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Best gifts under $25 in 2019: Stocking stuffers and more

Get great gifts without breaking the bank.

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2019, your source for the season's best gifts and deals, hand-picked by the experts at CNET.

Holiday shopping is tough on your credit card -- which is why it never hurts to pick from a great selection of cheap but good gifts to purchase online or in retail stores. That's exactly what we've assembled here: these ideas are the best gifts under $25, and they range from helpful gadgets to handy essentials to toys, games and products perfect for all ages, kids and up. Whether you're looking to buy Christmas gifts or you need ideas for thoughtful gifts for any occasion, we've got you covered without making you break the bank -- and they're a bit more creative than a bottle of wine, beverage tumbler, towel set or throw blanket.

All of these products (or previous versions thereof) have been fully reviewed or anecdotally tested by CNET editors. Note that CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Lego

Some Lego sets go for $100 or more, but few of them are as fun as the Technic Whack! and Bash! line. (There's a new Getaway Truck for 2019, too.) For under $16 each, you can build good-sized cars that include pull-back motors. Buy more than one and you can combine them into a bigger vehicle -- or just crash them into one another while you eat ice cream or drink eggnog (the engine block pops out on impact). These are intended for kids ages 7 and up. 

Tile

Apple is rumored to be developing its own wireless tracker. But in the meantime -- and for the millions with Android phones -- the Tile Mate tracker gets the job done nicely. For $25, just tuck this little guy in a wallet, attach it to a keychain, or even stick in on your water bottle, coffee cup, or luggage tag. You'll see why they're amazing gifts. 

David Carnoy/CNET

As we approach 2020, wireless speakers are the ultimate commodity gadget. But why buy a no-name model at the drugstore when you can purchase this great Sony SRS-XB01 for $23 or less? It's rechargeable, offers great sound for its size, comes in four fun, stylish colors and it's splashproof, too -- everything a tech toy aficionado could want. You'll be the hit of the white elephant party.

Read more: See our picks for the best mini Bluetooth speakers. Read our Sony SRS-XB01 review.

Amazon

Maybe the game has Stranger Things to thank, but it feels like Dungeons & Dragons has had a small resurgence in recent years. But if you need an inexpensive gift for someone who's looking to expand their game horizons beyond the gamepad realm, the classic pencil-and-paper roleplaying game may be just the ticket. This starter set includes everything a newbie needs to get the game up and running -- including all the requisite multisided dice, natch -- all for under $20. If you're buying for someone who already has some ideas of how the game should be played, the new D&D Essentials Kit might be more good, too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Want a perfect gift that will work with any computer -- Windows, Mac or Chromebook -- as long as it was made in this century? The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive splits the difference between older and newer PCs perfectly, because the design sports both USB-C and USB-A plugs on one thumb drive. And now the 128GB model is priced below $25. It's also a great gift for anyone with a recent USB-C iPad Pro, since the autumn iPadOS upgrade added support for external storage.

These handy straps loop through your phone case so it's easy to keep a good grip on your phone. They go for $6 each, with a choice of dozens of patterns and a variety of colors available. Buy three or more (pick your own colorful palette) for free shipping on products purchased, and you'll have a trio of helpful business gifts. Resident CNET Cheapskate Rick Broida calls the Ninja Loop "the best stocking stuffer ever."

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

There are plenty of cheap smart plugs out there that can help you save money, but the Belkin WeMo Mini is one of the few at this price that deliver the hat trick: compatibility with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple's Siri (HomeKit). In other words, this plug convert any lamp in the home -- or dorm -- into one that's voice-controlled. If you're already gifting a smart speaker, this is an ideal add-on gift -- the two items purchased together make for a pair of perfect housewarming gifts. Read our Belkin WeMo Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug review.

Looking for additional cheap gift gear? Check out more choices below.