The best headphones make excellent Christmas gifts. These days, the top headphones you can buy are beautifully-designed, packed with features and make your favorite tunes sound outstanding. For all of these reasons, a good pair of headphones make a special present to open on the big day.
There are several headphone and earbud designs to choose from these days, like the best wireless earbuds or the best bone conduction headphones. But many people – audiophiles often included – still prefer a pair of the best over-ear headphones, which have a headband and two cups.
Of course, everyone is different. But we'd also bet that if you're buying a gift for a loved one these holidays, a pair of over-ear headphones is a safer bet than any other style. The problem is, with so much choice these days, it can be hard to know which pair you should buy.
In this gift guide we've selected the best of the best headphones, the best noise-cancelling headphones and then our top budget picks. We've focused on who each pair would be best for, and even offered alternative suggestions under each. Whoever you're buying a headphones gift for this Christmas, there should be a solid recommendation here that'll suit them.
If you're considering buying a pair of headphones for a loved one but don't necessarily need an over-ear design, check out our best wireless earbuds gift guide instead. We also highly recommend you take a look at our other guides to the best Christmas sales in the US and Boxing Day sales in the UK. They're packed with even more great holiday and Christmas gift ideas.
Best headphone gifts for most people
Best for most people
You can't go wrong with these
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are the top pick in our ultimate best headphones ranking for good reason. They're not cheap, but they deliver excellent noise-cancellation and surprising sound quality in a lightweight, comfortable design. We can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be extremely happy to find these over-ears under the Christmas tree.
Less of a mainstream crowd-pleaser, but audiophiles would also love the incredibly impressive Focal Bathys.
Best for sound
Seriously stunning sound
The Edifier Stax Spirit S3 are one impressive pair of over-ear headphones, with a light, comfortable and foldable design, detailed and engaging sound, and epic battery life. The only downside? There's no noise-cancelling here, meaning they're not the best for commuting or those who need ultimate focus. Otherwise, they're near-perfect headphones.
The Sennheiser HD-660S2 are a solid alternative option if you're buying for someone keen on an open-back design.
Solid specs for this price
The Final Audio UX3000 headphones may look simple, but they deliver a confident and articulate sound and pack in a whole bunch of solid specifications, including aptX Low Latency Bluetooth, a long 35-hours of battery life, and active noise cancellation. All of that in a comfortable design and for a price that seems too good to be true compared to many of their rivals.
The Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 also pack in the impressive, high-end specs but are available at a surprisingly low price.
Best headphones gifts for ANC
Best battery life
A huge 60-hour battery life
If you want to seriously impress your loved ones, turn up with a present with the Sennheiser branding. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are fantastic over-ear headphones. They offer excellent ANC, a suite of impressive features, plus impressive sound and call quality. They’re also light and comfortable – and the 60-hour battery is the cherry on top.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are an excellent pair of over-ears if you're stuck for choice.
Gorgeous design, class-leading sound
We were blown away by the Bowers & Wilkins PX8 headphones when we tested them thanks to their class-leading sound, comfort levels and gorgeous design. If you're looking for a luxe gift these holidays, they have the most classy build and finish we've seen in a long time and would make anyone swoon.
If you're looking for another pair of over-ears with a striking design, try the Sivga Oriole.
Best ANC overall
Truly outstanding ANC
All of the headphones in this category deliver best-in-class active noise cancellation, but Bose always beats the competition when it comes to ultimate immersion. That's why the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are our top ANC pick overall, bringing you amazing sound-blocking and solid audio in a design that's so stunning it could be a work of art.
Consider the Apple AirPods Max if you want excellent ANC for someone with an iPhone.
Best headphones gifts for those on a budget
Best budget sound
If you're on a budget but want to gift a pair of headphones that tick all of the boxes, you need the Sony WH-CH520. They're superb value with a clear and well-rounded sound and plenty of customization options. They feel robust and have comfortable padding, too. At this price don't expect high-end features, like ANC, but they do the basics incredibly well.
For an affordable offering with ANC, try the Sony WH-CH720N.
Best budget ANC
Cheap and reliable
The JBL Tune 770NC aren't the most exciting pair of headphones around and wouldn't stand a chance next to the stunning ANC options above, but they're also a fraction of the price. These JBL over-ears are a reliable offering that fit well and are easy to store. During our testing we were also surprised by just how good the ANC, sound and battery life are here, ideal for all-day listening.
The JBL Tune 670NC came before these, which means they're likely to be even cheaper these days.
Best budget overall
Incredibly affordable sound
The Jabra audio brand are masters at creating headphones that deliver top specs that often undercut the high-end competition and the Jabra Elite 45h are no exception. They promise a weighty and balanced sound and impressive battery life at a fraction of the cost of rivals. The design is also comfortable, folds up easy and looks classier than it should at this price.
You'll also get good ANC and sound for under $100/£100 with the Anker Soundcore Space One.
More Holiday sales
- Amazon: 70% off Kindle, TVs, tablets & clothing
- Apple: AirPods, Apple Watch & iPads from $79
- Adidas: 40% off running shoes & clothing
- Beauty: 51% off makeup, skincare & hair tools
- Best Buy: $800 off TVs, laptops & headphones
- Cheap TVs: big-screen 4K TVs from $269.99
- Christmas: 40% off decor, pajamas & trees
- Dell: Inspiron and XPS laptops from $260
- DreamCloud: 40% off all mattresses
- Family pajamas: Christmas PJs from $12.99
- Gaming: console bundles from $289.99
- Lenovo: 76% off laptops, desktops & printers
- Lowe's: up to $800 off major appliances
- Nectar: mattress deals starting at $359
- Nordstrom: 40% off Nike, Levi's & UGGs
- Patagonia: pullovers starting at $64.99
- Samsung: $2,000 of TVs, phones and appliances
- Shopbop: 25% off sitewide with code Holiday
- Target: 40% off Christmas decor, TVs & toys
- Toys: Disney, Barbie & Lego from $14.99
- Walmart: cheap TVs, air fryers, PS5 & toys
More Christmas sales
- Amazon: up to 65% off tech and gifts
- Adidas: up to 60% off outlet clothing, shoes, apparel
- AO: up to 40% off vacuums, appliances, and tech
- Argos: up to 70% off toys, Christmas decor, and tech
- Boots: half-price gift sets, gift cards, and fragrances
- B&Q: cheap Christmas trees, lights, decor, wreaths
- Carphone Warehouse: 120GB data for £12 per month
- Currys: up to 40% off TVs, air fryers, laptops and more
- Cotswolds Outdoor: up to 50% off Patagonia, Rab, North Face
- Debenhams: up to 70% off home, fashion, gift sets
- Disney: up to 60% off Christmas jumpers, toys, decor
- Ebuyer: up to 40% off laptops, desktops, and components
- John Lewis: £300 off TVs, Apple, plus Christmas decor
- Jessops: up to £1,000 off Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm
- O2: up to £600 off iPhone, Samsung and Google
- Samsung: up to £600 off TVs, phones and appliances
- Shark: up to £100 off best-selling vacuums
- Very: discounts on tech, appliances, furniture and beauty
- Vodafone: six months half-price SIMs from £11.50
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Becca is a contributor to TechRadar, a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than ten years, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality.