Holiday Gift Ideas Under $50

I overthink every single purchase so I have a lot weirdly specific gift ideas. All under $50, mostly around $20.

Since it’s the holidays, I have gifts on my mind. Surprise, surprise, I overthink every single purchase so I have a lot weirdly specific gift ideas. All under $50, mostly around $20.

(But first, if you want a bunch of delicious food and drink gift ideas, head over to the SparkToro blog.)

Here we go:

For hard-to-shop-for people: It’s probably at least kind of cold where you are. Get your gift recipient a super soft, fuzzy sweater. Even if it’s not quite their style, these sweaters make for great at-home loungewear. I wear this one all the time, and I gifted this zip-up hoodie to my brother.

For sentimental people or parents: Grab a photo from your loved one’s social media profile and turn it into a glass print. Print an image of them with their significant other, a grandparent, a parent, or their own children. Lots of parents perpetually have “print out family photos” on their to-do lists, and a glass tile is a great way to cross off that task for them.

For people who like candles or who seem to have everything: A rechargeable electric lighter! It’s only $11. I know this is weirdly specific but this is my latest Amazon purchase for myself and I really love it. The spark looks kind of like a taser which freaked me out at first, but it works well for lighting all kinds of candles, especially for mostly-finished ones where the wick is far down.

For goodie bags for groups of people: Nice for co-workers, your kids’ teachers, or friend groups. Or for whomever. Buy items like cheap wool socks in bulk, then split them up into gift bags. I also like glass nail filesrose salve tinspacks of cable organizerspeppermint lip balmslightning cablesmicro USB cablessnail jelly sheet masks, and IKEA shopping bags (which is everyone’s favorite gigantic bag but they don’t realize it).

For a pregnant person: It can be a nuisance to shop for maternity clothes, especially since it’s something someone only wears within a span of ~9 months. So it’s a treat for a mom-to-be to receive clothes. I really like everything from Ingrid and Isabel, especially this jumpsuit, but it’s a little pricey. Old Navy’s low-panel maternity jeans are reasonably priced, soft, and easily wearable for several months postpartum. And this tunic top was my favorite top to wear when I was pregnant and postpartum.

A good default for anybody: A knitted throw blanket that’s a similar color to their sofa. It’ll add cozy texture to their living space, and extra blankets are always useful anyway. Bonus points: to gift wrap, tie it with a pretty ribbon.

If you like giving semi-homemade gifts: Buy a pack of 8-ounce glass bottles or mason jars, and make your gifts in bulk. One year, I made body butter (coconut oil, a couple of vitamin E capsules and a few drops of lavender oil, whipped in a stand mixer) and spooned them into mason jars. This year I’m making honey syrup (equal parts honey and water, boiled and simmered, then cooled) for at-home cocktails or tea.

For quirky people, kids age 7+, or for white elephant: This Throw Throw Burrito game is a hilarious dodgeball-style card game. This light box with letters is fun and cute. And this tortilla blanket is absolutely ridiculous (and soft!). Gifts that will make anybody smile.

And general guidelines for gift giving:

  • Truly great gifts are useful things the recipient would never buy for themselves, either because they didn’t think of it or because they wouldn’t dare treat themselves.
  • When you’re unsure, you can buy them a nice version of an artifact that’s related to their hobby. Is the recipient a pickleball fanatic? Get them a monogrammed paddle. A home cook? Heavy duty oven gloves. Neat freak? A set of Scrub Daddy sponges. (Seriously, those sponges are great and they’re kind of expensive, so they’re annoying to buy for yourself.)
  • When totally in doubt, get something consumable. It doesn’t need to be food or drink. It can be a candleshower steamers, or a simple hand cream.