Gift shopping can be complicated. First, you have to know what people like, and for some friends and family, it’s trickier to find a store or product that suits their style. Then you have to find a good gift, which often leads to frantic Internet browsing, calling every shop within driving distance, scouring department store shelves and, sometimes, bidding wars. Of course, there’s the affordability part, which can be the most challenging aspect of gift-giving.
Trae Bodge, senior editor for RetailMeNot.com’s Real Deal blog, said finding high-quality, reasonably priced gifts can take a lot of research, which is why gift guides and customer reviews are so valuable. She writes gift guides for a living, but she uses them, too.
“Look at different resources,” Bodge said, noting the importance of finding reviewers who share your approach to shopping. “See which writers speak to you, which writers have the kind of taste you have.”
Those shared tastes are especially important when it comes to your budget. It’s hard to pass up the perfect gift when it’s a little (or a lot) out of your price range, but the joy of giving a great present isn’t going to outweigh the damage it could do to your finances.
Maybe the items on your sister’s Christmas list are beyond your budget — that doesn’t mean you can’t get her something great. Bodge selected five items from a dozens of products included in her gift guides that could please almost anyone you exchange gifts with this season. When it comes to giving a good present, functionality is a huge factor.
“I like these items specifically because they are gender-neutral, and I think a gender-neutral gift is kind of tough to find,” she said. “I often find there is a good amount of crossover in the tech space.”
5 Gifts for Pretty Much Anyone
Bodge has tried each of these products herself and said she considers them functional and affordable among their competitors. In addition to the manufacturer’s websites, these products are often available on various online marketplaces, though not always at the same prices.
iGeek Portable Charger ($59.99 from ThinkGeek)
A regular charger is easy enough to transport, but finding an outlet can be troublesome. Bodge always carries a battery-powered portable charger with her and likes this one for its power (11,200mAh capacity at 5v output voltage) and small size (3.2″ x 3.8″ x0.9″).
Quadropod+Clamp ($39.95 from Keizus)
This four-legged relative of the tripod helps smartphone photographers stabilize their device and capture photos at difficult angles, thanks to its ability to attach to all sorts of surfaces and objects.
Fitbug Orb ($49.95 from Fitbug)
Bodge found this to be the most affordable fitness-tracking device, given its functionality: The Fitbug Orb is button-sized and tracks sleep, calories burned, steps, distance and other metrics, syncing them to a variety of smartphones and other devices.
These fleece jackets are the flattering, upper-body alternative to cargo pants — each design has more than 10, subtle pockets for keys, wallets, smartphones, and so on. Bodge likes these hoodies for attending sporting events, which have added many bag restrictions recently, and enjoying the outdoors without the added hassle of a small backpack or purse.
Philip B Mood Elevator ($30 from Skinstore)
Hygiene is a (mostly) universal activity, and it’s fun to try new products from time to time. This kit includes four TSA-approved products, many with therapeutic qualities, perfect for any traveler.
Bodge also noted the growing popularity of gift cards: In a survey from last year’s holiday shopping season, RetailMeNot found that 86% of Americans considered a gift card an acceptable gift. Bodge said people have been more excited to give and receive gift cards since the recession, when people severely cut back on shopping.
Finally, don’t forget gift receipts.
“Because who knows?” Bodge said. Buying something for others “is really personal.”