Buying holiday gifts isn’t always easy. Sure bets like a new laptop or game console don’t come cheap, and more affordable picks like clothes (everyone needs new socks) don’t excite everyone. It’s simpler if there’s a problem to solve, like their work-from-home setup needs improvement or the gift receiver fits a specific type, like a frequent flier. Beyond that, though, things get tricky. If you’re looking for a fun gift that might not be on your loved one’s radar, but they’ll still actually love it, you may have to be willing to embrace a good gimmick.
Whether a tech product is “gimmicky” or not is really a matter of perspective, but in the case of this list, we chose products that, in their design or intended purpose, turn heads, but are still genuinely useful, sources of joy. Whether you’re in the market for a pocketable instant camera like the Fujifilm Instax Pal or a striking wireless charging stand like Belkin’s BoostCharge Pro 2-in-1, we’ve got you covered in the list below.
Gimmicky tech that makes great gifts: Our favorite picks
Fujifilm / Pocket-lint
Fujifilm Instax Pal & Link 2 Bundle
1. The cutest camera and printer combo money can buy
The viewfinder doubles as a handle
$180 $200 Save $20
This bundle gets you the compact, printer-free Fujifilm Instax Pal camera, and the Link 2 printer which can print photos in a variety of instant film types. You might not get the best photos out of them, but you’ll certainly have the most fun taking them.
- Camera size lets you take photos more places
- Printer is compatible with more than Instax
- MicroSD card slot for extra storage
It might look like a toy, but the Fujifilm Instax Pal is a working instant camera, minus the ability to instantly print photos out of the box. Unless, of course, you buy it in this bundle with Fujifilm’s Link 2 printer. The Link 2 printer connects to your smartphone to annotate, filter, and print just about any photo you take, including ones taken on the Instax Pal and uploaded to Fujifilm’s companion app.
In our review, we found that the photo results aren’t as high-quality as something you’d get from your smartphone or one of Fujifilm’s other Instax cameras, but you’re paying for cuteness here. The Instax Pal can fit just about anywhere and includes a built-in viewfinder that doubles as a ring for carrying the camera around.
DJI / Pocket-lint
DJI Osmo Pocket 3
2. Vlogging camera with gimbal and a rotating screen
Auto tracking and fast focus
The DJI OSMO Pocket 3 is a gimbal-based vlogging camera that gives you the best of stabilized drone video on a handheld camera, now with 4K 120fps footage. The Osmo Pocket 3 bests it’s predecessor with a rotating screen and support for wireless mics too.
- 4K 120fps footage
- ActiveTrack 6.0 automatically tracks subjects smoothly
- Supports wireless mics
- More fragile than other cameras
For a more professional camera with an equally odd look, try the DJI Osmo Pocket 3. Using what’s essentially a small camera mounted onto a handheld gimbal, the Osmo Pocket 3 can capture smooth, stable footage and track subjects while they move using DJI’s ActiveTrack 6.0 system. It’s the perfect setup for vloggers or anyone looking for a simple video camera.
Better than that, the Osmo Pocket 3 can capture 4K 120fps footage for the first time with the camera’s 1-inch CMOS sensor, a big upgrade over the previous Pocket and comparable to what you can get from more normal-shaped vlogging cameras. And the Pocket 3 has a rotating display that makes it easy to frame and record vertical or horizontal video. All the moving parts make the Osmo Pocket 3 a bit more fragile than a less odd looking camera, but no less capable if whoever you’re buying it for is interested in starting a YouTube or TikTok channel.
Amazon / Pocket-lint
Amazon Echo Pop
3. Most budget-friendly smart speaker Amazon sells
The bare minimum, but enough
$18 $40 Save $22
The colorful, small Echo Pop is Amazon’s cheapest smart speaker and the easiest way to get access to the company’s Alexa voice assistant at home or extend an Eero Wi-Fi network. Just don’t expect it to be an audio powerhouse.
- Super cheap
- Multiple colors to choose from
- Can extend Eero networks
- Missing sensors
- Lackluster sound
The Echo Pop is Amazon’s cost-cutting (and subsidizing) product design is taken to its absolute extreme. A colorful $40 smart speaker with access to Amazon Alexa and even the ability to extend an Eero Wi-Fi network (extra handy for a spare bedroom), the Echo Pop is the idea of a smart speaker distilled down to its purest form. Does anyone need an Echo Pop? That will really depend on if you own an Alexa-enabled speaker already, but if you’re at all interested in exploring smart home features or using Amazon’s upcoming LLM-powered AI features, it’s an absolute impulse buy.
