The wait for Christmas is finally nearing an end, with December's arrival and holiday shopping in full swing. Some shoppers took to stores over the Thanksgiving weekend to get a head start on their holiday purchases, but others are still waiting for deals to appear for the season's hottest Christmas gift ideas.
And with some shoppers still facing financial uncertainty going into the new year, saving money by cutting back on Christmas gifts might be the best strategy for some cash-strapped households.
Although keeping to a realistic shopping budget is a wise move, it doesn't mean that you can't partake in the spirit of giving this season. If you're hoping to both satisfy the most discerning of recipients and keep your bank account padded well into 2018, here are cheaper gift alternatives to this year's most sought-after Christmas presents.
1. Xbox One X
Avid gamers will likely scoff at the thought of abandoning their preferred console. However, if you're shopping for a new gaming platform at the request of your 8-year-old nephew or just for casual entertainment at home, there other options on the market that offer a similar gaming experience at a lower price.
The newest offering by Microsoft — the Xbox One X — retails for $499 at Best Buy, which is roughly the cost of a pricey car payment. With everyone else you need to shop for this year, the steep price tag of this popular gaming console can easily put your funds in the negative.
Alternative: Sony's PS4 provides players with a healthy level of virtual competition at a fraction of the price of an Xbox One X. For $299 at Best Buy, new and old generations of gamers can expect hours of entertainment from this next-gen gaming console.
2. Google Home
Homes just keep getting smarter, and many are saying 2018 will be the year of the smart home tech revolution. A popular item on many people's wishlists is Google's Home device, powered by the Google Assistant, which acts as a hub for your smart home devices. Responding to your voice, you ask and it delivers — anything from restaurant hours, hearing your favorite song, turning down the thermostat and more. The rub? The Google Home features a $130 price tag.
Alternative: Amazon's Echo Dot — as well as its big sister, the Echo — are Amazon's answer to the smart home assistant. Powered by Alexa, it offers many of the same functions for a fraction of the price. Listed at $49 but currently on sale for $29, Amazon is known to deeply discount its proprietary products just in time for the holidays — so prepare to get your new assistant for a discount.
3. Diptyque Electric Diffuser
Everyone wants their home to be a sanctuary of comfort and relaxation, so why not give the gift of in-home aromatherapy with an essential oil diffuser? This model from Diptyque promises to reinvent your home scent experience using "contemporary, mobile technology to diffuse selected interior fragrances representing all the scent families." The model, however, would set you back a cool $350 — and that isn't even including the scents themselves.
Alternative: Essential oils can be found relatively cheaply at many health food markets and grocery stores, so give a simple-yet-effective diffuser to do the trick instead. This model from Minofox retails for $24.99 on Amazon — featuring a 300ml capacity, an adjustable, soothing LED light, and a budget-friendly price point.
4. Furby Boom
The Furby craze, first ignited in 1998, has jumped on the smartphone bandwagon with Hasbro's revival, the Furby Boom. Available in an assortment of colors and patterns, these new Furbys interact with children through the free downloadable app. But the talking figure currently retails around $65 at Toys R Us.
Alternative: The Ubooly gives parents and other gift givers a nice middle ground when it comes to interactive plush toys. By inserting a smartphone into the Ubooly, this furry alternative to the Furby listens and talks to kids, tells bedtime stories, leads activities and engages with other Uboolys during play dates. At just $14.99 on Amazon, it's a serious bargain that's educational and fun.
5. LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Tablet
You've seen them. Tiny tots being bustled around in their strollers with tablets in laps. Instead of handing over your pricey iPad to your 3-year-old or risking it being snatched by a stranger, some parents opt to purchase devices specifically geared toward young children.
One such device that's a common option for gifts is the LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra tablet. Although it's certainly more educational than a Hot Wheels toy or basic stuffed animal, its regular price of $125.99 is a costly gift for a 4- to 9-year-old.
Alternative: Kids will love the Nabi 16GB tablet, which has an Android operating system and a 7-inch HD touchscreen. It helps growing kids stay entertained with games, videos and music, and keeps the cost low at $79.99.
6. iPhone X
As far as premium smartphones go, the iPhone X is one of the most coveted devices in stores. But with a retail price starting at $999 without a contract, this one gift could easily wipe out your holiday budget.
Alternative: Toss aside the flashy X for a slightly older model, and receive significant savings. A 32 GB iPhone 7 is essentially just one generation behind its top-level sister. Without a contract, the smartphone costs $549.
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7. Breaking Bad Series DVD Set
Breaking Bad is a perennial television fan favorite, despite having ended its run several seasons ago, which is why the Breaking Bad: Complete Series (UltraViolet Digital Copy) Set will top Christmas gift lists again this year. But these reruns will have you spending a hefty $85.99 retail at Best Buy just for the gimmicky packaging.
Alternative: Why not give friends and family the gift of the entire Breaking Bad series, and then some? Purchasing a six-month Netflix subscription costs just $47.94. If you still want to get them something tangible, add on the complete final season of Breaking Bad for $19.99 from Best Buy.
8. G-Shock Watches
A throwback to the '90s, G-Shock watches by Casio have been back in style for years, thanks to rapper Eminem's G-Shock mention in his hit single, Berzerk. Depending on the model, these chunky watches start at $99 and can get as high as $1,000 retail.
Alternative: Typically some lower-tier models can be found on Amazon or at other department store retailers for a slight discount, but for those who are looking for a similar style watch without the expensive price, G-Shock's can be found on serious discount at Wal-Mart for only $48.
9. GoPro HD Hero 5
The GoPro HD Hero5 is a hot gift for active, outdoorsy types recording and photographing everything under the sun. But this specialized video recorder comes at a high price tag of $399, which can cause any buyer to stumble at checkout.
