Gift Guide: Last minute gifts and stocking stuffers that are actually good

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Gift Guide: Last minute gifts and stocking stuffers that are actually good

We’ve only got a few more days until Christmas, and maybe you’re starting get a little nervous about all the folks who are still on your gift-giving list. Sure, they might not be your closest friends or best-loved family members… but you can’t ignore them entirely, can you?

Don’t worry, TechCrunch has you covered. Whether you’ve got a lot of last-minute shopping to do, or you’re just looking to add a little something extra to your gifts, we’ve rounded up an array of options — all quick, easy, and pretty affordable (sub-$40). We tried to limit it to stuff we’d actually be happy to receive, but which should still be easy enough to find in your nearest big box store.

Tap that right arrow key to get started — or if you’re on mobile, just scroll.


TV streaming dongles

When you think affordable gifts, a streaming TV device probably doesn’t come to mind. But it turns out that you can get a Roku Streaming Stick, an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Google’s Chromecast for about $35. Which one should you get? Well, all of them support the big streaming services, so it may be a question of which device ecosystems your friend or family member is already a part of — or, in the case of Amazon and Google, which voice assistant they prefer.


The smart home, on the cheap

Speaking of voice assistants, the Google Home Mini is currently available for just $29, while Amazon’s Echo Dot is about the same price. They may not be the best smart home devices out there (there’s a reason why both companies have more expensive options on the market) but they’re an affordable entry point — and an easy way to add another speaker to someone’s smart home.


Wemo Mini Smart Plug

If you want a smart home, you need smart devices — or this smart plug, which allows you to control existing lights and appliances with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. There’s no subscription required, and it also includes a randomized “away mode,” so that your lights switch on and off without the predictability of a regular timer. And it costs less than $30.


Anker PowerCore+ Mini 3350

Everyone runs low on power once in a while, but lugging around a normal-sized power bank or battery pack can be a challenge when you’re trying to travel light. This Anker charger is the size of a lipstick case, making it easy to stuff it into a bag or your pocket. It holds enough power to juice up most smartphones, and it’s only $15.99. (If you’re looking for more battery and charging gift ideas, we’ve got a whole guide for that.)


Adapt or die

Hey, you know what’s fun? Buying a fancy new MacBook and realizing that all of your old-fashioned USB devices no longer connect properly. Maybe at some point in the future, all gadgets will have moved over to USB-C, but in the meantime, many of us are constantly searching for adapters. Luckily, Amazon’s selling a bunch of them for less than $10.


Cool stuff! Every month!

If you want a gift that keeps giving all year round, consider one of these monthly box subscriptions. Granted, the price can add up, but that’s because you’re getting a lot of stuff. And it doesn’t have to be all that expensive. For example, geek commerce startup Loot Crate is selling a single box for $15.99, and the price-per-box goes down if you buy for multiple months. There are also women’s beauty boxes from Birchbox, which are going for $24 for three months. And Bespoke Post, a startup that delivers a “box of awesome” for men, has a whole category of sub-$30 stocking stuffers.


Keeping phones safe

We’ve all got that friend — the one who refuses to buy a smartphone case, even if they’ve cracked their screen multiple times. (Disclosure: I am totally that friend.) Well, maybe you can nudge them towards making better life choices with a gift. Not sure where to start? Keep it simple. Here’s a basic iPhone 8 case from Speck for just over $20.


Device trackers

What better gift is there than allowing someone to find their lost phone or their keys? Bluetooth trackers like the Tile Mate and the TrackR pixel can’t tell you exactly where your lost item is, but they’ll point you in the right direction — no reason to turn your apartment upside down when you actually left your keys at the office. They’ll also make your phone give a helpful ring, even if it’s on silent mode.


Content, content, content

Gift cards are always an easy choice, and it’s hard to see anyone complaining too loudly about getting to buy more stuff on Amazon or iTunes. But that can also feel a little impersonal, so instead, consider helping someone try one of the many subscription media services out there. For music fans, you’ve got gift cards for Spotify and Apple Music. Or if you think it’s time for your friend to finally stop using your Netflix password, there’s a gift card for that too, and another one for Hulu. And if you know someone who’s more of a reader, there are gift cards for Scribd or Comixology.


R2-D2 coffee press

Think Geek actually has a whole selection of last-minute deals, but as someone who likes Star Wars and loves coffee, I really think someone should get this $32.99 coffee press for me. Beep beep boop.