When the holiday season rolls around, it can be tempting to spend your entire paycheck on high-end gifts for your loved ones. That said, in a time often marked by extravagance, you don’t have to break the bank in order to show you care.
Whether you’re shopping for a foodie, a techie, a beauty guru or an avid traveler, the best gifts tend to be both practical and reasonably priced. To help you check everyone off your holiday shopping list, we rounded up unique gift ideas that all cost less than $50. If you were too busy to shop this season or still have a few people to cross off your list, we rounded up the best last-minute gifts to consider.
The best under-$50 gifts in 2023
To help you with your holiday shopping this year, we curated a list of functional yet special gifts under $50. We included a range of categories (such as tech, travel, beauty and home decor to name a few) to suit any recipient — even the pickiest ones. All of these products are Select editor favorites, top-rated picks or are products from brands we’ve used, loved and featured before.
Available in two materials, two sizes and several colors, the Dagne Dover Hunter is one of our go-to makeup bags for travel. The roomy main compartment has various internal organizers (like elastic loops to keep bottles upright) and zippered pockets to hold essential toiletries, whether they’re at home or on the road. NBC and CNBC Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg, who has the large version of this toiletry bag, says that it's "very functional but also chic," and that the removable pouches and elastic loops make it so easy to keep her stuff organized.
Homemade pizza? That’s amore. This pizza steel is designed to help beginner home chefs achieve restaurant-quality dinner without a professional-level wood- or coal-fired pizza oven. It has 86 perforations on the steel’s surface to help maximize airflow so your giftee can get that perfectly crusty bottom layer just by putting this in a high-heat oven, according to Made In. Its 12.6-inch diameter should fit in most standard ovens and its nonstick surface helps the pie glide off when serving, as detailed on the brand’s website. It weighs less than 3 pounds and is oven-safe up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Anker Soundcore 2 Bluetooth speaker is a Select-staff favorite for its portability and loud, crisp, non-distorted audio quality. “The music is always audible and crisp when I use it, even when there’s a number of other competing noises,” says NBC Select updates editor Mili Godio. The water-resistant speaker has large buttons so you can pause your music and adjust the volume without grabbing your phone, plus the battery life lasts up to 24 hours, according to the brand. Perfect for just about any giftee on your list.
If they love wrapping themselves up like a burrito, this tortilla throw blanket takes that experience to the next level. The fleece material is lightweight, yet soft and warm, and you can machine-wash and tumble-dry it, according to the brand. It comes in five sizes (from 47 inches to 90 inches in diameter) and you can also purchase pizza or waffle patterns for your recipient if they’re not burrito fanatics.
Your giftee can wear this bag two ways — around the waist and hips like a classic fanny pack or as a crossbody bag over their shoulders. Its main compartment has a built-in divider and two external zippered pockets to hold smaller items, plus it has adjustable straps with metal buckles so they can find their ideal fit. The unisex bag is available in two neutral colors — with or without the Everlane logo visible — and is perfect for dog walks, traveling or quick errand runs.
These designated makeup towels, from Select-favorite brand Weezie, protect your giftee’s other linens against lipstick stains and mascara marks. They come in a set of two and are made from long-staple cotton in a navy blue shade, plus they have hanging loops for faster drying. You can add your own custom embroidery for an additional $15 too.
This adjustable stand rotates 270 degrees so your giftee can find their ideal viewing angle. Since it’s made from aluminum and has nonslip silicone pads, it’s designed to hold phones (from most major brands) securely while your recipient watches videos, streams, reads recipes or checks emails. It comes in eight color options, all of which have cut-outs for the charging cord.
Brightland makes some of the best (and tastiest, if you ask us) olive oils to cook with. The Awake bottle in particular is made from California-grown olives, which are cold-pressed within 90 minutes of harvest so they retain their freshness and flavor, according to the brand. The nutty, buttery taste is ideal for roasting veggies and sauteing proteins as well as making soups and bread. Needless to say, it’s a luxurious but practical gift for the foodie or chef in your life. It also makes an excellent host gift too.
