Once upon a time, “buying” dad a Christmas gift meant letting mom pick out something nice and signing your name on the tag or, better yet, just having her do it. You were a kid, and it was easy for everyone except mom who had to pick up extra gifts “from” the kids.
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Well, now you’re the dad. And that same scenario, whether you realize it or not, is currently playing itself out behind the scenes in your house. Every time you tell your spouse or kids “I’m fine with nothing” when they ask what you want for Christmas, you aren’t helping. So stop. Take a look at this list of holiday gifts, each of which costs $50 or less, and pick a couple of favorites. It’s that simple. We guarantee you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.
Anker Soundcore 2
This portable speaker is just six and a half inches long, but its 12 watts of audio power make it sound like something much bigger. Its impressive battery life (up to 24 hours) and durability (waterproof, dustproof, drop-resistant) make it one of the more dependable Bluetooth speakers you can get.
A far cry from the dorky Armitron wrist-wear of your youth, this affordable digital square watch (that sort of looks like an Apple Watch) is water-resistant and rocks all your basic functions including chronograph (with lap time), alarm, and countdown timer. It’s a great holiday gift that comes in one of nine colors.
Die Hard Comic Book
Written by author and comedian Doogie Horner ⏤ who claims to have seen Die Hard 102 times ⏤ and illustrated by J.J. Harrison, this 32-page ode to one of the greatest action (if not Christmas) movies of all time is filled with mildly violent but vibrant illustrations and playful, rhyming narration. The drama jumps off the page with lines like: “He put a Santa hat on the German, and, eyes all aglow, wrote, “Now I have a machine gun, ho-ho-ho.”
For the man who struggles with his short game, this portable trainer — which can be used inside or out and without a ball — teaches golfers how to hit the perfect chip shot in no time at all. It also makes an excellent holiday gift.
Star Wars LED Lamps
These 9-inch Star Wars LED lamps will definitely (Jedi mind) trick your eyes as they transform from a flat piece of etched acrylic glass into an illuminated 3D hologram of a popular character (or ship) from the franchise ⏤ be it Darth Vader, BB-8, or the Millenium Falcon. They can toggle between one of eight colors, have a lifespan of 50,000 hours, and are advertised as “limited-edition,” even though they’re seemingly sold all over the internet and don’t appear to be in short supply.
At first glance, Yaket Ice looks like a standard reusable ice pack wrapped in a giant rubber band, but there’s more to this reinvented ice pack than first meets the eye. It’s actually a patent-pending, high-performance six-can chiller that stands apart from the rest of the … pack … thanks to three features of note: it’s taller, longer, and heavier than standard double-sided coolants (9.9-inches by 3.25-inches by 5-inches). Bonus: it’s also designed to hug almost the entire can of beer or baby’s bottle while still fitting in all the best coolers.
Gerber Suspension Multitool
The do-anything-in-a-pinch classic packs 12 tools ⏤ from needle-nose pliers and serrated-edge knife to a crosspoint screwdriver and a saw ⏤ into a compact 6-inch pocket-friendly package.
Google Home Mini
Probably the cheapest entry into the smart home market out there, the Google Home Mini lets you control the thermostat, listen to music, or queue up Stranger Things ⏤ all with a few choice voice commands. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better holiday gift out there.
No junk drawer is complete without a long-necked lighter for candles, grills, and other periodic needs. And if you’re going to get one, this is the one. Instead of butane, a potentially messy, depletable fuel, this thing is powered by a battery that’ll give you over 300 ignitions on a single charge. Instead of tossing it or refilling it when it’s depleted, all you have to do is plug it into USB using the included cable (or one of the half dozen you probably have strewn about your house already.)
KinderPerfect is essentially Cards Against Humanity for parents. Every one of the card game‘s 400 cards (which are crowdsourced from parents) poses a question or scenario that every parent can relate to ⏤ i.e. Why does mommy drink?, We were late to the school bus because ________, and What is smeared on the wall? ⏤ and play is exactly the same. Like parenthood, let the painful and cringe-worthy moments ensue.
Lodge Cast Iron Pan
Fact: No kitchen is complete without a good cast iron skillet. This 12-inch pan from Lodge fits the bill and rocks a silicone handle to prevent palm-blistering burns when you excitedly taking your seared ribeye out of the oven. Is there a better holiday gift when it comes to kitchen gear?
Rabing Mini Foldable RC Drone
This tiny drone is one of the few of its size that includes a built-in camera. And while, no, you won’t be using this holiday gift to shoot any big-budget Hollywood productions, it’ll capture the kids playing Leafbag Football in the front yard just fine. You can also pop your smartphone into the remote control so you get an aerial view while flying.
If your skin tends to get irritated with razors or you like rocking stubble, this new shaving solution is an excellent choice. It uses a disposable blade that you replace every four months and comes with three stubble combs, a flexible head that follows the contours of your face, and a rechargeable battery that lasts 45 minutes.
