Unique Gifts for $50 or Less
Before putting together a list of unique gifts for $50 or less, I spent some time thinking about what the dollar-or-less number should be. How much do people spend on gifts, and on individual gifts, these days? I feel like $20 used to be a good price - not so expensive it leaves behind a scar, but also not so cheap you can't find anything that doesn't look like it cost a lot more.
But $20 was, like, at least a decade ago. We've had to deal with a lot of inflation and Apple setting pricing standards since then. What's normal for "Thoughtful, but not going to create a Santa Claus sack of credit card debt" these days?
Note: If you're wondering why I don't have at least one data point from my own experience, it's because a few years ago I decided to make it a practice to only receive presents from, not buy them for others.
Studies suggest the average person spends around $1,000 on holiday gifts. More if they're a parent with spoiled-ass kids, such as my own mama. So I figure if you've got $1,000 total to dole out, $50 for a single gift, and maybe the sole gift, for a single person is within reason today.
Oh, also in compiling my list of $50 or less giftables, I tried to pick items you haven't already seen in every other online holiday gift roundup, or heard about from Oprah, Ellen, and Hoda. So it's not just a list of gifts for $50 or less, but a list of unique gifts for $50 or less.
Note: Prices are indicated as they were at printing. All prices are subject to change.
Goat Mug - Viking Horn Insulated Coffee Mug
We've seen Viking drinking horns that hold brew before, but the Goat Mug takes a different approach with the word, showing off its arcing conical shape in the form of an insulated drink carrier designed especially for brews of the coffee and tea persuasions.
They come in 12- and 16-ounce sizes, and include a slip-on insulating sleeve you can convert into a stand when it comes to dealing with how to set a pointy-edged object filled with liquid on a flat surface. Each Goat Mug also comes with 2 detachable straps, one that fits over the wrist, and the other that affixes to the 2 ends of the mug, allowing you to carry it over your shoulder or, for the supreme hipsters, cross-body.
Fallen AT-AT Tape Dispenser
Want to stick it to the Empire? Take down their AT-ATs with this secret weapon: a roll of tape. As my mama always told me when she was patching my coats and jeans and open wounds, never underestimate the power of a good adhesive.
Cast Iron Shrimp Grill & Serving Pan
Use this cast iron shrimp grill and serving pan to cook shrimp on the barbie, and you'll have a much better chance of eating shrimp off the barbie. The sturdy slab has cutouts for up to 22 jumbo shrimp, which it says it will grill to perfection in a "pool of flavor," without sacrificing a single crustacean to the abyss between the grill grates, or to the sticky, greedy skin of the grates themselves.
After smoking up your shrimp on the BBQ, you can use the cast iron pan as a serving dish to save dirtying another platter, or ignore the grill altogether, stick it in the fridge, and use the pan as a shrimp cocktail server.
Toilet Paper Blasters Skid Shot
"Holy sheets!" they say. The Skid Shot from Toilet Paper Blasters can fire toilet paper up to 30', with an entire roll of please-don't-squeeze-the-Charmin loaded on its side post. But this isn't TP the trees-style shooting. The blaster feeds the toilet paper into a chamber, where it mixes with water stored in a reservoir on top to create spitball ammunition. Weeee! Biodegradable warfare!
ZipStitch - Close Wounds Without Stitches
A weird choice of gift, perhaps, but think of all the injuries that happen around the cooking up of holiday feasts, and the boozing up at holiday parties. And think of the wait time at the ER! According to ZipStitch, this suturing alternative is "the only surgical-quality wound closure device available without a prescription."
Each "zipper" consists of 4 stacked closures secured inside a translucent bandage-y thing with an adhesive backing. You can place a single ZipStitch over an open wound up to 1-1/2" long. Once in place, pull on the eye handle ends of each closure to tighten it, and pull your skin hole shut. If your laceration is larger than 1-1/2", apply multiple ZipStitches.