Commuters and weekend travelers alike can use these tote bags to hold all of their essentials while on the go. Available in four sizes, two lengths and 12 colors, each one is made in Maine and built to last — they have double-stitched seams and handles that can hold up to 500 pounds, according to L.L. Bean. You can also add a custom monogram for $8 to give it a personal touch too. “This is always my go-to gift,” says NBC Select editor Lindsay Schneider. “They’re incredibly durable and practical, and the custom monogram is the perfect way to make such a useful, everyday item feel special for the holidays.”
This mat, which we include in our guide to the best yoga mats, is perfect for the beginner yogi or fitness enthusiast in your life. Made from a nontoxic material and available in 13 colors, it has a textured, cushioned surface to keep your recipient’s hands and feet from slipping.
This gift brings some fresh nature right to your giftee’s living room. Bloomscape has some of the best low-maintenance plants, and this Red Anthurium will add life and color to their space with its red, heart-shaped leaves and yellow flower spikes. The brand recommends keeping it in a warm, bright spot with extra humidity. Along with the plant itself, you’ll get a pot of your giftee’s choice that’s available in four muted colorways including Stone, Charcoal, Slate and Indigo.
Ideal for travelers, beach lovers or avid campers, this towel, which has a 4.8-star average review from more than 500 reviews on Rumpl, is designed to absorb moisture and dry quickly. Since it’s made from polyester-based microsuede with an antimicrobial finish, it’s also resistant to sand, pet hair, stains and bacteria, according to the brand. It’s available in 24 colors and patterns so you can find one that’ll best suit your giftee.
This rounded salt tub, which comes in a dark walnut or light maple wood, doubles as decor for your giftee’s kitchen counter. Still, it’s plenty practical for cooking since its magnetic lid swivels to the side so they can grab a pinch or a generous heaping of salt when cooking. The fluted base also holds a secondary seasoning, like pepper or chili flakes. “I love how elegant and sleek this looks on a counter and would be so happy to receive this as a holiday gift,” says Schneider. “It’s also quite functional and seamless to use.”
These heat-resistant borosilicate glass measuring cups can go all the way from your giftee’s prep station to the microwave, serving table and dishwasher. They have a drip-resistant spout and clear printed measurements in ounces, cups and milliliters. Schneider even uses them as flower vases from time to time. “They’re the prettiest measuring cups I’ve ever had — I love to keep them out on display and store K-cups or flowers in them when I’m not using them for baking or measuring,” she says.
For the person who still prefers handwritten notes, the Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook is an eco-friendly alternative to single-use paper. The 36 dotted pages are made from a whiteboard-like material that your giftee can wipe clean to start over — but before they erase their writing and drawings, they can use the notebook’s QR code scanning system to save them in the cloud. The set also comes with an erasable pen and a microfiber cleaning cloth.
A great housewarming gift or present for people who love to entertain, this bamboo board helps them create a stunning charcuterie platter for company. On top, it has a flat surface for cheese and fruit, a grooved border for crackers and bread, and two ceramic bowls for dips and nuts. Inside, the tray has hidden storage for its included four utensils, slate labels and food-safe chalk to identify the ingredients.
For beauty enthusiasts or anyone looking to cultivate a self-care routine, this eight-piece bath set is the perfect find. It comes with shower gel, bath bombs, bath salts, lotion, body butter and a scrubber, all in a rose scent that’s housed in a silver bathtub tray that your giftee can reuse as a soap holder or an organization container.
The Apple AirTag is ideal for people in your life who are constantly misplacing their wallet, keys or bag. When they lose the item in question, they can ping it from the Find My app on their phone, which prompts a noise to play from the tag’s built-in speaker. They can also put the AirTag into “lost” mode, after which they’ll be automatically notified when someone within the network finds it. It’s water- and dust-resistant and the replaceable battery should last for over a year, according to the brand.
