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The best white-elephant and secret-Santa gifts for under $10

Headphones, Nerf guns, Blu-ray movies, party games and more, all for crazy-cheap prices.

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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.

It's that time of year: Secret Santa and white elephant gift exchanges. Usually these events have price caps, and if yours is just $10, you're probably struggling to come up with a fun, cool, genuinely good gift. Hello! Cheapskate in the house! I've totally got you covered.

What's Secret Santa? Allow me to enlighten you, fellow non-Christians. That's usually done in an office; each person's name gets dropped into a hat, then each person picks a name. Whoever you get, you have to buy him or her a gift -- ideally something suitable.

As for White Elephant (also known as Yankee Swap and, in some circles, Dirty Santa), the idea is that each person brings a single wrapped gift. All the gifts are placed in a pile, then each person gets a randomly assigned number. The first person picks and opens a gift for all to see; the next person can either steal that gift or choose something else from the pile -- and so on until all the gifts are opened.

Those are the general ideas. Now on to some awesome under-$10 gifts.

Nerf

Is there anything more satisfying than a Nerf-gun battle? Or just ambushing an unsuspecting co-worker with a dart barrage? Obviously: no. This simple shooter holds six darts in its rotating quick-fire drum. For under $10, it's an awesome gift.

Read more: Best gifts for 10-year-old boys in 2019  

There's a reason this game is a classic. It's easy to learn but challenging to master. Just about any age can play. And everybody loves it when a pile of blocks topples over. At this writing, the price is just $6.88, though it does fluctuate often. I think anytime it's under $10, it's a steal.

Aibocn

OK, so it's just a few cents over the limit, but that's forgivable for a super-practical gift that just about anyone would appreciate getting. This mobile charger has dual USB outputs and a little built-in LED flashlight. It's perfect for a bag or glove compartment -- anywhere that emergency power might come in handy.

Sony Pictures

Best Buy is home to oodles of Blu-ray movies -- some of them with digital copies included, many of them on sale for $10 or less. Right now, for example, you can get the Taken 3-movie collection for just $5.99, the Alien Quadrilogy for $7.99 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for $9.99.

Jackbox Games

One of my favorite group games ever, Quiplash is sort of like an electronic version of Apples to Apples -- but much, much funnier. It's designed for three to eight players, who participate via phone or tablet, but even spectators can vote on their favorite answers. The game takes place around a computer or TV; Quiplash is compatible with Windows, Mac, game consoles, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Yi

Another super-practical item, this is a must-have for cars that don't have USB ports -- or don't have high-amp ones, which is many. It normally sells for $13 and is currently on sale for $9, but clipping the on-page coupon saves you an additional 30%.

Sarah Tew

Lightweight and comfortable, with good sound for the money, the Flats are already a steal at their regular $12 price (which sometimes bounces back up to the $20 list price). At this is published, just about every color is on sale for $9.99. Read the JVC Flats review.

Phone Loops

My single favorite phone accessory in the history of phone accessories, the Phone Loop has evolved with tons of cool new patterns and colors, eco-friendly packaging and a new elastic option if you prefer something a little stretchy. Whatever you choose, they fit any phone case and help you keep a secure, comfy grip. Plus, they add no bulk or weight and don't interfere with wireless charging.

They're normally $5.99 apiece, but if you buy three you get free shipping. And if you do that, you can also apply promo code cheapskate to save 33%. (Basically it's buy two, get one free.) So you'll only go a little over the $10 limit, and you'll get one you can keep for yourself.

Have you found any other great gifts in the $10 range? Tell me about them in the comments!


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