I don’t buy holiday gifts anymore. But just because I don’t buy them doesn’t mean it’s not fun to look.
And just because gifts aren’t for me, doesn’t mean they can’t be for you.
So maybe you have your list of people and your budget. Now you just have to come up with the ideas.
Ugh, that’s the hardest part.
Maybe you’re overwhelmed with places to shop. Or you don’t have the time to look. Well, today is your lucky day. Because putting together gift guides has always been a creative project I enjoy. And since people are always asking me for my opinion on what to buy, I thought I’d publish a round-up of my top holiday gift ideas. Ideas that don’t cost a gazillion dollars. And ones that are focussed on the recipient’s actual personality.
With the exception of the Movie Pass, everything else on this list costs less than $50. Because you don’t need to spend a ton of money to give awesome gifts.
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For the Person Whose Heart You Want to Melt
I love this customizable calendar, because it’s something no one would ever expect, but they’d be delighted by it anyway. The idea is you choose your own picture for each month, and can name the calendar whatever you want. The first Christmas my husband and I were together, we challenged ourselves to spending just $25 on each other. I thought I was so clever, because I found this calendar for $29.99, but used a coupon to get it within budget. I also had to be sneaky and ask to “borrow” his phone so I could crib some pictures to add to the calendar. Now the calendar has become a household tradition every year. Each person gets assigned certain months and we get to choose any picture we want to use, as long as it was taken that same year. It’s a nice way to stop and reflect on memories. Use the code ‘FROSTY‘ to get 25% off. 10/10 would recommend!
For Literally Any Human Being Ever
“I hate going to the movies,” said no one ever. That’s why Movie Pass, like Netflix but for actually going to the movies, is a great gift option. For $9.95 per month, you can go see one movie per day! That’s up to 30 movies PER MONTH. Here in NYC, one movie ticket costs $15, so this is an unheard-of deal. Check to see if there are participating theaters by you, make sure you read the pros and cons, and then get on it.
For the Person Who Works 70-Hour Weeks and Shops at Barneys
I saw this calendar on Instagram and it instantly made me laugh. Hang this up in any office for an extra dash of motivation. Beware, only the smallest size (the A3 one) is actually affordable.
For the Person Who’s Glued to Their Phone
Functional, yet luxe. This Native Union phone charger was a present I bought for myself after moving into my husband’s apartment. The 10-foot long cord length is convenient so I don’t have to hang out next to an outlet, and I love the weighted knot so the cable never falls off my side table. It’s always within reach where I need it to be.
Native Union also has a to-go version where you can charge your phone from any USB port, like a laptop, etc.
There have been so many times I’ve been out with hardly any juice in my phone and wished I had a portable battery in my bag. A few times I’ve been out with my prepared friend, and she was generous to give me a charge from her backup battery. Don’t be that guy, constantly mooching off your friends.
For the Person Who Literally Has Everything Already
An electric toothbrush is not the sexiest gift around. And it’s not something that most people think they want. But that’s because they have no idea what they’re missing. I’ve had one for almost a decade now, and I’m never going back to manual. An electric toothbrush is just a lot more effective at cleaning your teeth, all while requiring less work. If the cost scares you, think of it like this: buying an electric toothbrush is like investing in your oral health. Cleaner teeth = fewer dentist appointments = less money.
Note that you’ll also need to re-up on toothbrush heads every 3-4 months. I just bought this pack of 3-count brush heads because they’re on sale and I want to stock up.
For the Person Who’s Always Salvaging Recyclables from the Trash
We have a never-ending supply of canvas tote bags at home, but I hate how much space they take up. I’d much rather have a Baggu bag that folds up into nothing and can be carried around wherever I go. Because you’re undoubtedly going to stop by that cute farmer’s market, want to bring home all the in-season peaches, and have no reusable bag on hand. My personal favorite is the classic blue and white striped version, but if you want a more stylish design that no one else has, check out this special edition one from Mociun.
