It’s the most wonderful time of the year — though for many of us, it’s also the most expensive.
But holiday shopping doesn’t have to fill you with dread. In fact, you might not even have to shop at all.
Try your hand at some DIY gifts, or maybe give a creative IOU. For example, one year I gave family members Christmas cards promising one free baked good of their choice at any time. (What can I say? I have a reputation as the family baker.)
There’s also the gift of experience to consider. Chances are your loved ones would enjoy some quality time more than any fancy new gadget.
But sometimes, it can’t be helped: You need to have a gift you can wrap and set under the tree. “One trip to the beach with yours truly” might not cut it during the annual office game of White Elephant.
Even if you’re not crafty or a good cook, you can find tons of great gifts on the cheap.
Look, we’ll prove it! Check out our list of 40 great cheap gifts you can score for $10 or less.
Note: All prices are accurate as of Nov. 20, 2019.
Around the House
These great holiday gift ideas will please everyone on your list — not just the homebodies!
1. Novelty Tea Infusers: $9.95
Got a sloth-loving tea enthusiast on your list? This tea infuser is dishwasher-safe and super cute. Or try this adorable Mr. Tea infuser, who looks like he’s enjoying a hot soak in your cup, for $8.16.
2. Cat Coffee Cup Cozy: $9.00
Who doesn’t love sipping a hot cuppa while curled up on a frosty day? For the friend whose lap cat will inevitably complete that picture, consider this cute hand-crocheted cozy. They could even use it at coffee shops and help save paper sleeves.
3. Kitty Wine Stopper: $8.14
Maybe the cat lady in your life is more of a wino than a java junkie. This adorable wine stopper will keep bottles fresh between glasses.
Oh, and don’t forget —
4. Kitty Wine Glass Markers: $8.95
— so your friend won’t lose her glass when she hosts parties!
5. Cheese Knives: $7.95 each
The only thing I love more than wine and chocolate is cheese. Just one of these knives takes a plate of cheese from an appetizer to a display worthy of any get-together.
6. Emoji Ice Cube Molds: $9.90
OK, I’m a total geek, I know. But it turns out the powers that be make a ton of affordable novelty ice molds — and I, for one, would be thrilled to have my drink cooled off by smiley faces ($9.90), sea creatures ($7.99) or penguins ($5.49).
7. Bonsai Tree Seeds: $2.99
If you know a green thumb who’s interested in making a new hobby of an ancient tradition, these bonsai seeds might be perfect — although the substrate and container are not included.
8. Adorable “Nest” Succulent Plant Display: $6.50 plus plant
It doesn’t take a green thumb to throw a plant into a pot.
With these nest and the succulents you can buy at Trader Joe’s or Home Depot for $2 to $3 apiece, you’ll spend about $9 per recipient of each adorable final display.
Receiving soap as a gift is far from insulting when the products look good enough to eat! There are tons of options on Etsy or at your local craft fair, but higher-traffic brick-and-mortar stores offer quality products at only slightly higher prices.
10. Stretchy Bookmark: $7
Do you know a bookworm who frequently loses their place? No more with this stretchy, silicone bookmark, which will point at the exact line where they leave off.
11. Scarf Hanger: $9.97
I know I struggle with storage tactics for my plethora of scarves, which have ended up just bunched up into a storage box. This hanger displays and organizes scarves (or belts! or ties!) in your closet so they’re easily accessible and wrinkle-free.
12. Light Bulb Bud Vase: $3 to $4.99
Look how pretty this is! Look how simultaneously slightly-nerdy it is! Plus, it’s super cheap, especially if you buy them in bulk (shopping list: done).
I want one. (Or five.)
13. Fancy Candles: $9
Or, you could get the candle itself.
A beautiful scented candle can brighten any space. If you’re shopping for 50 or more people, you could even check out listings for wedding favors and get a really nice gift quite cheaply (like a bit over a buck a piece).
14. Vintage Ceramic Dish: $10
Whether it’s to wrangle stray jewelry or set down a spent tea bag, these little dishes work for anyone on your list and won’t cost you much at all.
15. Personal Photos: 25 cents
There’s just something about a tangible photo that the digital file lacks. You can get prints of your best memories online at vendors like Mpix for cents on the dollar; or you can check out what Target and Walmart have to offer.
You don’t have to buy a frame — you could string up your photos with wooden clothespins for a cheap, but romantic, option. Many vendors also sell canvas prints or other configurations of your photos at good prices.
If you do go shopping for frames, though, you can find cheap ones in a variety of sizes.
16. Just Crunch Anti-Soggy Cereal Bowl: $6.99
Nothing ruins your Raisin Bran like a slightly too-long milk bath. Get the breakfast lover in your life this bowl to keep her crunching all the way through the Saturday morning news — or cartoons.
On a similar note:
17. French Fry Dipping Cone: $5.99
Dishwasher safe and not just for fries, this is a convenient and attractive way to serve finger foods and dip. Less mess on the cheap! What’s not to love?
18. Flexible Pot Clips: $7.99
For your aspiring-chef friend who’s still a little messy in the kitchen. Help them get organized and stop splattering chili on your countertops with this convenient gadget.
The way to pretty much anyone’s heart is through the stomach. Even if you’re no gourmand, you can give awesome edible gifts this holiday season!
19. Beer Marshmallows: $8.50
If you’re feeling generous (or have a serious marshmallow fiend on your list), you can even give the gift of a monthly ‘mallow membership. The dangerous things I learn at work…
20. Good Chocolate: $5 or less
This listing on Amazon is $17 for six bars, which means you’d spend about $3 on each lucky recipient. But you can head to your local grocery store and stalk the candy aisle for lots of options for less than $5.
