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By Nadine Jolie Courtney and Brianna Steinhilber

Between year-end cash appreciation tips, plane tickets back home, holiday parties, and, of course, all those Christmas presents for your nearest and dearest, December can wreak havoc on your wallet.

Luckily, you don’t have to spend big bucks to get somebody a gift they’re bound to cherish. A perfect gift is a thoughtful one — perhaps with an added dash of whimsy, humor, glamour or practicality. And fortunately, some of the best gifts under the tree clock in at a very nice price — under $30, to be precise.

BETTER editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, BETTER does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue._

Keepsake Framed Photo

Price: Starting at $25, Keepsake


Ordering professionally-framed photo gifts for friends and family just got way easier — as in, only takes one minute easier. Simply download the Keepsake app and choose a photo from your camera roll, select the perfect frame, and check out; your custom-framed photo gifts will be set to arrive at their destinations in just a few days. To make it even more thoughtful, Keepsake lets you recreate the experience of giving a gift in person by enabling you to personalize a gift card with a selfie or photo from your phone and ship it with your gift.

Custom Cookie Cutter

Price: Starting at $6 for a one-inch cutter, Cookie Cutter Kingdom

Cookie Cutter Kingdom

Ever think how great it would be to draw a shape and turn it into a cookie? Now you can create a custom cookie cutter for your favorite baker (or sweets lover). Just upload a cookie outline of choice — whether it's the family pet (and favorite child) for your mom, a helmet for your sports-obsessed husband, or the school mascot for your kid's teacher — and it will be automatically transformed into a cutter to create sweet treats this season. Cookie cutter sizes range from 1.5 inches to 10 inches.

Word Teasers

Price: $14.95 per deck, Word Teasers

Word Teasers

The perfect gift for the trivia lover on your list. Choose a deck that fits their interest, from American Trivia and World Geography to Old Wives Tales and Funny Sayings. Pair with a bottle of wine for a fun game night in for your favorite couple or as a hostess gift That an immediately be put to good use at a holiday party this season.


Price: $30, Passion Planner

Passion Planner

Not your average planner, this version helps keep you organized with space for your daily schedule, an area to jot down a to-do list, blank pages for your notes and a back pocket to store extra papers. Plus, it also has a "passion road-map" that helps you define your short and long term goals and break them down into smaller, actionable steps, weekly motivational quotes and challenges to keep you inspired toward positive action, monthly reflection questions designed to keep you focused on your progress, and annual and monthly reviews so that you can see your year and months at a glance and plan more effectively.

State Scented Candles

Price: $22.50, The Grommet

The Grommet

Candles are a popular hostess gift, or little something for your boss or co-worker. Make it a bit more personal by evoking memories of their home state. Crafted in Oregon with clean-burning (and long-lasting) soy wax, each state-centric candle has its own unique scent, based on each state's history and personality, and the candle comes in a gift box with gold foil, with a "Love" Matchbox and scent description card. Being a dose of their hometown to a friends coffee table or evoke memories of their favorite state to visit.

Anthropologie Geode Coasters

Price: $14, Anthropologie


Never lose your mind over water-ring stains again. These geode coasters from Anthropologie — available in eight mesmerizing shades, including Rose Quartz, Amethyst, and Dyed Citron — are so gorgeous that you’ll want to display and use them over and over. Perfect for the clean freak hostess with the mostess.

Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands

Price: $10.95, Amazon

Fit Simplify

Perfect for fit friends who live in a small apartment, people who don’t have the extra cash to shell out for a pricey gym membership or workaholics who are always on-the-road traveling, these colorful latex resistance bands come in five different resistance levels and include a carrying bag, instructional e-book and online video workout guide. "Resistance bands are an easy and inexpensive piece of strength-training fitness equipment you should keep in your arsenal," says Nikki Griggs, NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. "Bands are available in difference resistance levels, are compact enough to bring when you travel and are versatile enough to train your entire body.”

Backyard Safari Little Pizza Garden

Price: $12, Amazon

Backyard Safari

An at-home gardening kit you can use on your patio, with seeds including Sweet Basil, Heirloom Rutgers Tomatoes, Green Bell Peppers, Greek Oregano, Italian Parsley and Scallions — all the herbs and veggies you’ll need to create the perfect pizza in your own kitchen. The kit is great way to teach kids about where our food comes from (while cooking up one of their favorites) or a fun twist to date night for your significant other.

Anywhere Travel Guide

Price: $10.72, Amazon

Anywhere Travel Guide

Help the friend bit by the wanderlust bug take an adventure and rediscover spontaneity with this whimsical deck of 75 cards, featuring fun prompts — such as “Ask the next person you meet where his/her favorite street is. Go there” and “Eat a dessert for breakfast, three appetizers for lunch, and a breakfast for dinner” — designed to shake up your day, challenge you and make you see the world in a new way.

Gift Republic 100 Books Scratch Off Bucket List Poster

Price: $18, Amazon

Gift Republic

Been meaning for years to finally knock Moby Dick or Crime and Punishment off your reading list? Inspire your favorite book worm to hit their reading goals with this 100 Books Scratch Off Bucket List Poster. Including iconic books both old and new — everything from Les Miserables and War and Peace to American Psycho and A Game of Thrones — as you scratch off each book, you’ll reveal the cover art underneath.

Wallet Ninja PRO

Price: $14, Amazon

Wallet Ninja Pro

This tiny tool will be a lifesaver in dozens of situations. At-home handymen (or women) will love the Wallet Ninja PRO, a credit card-sized tool that fits in your wallet and has 26 different functions — including working as a bottle opener, ruler, screwdriver, cell phone stand, box opener, eyeglass screw, protractor, wrench and more.

Holiday survival guide

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