Air Jordan Sneaker Candles
For years Air Jordan sneakers have been preserved and immortalized in various ways. Some people wear them until their toes pop out the uppers. Some buy two pairs, and keep one boxed in mint condition to pass down to their children. Some put them in glass display cases running the entire length of their closet, which is the size of my whole condo.
Ivan Iarmin, through his shop What the Shape, takes a different approach: he encases his Air Jordans in wax and then lights them on fire.
Nah, just kidding. He makes molds of the Nike sneaker editions and turns them into candles. Palm-sized, not Shaq-, or even MJ-sized candles.
The Neck Hammock
The Neck Hammock, though possibly born out of the other end of the body's being jealous of the Foot Hammock, is not intended to be a gimmick or gag gift. From its dangling position on any door, railing, or pole, this body-part-specific cradle was designed to reduce pressure and compression in the upper body, and serve as a supportive platform for your head and neck in the supine (i.e., on-your-back) position. According to Neck Hammock, using the sling for 10 minutes or less per session can help address neck and shoulder pain, tension headaches, poor circulation, and mobility limitations.
Luminoodle LED TV Backlight
If you've been using your noodle you've probably learned how valuable a bendy rope of lights can be. And now your flexible, adaptable, bright-burning noodle has a new form with yet another application: TV backlighting. The Luminoodle TV sticks around the perimeter of the back of your flat screen to provide ambient lighting during viewing. It's an alternative to dealing with the glare of a lamp turned on in front of the television, and helps eliminate the eye strain and dryness that can come with watching a bright screen in a dark room.
Toferner Medieval Celtic Knife
Part history, part art, part utilitarian, part Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Toferner's Celtic knife is hand forged from 14260 spring steel. Its fixed blade measures 3.54", and overall length is 6.89". The knife also comes with the pictured fitted leather case.
Beer Caramelizer Campfire Tool
"Throw another lager on the fire," says the Beer Caramelizer. Yuk, yuk, yuk, a flavor-enhancing campfire tool after my own heart.
The Beer Caramelizer calls itself the adult version of roasting marshmallows, adding another dimension both to your beers, ciders, and cocktails, and your campfire experience. Made of food-grade stainless steel, the rod will take about 20 minutes in the campfire to glow red hot for its first use. Dipping just the tip in your drink for 2 to 3 seconds activates the caramelization process, and won't turn your cold beer warm.
Fingerlings Untamed T-Rex Interactive Dinosaurs
With their Untamed T-Rex interactive dinosaur toys, Fingerlings has finally mastered the gift for your kid that is also a gift for yourself. And don't forget to collect all 4 to display on
your desktop his nightstand!
I have to admit, I thought Fingerlings were kind of cute even before the Rrraawwrr! Untamed T-Rex version of the digit huggers came out. And Ironjaw, Scratch, Tracker, and Ripsaw here have more than affirmed my appreciation for them. Like their monkey, sloth, and unicorn counterparts, the dinosaurs interact with their owners via responsive sounds, motions, and touch.
Shirt Battle NFL-Star Wars Mashup T-Shirts
Shirt Battle's NFL-Star Wars Mashup T-Shirts are making me question everything I've ever known! I don't like the Atlanta Falcons, but...the Atlanta Millennium Falcons? And the Dallas Cowboys can suck it, but the Dallas Kenobis? Argh. May the Force be with them both.
These crafty combos of America's favorite sport and America's favorite film both boggle my mind and make a me a little giddy. Artist Steven Klock designed the T-shirts transforming all 32 NFL teams into members of the National Intergalactic League, with representation from both the Dark Side and the Light. Star Wars characters, beasts, war machines, and other icons meld into NFL team logos, with some playing on the team name (New York Jedis, Seattle Ewoks, Tusken Raiders) and others on their logo design (New Orleans Squadrons, Los Angeles Starfighters.)