If you want to get really fancy, some single-origin, small-batch chocolate bars can cost up to $10 or even more — but are well worth the price to the true chocolate snob on your list (hint, hint)!
21. Good Tea: $10
Shop around; there are tons of flavors available. Plus, lots of tea bags come in pretty, reusable tins that serve as decorative organization — all for less than $10.
22. Really (Really) Good Honey: $7
Once upon a time, I didn’t even like honey.
Then, I discovered Stubbees, which specializes in raw, creamed, flavored honeys. Pioneered by a 21-year-old beekeeper in the Jacksonville, Florida, area (and sold in local coffee shops while I lived there), this honey isn’t just delicious, it supports a cool small business co-founded by a young entrepreneur.
The cinnamon flavor is the best, but there are tons of flavors to choose from, including seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and vanilla bean.
23. Gourmet Barbecue Sauces: $7.95
There’s nothing like good barbecue sauce to put the finishing touch on a backyard grilling session.
24. Cookie or Brownie Mix in a Jar: $3
You don’t have to be super-crafty to DIY a great gift! Mason jars usually come in packages of 12 for a little over a dollar apiece — or, check out your local thrift store to find ‘em for as low as a quarter.
Then, scour the web for tons of creative recipe ideas. In most cases, the ingredients for a single jar shouldn’t cost you more than a dollar, especially if you’re planning to make quite a few and buy your sugar and flour in bulk.
Write an instruction card for your recipient and decorate the jar with ribbon. You just gave someone a cheap, useful and beautiful gift!
For Friends at Work or Secret Santa
You might not know some folks on your list that well; maybe you only see them around the office. Here are some non-Starbucks-gift-card gift options.
25. Daily Mood Desktop Flipbook: $9.64
For the social media junkie in the office whose Facebook feed is full of updates — whether she’s tired, cranky or ecstatic.
This flipbook is a cute cubicle addition with 47 moods to choose from, complete with snarky definitions and translation into Pig Latin.
26. The Seven-Year Pen: $8.95
Work with someone who takes a ton of notes? This unassuming, eco-friendly pen can write five and a half feet per day for seven years! That’s a lot of on-hold scribbling for a bit over a buck a year.
And since it looks like Seltzer Goods is offering free shipping for the holidays, you won’t have to double the price just to get the pen delivered!
27. Mini Tabletop Zen Garden: $9.99
Got a coworker who could use a mini vacation? Help her relax and focus with this thrifty desktop zen garden.
28. Cute Food-Themed Erasers: $6.99
Come on, these are pretty adorable, right? A quick, cheap, safe bet for any secret Santa recipient — even if you only ever exchange niceties around the Keurig.
Wearables and Accessories
Buying for a fashionista this year? Here are some options.
29. Scarves: $10 or less
You can never go wrong with scarves. They’re fashionable and versatile, and come in enough colors to get your loved ones a couple. Plus, your recipient will have a use for the scarf hanger listed above!
30. Funky Fingerless Gloves: $8.75
Keep your loved one’s hands warm with these gloves — they’re stylish and still let you use your touch screen.
31. Tiny Golden Heart Earrings: $10
These studs are unassuming, but adorable — they’d go with anything. You can also find tiny flowers ($3.99) or even this adorable bunny and carrot set ($9.58) for the pierced person on your shopping list.
32. Wildflower Crown Knitting Pattern: $3.50
If you’re crafty, you could make a friend this everlasting flower crown (cute!) for $3.50 plus the cost of yarn. If you know a crafty person, you could give her the pattern itself as a gift!
33. T-Shirts: $6
Since there are so many options, you’re sure to find something for anyone on your list. Even those hard-to-buy-for folks who seem to have everything need T-shirts!
Threadless has lots of funky designs and often has sales that take their tees to less than $10.
Geekery and Other Useful Stuff
From on-the-go light to blank pages to carry in your pocket, these gifts will make any geek on your list grin.
34. Credit Card Lightbulb: $8.80
Ever get home late at night and can’t get your key in the door? Or maybe you’re out at a bar and someone loses an earring? No more scrambling to keep your cell phone screen active. Flip open your wallet and save the day!
35. Cell Phone Propper-Upper: $5.69
Is your techy friend getting carpal tunnel from holding her phone so much?
This little gadget holds up your Android or iPhone so you can scroll through the screen with ease. Since it has suction cups, you can even attach it to your windshield to use your GPS.
Want a more stylish option? Try the Pumped Up smartphone stand for $10 or the tongue-in-cheek Banana Stand for $6.76. And at a price like that, “Arrested Development” fans will be pleased to learn there’s always money in the banana stand, after all.
36. Cable Management System: $8.51
Wires, wires everywhere. How many of us suffer from this problem? This cable management system is sleek and would help streamline anyone’s workspace.
37. Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Keychain: $6.88
For the die-hard Harry Potter fan on your list, you can’t go wrong with a useful item that costs less than $7.
38. Novelty USB Flash Drive: $8.99
Everyone needs portable storage these days, so why not pick a cute flash drive?
Even better: Fill it with fun personal stuff, like date photos or favorite songs. It’s the 21st century mix tape!
39. Pocket Notebooks: $9.95 for three
Maybe I’m a little biased (I am writer after all), but you can never go wrong with pocket notebooks.
Moleskines are quality, beautiful and come in lots of different colors, and you get three for less than $10!
40. Gift Cards: $10 or less
A $10 gift card to Starbucks or Panera can actually get you a decent amount of stuff, and you might even be able to buy it for less than $10!
Jamie Cattanach is a contributing writer whose writing has also been featured at The Write Life, Word Riot, Nashville Review and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.