Famirea Flexible Screwdriver Adaptor
Hard-to-reach screws are no match for this flexible attachment that, when attached to a screwdriver or drill, allows you to screw and unscrew without needing to approach your target dead-on. It comes with a magnet that makes it easy to switch out the 10 included bits.
Yeti LoadOut 5-Gallon Bucket
Never underestimate the appeal of a rugged, easy-to-carry 5-gallon bucket with tie-down slots and a non-slip bottom. Ever. Especially if it can also safely hold food.
This ingenious bottle holder will keep any standard-sized beer bottle safe and cold, whether camping, tailgating, or kicking back at the beach. Better still, you’d never know there was beer inside ⏤ it looks like a standard water bottle. There’s a bottle opener attached and the top reseals open bottles with no spills.
Stanley Classic Food Jar
Hiking trips and work week lunch breaks alike will be improved with this vacuum-insulated jar that keeps food hot or cold for 12 hours. Its stainless steel won’t rust, is easy to clean, and is naturally BPA free. It’s leak-proof, so you don’t have to worry about throwing it in your bag, and comes with a lifetime warranty, so you also don’t have to worry about wasting your money on something unreliable.
Instead of simple trivia questions, each card in Wit’s End has four different questions: a brain teaser, Odd1Out (you pick the word in the list that doesn’t belong, like an SAT question), a sequence that needs to be ordered, and a wild card. It’s a treat for trivia nerds and noobs alike.
Questlove is a DJ, professor, food writer, designer, and, of course, the drummer and leader of The Roots, the house band on The Tonight Show and, for many years before that, one of the best acts in hip-hop. In short, he’s a creative dude, so when he takes the time to write a book about the creative process you should take the time to read it.
Corkcicle Arctican Can Koozie
The ideal complement to the aforementioned BottleKeeper (dad drinks from cans too), the Corkcicle Classic Arctican is made of double-walled stainless steel and keeps suds cold for up to three hours.
ThermoPop Meat Thermometer
Don’t play guessing games with that beauty of a pork shoulder you bought — or any meat for that matter. The ThermoPop Meat Thermometer provides an accurate temperature in seconds, has a 5,000-hour battery life, and comes in one of nine colors.
Herschel Chapter Travel Kit
A good Dopp kit is something every man should have, and occasionally replace. The Chapter Travel Kit from hip company Herschel has a waterproof main compartment and an internal mesh storage sleeve. It also comes in 35 different designs.
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
This book was co-written by the founder and editor of one of the most popular BBQ and grilling sites on the internet, a man named (naturally) Meathead Goldwyn. His co-author is Greg Blonder, a Ph.D. and food scientist. Together, they explain the hows and whys of great grilling and barbecue. Study it this winter and you’ll be ready to go when prime grilling weather returns in the spring.
Timex Easy Reader
The white-faced, leather-strapped Timex Easy Reader is a contemporary spin on a ‘60s classic. The holiday gift’s also water resistant in case you forget to take it off for bath time.
Four Roses Single Barrel
Booze is one of the most reliable gifts around, but it can get pricey quickly. That’s why this single barrel-aged bourbon is, at under forty bucks, a superb value. Sip it neat and you’ll experience notes of cocoa, cherry, toffee, and caramel.
PinBox 3000 Cardboard Tabletop Pinball Game
This cardboard-framed, rubber band-powered pinball tabletop game requires no tools to assemble and has die-cut extra parts that let you customize its design and game features.
Matador Transit Duffel
Even if you don’t think you need any more stuff, couldn’t you use something that makes it easier to carry your stuff around with you? The roomy 30-liter bag fits plenty of stuff in its single compartment and, thanks to Cordura fabric and sealed zippers and seams, you don’t have to worry about your stuff getting soaked in a rainstorm.
Great sound, 8 hours of play time, and IPX-7 waterproofing make these Bluetooth headphones a great gift for anyone who likes music and physical activity, be it hiking, biking, or going to the gym. They slide over your ears securely and come with three sizes of ear tips so you won’t need to worry about them falling out.
These leather gloves are wax-coated to keep the exterior weatherproof and fleece-lined to keep the interior comfortable. They’re made to order in Jackson Hole, and you can even get your initials branded — for free — onto the cuffs.
Digraphs First Edition
Digraphs introduces eight new tiles with two letters instead of one to Scrabble, jacking up not only the game’s literacy but also the high scores and game night arguments. It’s a great holiday gift.
Steven Raichlen Project Smoke BBQ Spice Rub 6 Pack
Coax some next-level flavor out of that rack of baby backs or juicy pork chop by applying grill-meister Steven Raichlen’s kosher and gluten-free Project Smoke rubs. They come in a handful of flavors including Kansas City Smoke, Carolina Pit Powder, and Santa Fe Coffee.
