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Shopping for the mom in your life isn't always easy or budget-friendly, especially when it comes to traditional "tech" gifts.
After looking at our team's product expertise, scouring through customer reviews, and researching the best value gadgets out there, here's a list that can help you score the best tech tools for everything from productivity to sentiment -- all under $50.
My mom has more photos than she knows what to do with. If your mom is the same way, a digital photo frame is a great solution -- and not just for a boomer audience. The Aluratek Digital Photo Frame is a practical, personalized, and sentimental gift for your mom to display her memories.
For photos to cycle through the frame, simply insert a USB or an SD card into the frame's back slide slots. The Aluratek features true digital LCD panels that display vibrant, defined photos for everyone to enjoy.
WeatherTech is one of the most renowned brands in the car accessory market, and the CupFone Cup Holder is perhaps its most popular product. It fits into your car's cup holder and has a tilting function so users can tilt their phone to the optimal map viewing angle or safely initiate hands-free calls. WeatherTech promises the CupFone will fit "all known smartphones," including those with normal-sized protective cases.
If the mom in your life is always making and carrying around lists, the Rocketbook Fusion Smart Notebook scratches the itch to physically put pen to paper while promising the convenience of digital, portable notes. Using synthetic paper, users can write with the includedPilot FriXion pen, save the pages to Rocketbook's app cloud, and then wipe the page clean with a damp cloth to reuse again and again.
Also: The best smart notebooks
The Newmowa 60 LED light might have 22-year-old TikTok influencer Alix Earle to thank for its viral success, but its flattering lighting helps create top-tier photos and videos for all ages. From curating the perfect selfie to elevating web conference calls, the clip-on light's three modes and adjustable brightness settings illuminate and add dimension for under $40. And at only 6.7 ounces, it makes for an ideal travel companion for moms capturing content on the go.
Also: The best phone ring lights (and why the viral 'Alix Earle' light is my top choice)
Sadly, you can't snag your mom AirPods for under $50, but you can still pick up a set of quality wireless earbuds. The Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless In-Ear earbuds offer great sound, are IP55 rated to resist sweat as well as water and dust resistant, which is fantastic for moms looking for workout-compatible earbuds. Like the 2nd-generation AirPods, Skullcandy offers 24 hours of total battery life, allowing for long listening sessions at a fraction of the cost.
Get your mom the gift that keeps on giving: personal, portable safety. The original Birdie safety alarm conveniently clasps onto your bag, wallet, or luggage via a durable brass carabiner. At 2.4 ounces, it's subtle until you pull and activate the pin. Upon activation, the alarm sounds a whopping 130dB and sets off a strobe light for 40 straight minutes until the user reinserts the pin.
Give your mom the gift of music with the JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth speaker. It delivers a clear, loud, and booming sound perfect for any party. You can bring it anywhere to listen to your favorite tunes -- even to the pool or beach since it is completely waterproof and has a convenient clip to attach onto a backpack, purse, or another object. Also, you can take calls thanks to a noise-canceling speakerphone built into the speaker.
Does your mom need some help keeping track? If she's an iPhone user, AirTags are a great solution, using an Ultra Wideband in newer iPhones to integrate perfectly into the Apple ecosystem and FindMy system to pinpoint your items.
With the cultural transition from wired to wireless headphones, most travelers face a dilemma when it comes to in-flight entertainment -- I know I do. The AirFly Bluetooth Audio transmitter works with any 3.5 audio jack, automatically kicks into pairing mode, and lasts over 20 hours so your mom can enjoy her in-flight movie via the comfort of her own wireless earbuds.
For the mom who loves to work from home, the LapGear Home Office Lap Desk is a ZDNET favorite because it has everything you need for a fantastic workspace. It is large enough to hold laptops up to 15.6 inches in size, and there's also a phone slot to hold your phone vertically while you work.
The included 5 x 9-inch mouse pad can come in a left or right-handed configuration. The lap desk includes a dual-bolster cushion that forms itself to your lap for a more comfortable fit.
Also: The best lap desks
My process in choosing these products involved extensive research into each product, including reviews (both good and bad), pricing, category of the gift, and trusted brands. I considered different gift options in various categories so gift givers would be able to find a gift for anyone on their list for any occasion. But for this Mother's Day, we specifically chose gifts that would be fitting for every kind of mom.
The act of giving gifts has different protocols in cultures around the world. If you have in-laws, family, or friends who practice gift-giving in different ways than you're used to, don't be afraid to ask what you should do! You can always do some reading online for proper etiquette in various cultures.
But no matter what, as long as the gift you're giving is thoughtful, and you're genuine in the act of giving, the receiver will likely be happy with whatever you do.