I should say, "25 Gifts for $25 or Less, None of Which Are Fidget Spinners." After over a year of oversharing the fiddlers' friends, my collection of budget-friendly gifts for this holiday season will snub them altogether.
The following could serve you well in a Secret Santa or white elephant gag exchange, an offering to the host and hostess, a stocking stuffer, or just a tag-team score of a gift that manages to be exactly what s/he wants without breaking the bank.
(Note: All items' prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.)
Outdoor Gear & EDC
Titanium Toothpick $13. What can you do with a titanium toothpick? Why, dig out that bit of popcorn embedded in your molar as you leave a midnight showing of The Shining, and then...stab the eyes out! of the mugger who waits for dazed victims in the alley next to the theater. 100% titanium, weighs 4.4 grams, and comes inside a handy tube for EDC'ing your dental hygiene to work, school, date night, and anywhere your teeth might encounter: spinach; chips; corn on the cob; berries; apples; and BBQ ribs. Happy pickin'.
Boker Lil Friend Micro Fixed Blade Knife $20. Say hello to my Lil Friend. Literally. At just 3.375" long, Boker's Magnum Lil Friend micro fixed blade isn't just small enough to slide into your pocket, it's small enough to slide into the wallet you slide into your pocket. Or more probably, given that the knife comes with a necklace and sheath, small enough to wear around your neck.
StakeLight LED Tent Stakes $18. Simple AAA-battery-operated tent tools that help you locate your tent in the dark, alert other campers to your tent's guy lines, and light the way to a whizz spot when it's 2 a.m. and you don't feel like rooting around for a flashlight.
Spyderco Bug Knife $11. At just 0.4 ounces and 2.875" long when open, this is one of the smallest fully functional slip-joint folding knives you'll see. Its blade is made of 3Cr13 stainless steel and handle of satin-finished stainless. The Bug has a non-locking design, meaning when its blade is extended and in use, resistant pressure holds it open at the pivot area.
Ultralight Canister Camp Stove $10.50. Palm-sized and 3.9 ounces. That is a tiny stove. It's like the Danny DeVito of stoves. No wait, he's kind of rotund. Maybe it's the Danny DeVito's wife of stoves. The Carla from Cheers stove. The ultralight canister camp stove also folds up accordion-style and stows in a equally tiny and durable orange box for transport. I can't really think of anything DeVito / Carla can do comparable to that.
Otter Wax Water-Repellent Fabric Wax $14. Wax on, water off. Otter Wax is a canvas wax handmade (and continuously tested) in soggy Portland, OR to repel water from shoes, bags, packs, hats, and jackets. The compound incorporates only natural drip-and-dew-eschewing waxes and oils, containing no silicone, paraffin, petroleum, or other synthetic ingredients.
Food & Drink
Belgian Bowl Waffle Maker $22. Do you know what this life-altering machine makes? Not a waffle cone bowl, but a full-on, real-live waffle bowl. More specifically, "a 4-inch waffle that's thick, fluffy, and tender." One that I can fill with anything from an egg scramble to an ice cream sundae and devour in a chewy, doughy, hot frenzy! Dude. I gotta go change my shorts.
Scoop THAT! Warming Ice Cream Scoop $20. No batteries or electricity required. The scooping edges are encircled with a ring that absorbs heat transferred from a biodegradable, self-replenishing liquid pooled in the scoop's handle. That is, you hold onto the handle and direct the liquid towards the scoop head, the liquid moves through interior channels to heat up the thermo-ring, and the thermo-ring then heats up the surface of your ice cream just enough to make forming your perfect globe of dairy as easy as eating a giant bowl of it is.
Chef'n Cob Corn Stripper $8. It's not like de-kerneling a corn cob with a knife is hard, but it is hard to do without making a huge mess of kernels and husk remnants and corn juice flying all over the kitchen. And when the precariously positioned cob slips during stripping...hope you like blood in your fresh salsa. Chef'n says their twist & push Cob Corn Stripper removes all hassle associated with fresh corn kernel acquisition. The compact cylinder is lined with stainless steel blades that strip cobs in seconds as you make a single twisting-pushing combo move.
Milk & Cookie Shot Maker $20. A silicone cookie "glass" mold for 6, and a 2-piece melting station for creating a chocolate liner to seal off each cookie cup's interior from instant milk (or hot cocoa, or whiskey) infiltration.
Das Horn Drinking Chalice $25. Marries the formidable grandness of a horned beast's, uh, horn with the sleek design and sturdy material composition of a drinking vessel that doesn't look like a dollar-store tchotchke. 24-ounce capacity, stand for proud display, neck strap to keep your beer close to your heart in between sips.
Das Can-in-Stein Beer Holder $14. Kinda like a sippy cup for beer drinkers. The tankard's lid will keep those who have had too many, or who are just clumsy and deficient of depth perception, from knocking over a full one and ruining the pizza / the Catan board / your pants.
Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated True Pints $25. The 16-ounce glasses primed for backyard BBQs, hot days at the beach, or a night by the fire are Hydro Flask's fusion of the superior insulating performance they established with their water bottles, and the look and feel of a traditional glass pint. The company says they've even designed True Pint lips to feel like you're drinking from a glass rather than a puffed rail of metal. The lip also has a slight interior angle to facilitate a smoother pour and better release of your brew's aromatics. And unlike pint glasses, True Pints are stackable without risk of sticking or shatter.
The Chambong $25. The Chambong is an elegant glass vessel used for the "rapid and enhanced" (and elegant!) consumption of sparkling wine. Just mind the bubbles, whose population density in champers is apparently, like, 4 times what it is in beer, as evidenced by an experience I had with my ex-girlfriend Karen in which we were at a fine dining restaurant and I attempted to down an entire glass of Moet before storming out in hurt and anger over her heartless words, but instead ended up choking and convulsing and gripping my throat croaking, "It burns! It burns!"
Handy Household Items
Mistaken Lyrics Coasters $25. Bright Beam Goods has gathered up some of the most common, and most hilarious, mistaken lyrics and laser-engraved them on 4" square cork coasters. Mistaken Lyrics Coasters come in sets of 6, and are categorized by era, theme, or your own custom selections. Classic Rock, 80s, 90s, 2000s, Hip Hop, Inappropriate, and even a Meat Lover's pack feature one mistaken lyric on each coaster. It will be up to your guests to figure out which song it's from though. That information is included only in a key on the back of the set's box.
SmartCharge Power Outage Light Bulbs $23. Electricity is one of those things we don't typically give much thought to until we don't have it. Or until we get struck by lightning. And while SmartCharge LED light bulbs will not un-fry your brain from the latter, the energy efficient screw-ins will charge up while the power is on so that you'll continue to have light most anywhere you normally would during an outage.
FatIvan Fold Up Door Chock $16. An alternative to a bulky wedge or angle iron, the FatIvan is an easy tool that hooks over any hinge to hold a door in its Open Sesame! position. And despite its mother's choice of name, the FatIvan is lightweight and folds completely flat when not in use, so you - be you a firefighter, a construction worker, or a mama lugging a ton of groceries into the house - can carry it around in a pocket or bag with little hassle.
Electrical Storm Dual USB Power Adapter $11. This internal electrical storm belongs to a 2-amp USB power outlet adapter from Momen. The charger has a pair of USB ports suitable for mobile phones, tablets, and any other USB device. Its 1A / 2A output allows for plugging in an iPhone and iPad simultaneously without sacrificing charging speed.
Fun, Funky & Novelty
Ramen Hoodie $22 to $24. "Eat it or wear it," that's what my grandma used to say. It was meant to be a threat, but now that I see this delightfully loud and obnoxious Ramen Hoodie, I think I would like to retroactively choose the latter. I'll wear it, Grandma.
The Brief Safe $16. Buying a pair of men's underwear that have been pre-shat-upon isn't just for, wamp, wamp, shits and grins. The Brief Safe has been specially designed to trigger gag reflexes as a means of keeping the wandering eyes...and hands...of hotel cleaning staff, TSA officials and airport baggage handlers, probably even nosy wives and girlfriends away from the most sensitive belongings we own that can fit inside a 4" x 10" pouch.
Flowering Penis Mug $12 to $16. For all the ladies (and fellas!) who count floral patterns and penises amongst their favorite things, have I got a mug of a gift for you. Clothing and accessory brand HUMAN goes for a very anatomical part of being one here with their flowering penis coffee mug. Look closely, it's a cock-tical illusion!
Refillable Sriracha Keychain $13. Sriracha2Go arrives as an empty 1.25-ounce bottle, ready for filling with your favorite rooster sauce.
Punchable USB-Connected Enter Key Pillow $15. Need to blow off some stress? Just hit Enter. Hard. This USB-connected Enter Key Pillow redefines what it means to punch a QWERTY key. In the best, best possible way. Hook the oversized, tetromino-style pillow into a USB port on your existing setup and let your iron fist step in for your delicate pinky finger whenever it's time to go hard on the Return.
100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings $12. Endeavors to teach us "how to appear smart in less than half the time it takes to actually learn anything." Constant nodding. Rhetorical questions. Trying to Use the Force to make it seem like you're focused and concentrating really, really hard on Bob's Q4 wrap-up slides. Author Sarah Cooper notes that with practice these little ploys can become part of you. So ingrained and subtle that no one will think you have Tourette's or bad constipation, they'll just think you're super, mad, wicked smart.
Star Wars Sunshade $15. No matter how old it gets it never gets old.