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Thursday, April 18, 2024

17 Best Gifts for Under $50

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

As fall quickly approaches, thoughts of holiday presents slowly begin to permeate everyone’s minds. Buying gifts for a special person, family members, friends or any other loved ones can be challenging and overwhelmingly expensive. How can you give a better gift than last year without crying every time you open your wallet?

There are options out there. From the perfect gift set to durable technology, this year you can buy a gift perfect for any occasion for under $50. We’ve researched the best gifts for under $50 that will fill any wish list. The trick is knowing what’s not only a good value but what can be useful too. Here are a handful of the best gifts under $50, so you can treat yourself or someone you love.

Amazon

1. JBL Go 3

Flat-out great mini Bluetooth speaker

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.

$50 at Target$50 at AmazonGet Price AlertsYou’re receiving price alerts for JBL Go 3 (Gray)

2. Waowoo Weighted Blanket

Queen size, 15 pounds

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. It’s already a great bargain at $30, and you can save an extra $7 with the instant coupon, dropping the price to just $23. 

$30 at Amazon

Sarah Tew/CNET

3. Apple AirTags

Tiny tracker to find lost keys and more

Here’s a gift that anyone who’s susceptible to losing things will appreciate. Apple’s new-for-2021 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 $28 for one and $99 for four, and if you buy through Apple, you can get free customized engraving, too.

Read our Apple AirTags hands-on.

 

$29 at Best Buy$29 at AppleGet Price AlertsYou’re receiving price alerts for 3. Apple AirTags

David Carnoy/CNET

4. JLab Go Work

Affordable work-from-home headphones

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 list for $100 but usually sell 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 it’s 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.

$44 at Best BuyGet Price AlertsYou’re receiving price alerts for 4. JLab Go Work

Amazon

5. Anker PowerCore III Wireless Power Bank 10,000-mAh

High-capacity wireless charging battery

Anker’s 10,000-mAh Power Bank is relatively slim for the size of the battery and includes one each USB-C port and USB-A ports with quick-charging features (up to 18 watts). You can also wirelessly charge the latest smartphones that have wireless charging capabilities, and the battery turns into a wireless charging pad if you plug it into a power adapter, which isn’t included. The battery will charge as your phone does in that setup. 

It’s currently $50, but sometimes a clip-and-save coupon can bring the price down. 

$50 at Amazon

David Carnoy/CNET

6. EarFun Free 2

Next gen of popular budget buds

I was a fan of the original Earfun Free buds, and now there’s an upgraded version called the Earfun Free 2. 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).

They are listed at $40, but be sure to select the instant coupon for an extra 10% off at checkout, dropping the price to just $36.

$36 at Amazon

Roku

7. Roku Streaming Stick 4K 2021

Streaming upgrade for any older TV

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.

$50 at Target

David Carnoy/CNET

8. Creative Sound Blaster Jam V2

Excellent on-ear headphones for $40

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.

$35 at Amazon

BioLite

9. BioLite TraveLight 135

Great for hikers and campers

BioLite’s TraveLight 135 is a multifunction portable — and wearable — LED light that can be used as a flashlight (bright white light), bike light (with a flashing red light) and even a power bank for charging your phone. It fits easily into a pocket and is a good safety item for anyone who hikes, bikes or camps. 

$30 at REI

David Carnoy/CNET

10. Tribit StormBox Micro

Best budget micro speaker


Dec 2020

Tribit’s StormBox Micro lists for slightly more than $50, but often dips below the $50 mark, so I’m including it on this list. It’s one of the best sounding pocket-size Bluetooth speakers I’ve tested, with bigger bass and volume than most other tiny speakers. 

Aside from its great design, Bose’s SoundLink Micro stood out because it was able to deliver more bass than every Bluetooth speaker in its size class, and it also managed to limit distortion at higher volumes. And it’s the Tribit’s bass and overall volume level for its tiny size that allows it to stand out. 

It’s IP67-rated so it’s dust-proof and water-resistant (it can be fully submerged in shallow water for a short time) and has up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels with USB-C charging. Like other speakers in this category, this Bluetooth model has an integrated strap so you can clip it to your backpack or bike’s handlebars.

Read our Tribit StormBox Micro review.

 

$50 at AmazonGet Price AlertsYou’re receiving price alerts for Tribit StormBox Micro

David Carnoy/CNET

11. Baseus 65W 3-Port USB-C Wall Charger

Charge almost anything

This one isn’t a fun gift, but it’s the type of thing they’ll use every day. This wall wart 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. 

$37 at Amazon

David Carnoy/CNET

12. EarFun Free Pro

Good true wireless value

If you’re looking to gift a solid set of true wireless earbuds without spending a fortune, the EarFree Free Pro are a solid choice. They offer active noise cancellation with a transparency mode, wireless charging and Bluetooth 5.2. Rated for seven hours of battery life without the noise-canceling function on, or about six hours with it, they’re IPX5 water-resistant, which means they can withstand a sustained spray of water.

