When shopping for holiday gifts, deciding how much to spend on each person can be really hard. How much do you really want to spend on Aunt Susan (who never fails to give you unsolicited advice on your love life)? Should you splurge on your brother-in-law because you like him best (sometimes even more than your sister)?
Over the last couple years, I’ve found a way to work around that painful exercise: I fix a single budget across the board, an outer limit, if you will—for all my family and friends. This year, somehow, I’ve landed at $30. And I think that might just be the magic number! With a gift around $30, you’re giving more than a stocking stuffer, but not an investment item. You can afford something substantial and thoughtful—a present that’s more original and less fleeting than a bottle of wine (although no one would scoff at that!).
And as I’ve discovered, there are countless treasures to be found under the $30 mark, from specialty mustards to sheet pans and disposable cameras. And because I’ve done the homework, you don’t have to. So here are my 30 favorite gifts under $30, sorted from “price: low to high.” You’re very welcome.
Founded by Dan Barber, the chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, this seed company aims to engineer a brand new type of produce optimized for flavor. Any ambitious gardener will jump at the opportunity to grow this sweet, little pumpkin that’s a cross between two beloved squash varieties.
2. WizGear Air Vent Magnetic Phone Mount, $8.49
This magnetic phone mount clips into your car’s air vent and attaches to your phone via a thin magnet you place at the back of it. Now you can follow directions or change the music without ever picking up your device.
3. Maldon Sea Salt, $10.95
Counting chefs and home cooks around the world as devoted fans, this 137-year-old English sea salt is a magical seasoning agent, with the ability to transform a dish instantly.
Playing cards never go out of style. This deck of 52 features contemporary artistic renditions of the country’s iconic natural wonders. As a bonus, a percentage of the sales go to the National Parks Conservation Association.
Collectors of writing instruments will no doubt fawn over this wooden mechanical pencil (that also comes with a sharpener and extra lead). Its design is something like American schoolhouse meets Japanese simplicity and it glides across paper like a dream.
6. Carhartt A18 Watch Hat, $14.99
A wintertime gem since 1987, the A18 is a classic beanie that started its life as utilitarian workwear but has come to symbolize stylish streetwear.
This bright gradient puzzle is harder than it looks, but so much fun to figure out. Once finished, it turns into a colorful piece of art.
8. Fujifilm Disposable Camera, $15
You know how every time you go on a trip, you wish you had a disposable camera, but then never actually buy one? Well, now you can fill that void.
9. Moglea Painted Journal, $16
Iowa-based letterpress studio Moglea specializes in beautiful hand-painted paper goods. This 50-page journal offers is just begging to be filled with poems—or scribbles.
Ella Frances Sanders uses intricate illustration and thoughtful articulation to ask and answer the big questions about the universe, the solar system, and the world, marveling at the way nature works in a way that’s both visually and intellectually powerful.
Seedlip is intent on making sure that partygoers who don’t drink don’t feel left out. Grove 42 is a zesty, citrus-forward non-alcoholic spirit that plays very nicely with tonic and an orange peel twist.
12. Fortnum & Mason Hot English Mustard, $18.95
Popular among mustard lovers everywhere, this hot version from across the pond will not disappoint. Once I became a fan, ham sandwiches suddenly felt very bare without it.
13. Vintage inspired food ornaments, $19.20
I cannot think of one person who wouldn’t love one of these food ornament sets. My favorite? The coffee and bagel set, for the New Yorker. Or New Yorker at heart.
Run by a group of “nice girls,” Little Words Project is dedicated to spreading kindness and self-love with handcrafted bracelets that feature inspirational words. Each bracelet comes with a registration code that unlocks access to a community of supportive women.
15. Five Two Wool Dryer Balls, $20
The gift of a lifetime of fluffy laundry. Imagine that! These colorful wool spheres will also cut drying time down by 25 percent, so you're also giving them the gift of time.
16. Sleep Master Sleep Mask, $21.95
Even people who find sleep masks wildly uncomfortable will fall for this one. No more pesky elastic strap! This mask goes all the way around the head, completely eliminating light and reducing sound.
17. Ekobo Bento Lunch Box, $22
This color-blocked bento lunch box is made of bamboo fiber, a durable, eco-friendly material. It’s ideal for meals on-the-go, with removable containers to separate out your foods.
18. P.F. Candle Co. Sandalwood Rose, $24
This candlemaker’s scents draw directly from nature, and I'm partial to the smooth, floral, and woody Sandalwood. Apothecary-inspired, amber-colored jars sweeten the deal, as does the fact that the candles are vegan and cruelty-free.
These reusable silicone sandwich bags are a fun, sustainable alternative to the single-use plastic storage bags of yore. Dishwasher- and microwave-safe, think of them as the pastel, non-toxic home for snacks and leftovers.
20. Five Two Silicone Straws, $25
We don’t need to rant on about the problem of single-use plastic, because you know it well already. These carry-everywhere-you-go silicone straws are bendable, eco-friendly, and ever so pretty.
21. Great Jones Holy Sheet, $25
A true cook knows the value of a quality sheet pan for quick, mess-free meals. This vibrant, blueberry-hued one is made of aluminized steel with ceramic non-stick coating, so it can withstand extreme heat without warping—and is easy to clean.
22. Hay Watering Can, $25
Plant parenthood is all the rage, and this sleek watering can belongs among your succulents and cacti. The design is as functional as it is beautiful—an elongated spout makes watering super easy.
From cheese board to condiment display centerpiece, the uses for this acacia board are endless. It has a natural, forest aura that adds beauty to any table.
Experienced bakers know the invaluable tool that is the dough scraper. This baking essential is not just for scraping dough off of sticky surfaces (though it does that flawlessly)—it also allows you to precisely cut and measure dough.
25. Stojo Collapsible To-Go Cup, $25
Everyone's favorite lightweight, easy-to-store, even-easier-to-carry, collapsible cup in an extra-roomy size! For double your morning smoothie or piping-hot coffee.
Artist Tabitha Page creates the most delicate watercolors of plants and animals. For her 2020 calendar, she takes her cues from an herb garden featuring 13 of our favorite garnishes.
27. Fog Linen Coated Tray, $28
Created from linen coated in polyester resin, this rustic Japanese-made tray has the textured appearance of fabric yet maintains a smooth, hard surface. We love it for everything from serving as display for tchotchkes to serving us breakfast in bed.
28. Hydro Flask 10oz Wine Tumbler, $29.95
Take it to the mountains, the poolside, or the fire-pit. This wine tumbler maintains wine’s temperature with its double wall insulation, holds two standard glasses, and prevents spills.
29. Thera Cane Massager, $29.95
A professional Swedish massage might be out of this year's budget, but this cane-shaped massager will work out all your knots and comes in just under. The aerodynamic design of this tool allows you to target trigger points to relieve tension—no help needed.
30. Ginkgo Japanese Butter Knife, $30
Cold butter has nothing on this expert shaver. Watch bricks of hard butter yield to its touch, turning into delicate curly tendrils. Your toast will thank you.
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