Looking for some cheap gift ideas this Christmas to inject some joy after a year of doom and gloom? We’ve assembled a list of 50 ideas that are $30 or less—they’re budget-friendly yet oh-so original.
We’ve been blasting the holiday music earlier than ever before, because nothing makes us forget the doomscrolling of 2020 like a little Mariah Carey and strapping a Christmas tree onto roof racks. If you’re on the hunt for affordable Christmas gifts this year that aren’t just candles and DIY salt scrub, here’s the list you’ve been looking for.
50 Cheap Gift Ideas for 2020
Most gifts on this list fit a budget of $0 to $30 and we’ve also got some ideas for giving within family units that’s memorable and utterly delightful without spending a fortune.
Whether you’re gifting a secret santa to a coworker or getting a present for a longtime friend, these ideas hit a certain universally-loved status, much like Dolly Parton and tacos.
- This cool blowtorch lighter. Just fill it up with a generic lighter and feel 10x more awesome when lighting your warm vanilla sugar candles.
- A snack box—because who doesn’t like snacks? When the YNAB yearly retreat went virtual, our operations team kept the fun going with snack boxes that arrived at our doorsteps. It sparked an unexpected amount of joy. Check out this healthy-ish box for the crunchy types or this not-so-healthy option full of favorites!
- The Comfy. Part blanket, part sweatshirt—this modern-day snuggie knows no opposition. Consider this one for a newfound work-from-homer that refuses to crank up the thermostat.
- Sephora Beauty Boxes. These best-of beauty boxes are packed with fan favorites at all price points.
- A trip to the bookstore and a book. Combine and experience with a gift for a one-two gift-giving punch. Don’t limit this to just adults giving this to kids. Your adult sibling would probably appreciate this one too!
- New socks. And you know which ones keep coming up over and over again? Darn Tough Socks. They’re not the cheapest socks, but falling in love happens instantly with the first cushy foot hug.
- YETI mug. Another perennial favorite with cult status. This mug comes in a rainbow of colors and will keep that made-at-home coffee piping hot for hours of Zoom calls. Plus, it’s a great excuse to finally get the incredibly convenient handled version, because who cares if it fits in car cup holders anymore?
- A puzzle. But not just any puzzle: this one is double sided: a beach and an ocean! Add a twist: divide it up and mail it out over the course of a week.
- Masks. Are masks the new socks of gifting? These everyday non-medical masks from Athleta are top-rated and come in a variety of color schemes.
- The YNAB Book. This Wall Street Journal best-seller is an approachable look at how to get your financial life to stop being so darn stressful—and giving it over the holidays means it’s on the nightstand just in time for 2021 resolutions.
- A bag of coffee. Opt for a local favorite, spring for a premium brand from your local grocery store, or order a sampler box online.
- A frother. Not only will this up any latte game, it’s clutch for anyone making matcha, hot chocolate, or bulletproof coffee at home.
- A Christmas tree candle. Want the smell of Christmas? This candle is it! This gift is great for any gifts given pre-December 25 to let the receiver bask in the hygge of a freshly-cut pine.
- Sensory Fidget Toys. A great gift for anyone from ages 5-85. These silent sensory toys keep hands busy and are great for middle schoolers and anyone who works under high pressure.
- Baby Yoda plush. Mandalorian fans—you know who you are. This squishy little plush makes Baby Yoda huggable. Who doesn’t want that?
- Anti fog drops. If you wear glasses in 2020 you know the utter annoyance of fog taking over your lenses. This functional gift stops fog from blocking lenses: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
- Holiday plants. Amaryllis, paperwhites, and poinsettias bring some life into the winter season and make for fuss-free hits even for those without a green thumb.
- Sourdough starter. Winter is coming and we’re definitely not done baking yet. Start a dough obsession with the recipient and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get the finished product someday.
- A jumbo pack of toilet paper. Anyone who made it through 2020 knows the value of this. Enough said.
- Sugar scrub (ok, we had to do one). This Coconut Lime scrub makes Amazon’s best-selling and most-wished for list, so you know of all the sugar scrubs, this is the one.
One might say experiences are priceless, and therefore do not fit in our $0-$30 budget, but we included them anyway. Let your creativity shine with these ideas!
- An experience calendar. On a 2021 calendar, write in an experience on one day each month (Ice cream, movie night, picnic, etc.). We think this one from Rifle Paper Co. is exceptionally pretty!
- Create a tell-me notebook. Take a blank journal and fill it up with questions you’ve always wanted to know about the recipient: What was their first house like? What was their favorite food growing up? Write a question prompt every few pages so there’s lots of room to write.
- Guided coupons. We can often make coupons with little information on them or don’t have a logical way for the recipient to “redeem” them. Use a templated option from Etsy to take the guesswork out. Here’s a customizable option for a significant other or for family fun.
- A memory jar kit. Give everything needed to create a memory jar. Lay the groundwork for a year of memories with this free DIY idea.
Free & Sort-Of Free Gifts
- Wine. Put a bow on a bottle of unopened wine in your cupboard and send it on its way!
- Write a hand-written note. Don’t underestimate the power of a note: tell them why you appreciate them. Looking for stylish blank cards? Target always has a good selection.
- Swap books. Coordinate a book exchange with your friends or family—take a favorite book you’ve read and gift it to someone else.
- Car wash and detail. Do this one yourself or shop around at a local car wash and see if they offer gift certificates.
- Make and gift frozen breakfast burritos. This one is great for your friends with a baby and a toddler running around.
- Make cookies. Who doesn’t like cookies!? You sincerely can’t go wrong with chocolate chip. To solve the difficult problem of packaging (is that just me?) Try these pretty gift boxes.
- Homemade chai. Last year I brewed a whole pot of this homemade chai and put it in these cute bottles. Turned into a great mass gift!
- Give them that thing they always borrow. They need it, after all!
Don’t rag on the gift cards here! Not only can you get creative with gifting, but it often gives more control for the recipient to enjoy the gift on a time table that works for them.
Plus, if you want to give a subscription but don’t want to deal with the recurring payment, gift cards are your answer.
- DoorDash. It’s a cup of literal chicken soup for the soul in the time of COVID. Easy for everyone, and can be used whenever they can’t summon themselves off the couch in the depths of winter.
- Xbox. Have a gamer in your life? An Xbox gift card lets them buy popular games, add-ons, and map packs: trust us, they’ll love it. You don’t even have to make a trip to the store!
- Give a coffee shop gift card for your favorite coffee lover. Starbucks gift cards are ridiculously effortless to give and delightful to receive, or shop local and seek out a coffee shop nearby!
- Airbnb. For travelistas, globe trotters, and those with a case of wanderlust, these gift cards never expire. Don’t feel like you need to pay for a whole night, even just $25 will spark that exotic locale dreaming like a little flame of hope for whenever the world opens up again.
- Costco. You can buy things at Costco with a gift card whether you’re a member or not. This makes it a perfect gift for those non-members who might enjoy a day of slowly perusing the endlessly fascinating aisles.
- Visa gift card. A great way to support small businesses is with a card loaded with cash for the recipient to buy something they want from their favorite local spot!
Subscriptions or Memberships
- Audible. You can give a 1-month audible membership for just $15 and it works whether the person already has a membership or is a newbie. It’s a great way to gift an audiobook!
- Spotify Premium (1-month). Give the gift of ad-free music with a spotify gift card (note: won’t work for those who already have student discounts or family plans).
Cheap Gift Ideas For Kids
- A Kiwi Crate for kids of all ages. Gifts for young scientists, artists, and makers.
- Give a secret compartment book. Make one out of a book you currently have and fill it with toys or treasure for kids, or use it for a gift card if you want a little extra pizzazz.
- A day with the cool aunt/uncle. Take a trip to play with puppies at the pet store, get an ice cream cone at McDonald’s—you know what to do 🙂
- Party game. Throw the Burrito comes highly recommended.
- Personalized toy car. This wooden wheeled wonder is great for any future gear head and the personalization option means even X Æ A-12 can get one with his name spelled just right!
Cheap Gift Ideas For Families
- Board Games. For a universal crowd-pleaser, try Concept—described as a “board game version of charades” and good for ages 10+.
- Frame Kid’s Art. Upgrade the fridge-hanging art with a frame. This is a great gift for a parent or grandparent. I’m sure the artist will be happy to oblige.
- Get a time capsule for your family (or friend) to bury 2020 in literal form. Add in that pet rock you befriended, that extra face mask that isn’t comfortable no matter how many times you try to make it, and some of your extra hand sanitizer that smells like tequila.
Cheap Gift Ideas For Family Members & Favorite People
- Frame a family tree for a grandparent. This pretty watercolor does all the heavy lifting!
- Write out recipe cards with your signature recipes (great for parents to give their adult kids with their favorite childhood recipes!).
Go Minimal-Ish for Family Unit Gifting
If you’re a parent making the magic happen for your kiddos, take some of the pressure off to create a mountain of presents with these minimal-ish setups that are still heavy on joy but light on excess.
- Ask your kids what they would want their holiday to look like. Often it’s your presence and special family time that they want more than anything. Involve them in deciding what the day looks like and that way everyone is happy while you can be more intentional with your dollars.
- Gifts for head, hands, heart:
- Something for their mind
- Something to make or do
- Something they would love
- These four gift categories cover all the bases:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
- For those who want to work on a limited budget, Shannon from our team tells of a Christmas category list they started years ago when they were broke, and it’s held up well. Each year they pick between 5-10 categories and it’s a little more fun than just swapping wish lists. Here’s their list from this year:
- Something made locally
- Something for the house
- Something for $8 or under
- Something for our new offices
- An unexpected gift card
- An experience for the family
- Something for a date day/night
- Something edible
- A gift involving coffee
Wishing you mugs and mugs of hot cocoa to keep you company, some cozy slippers, and happy gifting this holiday season!
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