10 popular gifts you should think twice before buying
And what you should give instead.
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There are some gifts that are on everyone's list this year, from a weighted blanket to a fitness tracker. And while some of those are 100 percent worth buying (I'm looking at you, Instant Pot and Away luggage!), there are others that we think you could do better on. To help you find the best presents, we've rounded up 10 insanely popular gifts that everyone's giving—and what to spend your money on instead.
1. A Crock-Pot
To be fair, there's nothing wrong with a traditional Crock-Pot. But when we tried out different slow cookers, we found this Cuisinart to be even better than the popular Crock-Pot. The Cuisinart performed near perfect on all of our food tests and was hands-down the easiest to use (and clean!). Plus, it does more than slow cook, too—the multi-cooker can also saute and steam.
What to give instead: Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker from Amazon for $108.12
2. Bose noise-canceling headphones
Everyone's obsessed with Bose (and for good reason)—but our favorite noise-canceling headphones are actually these ones from Sony. They use active noise-cancellation technology that you can customize to choose how much—or how little—of the outside world you can hear. They're also comfortable enough to wear all day and have a ton of added features that you never even knew you needed like touch control and a voice assistant.
What to give instead: Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones from Amazon for $348
3. A restaurant gift card
Eating dinner out is great but making it at home is even better (and healthier). That's why meal kit delivery services are one of the top gifts of 2019. We love Home Chef because each box contains fresh, high-quality ingredients along with detailed instructions that even the most beginner cook can easily follow. They also have a lot of options for different diets, including vegetarian and vegan. You're giftee will be saying goodbye to takeout for good.
What to give instead: Home Chef gift card from Home Chef starting at $60
Essential oil diffusers are one of the most popular gifts of 2019 and a nicer, longer-lasting option than candles. Of the ones we tested, we like the InnoGear the best because it has such a large capacity that it can run for 11 hours straight. It also has different color lights that you can change for ambiance along with a locking lid so you can carry your diffuser from room to room without spilling.
What to give instead: InnoGear Upgraded 150ml Diffuser from Amazon for $15.99
5. A Le Creuset Dutch oven
Plot twist: Of all the Dutch ovens we tested, the wildly popular Le Creuset was not the best. Instead, we found the Staub Dutch oven to perform much better. Not only is it more compact and easier to handle than the Le Creuset, it also outperformed on every cooking test, from simmering stew to braising meat, and cooked our food evenly each time, making it a great gift for any aspiring home chef.
What to give instead: Get the Staub Round Cocotte Oven from Amazon for $324.95
6. A cliche beauty gift set
'Tis the season for gift sets galore—you know, those packs of lotion and bubble bath that usually end up getting shoved in a bathroom cabinet never to be seen again. This year, give your beauty-loving, makeup-obsessed friends a better present with a subscription to Sephora's monthly box, which is the best beauty subscription box you can buy. They'll get a selection of high-quality samples delivered right to their door each month, which is basically a bunch of mini gifts.
What to give instead: Get the PLAY! by Sephora Monthly Subscription Box from Sephora for $10/month
7. Cheap wireless earbuds
For the music lover on your list, don't settle for low-quality earbuds. Apple AirPods may be more expensive, but according to our experts, they're more than worth it. Named the top wireless earbuds of the year, they have the best sound quality, a long battery life, great range, and pair easily with your other devices. And for a little extra splurge? Opt for the new AirPods Pro, which we're obsessed with after trying them for ourselves.
What to give instead: Apple AirPods from Amazon for $164.99
8. The Amazon Fire Stick
The gift of endless Netflix and chilling is a great one. But instead of giving your binge-watching friend the Amazon Fire Stick, we recommend the Roku Ultra. It's the best streaming device we've used, with access to all of the major streaming services. In our experts' opinions, the Roku is also the easiest to use and has the most intuitive remote for finding and watching your favorite shows.
What to give instead: Get the Roku Ultra from Amazon for $92
9. A scale
We all have that friend who swears they're going to eat healthier and work out in the new year. Rather than get them a scale (which is boring and, to be honest, probably a little offensive), give them our number one fitness tracker instead. The Fitbit Charge 3 automatically tracks everything from your calories burned to the distance you've moved to your sleep activity. It's also waterproof and has such a long battery life that could wear it for 10 days before it had to be recharged.
What to give instead: Fitbit Charge 3 from Amazon for $136.95
10. Cheap pots and pans
You likely have a budget for your holiday shopping, so it's tempting to settle for the cheapest option when you're buying gifts. But especially when it comes to cookware, you should focus on quality not quantity. This stainless steel set from Cuisinart earned our seal of approval (it's our top cookware of 2019!) because it cooks food evenly, is durable yet lightweight, and is both dishwasher- and oven-safe. Your friend who is actually able to cook with their new pots and pans for years to come will thank you.
What to give instead: Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set from Amazon for $197.99
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.