Best White Elephant Gifts Under $35
Whether you're swapping gifts virtually or safely within your pod, check out these CR picks
White Elephant. Secret Santa. Yankee Swap. There are several names for holiday gift exchange traditions and games, whether you're celebrating the season virtually or gathering safely with your quarantine crew during the pandemic.
Whatever you call it, make sure the present you throw in the ring is one that everyone in your holiday pod has their eyes on. From a trusty coffee maker to a standout pair of headphones, we're here to help with these great gifts.
Go to Consumer Reports' Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.
Coffee Makers & More
An excellent value, this inexpensive drip coffee maker beat out dozens of pricier models in CR’s battery of tests. Brew performance rates Excellent, and it can be programmed to have piping fresh coffee waiting in the morning.
For more options: Best Drip Coffee Makers From Consumer Reports' Tests
The Primula Burke Cold Brew Coffee Maker PBPBK-5101 is the most inexpensive cold-brew coffee maker in our ratings—and it’s one of the best. It receives an Excellent rating for convenience. This Primula comes with a glass carafe, and most of its parts are dishwasher-safe. Of all the cold-brew machines we've tested, it’s the only model that calls for a full 24-hour brew time, but you might find the results worth the wait.
For more options: Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers of the Year
This AmazonBasics kettle is made of stainless steel and is one of the least expensive kettles in our tests. It’s small, though, holding just 4 cups of water, the least of the kettles we test. It's among the fastest to bring our testing standard of 4 cups of water to a boil, clocking in at just under 4 minutes and earning a Very Good rating in our time-to-boil tests.
For more options: Best Electric Kettles From Consumer Reports' Tests
Cookware & Kitchen Tools
The Artisanal aces our browning tests, earning an Excellent rating and making perfect scallops. It's just as good at searing a steak, too. In our tests, it baked cornbread that was moist and golden brown. But there are downsides. This pan wasn’t great at heating up evenly, and at 8.3 pounds, it’s the heaviest in our tests, which means that when someone picks it from a stack of wrapped gifts, it'll have major heft.
For more options: Best Cast Iron Frying Pans From Consumer Reports' Tests
A CR Best Buy for combining performance and an appealing price, this 10-inch nonstick pan is made of aluminum, and the nonstick coating is copper-colored. The pan turns out evenly cooked food that easily slides out. The nonstick coating proved fairly durable in our tests. The handle, however, isn't very sturdy but does stay cool to the touch.
For more options: Best Frying Pans for $40 or Less
The Chefman was the only waffle maker we tested to snag a CR Best Buy designation. With a price that's far less than most of the competition, this machine churns out evenly browned round waffles. It garners a Very Good rating for its color-range settings, meaning there’s a noticeable difference between waffles made on the darkest setting (brown and crispy) and lightest setting (light and fluffy). It has an indicator light to let you know when the waffles are ready, the option to store it vertically to save space, and a batter cup for precise portioning. But the handle and latch get uncomfortably warm during cooking, despite the “cool touch” claims, so you may want to use an oven mitt when opening and closing the lid.
For more options: Best Waffle Makers
This three-cup single-speed Pioneer Woman food chopper earns a solid score in overall performance, but where it really shines is in its ability to make baby food and grate cheese. Some home chefs may also appreciate its glass bowl—no staining!—which is a rare feature for a chopper.
For more options: Best Food Processors & Choppers
For the family marathoner or yoga enthusiast, the inexpensive SportFlex 3 can keep up during a workout. These earbuds have earclips designed to hold them in place while you exercise, and according to the manufacturer, they're water-resistant. (CR doesn’t test this feature.) You don’t need to be a gym rat to appreciate this headphone bargain, though. Our tests show that this model has dependable sound quality, whether you're heading out for a run or settling into your commute.
For more options: Best Headphones for Under $50
With this portable Bluetooth headphone model, your gift recipient gets audio quality that's well above average. To get even better sound, you'd have to pay four times as much. The earphones hide most of their electronics in a relatively unobtrusive neck collar, which also houses the earphone's integrated controls for calls, volume, and playback. According to the manufacturer, they have a fairly standard battery life at up to 8 hours of playback time.
For more options: Best Headphones for Under $50
This is not the new spherical Dot unveiled in September. But it's smaller and sleeker than its predecessor, with a fashionable fabric covering and, more important, significantly better sound. The list price is $50, but it’s frequently discounted well below that, making the tiny Dot the cheapest way into the Amazon ecosystem.
For more options: Best Smart Speakers Under $200
Insignia 10W Wireless Charger
This model is compact, lightweight, and easy to use. The LED status indicator lets you know when your phone is charging and turns off when the device is fully powered up. The standard micro USB power cable measures 3 feet 4 inches long.
For more options: Best Wireless Chargers for Your Smartphone and Other Devices