB-C to Lighting to charge your iPhone, it will charge at a faster rate of 12 watts. That's not as fast as what a 20-watt USB-C power adapter can deliver, but it's faster than 7.5 watts.