After Hours

25 wacky and wonderful tech stocking stuffers under $25

In 2019, we can't recommend a Red Ryder BB Gun (even if we did find one for less than $25 on Amazon). That said, we do have a listing of 25 products sure to be as beloved by your recipients as that Red Ryder was to little Ralphie Parker.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor on
(Image: Unsplash)

Hi there and welcome to ZDNet's list of 25 stocking stuffers for under $25. Any of these items would be appreciated by any tech-minded geek on your gift list, so have fun.

When we put this list together, we had just two rules (which we mostly didn't break). The first rule is that the gift has to be available for purchase at $25 or less. The second rule is that the gift had to fit in a stocking.

We did well with the first rule. With only one exception, all the items were available for $25 or less at the time of writing. Some had special deals, so you may have to act fast to snap them up. And the exception? Well, that went thirty cents above budget, but it's such a great product that we had to include it.

As for fitting in a stocking, we're guessing here. The products themselves will all individually fit into a single stocking, but we're not sure about the packaging. If you're a purist, you might have to remove the packaging for one or two of the products we're recommending. Alternatively, you could just set the product next to the stockings, and I'm pretty sure your recipient will be just as happy.

In any case, all of these are under $25, many are useful, some are genuinely cool, and a few are unabashedly wacky. And isn't that just how it should be?

Let's go shopping!

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page. Both ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review. 


1. Echo Dot (on sale for $24.99)

This is where it all begins. If you don't have an Alexa, here's a great way to get started. Why not have Big Bezos listening in on your every conversation? Of what value is privacy and security when you can trade it for convenience? 

OK, fine, that's a serious concern, but my wife and I have one in every room, and they're invaluable for controlling smart home devices, helping us keep our shopping list up to date, set timers, and answer questions. Security paranoia aside, this is where the future begins. Get one.


2. Star Trek Spock with Ears Crew Socks (on sale for $10.95)

I. Am. Just. Delighted. What is there to say about Spock ears socks as stocking stuffers? It's so meta. So silly. So cool. So... just... perfect. Right now, you can save a buck off the regular $11.95 price. Because, of course, spocks (see what I did there?) with Spock ears have a regular price. This is how you know everything's right with the world.


3. Wyze Cam (regularly $25.30)

OK, we'll admit it. This isn't under $25. It's thirty cents more expensive. But the Wyze Cam is just so much bang for the buck that, if you're willing to splurge the extra three dimes, you're getting a product that's one-fifth the price of its many competitors, and is just as good.


4. UPS Toy Truck ($14.99)

If you're raising your kids to know how to hunt and gather in the modern age, they'll need to develop the well-honed skill of looking out for the UPS truck. After all, how else will they know when their Prime shipments arrive? Yes, I know, other companies and individuals make deliveries, but it's a teaching tool, not a simulation. 

In any case, here's a toy truck that looks just like your friendly neighborhood UPS delivery vehicle. That's gotta mean something, at least until Bezos replaces all of them with drones.


5. AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable, 10 Feet, 3-Pack (regularly $15.99)

We don't consider this a stocking stuffer gift suggestion as much as a public service. Now isn't just the time for sleigh bells to ring and children to sing. Now isn't just the time to hang mistletoe and run through the snow. No, now is the time for stores and retailers to rip you off when you buy HDMI cables for your new consumer electronics. 

HDMI cables are a big margin in retail. When you search Best Buy, the first cable that comes up is a four-footer for $29. But if you look around, you'll find that they'll also sell you a house brand Magnolia five-foot HDMI cable for ... are you sitting down?... $669.98. 

Don't ever let anyone you love, like, or even genuinely dislike buy a $669 HDMI cable. Buy the three-pack above, give one as a stocking stuffer, and save the other two for interventions. Friends don't let friends buy rip-off HDMI cables.

CBS and comiXology

6. Star Trek: Picard-Countdown digital comic #1 (regularly $4.99)

You may not have the premiere of the new Star Trek: Picard show already highlighted in your calendar, but I do. If you have a giftee who loved Star Trek: The Next Generation and can't stop talking about the new Picard show, this is a gift to get. Here's the thing: it's a Kindle and ComiXology digital product, so it won't exactly fit in a stocking. But you can print out the image above and stuff the stocking with that.

Pro tip: Issue #1 is out already. If your intended giftee has already read Issue #1, go for Issue #2, which will be available to download on December 18.

