Between birthdays, weddings, graduations and holidays, there’s a seemingly endless number of gift-giving occasions. Shopping for the events that frequently pop up on your calendar can get overwhelming, not to mention expensive.
To help ease your mind and your wallet, we’ve compiled a list of affordable gift ideas. Each featured item is priced at $25 or less.
Food and home
1. Indoor herb garden
Save the chef or aspiring chef in your life a trip to the farmers market for fresh ingredients. You can pick up an herb garden kit with cilantro, basil, rosemary and oregano for $19.99 at Target or this five-herb kit for $24.99 on Amazon. Or grab seeds and supplies from your local hardware store to make a crafty DIY version.
In keeping with the culinary theme, expand your chef’s recipe collection with a new cookbook. Serve up some inspiration with a staple like the “Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book, 16th Edition” for about $20 on Amazon.
3. Tea and infuser
Give tea lovers the right tools to make soothing cups with an infuser and loose-leaf tea combo. This infuser, listed at $6.85 at Wal-Mart, paired with 2 ounces of Moroccan mint green tea for $4.98 from Teavana will cost you $11.83 total.
4. Travel mug
Let your recipient conveniently take tea and other beverages to go at the optimal temperature. The Contigo Autoseal West Loop travel mug, $14.29 at Target, keeps hot drinks hot for up to six hours and cold drinks cold for up to 18 hours.
5. Storage jars
Go with a gift that’s decorative and functional, like this four-piece set of glass canisters, $19.99 from Bed Bath & Beyond. These customizable vessels can be used to store office supplies or kitchen ingredients such as flour and sugar.
6. Scented candles
Whether you’re shopping for your romantic partner or the friend who’s into aromatherapy, fragrant candles are a crowd-pleaser. There’s no shortage of scents to choose from. The fruity pineapple mango and floral white gardenia candles are both $10.50 at Bath & Body Works.
7. Framed picture
If you’re looking for a gift with sentimental value, print out a photo of a cherished memory and pop it into an inexpensive frame. This simple yet meaningful gesture won’t cost you much time or money. We like this white vintage-style frame for $4.99 from Ikea.
8. Gift basket
Rather than giving one item, consider an enticing assortment. Buy an empty basket like this $4.49 one from World Market and fill it with snacks, toys, homemade treats or soaps and lotions. Or you can get a pre-made one like the Godiva chocolate gift basket for $19.98 at Sam’s Club.
Clothing and accessories
9. Reusable tote bag
These environmentally friendly and versatile bags can haul everything from groceries to school books. Another plus? There’s a vast selection, including this $5 Madewell canvas tote for the student or, for the shopper, this stylish $16 polka-dot Kate Spade New York bag at Nordstrom.
Socks have long been a go-to gift because they’re practical and easy. Men’s and women’s socks are usually sold in a single one-size-fits-all option, which means you can eliminate the guesswork. And there’s bound to be something for every taste. Hosiery ranges from plain, solid colors to fun patterns like these women’s pooch-print socks ($6) or men’s patriotic flag socks ($12) from Macy’s.
12. Planner or journal
Help the person on your list stay organized with a handy journal or day planner. Add the recipient’s name or initials for a personal touch. We like this Moleskine notebook for $19.95 with free personalization at the time of this writing.
Entertainment and miscellaneous
13. Monthly subscription
Coffee, chocolate, cosmetics — there’s a subscription service for just about everything. Start your recipient out on one without busting your budget. Have a bookworm on your list? Gift a couple of months of Kindle Unlimited, a service that provides unlimited access to an expansive collection of books, audiobooks and magazines. It costs $9.99 per month, plus there’s a free 30-day trial.
14. Gift card
A gift card or certificate is a safe, albeit not the most personal, gift option. You get to set the amount you’re comfortable spending, and your recipient gets to put it toward the item of her choice. If you don’t know what retailers your recipient likes, pick something general like a Visa or Amazon gift card.
15. Movie tickets
Tickets to a theater chain or local cinema are welcome gifts for movie buffs, who can redeem them for whatever film they want. You can often find tickets for less than the box office price at wholesalers like Sam’s Club, where we spotted a Cinemark two-pack for $16.98.
16. Board game
Ideal for those who like to entertain, board games are enjoyable activities for parties or family game nights. Monopoly Here & Now, which retails for $9.99 at Toys R Us, puts a travel-themed spin on the classic game. The amusing Telestrations ($19.99) combines Pictionary and the “telephone game.”
17. An experience
Gifts don’t have to be objects. Create memorable experiences by appealing to your loved one’s hobbies and interests. Spend a day at the beach or take a baseball enthusiast to a game. Try searching websites like Groupon for deals on activities by area. We’ve seen things like photography classes, salsa dance lessons, comedy shows and brewery tours all within the $25 price range.