Upgrade Your Life

Great Gifts for Under $25

Becky Worley
Upgrade Your Life

Just a few days left. Your mission: to get your holiday shopping done AND to stay under budget. So here are my top picks for great gifts under $25.

As a tech reporter, my gift ideas tend to slant toward the geeky, but with virtually everyone using technology these days, geeky has gone mainstream. And just in case, this year I'm mixing in a few more homey ideas. As in…

Flameless Candles — 3 for $19
I used to think battery-powered candles would look cheesy, but they don't. Just watch the video that accompanies this article, and you'll see what I mean. Plus, flameless candles have dropped a lot in price. I found a set of three, indoor/outdoor candles with timers for just $19.

Camera Lens Travel Mug $10-$25
Got a photobug on your list? The camera lens coffee mug is sure to impress. There are a number of these on the market, with exteriors that emulate a variety of high-end Canon and Nikon lenses — and the interiors are stainless steel to hold your hot beverage. The "lens cap" keeps your drink from spilling. Some models even have a working zoom housing; the stainless steel interior cup doesn't change dimensions, but the outside does — pretty cool. Best way to shop is by finding out what kind of lens your recipient really covets, then search online for a lens mug to match.

Canvas Prints — 10x13 for $25
Snapbox can transform your digital photography, instagram mood shots, and even phone pics into canvas masterpieces. Suddenly, your snapshots become art.

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Hinged Picture Frame - $25
If you've got kids — or know someone who does — you know how important it is to celebrate their artwork. But at the rate they produce it, you need to rotate what's on display. A hinged frame lets you change out the little masterpieces without taking the frame off the wall. Perfect for parents and grandparents.

Earbuds - $6
Earbuds that once cost a fair amount for good quality sound have dropped so much in price that I now give them as stocking stuffers. I tested a bunch and liked the Panasonic HJE12 model best. They sounded great, stayed in my ears and cost just $6.

LED Hat - $17
I'm getting this for my dad (but don't tell him!) — a baseball cap with an LED flashlight built in just under the brim. No more strapping on the goofy headlamp!

Sip n Swirl Eyeglasses - $2
And speaking of goofy… Sip a colorful beverage through this eyeglasses-shaped straw, and you'll get a whole new outlook. For two bucks, it's hard to go wrong.

Foam Fighters - $10
For slightly older kids, App Gear brings phone-based games into the real world. You attach a model plane made out of foam on your iPod or phone, right in front of the camera and Foam Fighters blends the image of the real world in front of the camera with the game world to create an augmented reality gaming experience.

Angry Birds Sleep Mask - $9
I know Angry Birds is a little tired, but I love the visual of these Angry Birds sleep masks. Their eyes stay wide open while yours are shut.

[Related: How to Get a Discount on Apple]

Star Wars Pancake Molds — $16
What Geeky Gift Guide would be complete without a Star Wars product? So Christmas morning, bust out these molds to make pancakes in the shape of Yoda, Darth Vader, and more.

Prank Packs — 3 for $20
Finally I cannot say enough about Prank Packs. You pack a real gift in there — something nice — but the recipient sees the box and thinks you've given something ridiculous. Last year I wrapped my mom's new iPhone in the Bathe and Brew. The look on her face as she tried to be excited about an in-shower coffee maker was priceless. This year they have the Pet Petter, the Motorized Rolling Pin, and the ever-popular Toe Tunes slipper speakers.

[Related: Best E-Reader for Under $100]

Ethics statement: I give you my honest opinion and I am not paid for recommendations. Due to the dynamic pricing of online shopping, prices may have changed by the time you read this.

Brad Marshland contributed to this story.

Photo credit: voxtheory.

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