It would be great if we could shower all of our loved ones in gold coins, Louis XIII, and high-tech sex machines, but let’s face it: We don’t have that kind of cash right now. (All of our money is currently invested in Grateful Dead aprons and Shrek butt plugs.) While we’ll definitely be dropping some coin on a few lucky peeps in our lives, most of the presents we’ll be gifting our friends and extended family will either be homemade trinkets (see: macaroni necklace; coupon for one hug), or—more likely—be stuff that is thoughtfully selected, but won’t break the bank.
You don’t have to shell out last week’s paycheck to get someone a great, thoughtful gift—there are plenty of sick-and-tight, unique presents that cost less than 50 bucks. Perhaps your extra-special someone (well, medium-special someone) is interested in a tomato-scented candle, a shroomy beanie, or an affordable pair of AirPod alternatives? We’ve got options for whatever they’re into—so read on and check out our short list of the best gifts under $50.
Food and Cookware Gifts Under $50
A trippy serving set
We like the wacky, Doug-esque energy of these oiled beech wooden serving spoons set by Selena Liu that will bring a little weirdness and joy to the dinner table.
A spicy trio of Fly By Jing’s delicious seasonings
If you haven’t tried Fly By Jing’s incredible chile crisps, dumplings, and sauces, you’re missing out. Now, just in time for the holiday season, you can pick up this pack of three of the brand’s greatest hits: the iconic Sichuan Chili Crisp; the sweet, tangy, umami-forward Zhong Sauce; and the Mala Spice Mix, a blend of 11 different herbs and spices that adds bold, rich, complex flavor to any savory dish.
They’re always cracking yolks
Every friend group has one: The pal on an insatiable hunt for the next best cookbook that also doubles as a bible to the almighty egg. Protect them at all costs.
Champagne flutes that you (almost definitely) won’t break while tipsy
Because our big, meaty ogre fingers can’t be bothered to juggle wine glass stems. This pretty set of clinkers is hand-blown in Morocco, and will be able to handle any and every careless/clumsy/cheers-happy party guest.
A stupid-cute food ornament
Why do we love tiny, delicate versions of our favorite things in ornament form? Human nature, probably. But every year, it feels like the ornament selection gets better—and Sur La Table’s new ornaments this year certainly make that case. Choose from a bunch, but our faves are the espresso martini, club sandwich, and dirty martini. What can we say? We like martinis. Plus, the ornaments are buy one, get one half-off.
An alcohol-free Champagne substitute
Got a buddy who’s off booze? TÖST is a nonalcoholic sparkling beverage that makes the perfect sub-in for situations when you’d be drinking celebratory, bubbly beverages—and it’s so delicious that our staff writer Becca Blasdel, who, FWIW, does drink, dubbed it an editors’ pick.
A set of aesthetic baking sheets
If your giftee doesn’t have tons of kitchen space, Great Jones makes a set of smaller baking sheets in Yves Klein Blue that will look good poking out from above their fridge.
Turn them into a beer nerd
From a shameless homebrewing evangelist, the gift of beer is second to none, and giving someone a lifelong hobby is precious.
The Japanese mandoline that chefs and home cooks love
This turquoise kitchen gadget will forever change the way you eat vegetables (and significantly raise your standard of how salads should be). Made by Benriner and adored by kitchen pros and amateurs alike, its simple design and super-sharp blade produces perfectly even carrot coins, paper-thin cucumber slices, petals of fennel, and any other thick to ultra-fine cuts of your veggies of choice.
A mushroom-based coffee alternative
Whether you’re looking to (finally) get rid of your coffee
addiction dependence, or you just want to mix up your morning routine, MUD/WTR just might hit the spot. Sure, it looks like mud, but it tastes like a cozy chai, has one-seventh the caffeine in coffee, and contains a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms to keep you awake, alert, and focused with zero jitters.
For feeling like Gwyneth Paltrow
Sure, it’s less than 40 bucks, but having a designated “Spanish oil pitcher” is step one to feeling like you’re an effortlessly aspirational lifestyle influencer who has a great recommendation for a beachside restaurant in Mallorca.
A big-ass can of Castelvetrano olives
What? You DON’T want a big-ass can of Castelvetrano olives? Yeah, you do. That’s what we thought.
The spicy smoked salmon we love snacking on
When chic tinned fish brand Fishwife teamed up with Fly By Jing to make a spicy Sichuan smoked salmon—in a tin, no less—we were excited to give it a shot, but didn’t realize it would be utterly life-changing. Ultra-umami, savory, and slightly tingly, it’s a crazy-good, melt-in-your-mouth treat that our editorial director went nuts for. Yes, this is truly “hot girl food,” literally and figuratively.
Home Goods and Outdoor Gifts Under $50
The statement calendar of 2023
The iconic Stendig calendar’s price crawled upwards of 50 bucks, but fear not—the Karel Martens Calendar is here to eat its lunch. Perfect for your friend who’s constantly posting memes about architecture, the Bauhaus ballet, furniture design, and self-loathing.
