Tech and tech-adjacent gifts might not seem like the most natural place to look for affordable presents for your friends, coworkers, and family. But useful gadgets, irreverent accessories, and even tech-fashion can make for some of the greatest stocking stuffers there are.
Want to give someone a gift without giving away the farm? Maybe you're part of a fun/dreadful white elephant gift exchange at work, or perhaps you're (totally reasonably) gifting on a budget. Either way, we've got you covered.
Here are some of the best tech gifts you can get for under (or around) 20 bucks.
1. For your friend who likes to travel light: A custom card holder that sticks to your phone, $16.99
This isn't an excuse to skimp on a phone case (make sure to protect those tiny computers!). But adhesive holders that stick to the back of your phone and contain a slot in which you can put a credit card, ID, or access card are super useful, and don't preclude you from getting a sturdy case. Just stick these little slots onto your case of choice, and slip in, say, a building access key or something else you reach for often. The tight quarters and sticky plastic with traction keeps the card snug and always at hand. With these cases, you can get to that necessary item without having to take out your whole wallet.
There are a ton of these out there, but these holders from Etsy are affordable and customizable.
2. For your friend who's always on their phone: A portable backup cellphone battery, $17.99
Batteries that fit in your pocket or purse can be a lifesaver for a phone battery on the ropes. This one from Belkin is lightweight and powerful (and our friends at PCMag gave it their seal of approval) — it's also under 20 bucks. Here are the details on the Belkin Pocket Power 5,000mAh Durable Ultra Slim Portable Charger. Never let that smartphone power user's phone die again!
3. For your totallyyy ironic friend: A Windows 95 Pin, $11.46
For the Bill Gates and retro graphics lover in your life, this Windows 95 Pin from Etsy seller Jurgenstudio certainly makes the lo-fi statement.
4. For your friend who always wants to blast their tunes: A portable waterproof hanging bluetooth speaker, $13.59
Portable bluetooth speakers are one of the best inventions for adventuring music lovers ever. Solid, high-quality ones will usually run you between $50 and $200, but there are cheaper options, too. This fun model from VicTsing has earned decent reviews (especially for bassy-ness!). Plus, it's meant to hang from a backpack or stick to your shower — extra useful!
5. For your friend who hates the surveillance state: Anti-surveillance T-shirt, $23.29
Artist-activists have been coming up with designs meant to confuse the facial recognition cameras that are creeping into our public spaces. This T-shirt from Redubble uses a design from artist Adam Harvey that will subvert facial recognition cameras. Wherever you wear it, nonsense data embedded in the design will flood facial recognition cameras, undermining the camera's efforts by confusing it.
6. For the most stylish teen in your life: AirPods carrying case necklace, $26
Be a part of this beautiful trend with an affordable option from Charles & Keith (h/t Teen Vogue). It's delicate, it's chic, it has a freakin' rose quartz crystal on it. Wearing your AirPods on a chain around your neck is SO. NOW.
7. For your friend who wants to get off the grid: Burner flip phone, $25
Give the gift of opting out of our always online performative surveillance permaculture with a burner phone! All your friend will need to anonymously make calls, send texts, and browse da web is this $9.99 flip phone and this $15 top-up card from AT&T.