With a 4.4-star average rating from over 80,000 reviewers, this microphone (which comes in 13 color options) connects to compatible devices in one of five ways: Bluetooth, SD cards, an audio cable, an aux jack or headphones. Once it’s all set up, your recipient can sing along to an app and record their performances for later playback.
Glossier makes some of our editors’ favorite makeup and skincare, but this candle gives your loved one’s space a makeover, too. The You candle has the same scent as the brand’s bestselling perfume, which smells fresh, peppery and woodsy. The wick is made from natural fibers, while the wax is made from a soy-and-coconut blend, according to Glossier. Once the candle burns out, your giftee can reuse the red or pink glass container to hold desk essentials, makeup brushes and more.
Help them personalize and protect their AirPods Max headphones with this colorful and functional cover. The polyurethane helps prevent damage from scratches and drops, according to the brand, plus it comes in over 20 design options (such as metallic rainbow, animal prints, cats and florals) so they can show off their personal style. It’s a favorite of NBC Select associate reporter Bianca Alvarez because it’s travel-friendly, easy to clean and pops on and off without effort.
Hillary Dixler Canavan, restaurant editor at Eater, compiled this guide of 100 recipes from some of the most influential restaurants across the United States. Your favorite home chef will learn how to make lobster rolls from a Maine seafood shack, cobbler from a famous Birmingham pastry chef and martinis that mimic ones you’d find in New York piano bars. It also makes for a great coffee table book.
These flat pouches, which come from one of our favorite brands for laptop cases, are a great way to organize just about anything, including art supplies, tech accessories, makeup and important documents. They’re made from recycled nylon that’s machine-washable so your giftee can easily clean them as needed. Each pack comes in a set of three different-sized bags in different color combinations.
With 500 randomly cut pieces that are all slightly different shapes, this is the ultimate gift for the puzzle lover. Le Puzz collaborated with marbling artist Myfawnwy to create the design, which has bright colors, psychedelic swirls and abstract smiles. The pieces are “random cut”, according to the brand, so each one has a different shape, which makes it “more challenging (in a fun way) than your standard puzzle”, says Schneider, who owns a different Le Puzz puzzle.
The Echo Pop is Amazon’s lowest priced smart speaker and can do just about anything the Echo Dot can do, including playing music, setting reminders, checking the weather, reading the news, making calls and controlling your smart devices with your voice. That said, it’s compact so it can fit in small spaces, comes in four stylish colors and has a front-facing speaker for a fuller sound. “It’s such a tiny speaker, you can incorporate it into rooms so easily — it takes up little to no space,” says Malin, who uses it daily.
This stovetop espresso maker, which has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 8,000 reviews on Amazon, is a thoughtful gift for anyone who’s trying to cut down on their Starbucks purchases. It turns boiling water and coffee grounds into up to 3 cups of Italian coffee, and it works on both gas and electric stoves. (For an induction stove, you’ll need the Bialetti induction adapter plate.) The heat-resistant handle prevents burns and the aluminum body rinses clean with water.
I’ve tried a lot of wire organizers, but this Smartish cord holder (available in four colors) is my favorite due to its convenient magnetic design and sleek appearance. Most cords automatically attach to the magnetic top so they’re always within reach, but if not, your recipient will also get magnetic collars that they can slip around any wire. Since it uses a weighted base and a grippy bottom instead of sticky adhesives, your giftee can rearrange it at any time — it’s perfect for any co-worker or someone on your list that you don’t know too well.
Why trust Select?
Maria Cassano is an e-commerce writer, editor and consultant who has written hundreds of gift guides for Bustle, Allure, Food & Wine, Elite Daily and Mic, among other publications. To recommend the best gifts for 2023, she included Select editors’ favorite brands and products along with bestselling items with high ratings.