Alternative: Videographers on a budget can turn to the Sound Around Gear-Pro HD Sport Action Camera, which offers many of the same functions as the GoPro for just $29.99 on Amazon. It gets the job done without investing hundreds into a product that'll likely eat mud during a Spartan race anyway.
10. Beats by Dr. Dre Headphones
Celebrity names are an easy excuse to drive prices up. Beats by Dre continue to be hyped items, but at a retail price of $199.95 to $449.95, they're far from budget-friendly. Even at their lowest price, $115 at Walmart, these headphones don't live up to their price, or hype.
Alternative: If a fine balance between sound quality and savings is your highest priority, the Koss Porta Pro On-Ear Headphones offer just that at a price of only $41.96 via Amazon. Amazon customers rate these headphones at 4.5 out of 5, with more than 3,300 customer reviews. Although the aesthetic design is a hit or miss for some, the sound and price cannot be beat (by Dre).
11. J.Crew Cashmere Sweater
Who wouldn't love to unwrap a whisper-soft cashmere sweater over the holidays? The luxurious fabric is incredibly soft, and when cared for well, will last for years. But the top quality usually comes with a high price tag — cashmere sweater prices can run well over $1,000 and are usually at least several hundred dollars at retailers like J.Crew.
Alternative: Uniqlo makes a range of cashmere sweaters for as low as $59.90 in an array of bright and cheery holiday colors, as well as classic neutrals like black, navy, and winter white.
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12. PlayStation VR
Lauded by reviewers as difficult to put down, a PlayStation VR headset would be exciting to find under the tree. But the $299.99 price is enough to cause serious sticker shock, and might be prohibitive for some.
Alternative: The Samsung Gear VR comes with a controller and has excellent reviews on Amazon, with reviewers writing that the device is a "10 out of 10 product" and "excellent fun." And at only $128 on Amazon, it's a serious discount from the pricier PlayStation version, as well.
13. Popcorn Maker
Just in time to snuggle up with movies over the holiday season, a Throwback Movie Theatre Popcorn Maker would be a delightful addition to any cozy home, and likely to many holiday wish lists, as well. But at $99.95 at Williams-Sonoma, the gadget is as pricey as it is charming.
Alternative: Nostalgia's 12 Cup Hot Air Popcorn Maker is only $28 on Amazon, and features an old-fashioned design that will be sure to delight.
Anyone who's New Year's resolutions include taking better care or control over their health and fitness would love a gift like the Fitbit, which can record the number of steps you take in a day, your heart rate, your sleep quality and a number of other important bits of health data. But with the most basic model starting at $59.95, the Fitbit isn't exactly inexpensive.
Alternative: Amazon reviewers love the TopBest Activity Tracker, which records many of the same exact things as the pricier Fitbit — including distance, sleep and steps. It also connects via Bluetooth to an app on your phone, so you can keep track of everything. And at just $26.99, it is significantly cheaper than the better-known Fitbit.
15. Nespresso CitiZ & Milk Espresso Machine
Any coffee or espresso aficionado knows that Nespresso machines are beloved by connoisseurs everywhere. But the $419 price of the device might put off more budget-minded shoppers.
Alternative: Keurig's K50 Single-Serve K-Cup Pod Coffee Maker provides coffee lovers with the same easy pods to pop into the machine, but offers a significant savings over the pricier Italian version: Keurig's machine is just $89 at Target.
16. Victrola Wooden 6-in-1 Nostalgic Record Player
Between its seriously good vintage looks and its impeccable sound quality, music and design lovers alike would appreciate the Victrola Wooden 6-in-1 Nostalgic Record Player. But at $99, it's not the most affordable gift one could select.
Alternative: A turquoise Victrola turntable can be had from Best Buy for only $39.99, making it a much more budget-friendly alternative that still packs a serious style punch.
17. Beats Pill+ Speaker
Music lovers obsess over the Beats Pill+ Speaker, calling it a "great product with an extremely clear sound and great bass," and its sleek white look is nothing to sneeze at, either. But at $179.99, it is on the pricier side for a portable speaker.
Alternative: Comiso's 30W Bluetooth Speakers have a similar clean look — although with a slightly more vintage flair mixed in — and get excellent reviews on Amazon, where they retail for $49.99. "It fills the room with sound," reviewer Kelsey Comstock wrote, "it's also beautiful and small enough that I can take it everywhere with me."
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Apple's new 12-inch MacBook's come in an array of chic colors, including gold, black, silver and space grey. They have new retina display functions and are lightweight enough so that the owner might forget they are toting it around at all. But with the basic model starting at $1,299, the computers are incredibly pricey.
Alternative: HP's 14-inch Chromebook is incredibly easy to carry and lightweight, and has the same sleek design look that Apple is famous for. And with the purpose of a laptop being its portability, the Chromebook gives the user less to worry about in case anything should happen — at $239.99, it is a relative bargain compared to the Apple version.
19. Le Labo Santal 26 Candle
A smash hit when it first debuted years ago at New York City's Gramercy Park Hotel, the Le Labo Santal 26 candle fills a room with an intoxicating sandalwood scent. But at $75 at Nordstrom, it is an extremely pricey candle.
Alternative: French brand Maison Louis Marie makes a candle that smells almost exactly identical, but retails for only $34. And as a bonus, the candle packaging is much simpler than the Le Labo version, making the jar an excellent vessel for objects around the home after the candle has been burned.
20. Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic
With its classic design that evokes the look of an old-school film camera, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic is an instant camera that would make an amazing gift for just about anyone. But at $124, it's not exactly a bargain.
Alternative: Fujifilm's Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating by over 350 customers at Walmart, where it retails for $59.95. Plus, it comes in an array of colors so you can customize it to the recipient perfectly.