Best Gifts Under $300 for 2023
$300 is a lot of money, but every now and then, it’s fun to really spoil that special person in your life. There’s no quicker way than a pricey gift to show someone how much you care. Every item in this guide has been reviewed by us, so we can vouch for them all being incredible gifts. One bummer, however, is for anyone who’s looking for a VR headset. The Meta Quest 2 is now $400 — 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.
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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Rated up to 6 hours
Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which delivers more processing power while being more energy efficient, according to Apple. The new chip, combined with new low-distortion drivers, allows for improved sound that offers better clarity and depth. The noise canceling is also improved — Apple says the new AirPods have “double” the noise canceling of the original AirPods Pro. Additionally, the new AirPods add an extra hour of battery life, up from five to six hours with noise canceling on. Plus, a speaker in the case that emits a sound that helps locate your buds via Find My should they decide to hide from you.
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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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Solo Stove fire pits are among the best smokeless fire pits out there, and while they work great and their stainless steel construction gives them a sleek appearance, the original models had one flaw: They weren’t so easy to clean up. However, that changed with the arrival of the new Solo Stove 2.0 fire pits, which are available in the same three sizes — Ranger 2.0 (small), Bonfire 2.0 (medium) and Yukon 2.0 (large) — and have a removable ash pan, a feature missing from the 1.0 models.
Anker’s original Soundcore Motion Boom speaker is still a decent value at a little more than $100. But the new-for-2022 Motion Boom Plus is significantly improved, particularly in terms of sound quality. It’s easily one of the best new Bluetooth speakers of 2022.
Weighing 5.29 pounds (almost a pound more than the Motion Boom), it uses Bluetooth 5.3 and is equipped with upgraded dual 3.5-inch woofers and newly added dual 1-inch tweeters, delivering up to 80 watts of audio output (60W for the woofers and 20W for the tweeters). Battery life is rated for 20 hours at moderate volume levels. It’s also IP67 waterproof and dust-proof and floats if you happen to drop it in a body of water.
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Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET
Over the last few years, foam rollers and massage guns have been popular recovery products after workouts, as well as important tools for stretching and warming your muscles preworkout. The original Roll Recovery R8 and newer R8 Plus are kind of a combo between a roller and unpowered massager.
The key addition to the R8 Plus is a dial that allows you to adjust the amount of tension in the device to more or less intense levels. You clamp it on to various body parts, with instructional videos showing you how to hit certain areas like calves, hamstrings, IT bands and arms. The R8 Plus is available in white, red or black.
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The Ecco Street Lite retro sneaker is one of those shoes that guys can not only wear in more casual situations but also works with a little more formal attire. They come in the white leather version shown here (with various trim colors), plus some colored suede options.
Note that these tend to run large, so consider getting a size smaller than you usually do.
It’s still difficult to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X, but the stepdown Xbox Series S is in stock at 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.
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If you want the latest and greatest Apple Watch, you should get the Watch Series 8 or the top-end Watch Ultra, but the SE remains arguably the best value when it comes to Apple smartwatches. You can also get it with LTE cellular service.
While it doesn’t have some of the extra features of the Apple Watch 8, the latest second-gen Watch SE offers good performance for those who don’t want to spend that much on an Apple Watch.
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We named the original Hypervolt Go one of the best travel massage guns and the upgraded Hypervolt Go 2 offers some small but notable improvements.
The new features in the Hypervolt Go 2 include LED speed sensors, back button control and a battery-level LED band. The look has also changed. While the original Hypervolt Go is all black, the Go 2 now has an arctic-gray finish. The Hypervolt Go 2 also has improved the air flow and ventilation of the percussion gun. It remains lightweight, weighing in at 1.5 pounds, and has three speed settings along with Hyperice’s patented QuietGlide technology which makes the massage gun nearly silent. Like the Go, it comes with two head attachments (flat and bullet).
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The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer improved noise canceling along with very good sound and voice-calling performance, plus support for high-resolution wireless audio streaming if you’re a Galaxy device owner with the right setup. That said, their biggest upgrade may their new design and smaller size, which make them a better fit for more ears. Aside from their somewhat high price tag, their only drawback is that some of their key features only work with Samsung Galaxy devices.
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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.
Technically, the Beats Fit Pro 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.
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Rated Up to 6 Hours
Yes (IPX4 — Splash-Proof
Bose’s second-generation QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are not only about 30% smaller than their predecessors, but their case is about 40% smaller and truly pocketable. They feature best-in-class noise canceling and improved sound, thanks to Bose’s new CustomTune sound calibration system that customizes the sound for your ears. Voice-calling performance is also significantly better than that of the original QuietComfort Earbuds.
The other big change is to the ear tips. Bose has ditched its one-piece StayEar wing tips for a two-piece Fit Kit system that features separate ear tips and “stability bands” in three size options, giving you more flexibility to get a secure fit and tight seal.
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Rated up to 8 hours
Built-in with glasses
Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
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.
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Most guys secretly want an electric razor even if they’ve never used one. While the Braun Series 7 isn’t the top-of-the-line Braun — the $250 Series 9 is — it’s a good value at around $127 for the base kit. 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.)
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Ember’s temperature-controlled smart mugs have been going up in price over the last couple of years — most likely due to supply chain issues — but they now come in more color options, including some new eye-catching metallic colors that cost $30 more than standard black, white or blue mugs.
Ember makes 6-ounce ($100), 10-ounce ($130) and 14-ounce ($150) size of its 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.
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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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