For the Person Who Hangs Out at Serious Art Museums for Fun
OK, you can totally get a mug for 99 cents at TJ Maxx. But let me ask you this: does that mug have a print inspired by Piet Mondrian? And does it freaking change colors depending on whether the liquid is hot or cold? I didn’t think so. Even the grumpiest creative will have a hard time not being charmed by this coffee mug.
For the Person Who Loves to Show Up at Work an Hour Earlier Than Everyone Else
I’ll admit, this weekly stick-up calendar is something I have shopped for for myself, but surely there are other organized folks reading this. I love having a written to-do list right by my keyboard so I can map out my tasks for the day and the week. And don’t tell me that crossing tasks off your list isn’t the most satisfying feeling ever.
For the Person You Don’t Know That Well, Like a Coworker
Edible gifts are always a safe bet, so instead of the fruit cake, go for this elevated option from Saks Fifth Avenue. Just make sure the person isn’t allergic to nuts! Use code 10TSFA to get 10% off on December 3rd only.
For the Person Who Always Takes Pictures of Their Food
If you have a design-minded friend with a major sweet tooth, these chocolate bars have the loveliest packaging. Post a picture of them to Instagram and watch the likes roll in.
For the Person Who Makes Up Excuses to Avoid Work Events
Just because you like staying at home doesn’t mean you can’t do it in style. Ditch the free, oversized T-shirts, and upgrade your lounge look with this vintage-style pajama set. For the men, here’s a flannel plaid version. J. Crew runs large, so remember to size down.
For the Person Who Keeps a Super Lengthy Bucket List
If you know someone who loves learning how to do new things, I love this super affordable DIY kit. Or maybe you want to make your own version of the Proenza Schouler shibori tie dye T-shirts. Either way, it’s impossible to make an ugly-looking shibori print. If you need more ideas on shibori projects, check out this post from Honestly WTF.
When I was planning my wedding, I thought, “Man, wouldn’t it be convenient if I knew calligraphy?” Side hustle idea, anyone? If you’ve ever wanted to learn calligraphy and had no idea where to start, this starter kit will supply you with everything you’d ever need.
For the Person Who Works in a Charmless Office
Work in a place with no windows? Bring the outdoors inside with this DIY terrarium kit. I actually bought this for a work gift exchange once, and the person who got it said they thought it was the best gift of the whole bunch! If you want to save money and personalize the gift even more, go outside and gather your own materials to create your very own kit.
For the Person Who Gets Mistaken as a Sephora Employee
Love beauty AND everything Disney? Then this Disney X Kiehl’s four-mini mask set is right up your alley. I love sets that contain a variety of products to try, so you don’t have to totally commit. Use code 10TSFA to get 10% off on December 3rd only.
My favorite beauty gifts are the sets that pack a lot of value. Think full-sized bottles for way less. With this volume set, you get a mini shampoo and conditioner, plus a full-size bottle of the Dryspun Finish spray. As someone with thin hair, I think Bumble and Bumble’s thickening line totally works. Plus, the shampoo and conditioner are the perfect size to bring on vacation when the hotel toiletries might not be up to snuff. Post-shampoo, I prefer the lived-in look myself, and the dry spun finish will achieve just that. Fun fact: I tried to smuggle my 4 ounce bottle of Dryspun Finish through TSA once, and that was a bust…
Absolutely love this Le Labo perfume set, and this is on my list of what I want to buy for myself. Have a friend who’s looking for a new scent? Give them the gift of choice with this mini sampler from one of the chicest perfume brands around. Use code 10TSFA to get 10% off on December 3rd only.
For the Person Who’d Rather Support People Over Corporations
You can’t make a gift guide without including at least one thing from Etsy. Living life in a jumble of wires? Make that problem go away with these handmade leather earbud organizers. These organizers come in an array of fun colors, and you can even get your name or initials embossed on them!