When you have decided that $20 is all you want to spend for a gift, stick with that limit.
When cash is tight or you have many people to shop for, finding an affordable gift that makes a lasting impression can be a major challenge. Staying within budget is important, though.
According to McKinsey’s 2023 holiday shopping survey, 79% of consumers say this year they are swapping their purchases for cheaper alternatives or forgoing purchases altogether.
If you have $20 to spare, here are 12 impressive ideas appropriate for a variety of people:
1. The Live Music Lover: National Independent Venue Association Gear
If you know someone who is really into the live and local music scene, check out the items from the National Independent Venue Association. They have an extensive array of merchandise from more than 45 iconic music venues throughout the country.
Just a few examples are the Spybar, Chicago bucket hat at $20 and the X-Ray Race Team T-shirt for just $10 from the X-Ray Arcade in Milwaukee. Even better, the proceeds benefit independent venues, promotors and festivals.
2. The Tea Lover: VAHDAM India packages
For some people, tea isn’t just a beverage – it’s a ritual. For them, a VAHDAM India package may be the perfect item. The Himalayan green tea tin gift set is $14.99. Find a unique cup for $5 or less from a second-hand store and it becomes an even more special gift.
3. The Coffee Lover: Methodical Coffee
If the person you want to give to is really into coffee, the most premium of beans can be a valued gift. A 12- ounce bag of Blue Boy from Methodical Coffee is $18.90, and it comes in a beautiful bag inspired by the artwork of Thomas Gainsborough. Again: Add an inexpensive mug and you have a complete gift.
4. The Mobile Device Lover: Shutterfly Custom Phone Case
Know somebody who is never without their phone? Of course you do. For just $26.99, you can have any photo or picture super imposed on a phone case from Shutterfly.
Think about the possibilities. It could be an image of the two of you on vacation, their favorite flower or a drawing that you made just for them. Every time they pick up their device, they’ll be reminded that you cared enough to create a one-of-a-kind item.
5. The Retro Lover: Old Spice Fragrances
Whether you know someone who has been wearing a classic scent for decades or is into retro fashion, a gift that harkens back to another era is perfect. For example, Old Spice launched in 1937. While designer fragrances from department stores can easily run more than $100, brands available at drugstores and discount retailers can get a lot for your money, too. The Old Spice bodywash holiday gift pack is only $10 at Walmart.
6. The Beauty Sleep Lover: Morning Glamour Satin Pillowcases
Beauty influencers have been promoting satin pillowcases for ages because they help smooth skin and hair. While such products seem luxurious, a pack of two from Morning Glamour will run you just $11.79 on Amazon. The pillowcases come in a wide variety of colors, too, so you can buy them in the recipient’s favorite color, further personalizing the gift.
7. The Good Energy Lover: Modern Supply White Sage
It’s been a tough year for many people. If you know someone who’s had it particularly rough and who believes in the healing power of waving bad energy away, you may consider an aromatic bundle of organic white sage from Modern Supply, retailing at $18. It shows you’ve been listening and that you care, especially if you include a meaningful card.
8. The Trendy Cocktail Lover: Frankford Espresso Martini Kit
That person who is always up on the latest trends knows that the espresso martini is the hottest drink to order. This coffee-flavored cocktail is delicious, but can be expensive when purchased from a swanky bar. Now they can make their own with the Frankford espresso martini kit for just $15.99 from Walgreens. It contains everything except the alcohol (typically vodka) but they can also make mocktails by skipping the booze entirely.
9. The Monogram Lover: Swift Home Embroidered Monogram Throw Blanket
A warm blanket can be a sumptuous gift on its own, but it becomes even better when it sports the person’s initial. Having an item specially monogrammed can be pricey, but the Swift Home embroidered monogram throw blanket from Kohl’s is $17.99. It will make the person feel special every time they wrap themselves up in it.
10. The TikTok Generation Makeup Lover: ARY World’s Power Face Pallet
Since when did the wildest shades of cosmetics become a thing? You may not know it but the Gen Zer in your life most likely does. Curated compilations can be very expensive, often exceeding $40. The ARY World power face palette, created by social media star Alex Renee (who has more than 7 million TikTok followers) is only $18.
11. The Bedtime Reader: Glocusent Rotatable Book Light
Gadgets can be some of the best presents, especially when they meet a need. Reading at night while trying not to disturb a partner can be a pain. The Glocusent rotatable book light, which is currently $12.99 on Amazon, solves that problem. They’ll get just the right angle and evenly distributed light with five different brightness levels. Add a book they’ve been wanting to read and you have an unforgettable combination.
12. The Travel Lover: Scratch the World Travel Edition Map
Whether the person you know has already been globetrotting or is about to embark on an adventure, keeping track with an interactive map is exciting. The Scratch the World travel edition map is only $14.99 on Etsy. After each visit, the recipient can scratch off the country. It’s a beautiful way to inspire future vacations and remember past trips.
Respect Your Financial Limits
When you have decided that $20 is all you want to spend for a gift, stick with that limit. The McKinsey survey also found that 71% of consumers prefer to use credit cards to pay for their holiday purchases, more than any other payment method.
Credit cards are secure, convenient and many have valuable rewards programs, but be careful. There is no reason to go overboard and end up with bills that you can’t repay quickly.
Track spending as you go along and stop charging before the balance is above what you budgeted. The last thing you want to do is add to that figure, then have to plan for credit card debt repayment long into the new year.
Erica SandbergNov. 20, 2023