A candle that smells like tomato season
Named for and inspired by a pink mansion surrounded by lush, dense gardens in the hills of Los Angeles, Flamingo Estate has become a collective of over 75 farms. It also produces CSA boxes, bath and body products, pantry goods, and unique gifts like this heirloom tomato-scented candle, a fresh, juicy homage to the almighty red fruit.
For the friend who still loves LCD Soundsystem
If you’re dealing with an aging millennial who gets a tear in their eye thinking about the good old days of Misshapes, the Lit Lounge, and Steve Aoki supremacy, gift them this photo archive in coffee table book form straight from the guy who was there for it all: Mark Hunter, aka the Cobrasnake.
A knee pad for gardening parents
One of our writers gave a knee pad to her dad, and he says he loves it for completing chores around the house and gardening. A powerful cushion for gentle knees.
A sleek, mid-century modern wall clock
For the friend who always says they want to get off their phone and live in the moment, call their bluff!
They often lose their keys
Got a roommate who’s always sending you 2 AM texts saying they’re locked out? Take a cue from that old adage about teaching a man to fish, and teach a friend to pick locks so that they leave you to your beauty rest and find their own way in using an old hairpin from the bottom of their backpack.
Hand wash that makes us feel richer
Aesop’s hand wash really is that good, from its earthy citrus scent to those gently exfoliating little beads. If we see this in someone’s restroom, it’s plus 10 points, immediately.
Clothing and Accessories Gifts Under $50
The perfect holiday-season slippers
What makes them so perfect? They’re super comfy (obvi), vaguely elf-like, and just stupid enough to only wear around your true loved ones—but they also do have a kind of classic Vans checkerboard appeal, too.
A button-down worthy of Tony Soprano
This top-rated, handsome, and looks-good-on-everyone shirt from Standard Cloth is a true bargain at under 50 bucks, and can be dressed up or down. There’s nothing like a strong button up to say, “Yeah, bitch, I survived the hellscape of the last five years and I looked good doing it.” Gold chain not included.
They never shut up about their husky…
…Which is fine, because we, too, love dogs. What—we’re not monsters? Anyway, it’s pretty incredible that you can get a custom embroidered sweatshirt depicting your loyal life-ruiner (we kid!) for such an affordable price. This is the perfect gift to make you look ultra-thoughtful (and like you spent way more money than you did), and they’ll be stoked to wear it when they’re walking Dexter around the block.
It’s beanie season
Some of our favorite things in one cozy beanie: Starburst bright colors to spice up your black winter puffer, and, of course, a Carhartt logo. Keep your ears warm and your DMs fire.
Speaking of beanies, a puffer beanie
We’ve got puffer coats, puffer pants, puffer slippers, and even puffer phone cases—naturally, it was time for the puffer beanie to make its debut. FWIW, it really does keep your head extra-warm (and is insulated, water-resistant, and wind-resistant).
A retro gold watch
There's just something about Casio's digital watches that make them timelessly cool for anyone and everyone, plus it's a good look to glance at your wrist to check the time instead of having to pull out your phone like a goofus.
A statement scarf
This unisex rose scarf feels a little punk rock, a little modern streetwear, and a lot cozy-sexy.
Cuup is one of our favorite cool-girl lingerie brands, and it just dropped a holiday collection that includes this three-pack of glimmering high-waisted undies that are so pretty, you’ll wanna slip ‘em on and go on a pantsless bodega run.
The perfect sweats
Champion are doin' it and doin' it and doin' it right when it comes to making the best athletic sweats, and the nearly 16,000 killer reviews on this perfect pair of throwback joggers says it all.
Tech Gifts Under $50
Super-affordable earbuds with crazy-good reviews
When our editorial director was looking for a pair of AirPod substitutes that were affordable enough that they wouldn’t stress her out to take on travel and to the gym, she stumbled across these Tagry earbuds thanks to their incredible reviews on Amazon. Not only are they only totally worth it for that crazy-good price, but they also have a built-in light-up charge indicator on the case and rival Apple’s signature earbuds in terms of features. Not bad for an eighth of the price.
The recovery massage gun that will pound you out
We love Theraguns, but they’re pricy—and this is a gift guide that won’t get your social security number sent to a collections agency. Thankfully, there are loads of comparable massage guns out there that will also help you blast your limbs post-lifting sesh, and this Olsky model is one of our all-time faves.
The alarm clock that rides shotgun
Planning trips in 2022? Stop relying on your cell to make the early flight and instead, take this battery-powered LCD alarm clock in your carry-on. It makes a perfect travel gift stocking stuffer for the friend who’s always out of office.
