2017 Gift Guide: 20 Affordable Gifts for Discerning Millennials

2017 Holiday Gift Guide by The Luxe Strategist

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.

Happy gifting!


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For the Person Whose Heart You Want to Melt

1. Pinhole Press Wall Calendar, $29.99

Pinhole Press Wall Calendar
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

2. Movie Pass Monthly Subscription, $9.95 per monthMovie Pass

“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

3. ‘I Like Expensive Shit’ Calendar, $26.77I Love Expensive Shit Calendar

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

4. Native Union NIGHT Cable, $39.99 Currently on sale for $27.99

Native Union Night Cable

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.

5. Native Union KEY Cable, $13.95

Native Union Lightning Cable

Native Union also has a to-go version where you can charge your phone from any USB port, like a laptop, etc.

6. Anker Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger, $19.99Anker Battery Pack

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

7. Philips Sonicare 2 Toothbrush, On Sale for $24.95

Phillips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush

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

8. Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag, $10

Baggu Blue White Striped Reusable Bag

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

9. Mondrian Color-Changing Mug, $24

Mondrian Color-Changing MugOK, 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

10. Stick-Up Weekly Calendar, $10

Weekly Stickup Notes

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

11. Chocolate and Nut Gift Box, $35

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

12. Premium Chocolate Bars by Compartés, from $9.95 per Bar

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

13. J. Crew End-on-End Pajama Set, $39.50

J. Crew Vintage Pajamas

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

14. Shibori Tie Dye Kit, $11.56

Shibori Dye KitIf 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.

15. Calligraphy Starter Kit, $28

Calligraphy Kit

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

16. DIY Terrarium Kit, $25

DIY Moss Terrarium

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

17. Disney X Kiehl’s Mix & Mask Mini Set, $49

Kiehl's X Disney Mini Mask Set

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.

18. Bumble and Bumble Very Merry Volume Set, $29

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…

19. Le Labo Discovery Set, $30

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

20. Leather Handmade Earbud Organizer, $5.94

Leather Handmade Earbud Organizers from Etsy

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!

What are your favorite gifts to give or receive?

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Gift Guide: 20 Affordable Gifts for Discerning Millennials

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  • Louise

    What a fun list! Colorful, useful, and thoughtful things people wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. If you go the electric toothbrush route, keep in mind the future cost of replacement heads. Rather like having a cheap printer with expensive ink refills, or a lamp with unusual bulbs, make sure the toothbrush total cost is what you want to pay.

    • Hey Louise, thanks! I spent quite a bit of time looking vetting items, so glad you find it useful. Practical gifts are my favorite! With the electric toothbrush, there definitely are “maintenance” costs, but I’d say that anything to maintain your oral health is pretty priceless. I think I spend about $30 on brush heads per year.

      • This is exactly what I was thinking and going to ask! I’ve considered switching before, hubs especially murders toothbrushes because he wants to “feel like I actually brushed them, not just gently caressed them”. But I’m not about to spend $100 on a thing I can get for $6… $25 is finally within my price range! How often do you have to replace the brushes though?

        • You change it when the blue part on the brush fades halfway, so about 3-4 months. I actually just ordered a some brush heads, because I saw a sale: http://amzn.to/2ndPBG0

          It’s only on the 3-count, though. The 4-count is too expensive!

  • So much fun! I’ve stopped buying gifts gradually for the last 3 years or so – not planning to give any this year, I think my friends are used to it now lol – but I’ll keep some of these in mind for just-because gifts.

    (And oh, I don’t enjoy watching movies much; I only go when other people make me. I feel like the odd one out all the time lol.)

    • Yeah, I’ve never bought gifts for my friends, and it’s been totally fine. At least, they’ve never said anything to me. I actually tend to use holidays as a time to stock up on stuff for myself. If I see a deal on something then I’m not NOT going to buy it just because it’s the season for buying for others.

      OK, what kind of weirdo doesn’t like movies??? JK :p

  • randomizationme

    Looking forward to a holiday gift guide after Chrismas 😀

    • Ha, we will see! The sales have been lacking as the years go on, but I’m sure there will be a handful of gems.

  • Sam Zee

    I love this gift guide and I love your blog! (I actually have been reading for a couple months now but am just too lazy to comment until now)

    Definitely just bought the toothbrush for me and my fiance. His birthday is next week and we have a rule where it’s only experiences and/or practical gifts so I figured this would fit. lol. So thank you!

    Totally digging a few things on here for me, and the movie pass is super interesting. I’ll have to look into it!

    • Hey Sam,

      Thanks for the compliments, and for delurking! I love the rule you and your fiance have for gifts. I too have always preferred practical things I’ll actually use over something cute with no utility. Anyway, I’m glad you got the toothbrush! I swear, once you try it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t switch earlier! Now using a manual toothbrush just doesn’t seem to clean as well…

      Sadly, the $7/month promo ended right after I published! I have a few friends that have the pass and they seem pretty happy with it. Definitely look into whether your favorite theaters are covered.

  • GYM

    Everything is super cute!! My sonicare toothbrush was $120 so this $25 seems like a steal! Lately mine has been turning on by itself because moisture got trapped in it so if it completely goes kaput good to know a replacement one is $25.

    • Ohh, do you have the fancy Diamondclean one? That’s my dream toothbrush, haha. Before I got this one, I actually got a fancier Oral-B one that I didn’t like at all. I realized for me, all the extra modes and speeds were unnecessary, and a basic model like mine does the job just fine. $25 is a steal! I think I paid $60 for my first Sonicare, which was way crappier than this one, hehe.

      • Mj D’Arco

        thats worth the ivestment 🙂

      • GYM

        I think I did! I don’t remember I used Shoppers Optimum (a Canadian drugstore) points to pay for it haha.

  • Femme Cents

    My in-laws are retired and I was going to get them a movie theater gift card for Christmas because they go to lots of movies now, so my jaw dropped when I saw the MoviePass subscription. I was just lamenting that I missed the theater’s discounts over Black Friday, but now I think I was meant to miss it for this. That’s such a good deal and I’ve never heard of it before!

    • It’s fate! The Movie Pass was even more discounted a few weeks ago, but it’s still a deal. It’s a little tricky to use the pass, so definitely make sure you read that before pulling the trigger. Good luck!