This story is partour year-round collection of the best gift ideas.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still weeks away, but the holidays will be here before you know it. With inflation higher than ever, we’ve been looking for affordable gifts under $30 that will suit a wide variety of people, from young children to grandparents. Check out our favorites below, including everything from gadgets to books, and more. We’ve personally tested or used most of them and it’s something we’d love to give – or receive – over the holidays or any other time of the year.
Note that prices and availability of selected products were accurate at the time of publication, but both are subject to change without notice. If a price above $30 is displayed, note that an Instant Coupon may be available to lower the price.
This little guy is an old favorite. It’s small, portable, and water resistant, and sounds great for its price. Listing at around $37, you’ll almost always find it discounted on Amazon down to $30 or less. And the version currently on sale now offers USB-C charging, not the older micro-USB standard it had when we originally reviewed it.
Read our Tribit XSound Go review.
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In my house, the Lodge Grill Pan is used at least once a week to cook mahi mahi or turkey burgers (to name a few). It’s an easy and inexpensive way to bring the essence of the grilling experience to your stovetop, which is especially useful during the winter months.
Buying a gift for someone who always misplaces their jacket, purse or backpack? With an Apple AirTag in place, this problem should be a thing of the past: just open the Find My app on the iPhone, and the missing item can be found anywhere there’s an Apple device nearby (which is pretty much nearly everywhere). Order early enough from Apple.com and you can order with custom engraved initials or emoji (as pictured here). A single AirTag costs $29 and you can get a 4-pack for $99. Buying for an Android owner? Obtain a Galaxy smart beacon (for Samsung people) or a Tile (any other Android phone owner).
Amazon/Screenshot by CNET
Author and illustrator David Macaulay has been publishing detailed hand-illustrated books since the 1970s, in which he meticulously documents the design and construction of everything from castles, mosques, pyramids and cathedrals to the operation of specialized or mundane equipment ranging from electric guitars to dental drills in how things work. Although these books are designed for readers as young as six, they also serve as great coffee table books for all ages. I received several of these books as a child and still enjoy flipping through them decades later. Macaulay has even rendered and updated some of his classic black-and-white books to add color, including Castle (pictured) and cathedral.
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Like most true wireless earbuds from Chinese brands sold through Amazon, this Tranya model has a fairly generic look and feel, especially the casing, and they may not suit all ears equally – they exceed a little. But if you get a tight seal, they sound great, with strong, well-defined bass and good detail (for a true wireless earbud). They also work fine as a headset for making calls, thanks to decent noise reduction that helps cut out background noise so people can hear your voice better.
Battery life is rated at 8 hours at moderate volume levels and these are fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating. Even if you’re buying for someone who already has a favorite set of headphones, these are affordable enough to work as a good backup.
Wizards of the Coast
Some old-school D&D is a nice face-to-face break from the virtual world of video games. The Essentials Kit gives you everything a party of pencil-and-paper adventurers need for questing, but true beginners can opt for the equally affordable one. Starter set In place. (Those already bored with D&D can dip their toes into the world of Gloomhaven with the Jaws of the Lion instead, which is just a little over $30.)
There are plenty of inexpensive smart plugs out there, but the Leviton D215P-2RW is our current favorite. The killer feature here is universal compatibility: it works with Google, Alexa or Apple HomeKit smart home setups. Moreover, the trim design of this gadget leaves the second outlet open for business.
Sarah Tew / Crumpe
True story: Back when I was in college, 3.5 inch floppy disks were a thing, and they stored a whopping 1.44 megabytes of data on them. This flash drive costs less than $21 and stores 128 GB, the equivalent of nearly 89,000 of those floppy disks. This model has USB-A and USB-C connectors, so it will work with any computer as well as the new iPad Pro and Mini models.
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