Our favorite earplugs for concerts
Going to see your favorite band shred like absolute demons in front of a roaring crowd: lit. Coming home and waking up to aggressive tinnitus for the next three days (and possibly permanent hearing damage): not lit. Wear earplugs, friends. Loop makes our favorites for wearing to shows; they’re not only effective at protecting your ears, reducing volume, and still allowing for high-quality audio to come through, but also, they look like cool Klingon jewelry.
A laptop sleeve we’d like to sleep in
Please? This Baggu puffer sleeve isn’t just aesthetically pleasing; it’s hella lightweight, too, which we appreciate for the work commute.
An 8-ball phone strap
Uhhhh, yes. If the person you give this to doesn’t absolutely love it, it might be time to consider why they’re on your holiday gift list in the first place.
A butcher knife phone case
Maybe your pal is into horror movies, or maybe they’re just really digging the art of butchery lately. Either way, this clever, cleaver phone case is amazing. (Don’t come crying to us if you get weird looks on the bus.)
You have no idea what to get your boomer parent
Don’t sweat it. This shiatsu back/neck massager from Amazon is a best-seller with over 7,000 reviews and the perfect gift for the obligatory, hardened boomer who could use a little relaxation time.
Wellness Gifts Under $50
A planner for helping you feel good
Ban.do makes some of our favorite planners for every purpose, but for those who are trying to free their brains of bad vibes in 2022, a wellness planner can have magical results. It has weekly check-in pages (have you had enough water today?), tips and advice, and even suggested grocery lists. You’ll never forget to go outside for fresh air with this planner as your trusty companion.
A spa for your eyeballs
There are a bunch of aromatherapy pillows out there, sure. But this linen one is perfect for stressed and sweaty sleepers, since linen is a naturally cooling fabric, and is infused with a dreamy blend of chamomile and lavender.
A body and bath oil that’s also great for massage [wink wink]
Maude makes an array of sexual wellness products that just feel good. This is one of its decidedly SFW offerings—rub it on dry patches of skin, drizzle it in the bath, or find… other uses for it. It’s a certified organic blend of jojoba, coconut, argan, and castor oil that will leave your skin feeling soft and your mind feeling satisfied, no matter the context.
Fancy hand sani
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that we’re germy little gremlins. The hand sanitizer-obsessed Virgo in your life will appreciate a refillable eucalyptus-scented hand sani that doesn’t try out their hands.
A benevolent claw
This scalp masajeador by the Latinx-owned brand Ceremonia will massage your scalp in a way that mere hands, which don’t have tons of gently spiky little teeth, could never. One of our writers likes to use hers when shampooing her hair for better scalp exfoliation.
The best toothpaste
Period. Marvis feels fancy, yes, but it also just tastes damn good—and this gift set let’s your lucky recipient try seven different flavors, including our personal fave: Jasmine Mint.
An acupressure mat (just to feel something)
If you’ve never rolled around on an acupressure mat to feel alive, you’re welcome. This mat and pillow combo is a best-seller on Amazon with over 1,800 reviews. As one fan writes, “After 15 minutes on the mat [I can] turn off the light and sleep like a stone.”
The chicest dog treats we’ve ever seen
This counts as wellness for dogs, right? We’d sure love to get a Ladurée macaron for sitting down or shaking our hand, but sadly, that’s just not something we can expect a reward for—but at least your dog can live the good life. These dog treats are made with oat flour, coconut oil, honey, and lavender yogurt, and are preservative-free, approved by vets, and made with human-grade ingredients.
Sexy Gifts Under $50
Moon Juice’s Sex Dust is a thoughtful adaptogenic blend of shatavari, shilajit, epimedium, schisandra, cacao, and maca that is designed to help you get your rocks off and “ignite creative energy.” So, like having sex in cursive. Tight.
The ol’ faucet trick
Ah, the ol’ scoot and shoot, aka the classic art of masturbating under a bathtub faucet. That’s the inspiration for the WaterSlyde, a toy that turns any bath into a pleasure zone without any need for batteries, recharching, or clean-up.
A “tongue-flicking” clitoral sex toy
There are a lot of suction vibrators in our arsenal of clitoral sex toys, and CalExotics makes one of the rarer additions with this “flickering tongue” toy—it’s great if your clitoris needs a little more direct contact.
A prostate and G-spot massager from space
Here’s an idea: If your giftee celebrates Christmas, hang this stunning multi-tasker from the tree. And if they don’t (or, if they do; who cares), gently caress their face with it while they sleep.
This cult-fave clitoral vibe has over 45,000 reviews
A legend. The Satisfyer Pro 2 is often imitated but never quite equalled, as one of our writers who tested it concluded, because the suction attachment is deep set and stimulates the clitoris without making direct contact. It really feels like getting head, man.
Whether you’re trying to have hot, kinky (and quiet) sex while you’re home for the holidays or just game to shake things up with a little put-the-turkey-in-the-oven roleplay, Lovehoney’s silky restraints are a BDSM must.
Happy shopping, you price-slashing stud.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.