Disclosure:ZDNet is part of CBS, which produces all things Star Trek. And yet, our corporate leaders tell us ZDNetters nothing. Nothing. Sigh. 


7. Micronoid Code Magna Programmable Robot Building Kit (on sale at $24.99)

What's not to love? This is a full robotic building kit (from the storied brands of Meccano and Erector), all for under $25. Note that the Amazon page shows the product is normally $39.99, so act fast to snap this up.

This is great for kids or, let's face it, get it for yourself (or me). It's a toy you can build from 115 parts in all the Erector and Meccano glory, but it can also be programmed and comes with a USB connector to link it to your laptop. I'm in cheap geek heaven.


8. LeapFrog Chat & Count Emoji Phone (regularly $13.49)

I have no words. I don't even know how to explain it. It's an electronic gadget shaped like a phone that uses emoji-like symbols that toddlers can press to talk with an animated dog (bear?) and learn to count. I think. Look, it's weird, it's cheap, and if you have a friend with a toddler, it'll probably go over pretty well, even though none of us adults will understand why.


9. Lego Snow Groomer (on sale at $16.00)

Nothing says holidays like LEGO and snow. So why not combine them and get your giftee a LEGO Snow Groomer (what most of us call a snowplow)? It's inexpensive. It's LEGO. It's fun with two minifigs, almost 200 parts, and a cannon that fires very small pieces of plastic, so you can step on them in bare feet and let out a howl like you're a Wampa. And speaking of Star Wars...

LEGO and a really good sabacc hand (Google it)

10. LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon Microfighter ($16 and up from resellers)

You can't have too many Millennium Falcons. I was going to skip right over this thing and leave you with just one LEGO recommendation until I saw the teeny-tiny Chewy minifig. I mean, it's Chewy! How can you resist?


11. AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod (regularly $23.49)

This is not a mini-tripod you stick on a table or desk. This is a full size, traditional tripod that you can gift to someone who has a DSLR camera. Sure, it will hold a smartphone, but this is robust enough to play with the big kids. And yeah, you'll need one of those big stockings for this to fit, but do you think your giftee is going to complain if you lean it up against the stocking instead of jamming it inside?

Notice the hook at the bottom. I always look for those, especially when I'm getting an inexpensive tripod. That allows you to add weight to stabilize the three legs, rendering the tripod much more steady than you'd expect for the price. This one even comes with a free bag.

Entertainment Earth

12. Star Trek Chair Cape (regularly $16.07)

Chair cape. It's a cape. For your chair. Did you know it was a thing? I didn't know it was a thing. Is it a thing? I did a Google search and apparently "chair capes" are a thing. This is a TOS Star Trek chair cape and you can get them in command yellow, science blue, or red. If you have a co-worker you don't like and you're their Secret Santa, give them the red chair cape. It'll keep them wondering.


13. UBeesize Portable and Adjustable Camera Stand Holder (regularly $13.98)

Fine, you want a small tripod, this is the one to get (er, okay, gift). Not only is it small and inexpensive, it can wrap around objects to hold items, and like many flexible tripods, you can even configure it as a tablet or phone stand for reading or watching during those cold nights while traveling over the river and through the woods.

This tiny beastie is pretty well-equipped, too. It comes with a GoPro mount, a smartphone mount, and even a remote control so you can take those family selfies from across the room.


14. Elago W3 Apple Watch stand in the shape of the original Mac (regularly $9.99)

Do you want to get an Apple Watch-wearing Apple fan the perfect accessory? Consider this little Apple Watch stand in the shape of the original Mac. It will hold the Watch charging puck, so it also doubles as a watch charger. Your $10 could not be better spent. Well, OK. Yeah, it could. But your $10 could not be better spent on something that will delight an Apple fan. So, there's that.


15. QUIAYA Clip-on Selfie Light (regularly $12.99)

Without a doubt, someone is going to ask what this is that you're giving them. But if you choose your giftee right, you'll pick that Instagram or YouTube star who is always ready for their closeup. This little light attaches to a phone, laptop, or anything that a clothespin would, and puts out three levels of light.

And, hey, if you're giving this to someone with less narcissistic tendencies, it makes a nice pocket night light.

fhong (and Marvel)

16. Iron Man wireless mouse (regularly $21.24)

Is your giftee a Marvel fan? Does your giftee dream of someday being Tony Stark? If so, give them this Iron Man wireless mouse with glowing eyes. The vendor described the product as: "Wireless mouse is inspired by the mask worn by the hero of iron man," so raise your hand if you think the design was licensed from Marvel. Anyone? Anyone?


