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Best Gifts Under $250 for 2023 – CNET

Giving a thoughtful gift is more powerful than you can quantify or even put into words. It’s a way to say, “I’m thinking of you” and, “You’re special to me.” If you’re looking to truly wow someone in your life with a great present and you have a budget of $100 to $250, we have some gift ideas for your loved ones.

This list of the best gifts for $250 or less offers a wealth and variety of gifts to help you with your shopping for any occasion. You’re sure to find something here that will delight even the most difficult-to-shop-for person in your life. (And if you aren’t looking for the best luxury gifts under $250, check out our other 2023 gift guides.)

David Carnoy/CNET

If you’re looking to maximize your visibility while riding a bike, scooter or another personal transportation device, the Lumos Matrix certainly does a good job making sure you’re noticed. This smart helmet not only has a light on the front but an LED matrix on the back that’s fully customizable via a companion app. You can have everything from standard flashing red triangles to eye-catching patterns to short messages scroll across the back of your head in ticker-tape fashion. There’s even a PacMan animation (pictured), as well as a variety of color options.

Additionally, the helmet includes a small remote that allows you to let you activate a turn signal (on the back display), letting those behind you know what your next move is. Available in black or white, the Matrix is a little heavier than your typical bike helmet. It fits head sizes from 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61cm) and has an impact-resistant EPS foam liner and ABS shell that offers decent protection. 

This is Lumos’ current flagship model. The Ultra, a new, more affordable smart helmet with more limited lighting is available, too.

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 8 hours

Noise Canceling




Headphone Type

Built-in with glasses


Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)

Bose released its second-generation Frames in 2020. Yes, they are sunglasses with wireless headphones built-in. They also sound incredibly good. We really like the Tempo style shown here, but you can also opt for the Tenor or Soprano styles instead.

Read our Bose Frames review.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I have a small, simple one-zone home, where the thermostat controls only the furnace. Last year, I bought several different top-rated smart thermostats and, with the assistance of my neighborhood electrician, installed and tested them one at a time. The Nest was the one I kept. It’s a snap to set up and it totally delivers on the few features I wanted: scheduled temperature adjustment, appealing aesthetics, an intuitive interface and absolute control via iPhone or Android. 

That noted, CNET’s current top pick for best smart thermostat, the slightly pricier Ecobee Smart Thermostat is definitely worth a look.

Read our Nest Learning Thermostat Third Generation review.

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