Back by the overwhelming demand of anonymous Internet searchers (who are already far ahead of their holiday gift planning than I am!), here’s our list of no fewer than 53 inexpensive holiday gift ideas!
For even more gift ideas, check out our holiday gift guide, with ideas ranging from the under-$50 to the $100 range.
A note: “It’s the thought that counts” is a cliché—a facile way to excuse bad or lazy gift-giving. But, as you’ll see from these picks, it’s really not money, but thoughtfulness, that distinguishes a so-so gift from a great one.

For The Home

A potted plant
Once Christmas is over, the winter months can feel like a dreary, leafless wasteland. A little bit of indoor plant life can inject some much needed green (of the non-$$ variety) into the gloom of January and February. Also great for a friend who’s considering getting a pet or starting a family, and who needs a little practice in keeping something alive.
A nice poster or print in a good frame.
If your friends are anything like 95% of the people in their 20s, their walls are totally bare, or covered up with unframed posters left over from college. Picking out decor for other people is always dicey, but the Internet is full of a lot of talented artists making really cool stuff. Are they really into music? Maybe find a nice concert poster from their favorite band. Are they really into Dr. Who? The Internet is overflowing with fan art, and a unique, high-quality print usually costs no more than $20. Look on Tumblr or Etsy to find out what’s available.
It may take a little searching, of both the Internet and your memory of your friend’s passions, to find just the right print, but it’ll be worth it.
Shop for posters at All Posters.
Decorative recipe cards and a cute little box, with a few of your favorite recipes already inside.
Recipes from a book or the Internet are great, but there’s something especially wonderful about recipes you get from other people. And no need to worry about spilling canola oil all over your iPad.
A kitchen tool or two
It takes a long time to stock your first kitchen, especially with stuff that’s going to last. For that friend who needs basics, think a can opener, potato peeler, or corkscrew. If you want to get fancier, you could go for a garlic press, a potato masher, or a pastry cutter.  Maybe throw in a pretty tea towel for some color.
Ship for kitchen items at Williams-Sonoma.
Scented candles
In those weeks leading up to Christmas, everyone’s house smells of delicious pine. In the weeks after, when that pine tree’s desiccated corpse has been tossed out into the street for trash pickup, a nice scented candle can fill (with a lovely aroma) the void it left behind.
Be mindful, however, that some people were born with very sensitive olfactory senses, and may find strongly scented candles aggravating rather than soothing.
Christmas tree ornament
We all had those favorite ornaments as a kid, the ones we fought with our siblings to be able to put on the tree ourselves, the ones whose origins we didn’t know but whose presence was a cherished part of our childhood. Now that we’re all grown up, it’s time to start building Christmas ornament collections of our own. With each ornament you give, you’re helping your friend get one step closer to not having to throw a whole bunch of those gold balls (that always fall off) on their tree.