Holiday Gift Ideas for Every Budget
Find something for everyone on your list, at a nice price
Love knows no limits, but the same can’t always be said for your budget. That’s why Consumer Reports put together a list of some of the year’s best holiday gift ideas, organized by price. Need a gift for someone who’s gaga for gadgets? Have a friend who loves to cook? We’ve got you covered.
Go to Consumer Reports’ Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.
$35 or Less
The Chefman is the only waffle maker in our tests to snag a CR Best Buy designation. For far less money than most of the competition, this appliance churns out evenly browned, round waffles. It garners a Very Good rating for its color-range settings, meaning there’s a remarkable difference between waffles made on the darkest setting (brown and crispy) and lightest (light and fluffy).
For more options: Best Waffle Makers
Its performance and price make the Hamilton Beach 2-slice Modern Chrome 22791 a CR Best Buy. And this toaster is sleek and attractive, unlike some models in this price range. It earns an Excellent rating in our toasting-time tests. Features include wide slots along with settings for bagels and defrosting.
For more options: Best Toasters
$50 or Less
The latest version of the Echo Dot features new styling, a spherical look that’s a shrunken version of the larger and more expensive Echo, which is also new. In terms of smart speaker performance, the Dot hasn’t changed much from its hockey-puck predecessor, and it still works about as well as the company’s more expensive models. Music is another story; our testers thought the newest Dot sounded somewhat better than its predecessors, with slightly clearer highs and a bit more bass. But the Dot is still best for listening close by to a podcast rather than for filling a room with music.
For more options: Best Smart Speakers
Among our top-rated nonstick frying pans, this All-Clad is a lot of bang for your buck, beating out more expensive models in many of our tests. It wowed our testers when it comes to cooking evenness, earning an Excellent rating for uniformly browning pancakes. This anodized aluminum features sturdy handles that stayed cool to the touch in our tests. While we tested the 10.5-inch pan, you also get an 8.5-inch for this price, making it a great value for your money.
For more options: Best Nonstick Frying Pans
In our lab tests, this nicely priced hand mixer outperformed models costing twice as much. It’ll turn whipping cream into fluffy peaks in seconds. Stiff cookie dough, which undoes many bargain mixers, proved no problem. You won’t get much in the way of add-ons, but its wire beaters do just fine.
For more options, check our buying guide and ratings for mixers.
This over-ear wireless model is usually available for around $50, a steal given the superb noise-canceling performance and above-average sound quality. The BT-300ANC features integrated controls for calls, volume, and playback, and the ear cups fold in for easy storage and transport. According to Monoprice, the battery will run for 8 hours between charges with both Bluetooth and noise-canceling turned on. (CR doesn’t test battery life in headphones.) You can keep the music going even longer by switching off Bluetooth and using the detachable audio cable, which is included.
For more options: Noise-Canceling Headphones on a Budget
For more gift inspiration: Top Gifts Under $50
$100 or Less
This Cuisinart coffee grinder earns a Good rating for overall performance and is a breeze to clean. It features dial, button, and slider controls, and can hold about 8 ounces of coffee. At this price it’s a solid pick for turning out a tasty cup of joe.
For more options: Best and Worst Burr Coffee Grinders
You won’t find many competitors that deliver such impressive audio in this price range. The 1MORE E1001 Triple Driver headphones have a sleek design and come with extras including a removable shirt clip, a carrying case, and nine sets of earpieces of varying shapes and sizes to help you find a good fit. The integrated microphone, call/connect, playback, and volume controls will play nicely with your iPhone, but you may want to check compatibility with other smartphone models. The isolating design also muffles ambient noise and blocks some sound from bleeding out and bothering your neighbors.
For more options: Best Headphones of the Year
A CR Best Buy, the GoWise GW22731 has a measured capacity of 4.9 quarts. Its touch buttons and programmed settings are among the easiest in our ratings to see and use, earning an Excellent score in our assessment. And this is one of the quietest air fryers we’ve tested. The exterior’s crevices and the basket’s nooks and crannies take some effort to clean, however. It comes with a one-year warranty.
For more options: Best Air Fryers
The Instant Pot Duo is half the price of some of its competition, and it performs similarly to its more expensive sibling, the Instant Pot Max. It earns an Excellent rating for pressure cooking and can hold its own against a Crockpot in the slow-cooking department, too, though it may require more time.
For more options: Best Multi-Cookers
$200 or Less
The Sonos One SL is essentially a Sonos One smart speaker without the microphones that allow it to listen for a wake word. Our testers found that the sound is clear and detailed, and the bass is impactful, if not super-deep. The One SL is a monophonic speaker, and our testers found that the sound improved somewhat when the model was stereo-paired with another One SL.
For more options: Best Wireless Speakers
The Sony WF-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones have outstanding sound quality and top-of-the-line active noise reduction to match—with a true wireless design. The feature-rich earphones have variable noise cancellation, which you can adjust to let in more or less sound, including a “monitor” mode that actively pipes in audio from your surroundings. Those settings can be activated using integrated touch controls, which also operate playback and skipping tracks. According to Sony, the XM3 has a 6-hour battery life, can be recharged up to three times on the go with the portable charging case, and includes a quick-charge feature. A free app adds functionality. One caveat to keep in mind is that some users may feel the XM3 doesn’t fit securely, particularly those with larger ears.
For more options: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
A more affordable take on Ninja’s Coffee Bar brewers, the Ninja Specialty CM401 is a terrific all-in-one machine, capable of brewing hot and iced coffee, lattes, macchiatos, and other specialty brews. In our tests, it receives an Excellent rating for brew performance, and its glass carafe can be handled with ease. This model is also packed with features, including an over-ice brew mode for iced coffee, a built-in milk frother, brew-strength control, and brew-size adjustment for everything from travel mugs to full carafes. It’s one of the most versatile coffee makers we’ve tested.
For more options: Best Drip Coffee Makers
More Than $200
Le Creuset is known for its Dutch ovens, which are also enameled-covered cast iron. You can easily sear a steak in this nifty Le Creuset frying pan, and it earned a Very Good rating at browning scallops. It was only so-so at baking cornbread, but not everyone bakes in their cast-iron skillet. It’s just as easy to clean as all the other top-rated pans we’ve tested.
For more options: Best Cast-Iron Frying Pans
The Staub Cocotte holds 5.5 quarts and earns a Very Good rating in our browning test. But the pot’s dark interior makes it trickier to see whether meat is browning and to tell just how clean the pot is after washing. It weighs 13 pounds, and the cooking surface is 8 inches in diameter.
For more options: Best Dutch Ovens From Our Tests
The iRobot Roomba e5 is one of our top models for good reason: It earns Excellent ratings for surface carpet cleaning and bare floors. It falls in the middle of our top picks when it comes to price. This Roomba doesn’t have a remote control, but you can schedule its cleaning times from an app and review its cleaning pattern after it’s finished. iRobot is one of the better brands for digital privacy and security, earning a Good and a Very Good, respectively.
For more options: Best Robotic Vacuums
This 55-inch 4K smart TV from Samsung is a CR Best Buy with a satisfying overall picture quality. It also has above-average sound, so many will find it sufficient for both watching movies and playing music. The UN55RU7300 has Samsung’s smart TV platform, plus its Bixby digital voice assistant, which works with other Bixby and SmartThings-enabled devices. It’s also compatible with Google Home and Amazon Alexa voice assistants, and it has an Apple TV app so that you can watch movies and TV shows purchased through iTunes right from the TV itself.
For more options: Best TVs of the Year