Snittens - The Original Snot Mittens
First there were mittens, then there were Shittens, and now there are Snittens. Mittens sewn with soft and luxurious fabrics able to absorb 28 times their weight in tears and snot, so the next time you're out in the cold and need to wipe your eyes or blow your nose, you can skip the tissues and the handkerchiefs, the sleeves and the bodily fluid projectiles. With Snittens you can make those waterworks and snot rockets disappear right into your hand.
Handheld Oregon Trail Game
I like how the plug for this handheld version of Oregon Trail (best Apple IIGS computer game ever!) is "Learn about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail." Because when I used to play it, learn I did. Learn indeed. Here's what I learned:
- The plural of "ox" is "oxen."
- If you don't like your little brother, don't worry, he'll probably die of typhoid. Or starve.
- Or at least get a nasty case of dysentery, which is..."What's dysentery, Miss Dunkelberg? What, look it up in the dictionary? Hmmm, let's see here. Dysentery is...hehehehe! Cornelius! Dysentery is Diarrhea, pthhpthh, diarrhea, pthhpthh!"
- Buffalo move fast! They are hard to shoot down with your mouse even when everyone in your starving, dysentery-afflicted family is depending on you to get one.
IUP OH! - Jenga-Style Sushi Tower Game
IUP OH! has way more stacked on its sushi rice than a Jenga tower. This game of don't knock over the nigiri is: 1) played with included chopsticks, which is going to be awesome for people like me, who drop pieces of sushi when they're just trying to inelegantly shove them from tray to mouth, and therefore have zero hope of moving them from between criss-crossed stacks ascending into a precariously balanced tower; and 2) actually a nine-tuplet of games in one, with sushi pieces playing the roles of Japanese chess or dominoes pieces too.
Star Wars Nerf Han Solo Blaster
Oh boy, Nerf has fitted the Han Solo Blaster with GlowStrike technology, which charges the sidearm's foam darts to make them glow with galactic plasma when fired, and is admittedly pretty cool. The blaster's internal clip holds the 4 included darts, which Han wannabes can access by pulling the scope back to load, and then pushing it forward to prime and turn on the GlowStrike charger.
The Han Solo Blaster has additional lighting effects as well, along with laser blast sound effects. Nerf darts fire up to 70'.
Gentlemen's Hardware 12-in-1 Kitchen Multi-Tool
I'm not sure how practical Gentlemen's Hardware's 12-in-1 Kitchen Multi-Tool will be for performing actual tasks in the kitchen, but if you're a lady looking for a gift for a man that might encourage him to help you out with some dinner party prep work, sticking the tools for the cheese you want him to grate and garlic you'd like him to crush inside a beautiful acacia wood Swiss Army Knife-looking multi with leather hook tie accents isn't a bad idea.
WRAPTIE All-Purpose Tie Down Straps
WRAPTIE all-purpose tie down straps go beyond traditional cargo straps with a patent-pending hook-and-loop closure system that eliminates jagged hooks and metal buckles from the securing process. WRAPTIE says this helps make their straps safer, easier, and faster to use, plus you'll never have to worry about your closures rusting and warping over time.
WRAPTIE straps come in 3 sizes for various loads: 130 for securing small items, such as bike and backpack gear; 180 for the likes of building wood, touring bike, and car loads; and 240 for the big stuff - surfboards, kayaks, and furniture.
Clear Shower Curtain with Phone & Tablet Pockets
If you're shopping for a gift for a teen, this clear shower curtain / shower curtain liner with touchscreen-interactive phone and tablet pockets should put a smile on their face. And light up their YouTube- and Netflix-viewing eyes. And send ripples their texting thumbs. And, though it seems impossible, ensure they take even longer showers than they already do.
The transparent curtain has nine pockets running in rows of three from top to bottom, so it can accommodate your entire device collection, bath time, and midgets too! You control the pockets' water resistance yourself - install the liner with pockets facing out of the shower, and your phones and tablets won't get wet. Hook it up in haste and...oops. Hope you have some silica.