For the dude who enjoys a diversity of beers, each twelve-pack shipment from this club of the month features four different styles of suds from at least two breweries not located in nearby states.
Swiss Army Classic
The classic edition of the handiest pocketknife on the planet rocks a compact blade, scissors, tweezers, and a nail file with a flat screwdriver tip. It’s also now sold in rustic Woodworm if red’s not your color.
Quip Electric Toothbrush Set
Heralded as the iPhone of toothbrushes for its chic design, this vibrating cavity deterrent buzzes every 30 seconds to let you know it’s time to brush a different quadrant of the mouth. It’s also sold as part of a subscription plan where, for $5 per refill with free shipping, they’ll send new brush heads and toothpaste every three months.
DadWare Bondaroo Infant-Bonding Shirt
For the soon-to-be dad, the Bondaroo is a soft, short-sleeve tee (made of bamboo, spandex, and cotton) with a patent-pending flap across the front to make skin-to-skin bonding time a snap ⏤ or actually, a Velcro, since that’s what keeps it closed. It comes in one of four colors and is handsome enough closed to still wear to the store, assuming you don’t mind people asking why you need easy access to your pecs.
This 100 percent cotton tee from Canada’s hippest politician, the 6DAD, tells the world who you are ⏤ and in the lost art of cursive, no less. They also sell a block-lettered Feliz Navidad shirt if you’d like something a little more festive.
A couple of deft 360-degree spins is all it takes to catch enough air to fill up this rip-stop nylon recliner. After that, the only thing you’ll be catching is Zzzs as you’re splayed out on the breathable mesh seat.
Zojirushi Stainless Mug
For our money, the best travel coffee mug you can buy is probably this Japanese-made model. Press a button and the lid flips out to reveal the pouring spout, making for easy drinking. Put the lid down and flip the switch to the locked position and you can throw this thing around with impunity. We’ve burned our mouths at three on coffee brewed at eight, a testament to the effectiveness of the heat retention of this sleek stainless steel mug.
Monopoly: Game of Thrones Edition
Become a real estate baron in the Seven Kingdoms with this GOT-themed edition of Monopoly. In lieu of the railroads, you get the houses of Lannister, Baratheon, Targaryen, and Stark. Replacing Boardwalk and Park Place as the toniest real estate on the board are Kings Landing and Braavos.
Dripo 2-in-1 Travel Iced-Drip Coffee Maker & Tumbler
This portable drip coffee maker not only cold brews java on the go in less than two hours, but you can drink right out of it when it’s ready.
Carry-on Cocktail Kit
For the frequent flier who needs to frequently take the edge off, these carry-on cocktail kits take an ordinary in-flight beverage to the next level. They come with high-end ingredients for all the classics: Moscow Mule, Gin & Tonic, Bloody Mary, and Hot Toddy.
Eastwing Sportsman’s Axe
Channel your inner trapper with this leather-gripped ax from Estwing, which stands 13-inches tall and is made from a single piece of solid steel.
Attached to your keys, bag, or, stowed-away-luggage, this Bluetooth tracker sends updates to your phone so you can always have peace of mind.
Wahl 4-in-1 Multi-Groom Rechargeable Trimmer
The lithium-ion battery in Wahl’s 4-in-1 Trimmer recharges in less time than it takes to wax your handlebar mustache. Almost. It also comes with four self-sharpening blades and 12 cutting lengths.
It’s harder to forget your charger when the car keys are attached to it. That’s the premise behind the Nomad Key, a flexible, scratch-resistant charger (available in lightning or micro-USB) the size of a safe-key.
Ebbets Field Ballcap
The folks at Ebbets Field Flannels make accurate recreations of vintage sports gear, everything from hockey sweaters to grounds crew jackets. Their ballcaps, inspired by professional and semipro, American and international teams from throughout history, are well-made, stylish, and more interesting than your average cap. This 1955 Seattle Rainiers model, with its flourished “R” and bright red wool construction, is typical of the brand.
Colombia Finca San Luis La Gloria
Convenience store coffee has its place, but sometimes it’s nice to sip on something really nice. This sustainably produced, organic bag of beans has notes of wild strawberry, black cherry, tropical fruit, and watermelon. It’s among the best coffees in Colombia, which means it’s among the best in the world.
Chef Works Manhattan Bib Apron
You’ll find plenty of these aprons in professional kitchens around the world. Why do chefs like them? They have plenty of storage — two large waist level pockets and one zippered one higher up — and the denim looks great and hides stains. Throw this thing on and even the most pedestrian meal prep will feel like a culinary adventure. Spaghetti and meatballs anyone?
Eden Farmhouse Essentials Fermenting Kit
Some of the best foods are pickled: kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and, well, pickles. With this kit’s six lids, air pump, and silicon seals (jars not included), you can easily make your own at home. Get ready for your probiotic levels and happiness to increase substantially.