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Let’s face it: During the holidays, our budgets often get a little tight. There are parties to host, travel expenses to cover, and, of course, gifts to buy. But not every party can be extravagant, not every holiday vacation can be exotic, and not every gift can be exorbitant. We’re thoughtful spenders, after all, and thoughtful spenders spread their resources.
At Reviewed, we never stop thinking about smart spending. Everything we test—from refrigerators to reusable straws—is viewed through the eyes of a savvy shopper looking to maximize their dollar. So this holiday season, we at Reviewed decided to put together a list of some of our favorite products for under $50. They’re affordable, yes, but they’re not cheap, and that’s a very important distinction.
So kick back and relax—no one’s in a better position than us to help you spend your money wisely. These are the best gifts under $50 of 2018, according to Reviewed:
1. For the one who’s hard to shop for: A classic gift delivery
If you’re the type of person who just read that and thought to themselves, “Fruit? As a gift? Really?” then clearly you haven’t experienced a Harry & David Royal Riviera pear.
Here’s what you need to know: These are life-changing pears. They’ll ruin pears for you. You’re not just buying someone pears, you’re robbing them of their ability to enjoy normal pears forever. After you eat one of these, every single firm, mealy, garden-variety grocery store pear will crush you with disappointment.
I mean, you can eat them with a spoon—that’s how succulent they are. Any confusion resulting from being on the receiving end of this gift lasts precisely the amount of time it takes to open the box and take a bite of one of them. I promise.
Get Cream of the Crop Royal Riviera Pears from Harry & David for $29.99 ($7 off!)
2. For the one who uses your Prime account: Their own 3-month membership
Whether it’s your brother, your sister, your friend of seven years whose name is Brendan, or your roommate, some folks have a bad habit of coasting on other people’s Amazon Prime accounts. If this sounds like someone you know, you might want to consider getting Brendan (or whoever) three months of Amazon Prime for just 39 bucks.
Not only is it a practical gift, but it also sends a message to your sibling/cousin/ungrateful friend Brendan/roommate that it might be time for them to spread their wings and start paying for things like free 2-day shipping and new episodes of The Tick on Amazon Video.
So this holiday season, show the one you love that it’s time to grow up, Brendan.
Get 3 months of Amazon Prime for $39
3. For the one who wants to save the planet: A set of reusable straws
One of the easiest things we can do to treat our planet more responsibly is to cut down on our single-use plastics. For this reason, our very own Courtney Campbell recently set out to find the best reusable straws you can buy. After extensive testing, we concluded that this set of four glass straws from Hummingbird was the best bet for most people.
They look great, they’re durable, and they won’t change the flavor of what you’re drinking. They’re a thoughtful, practical gift for the person in your life who wants to save the Earth, one baby-step at a time.
Get the set of 4 Hummingbird Glass Straws on Amazon for $24.99
4. For the one who’s always on the go: The perfect travel mug
Earlier this year, we threw a handful of the most popular travel mugs in a good ol’ fashioned cage match. When the dust settled, this stainless steel mug from Zojirushi emerged as the champion on our list of the best travel mugs you can buy.
We love how easy the Zojirushi mug is to use, and its temperature-retention abilities absolutely floored our tester, Sarah Zorn. The Zojirushi is available in a ridiculous amount of colors, too—perfect for the person in your life who’s always on the move.
Get the 16-Oz. Zojirushi Travel Mug for $23.99
5. For the one who needs more sleep: The most comfortable eye mask out there
My colleague Jessica Teich is not only a full-time editor here at Reviewed—she’s also a full-time dog mom. Simply put, when her day is done and her puppy Redford is finally down for the count, she appreciates a good night’s sleep.
Jessica recently put together a list of the best sleep masks you can buy, and the winner—the Nidra Deep Rest sleep mask—is a total game-changer. Its adjustable velcro strap keeps the mask securely in place all night long, and the foam pads rest comfortably on your face without being intrusive.
“Each time I wear it,” Jessica wrote, “I wake up the next morning well-rested—and in complete darkness.” This holiday season, give someone you love the gift of Zzzs for less than $15.
Get the Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask on Amazon for $11.95
6. For the serious home cook: The best cast iron skillet ever
Cast iron cookware provides one of the most reliable and rewarding cooking experiences one can hope to have, but deciphering all of the marketing hoopla that comes with it can be a daunting task. That’s why we put them all to the test and compiled a list of the best cast iron pans you can buy right now. The winner? None other than industry-favorite Lodge.
Our only complaint about this 10-inch, pre-seasoned pan is that it doesn’t come with a lifetime warranty from Lodge. Fortunately for the person you’re gifting the pan to—and maybe for you—it’s such a durable beast of a pan that it’ll most likely stand the test of time and become a family heirloom.
Get the Lodge 10-Inch Cast Iron Pan on Amazon for $24.70
7. For the beginner home cook: A good chef’s knife at a great value
We had two goals when putting together our list of the best chef’s knives: to identify the overall best chef’s knife (in this case, the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro), and to identify the chef’s knife with the best value. In the end, we concluded that the ~$45 Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-inch chef’s knife provided the most bang for the buck.
It’s certainly not the sturdiest-feeling knife in the world, but the blade is tough as nails and sharp enough to handle just about anything. In addition to how impressed it left us, this knife’s got over 5,000 reviews on Amazon with an average 4.8-star rating. This is the perfect knife for both beginner cooks and folks looking to pad out their knife collection.
Get the 8-Inch Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife on Amazon for $34.95
8. For the one trying to be more organized: A super-popular bullet journal
I’m gonna be perfectly honest: I have no idea what the heck “bullet journal organization” is. I do know, however, that I can’t go more than two days without hearing someone breathlessly extol the system’s virtues.
This guide to bullet journaling I found online seems like a helpful place to start, and the people behind the guide recommend picking up this Leuchtturm hardcover bullet journal.
In fact, the more I research bullet journaling, the more I gather that this particular brand of bullet journal is the best place to start—it’s currently sitting on an average Amazon rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 with over 2,200 reviews under its belt.
Look at it this way: If you get it for the person in your life who loves to make checklists, there’s a really good chance they’ll remember to send a thank you card!
Get the Leuchtturm Hardcover Bullet Journal on Amazon for $19.95
9. For the fitness fanatic: An armband perfect for exercising
As folks who run or spend time at the gym will attest, a person’s smartphone is often the central nervous system of any workout routine; we rely on our phones for music, GPS guidance, and workout tips.
This affordable armband from Tribe is designed to fit every phone, and it’s currently enjoying a 4.2-average user rating based on a ludicrous 16,500 reviews. How’s that for consistency?
We love the armband’s secure, water-resistant design, the amount of colors it’s available in, and the piece of mind that comes with its lifetime guarantee.
Get the Tribe Smartphone Armband on Amazon for $9.98
10. For the one who needs to de-stress: Our favorite aromatherapy diffuser
When we were testing and photographing several of the best essential oil diffusers on the market, our office smelled awesome.
Our overall pick for the best diffuser is also one of the most affordable, and it comes from InnoGear. My colleague Sarah Kovac loved the InnoGear’s colorful, customizable LED glow, as well as the diffuser’s locking top cover, which made it easier to move the diffuser without spilling water.
If the person you’re shopping for enjoys creating calming, relaxing atmospheres at home, there’s a good chance they’ll love the gentle bubbling of an essential oil diffuser.
Get the InnoGear Essential Oil Diffuser on Amazon for $15.99