It’s worth noting that the Echo Pop doesn’t have the temperature sensor or ultrasonic motion detection of some of Amazon’s other Echo devices, which means it won’t be capable of enabling some more complex smart home routines. It also doesn’t get nearly as loud or sound as full as other smart speakers, making it a poor party speaker in a pinch. But those shortcomings are largely made up for by the speaker’s price, small size, and the ever-growing capabilities of Alexa.
Belkin / Pocket-lint
Belkin BoostCharge Pro 2-in-1 Wireless Charging Dock with MagSafe 15W
4. Fast wireless charging stand
Perfect for a nightstand with support for StandBy Mode
$92 $100 Save $8
Belkin’s BoostCharge Pro 2-in-1 Wireless Charger Stand is a sleek charger that’s compatible with iOS 17’s new StandBy mode thanks to MagSafe magnets and support for 15W fast charging.
- Supports StandBy mode
- Fast charge at 15W
- Comes with AC adapter
If you want your wireless charging stand to be as much as a bedroom statement piece as it is a power source, the Belkin BoostCharge Pro 2-in-1 Wireless Charge Stand is a good buy. Its metal, tree-like center stem ends in a MagSafe compatible charging pad that supports 15W fast charging, and its plastic base can charge your AirPods just by plopping them down.
Belkin’s designed the magnets in the BoostCharge Pro to work both vertically and horizontally, meaning if you turn your iPhone sideways on the stand, and you’re running iOS 17 and up, you can use StandBy mode to turn your iPhone into a bedside smart display and clock. It’s a nice, if flashy, stand on its own, but enabling StandBy mode makes it extra handy.
Twelve South / Pocket-lint
Twelve South AirFly Pro
5. Great Bluetooth dongle for frequent flyers
It works with gym equipment too
The Twelve South AirFly Pro is the simplest way to connect Bluetooth headphones to in-flight entertainment systems with only a headphone jack. It even comes with a keychain carrying case so you always have it with you.
- 25 hours of battery life
- Charges over USB-C
- Keychain carrying case
- No volume controls on the dongle
Someday, having to find a way to connect Bluetooth headphones to an airplane’s in-flight entertainment system will be a thing of the past, but until then, there’s the Twelve South AirFly Pro. The AirFly Pro is a simple dongle that plugs into a headphone jack and provides a wireless Bluetooth connection to wireless headphones for hardware only designed to support wired ones.
The dongle itself gets about 25 hours of battery life (more than enough to get through most flights), charges over USB-C, and includes a keychain you can use as a carrying case when you’re not using it. The AirFly Pro looks a little goofy dangling out the side of a display or plane seat, but it’s all worth it to not have to rely on the terrible wired headphones that get handed out at the start of every flight.
FunKey / Pocket-lint
6. Retro games on a keychain
Easy game emulation
The FunKey S is the only retro game emulator that you can credibly attach to your keychain. Shaped like a tiny Game Boy SP in a ton of fun colors, the FunKey S makes playing classic handheld games easy, provided you can put up with its small screen.
- Drag and drop installation for ROMs
- Folds like a Game Boy SP
- Runs most retro handheld games
Keeping the keychain accessory theme, the FunKey S lets you take retro games with you on the go on a tiny handheld. While it feels odd to call games that came out in my childhood “retro,” the FunKey S is one of the simplest possible ways of playing old Game Boy, GBA, and even NES and SNES ROMs you might have lying around your computer or waiting to be dumped from physical cartridges.
The FunKey S itself looks like a Game Boy SP, comes in a number of fun colors and is powerful enough to play classic handheld games without problems. Its built-in 410 mAh battery doesn’t last long, but for quick play sessions in waiting rooms or on the bus – it’s small enough to fit in your pocket or dangle from a set of keys – a nice option for anyone looking to game and accessorize at the same time.
