Best Holiday Gifts Under $300 for 2022

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

If you want to make a huge splash with a pricey gift, there are numerous options. We have a bunch of different CNET-approved gift ideas, but if you’re looking for a home run, just look below. We’ve reviewed every item in this guide and can vouch for them being incredible gifts. The one downside for this year is that virtual reality has gotten more expensive. The Meta Quest 2 is now $400, $100 up from its original price — it’s still an excellent gift, though no longer qualifies for this particular gift guide.

You’ve got lots of options in this price range, where you’ll start to see more premium-grade products. From massagers and headphones, to trainers and speakers, here are gifts under $300 that are perfect for Mom, Dad and other loved ones for a special occasion.

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When it launched, Bose made some bold claims about its new SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker, particularly its bass performance. But it mostly lives up to the hype and arguably is the best-sounding wireless speaker for its compact size. Available in three color options — black, white smoke and stone blue (pictured) — it’s equipped with Bose’s PositionIQ technology to automatically detect the speaker’s orientation and deliver optimized sound based on whether upright, hanging or flat on its back. Read our Bose SoundLink Flex review.

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No earbuds are perfect, of course, and not everybody will love the fit of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be able to afford their high price. But if you’re looking for great-sounding earbuds with great noise canceling, solid voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds check all the boxes. Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review.

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First released in 2020, the 1.5-pound Theragun Mini massager is designed to be portable, easily fitting in a backpack or purse. While it doesn’t have quite the power of one of Theragun’s full-size devices, it’s surprisingly powerful considering how small it is. I’ve tried larger massage guns in this price range, and it’s just as powerful but half the size. The rechargeable battery is rated to last two-and-a-half hours, and a neoprene protective case is included. 

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The FirePit Plus, made by Brooklyn-based BioLite, weighs under 20 pounds and is built for portability. Measuring 27 by 13 by 15.8 inches, it’s relatively long and narrow, making it really good for patio use. However, it holds a little more wood than you’d think, with room for up to four cordwood logs. You can either use it as a standard fire pit or as a backyard grill and it’s been upgraded in 2021 with an enamel coating for easier cleaning and a higher-capacity battery for its built-in fan. 

The FirePit Plus has a couple of signature features, one being patented airflow technology. A motorized fan drives air to the fire box. You can also control it using an iOS or Android app on a phone using Bluetooth. A mesh body lets you see flames through the FirePit from any angle. 

In the new 2021 version, battery life has improved by about 20%, with up to 30 hours at the low setting, 14 hours on medium and 7 hours on high. The airflow technology also helps create an almost smoke-free fire, making it suitable as a patio heater. The FirePit Plus’ legs fold up when you want to take the grill on the go, plus the pit comes with a handy rain cover. A removable ash tray makes cleaning up easy. 

All in all, this is a compelling little fire pit for someone who doesn’t want (or can’t have) a permanent pit always eating up patio space.

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Altra shoes are known for their wide toe boxes, which makes them favorites for those with wide feet (or people who just like wide toe boxes). If you’re looking to do some virtual workouts with your new Oculus Quest 2 — or IRL workouts — the company’s Solstice XT 2 shoe is a versatile cross-trainer that can be used for gym sessions or road running. This can be a perfect birthday gift for your gym junkie boyfriend.

Altra says the “caged upper is firmer than the previous model, and the toe reinforcement promotes toe protection.” They’re also available in white, as well as in a women’s version.

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After nearly three years, Apple has finally given the Apple TV 4K an upgrade. The new Apple TV 4K costs $179 with 32GB storage or $199 with 64GB.

Along with an upgraded A12 Bionic processor, the biggest upgrade is the all-new Siri remote control. Silver in color instead of the original’s black, it features a directional pad at the top (with gesture support), a Siri toggle on the side and a power button for controlling your TV. The new d-pad addresses a lot of the complaints users had with the original remote, with its larger touchpad and lack of directional cues.

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Here’s the deal: It’s nearly impossible to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X, even a year after their release. But the stepdown Xbox Series S is in stock at some retailers with comparative frequency. Yes, there are caveats: There’s no optical disc drive, the resolution is less than true 4K and it only has half the storage as its big brother. But it plays all of the same games, including Halo Infinite. It’s a great choice for a lot of gamers.

Read our Microsoft Xbox Series X|S review.

 

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Hot on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has another new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio company, Beats. Technically, the new Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren’t AirPods, but they’re built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro. Unlike Beats’ earlier and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple’s H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro’s features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I’d venture to call them the sports AirPods you’ve always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro. 