17. AIXPI 10-inch Ring Light, Tripod Stand, and Phone Holder (regularly $24.99)

If you liked the idea of the clip-on selfie light but wanted the ability to use both hands while snapping that fame-making shot, consider this AIXPI light. It's a pretty good deal, what with the tripod, phone holder, and light, all for under $25. Our only gotcha is that it's a bit touch and go about whether this will fit inside the stocking.


18. Engino Discovering Stem: Levers, Linkages & Structures Kit (on sale for $23.89)

OK, I'll admit there is an inherent journalistic bias in this gift guide. This is a product I would have just loved as a kid (and heck, wouldn't mind getting even now). Do you know how cool levers and linkages are? They are the building blocks from which many cool mechanical devices are built. Sure, the box might not fit into a stocking (unless -- hint, hint -- you open the box and wrap the parts separately), but wow, this looks like so much fun!


19. AirPods for folks who don't want to spend AirPods money (regularly $22.99)

Has your giftee been begging you to get them a set of AirPods? But then you found out how much they cost and realized that as much as you like your giftee, you don't like them that much? Then, my friend, this pair of wireless earbuds made by AIBOONDEE is for you. Like the AirPods, they have their own charging case. 

Like the AirPods, they're Bluetooth earbuds. Like the AirPods, they're white. But they don't have the weird droopy white post of the AirPods, and they don't have the price of the AirPods. Even better, they have pretty positive reviews on Amazon and you can also get them in black, green, and pink.


20. Bear-shaped wired mouse (regularly $9.99)

Sure, you can buy someone a mouse as a stocking stuffer. But if you've got a little kid as a giftee, how cute is this? This is a bear-shaped mouse. The only gotcha is that if you order it now, you won't get it until after Christmas. So this is for those folks who are buying their holiday gifts but may not see their giftees until sometime after the holiday. It's so cute, we had to share it with you.

National Geographic

21. National Geographic Rocks & Fossils Kit (regularly $24.99)

You've heard the adage about getting a chunk of coal in your stocking if you've been bad. This takes it to a whole new level, letting you gift 200 different types of rocks, minerals, and fossils to the budding geologist on your list. it comes with a little display case, a pile of rocks, a magnifying glass, and a guide that lives up to the National Geographic standard for excellent explanation. And, hey, no batteries required!


22. Geeni LUX 800 Smart Wi-Fi LED Dimmable White Light Bulb (on sale $7.99)

Wow, the price of smart light bulbs has come down. Back in the day, we were paying almost $50 for a single Hue light. But now, you can stuff a Wi-Fi light bulb into a stocking for under eight bucks. If you want to kick off a smart home right, you can put three of these into that stocking (or one in each person's stocking) and still keep under $25.

The bulb that puts out the equivalent of 60 watts is $7.99. If you want 25% more light output, you can also spring for the 75-watt equivalent for $16.99.


23. LUMIMAN Smart Wi-Fi color bulb set (regularly $24.99)

OK, here we go. This is a great fit for your favorite stocking. For under our magical $25 budget, you get two full-color Wi-Fi controllable bulbs (no hub required). And, yes, of course, Alexa can manage them.


24. Plox Star Wars Darth Vader Bluetooth Item Finder (regularly $24.99)

Proving that there's Star Wars-licensed merch for just about any application, Plox is offering a Darth Vader Bluetooth item finder for just under $25. Is this a good deal? Probably not. But is it Darth Vader and is it a great gift for the Star Wars fan who has everything? Sure. Yeah. Why not?

The company also has smart tags with BB-8, BB-9E, Chewbacca, R2D2, and a random Storm Trooper as well. Prices vary, but if you love Chewy as much as I do, that tag is a mere $9.44.


25. POWRUI Smart Plug with USB charging ports (regularly $17.97)

This is so immediately useful, I'm considering hitting 1-Click right now for myself. It has three Wi-Fi smart plugs as well as four USB charging ports. What makes this special (in addition to its surprisingly low price) is that each of the three plugs can be individually controlled by the smartphone app or Alexa. All for under eighteen bucks!

Happy holidays

So there you go. Twenty-five stocking stuffers for under $25. Are you planning on giving any of these? Are you thinking about getting any for yourself?

And what do you think is my absolute favorite? Here's a hint: I like one item that's useful, one item that's just cool and one that appeals to my wacky sense of humor. Can you figure out which is which? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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