Shargeek / Pocket-lint
Shargeek Storm 2
7. Fast-charging capable see-through power bank
It’s a big battery to charge multiple devices
$200 $229 Save $29
Shargeek’s Storm 2 Power Bank has an eye-catching see-through design, LCD display and comes with enough USB ports to quickly charge your phone, Nintendo Switch, or laptop without much fuss.
- 25,600mAh battery
- Supports 100W fast charging
- LCD display lets you know charging is working
There’s nothing wrong with hopping on a popular trend. Case in point, the Shargeek Storm 2, a portable power bank with a beautiful translucent case that lets you view all of its internal components. See-through and translucent gadgets are having a bit of a moment (see: the awesome translucent Steam Deck OLED) and Shargeek’s Storm 2 is an excellent execution of the design trend.
It’s also just a big, fast-charging battery. The Storm 2 has an LCD for displaying battery capacity and charging speeds, a 25,600mAh battery, several USB-A and C ports for charging your smartphone, handheld game console, or laptop. If you’re specifically curious about charging laptops, it is capable of 100W fast charging, which Shargeek says can get a 16-inch MacBook Pro to 50 percent battery in 41 minutes or less.
8Bitdo / Pocket-lint
8Bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard
8. Retro-inspired keyboard with buttons worth pushing
The 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard works with Windows and Android devices and is styled like a NES. It also comes with two programmable “Super” buttons that can be used for shortcuts or other tasks.
- Hot-swappable PCB
- Great retro finishes
- Comes with two programmable buttons
- Only works with Windows and Android
The 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard is 8Bitdo’s first keyboard and a pretty awesome first draft. As a controller-maker, it’s not surprising the keyboard borrows the aesthetic trappings of the NES console, including iconic red accents. But the Retro Mechanical Keyboard should satisfy keyboard enthusiasts too, with programmable keys, and a hot-swappable PCB.
Alongside the keyboard, 8BitDo also includes two Super buttons that can be programmed to enable specific shortcuts or just about whatever else you can imagine. The only real downside with this geeky keyboard is that it’s only compatible with Windows and Android machines, leaving Mac users looking elsewhere for video game-inspired typing.
There’s nothing wrong with a gimmick, if it works well
A good gift is all about getting a little creative, and there’s nothing more surprising than an odd-looking gadget that’s legitimately helpful. The DJI Osmo Pocket 3 both looks like a timid bird when mounted on a tripod and tracking a TikTok dance, and it’s a fantastic video camera. The Twelve South AirFly Pro feels extraneous, solving a problem that doesn’t really need a solution, but not when can you use your AirPods Pro the whole flight? – it’s marvelous. Shargeek’s Storm 2 Power Bank looks cool and is also just a giant battery. The trick with all of these gifts is that even if they’re niche or look silly, for the right person, they could change everything.
How did we make our list of slightly gimmicky gadgets?
In terms of reviewing products, Pocket-lint casts a wide net, occasionally covering what can be pretty specific products if all you’re used to reading is smartphone reviews. I pulled these picks from well-reviewed products that still live on the margins, either because their features or use-cases are limited, they seem silly, or they might seem superfluous from the outset. The goal was to find tech that, regardless of how it looked or worked, would make a difference to the person who received the gift. And that criteria turned up fun cameras, charging options, and ways to play games, fantastic stuff for whatever holiday gifting scenario you’re trying to handle.
What gifts from this guide make the best stocking stuffers?
In terms of price and size, it would have to be either the Twelve South AirFly Pro or the FunKey S. Both are relatively affordable at $55 and $73, respectively. They’re also both highly pocketable, which means they can fit in most Christmas stockings without any issues. Choosing between the two, if price isn’t an issue, depends on what kind of person you’re buying the gift for. Are they going to appreciate something practical, or are they going to want something that encourages them to have fun? If practical, then maybe the AirFly Pro makes more sense. If fun, then the FunKey S is the right choice.
What’s the right amount of money to pay for a camera?
That will depend on your budget, and who you’re buying the camera for. For camera beginners, our favorite picks tend to fall in the $500-$700 range, which makes the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 a solid option in terms of features and price, especially if smooth filming and image quality are your top concerns. For more professional cameras, you have to be willing to spend thousands of dollars. Considering how many photos and videos end up being viewed on smartphones in the first place, do you really need to spend that extra money if you or the person you’re buying the camera isn’t going to be using it professionally? You should figure that out first before you purchase.