Read our Beats Fit Pro review.

 

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With the arrival of this year’s Apple Watch models, we should see some intriguing discounts on earlier Apple Watches, but the SE remains arguably the best value when it comes to Apple smartwatches. It starts around $280 for the 40mm model with GPS and little more than $300 for the larger 44mm model. You can also get it with LTE cellular service.

While it doesn’t have some of the extra health features of the Apple Watch 7, it offers decent performance for those who don’t want to spend that much on an Apple Watch.

Read our Apple Watch SE review.

 

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Available in white or black for $179, the Roam is currently Sonos’ smallest and most affordable speaker (if you don’t count those $99 Sonos-compatible Ikea Symfonisk Wi-Fi bookshelf speakers). For its size, it sounds impressive and is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Even if Dad doesn’t have a Sonos system already, this is a good starter speaker and he can use his own money to add more Sonos gear in the future. Read our Sonos Roam review.

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If you’re looking for the best-sounding pair of audio glasses with the best overall performance — that includes call quality and battery life — the Bose Frames Tempo are the one to get. It’s ostensibly a sports model designed for runners and bikers, and while it’s a little bulky, it stays on your head securely. 

The Tempo offers slightly better sound and battery life than the more traditional-looking Tenor, which is a good choice for a more everyday set of audio sunglasses. The Tempo has better specs all-around, with USB-C charging and larger 22mm drivers. It also delivers up to eight hours of battery life.

Their sound is definitely improved from the original Frames. Bose says the Tempo plays “deeper and louder — loud enough for cycling at 25 mph — while still able to hear traffic and your training partners.” They’re sweat-, weather-, scratch- and shatter-resistant, according to Bose and fit under most protective helmets. (I had no problem using them with a couple of bike helmets.) They also work well for making calls, thanks to a new dual-microphone system. Optional lenses are available for $39 and you can order prescription lenses through Lensabl.

Read our Bose Frames review.

 

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Dads secretly want an electric razor even if they’ve never used one. While many fathers have been spending a lot of time at home these days letting their beards grow out, dad might take more of an interest in shaving if he had a new gadget.

The Braun Series 7 isn’t the top-of-the-line Braun (the $250 Series 9 is). It can be used dry or wet — it’s fully waterproof — and comes with beard trimmers, a cleaning dock and a carrying case. Battery life is rated at up to 50 minutes on a full charge and a quick five-minute charge will get you enough juice for a shave. 

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With a full-fledged 4K HDR Roku streamer built in and a single voice remote controlling everything, this bar makes a thoughtful gift and offers a simple all-in-one audio-video system. Setup is a breeze: Plug it into a TV with a simple HDMI connection. Sound quality is very good for a single bar, and you can add Roku’s optional wireless subwoofer for more punch. It also comes with the much-loved Roku remote control. (This model is basically just the Smart Soundbar with an upgraded voice remote.)

Read our Roku Smart Soundbar review.

 

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Ember makes 10-ounce ($100) and 14-ounce versions ($130) of its temperature-controlled smart mug that keeps your hot beverage of choice hot while you sip it over a longer drinking session. While it won’t keep your coffee or tea warm for hours, the idea is that you can select your ideal temp via the companion Ember app for iOS or Android and keep your beverage at a high temp during the 30 minutes or so it takes to casually drink it.

I personally prefer the larger 14-ounce version, though it does cost more. A good insulated mug with a top on it will also keep your beverage hot (and they are cheaper), but this Ember mug allows you to drink a cup of joe like you normally would and not sip it through a small hole in the top.

This larger version is available in black or white while the smaller 10-ounce model is available in a variety of color options.

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Available in multiple color options, the latest version of JBL’s Charge Bluetooth Speaker delivers improved sound with more bass. It’s bigger than your average portable Bluetooth speaker, but it’s got some good kick to it and like previous Charge speakers, it has a USB out port that allows you to charge a device like a smartphone. Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours at moderate volume levels. It’s fully waterproof and dust-proof.

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The Beats Studio Buds look a lot like the rumored stemless AirPods we’ve been waiting for. Geared toward both iOS and Android users, they are missing a few key features on the Apple side of things (there’s no H1 or W1 chip), but they’re small, lightweight buds that are comfortable to wear and offer really good sound. While their noise canceling isn’t as good as the AirPods Pro’s, they have a transparency mode and are decent for making calls. Ultimately, their fit and sound quality are the strongest selling points — and they’re about $50 cheaper than the AirPods Pro. Prefer full active noise cancellation? Check out the new $200 Beats Fit Pro instead. Read our Beats Studio Buds review.

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