They sound very good for the money, with relatively clean, balanced sound and bass that has some kick to it — they’re pretty open-sounding. Lightweight and comfortable to wear, they have little fins that help keep them securely in your ears, and they’re fairly discreet-looking.

Don’t expect them to cancel noise as well as the AirPods Pro, but they do provide some decent muffling. It’s worth noting that you can use either the left or right earbud independently, and there’s a low-latency mode for video watching (and presumably gaming). Call quality was decent, too — callers said they heard some background noise, but it wasn’t intrusive and they could hear my voice well. The touch controls were responsive.

They list for $60, but be sure to activate the 20% off instant coupon on the product page, which drops the price down to just $48.

$60 at Amazon

David Carnoy/CNET

13. Mophie Snap Plus Juice Pack Mini

Wireless magnetic power bank

Mophie’s magnetic power bank is similar to Anker’s PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless ($54) but has a more refined design. Like the Anker, this isn’t an official Apple MagSafe accessory, but it magnetically adheres to the back of your iPhone 12 or 13 series or a MagSafe case — yes, it sticks nicely — and is svelte for 5,000-mAh battery. It can also be used with other phones that support wireless charging, as it comes with a stick-on magnet. 

Wireless charging speeds are limited to 7.5 watts for iPhones, but if you need a faster charge you can connect a USB-C to Lightning cable to bump the speed up to 12 watts. This has enough juice to fully charge an iPhone 13 or 13 Pro once, but it’ll fall a little short of a full charge with an iPhone 13 Pro Max.

While it’s a bit pricey at $50, it’s half the price of Apple’s option. First-time buyers on Zagg.com can get 20% off if you sign up for the Zagg newsletter and it’s also available on Amazon for $50.

$30 at Zagg

Lego

14. Lego DC Batman Cowl

Build your own model of this iconic mask

Legos aren’t just for kids by any means, with more and more kits geared toward adults popping up every day. Case in point: this model of the Batman cowl worn by the caped crusader of Gotham City. This $50 kit is 410 pieces altogether and comes with a study mount and information plaque to display with the finished product. A great gift for the comic book nerd in your life.

$48 at Amazon

Splurges Under $100

The following items are some of our favorite gifts for 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.

David Carnoy/CNET

15. Edifier TWS 330NB

AirPods Pro alternative for much less

Edifier has a few different new true-wireless earbuds and most, including the TWS 330NB, are great values. While the TWS 330NB buds are missing a sensor that automatically pauses your music when you take them out of your ears, they feature very good sound quality for the money, decent active noise canceling with a transparency mode, and solid voice calling (they have three microphones in each bud for noise canceling and noise reduction during calls). 

They fit my ears well — they’re essentially AirPods Pro clones — and while the touch controls are a little limited, they are programmable using the Edifier Connect app for iOS and Android (you can set the level of touch sensitivity). They have an IP54 rating, which means they’re splash- and dust-proof, and battery life is rated at four hours with noise canceling on and five hours with it off, at moderate volume levels. That’s only OK, but you do get an additional two charges in the charging case. Note there can be considerable variation in how much the different colors cost.

$70 at Amazon

Sony

16. Sony WH-CH510 Headphones

Solid Bluetooth headphones for under $60

These aren’t the latest and greatest headphones on the market right now, but for under $60, they still boast some impressive specs. They feature a 30mm driver and a swivel design for superior comfort and easy packing. And with lightning fast USB-C charging, they can deliver up to 35 hours of continuous music on a single charge. They’re typically $60 but are currently available for $38.

$60 at Target$60 at Best BuyGet Price Alerts$58 at CrutchfieldYou’re receiving price alerts for 16. Sony WH-CH510 Headphones

Amazon

17. Echo Show 5 (2nd-Gen)

Add some smarts to your home

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, updated your daily scheduled 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 2MP camera for voice calls and checking in on your home when you’re away. 

Although the Echo is typically $85, it is currently on sale for $40.

$40 at Amazon

Find The Perfect Gift

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Five S Kneading Massager
$35 at Amazon

Hydro Flask
$35 at Hyrdo Flask

Nintendo eShop Gift Card
$50 at Amazon

Fox in the Forest
$12 at Amazon

SteelSeries Arctis 1
$50 at Amazon

Jacques Torres bonbons
$55 at Jacque Torres

A bouquet of exotic meats
$90 at Man Crates

Sarah Chloe diamond locket
$145 at Sarah Chloe

The Bouqs Co. Pixie bouquet
$99 at The Bouqs Co.

Sweet heart bamboo
$35 at Plants.com

Max Brenner chocolates
$37 at Max Brenner

Ingarden microgreens garden
$100 at Amazon

Shun Sora Japanese petty knife
$70 at Amazon

Wolf Circus Toni gold bracelet
$95 at Wolf Circus

Champagne Gummy Bears
$9 at Sugarfina

MakiMaki sushi roll kit for 2
$125 at MakiMaki

Cote des Roses rosé
$16 at Wine.com

Flavored Truffle Gift Box
$38 at La Maison du Chocolat

Barrel Aged Hot Hive Honey and Reaper Salt Series
$40 at Fuego Box

Carrie Hoffman X studs earrings
$290 at Carrie Hoffman

Wanna Date? sweet date spread
$12 at Uncommon Goods

Italian olivewood serving board
$17 at Sur la table

Three-piece cheese knife set
$20 at CB2

A delivery of fresh pasta
$25 at Goldbelly

Maison Miru heart nap earrings
$75 at Maison

Bokksu Japanese snack box
See at Amazon

State cashmere blanket throw blanket
See at Amazon

HyperChiller
See at Amazon

Nixplay smart digital photo frame
$20 at CB2

Online cooking classes
See at Online Cooking School

Washable Silk Tee & Shorts
See at Quince

Ouai Chill Pill Bath Bombs
See at Ulta

60 Hour Candle
See at TheraBox

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer
See at Dyson

Mint & Lily Mama necklace
See at Mint & Lily

Sephora gift card
See at Sephora

Google Nest Hub
See at Google

Theragun Prime
See at Therabody

Matador NanoDry Towel
See at REI

Mixbook
See at Mixbook

Tiki fire pit
See at Amazon

Mario Badescu face spray set
See at Ulta

Flower delivery from BloomsyBox
See at BloomsyBox

Slip silk pillowcase
See at Amazon

Aarke water carbonator
$230 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Disney Plus Gift Subscription
$80 at Disney

DJI Minin 2 Fly More Combo
$600 at Amazon

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
$69 at Amazon

ThisWorx Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner
$36 at Amazon

Perfect Pot
$165 at Our Place

Letterfolk Customizable Tile Mat
$75 at West Elm

Parks Project Candle
$36 at Parks Project

iPad Mini 2021
$500 at Best Buy

Crown & Paw Pet Canvas
$50 at Crown & Paw

Coravin Wine Preservation System
$150 at Target

Botley 2.0
$47 at Amazon

Arcade1Up Arcade Machine
$600 at Best Buy

Biolite TraveLight 135
$40 at Biolite

Blockaroo Blocks
$40 at Amazon

Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion Board Game
$32 at Amazon

JBL Go 3
$50 at Amazon

Illy Y3.3 Espresso and Coffee Machine
$149 at Amazon

Lenovo Smart Clock
$35 at Best Buy

Keurig K-Slim Coffee Maker
$79 at Amazon

Lego Speed Champions Corvette
$30 at Amazon

Madewell Transport Tote
$178 at Madewell

Lunya Silk Sleep Mask
$48 at Lunya

Lite-Brite
$13 at Target

Lodge Cast-Iron Grill Pan
$20 at Amazon

Wyze Cam v3
$36 at Amazon

Apple AirPods 3
$150 at Amazon

EarFun Air Pro 2
$80 at Amazon

Sony WF-1000XM4
$250 at Walmart

Sony PlayStation 5
$499 at Amazon

Roku Express 4K Plus
$39 at Amazon

Apple iPad 2021 (9th generation)
$280 at Amazon

Acer Chromebook Spin 713
$530 at Amazon

MacBook Air M1
$1,000 at Best Buy

Bose SoundLink Flex
$150 at Best Buy

Dell G15
$1,100 at Best Buy

HP Pavilion Aero 13
$1,000 at HP

Lenovo Yoga 7i (2-in-1)
$850 at Best Buy

Mosaic Plant-Based Meal Delivery
$70 at Mosaic

Trade Coffee Subscription
$40 at Trade

Vizio MQ7 65-inch
$1,000 at Amazon

Apple Watch SE
$269 at Amazon

Apple Watch Series 7
$399 at Best Buy

Atlas Tea Club
$199 at Atlas Tea Club

iPhone 11
$499 at Apple

iPhone 13
$799 at Apple

Fitbit Charge 5
$179 at Amazon

Google Pixel 6
$599 at Amazon

iPhone 13 Pro
$999 at Apple

LG C1 OLED 65-inch
$1,797 at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
$1,166 at Amazon

TCL Series 4 TV 65-inch
$529 at Amazon

TCL Series 6 TV 65-inch
$999 at Amazon

Theragun Mini
$199 at Amazon

Best of Dylan’s Candy Bar Gift Basket
$100 at Dylan’s Candy Bar

The Mirror
$1,495 at Mirror

Echo Dot with Clock
$60 at Amazon

Croissant Light
$19 at Amazon

Spanish-style Wine Glasses
$20 at Amazon

Nintendo Switch OLED
$350 at Target

Xbox Series X
$499 at Amazon

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