16 thoughtful gifts under $30 for every person on your list

Cool gifts under $30 and thoughtful gifts can fit in the same bucket. From personalized gifts to useful gifts, here are options for everyone on your list.
Friends are buying Christmas presents
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.Eva-Katalin / Getty Images
By Nadine Jolie Courtney and Brianna Steinhilber

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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 fit for the holidays clock in at a relatively affordable price: under $30, to be precise.

Best personalized gifts under $30

1. Keepsake Framed Photo from your Phone

Ordering professionally-framed photo gifts for friends and family doesn't have to be difficult — it could take a few minutes. One option for that is downloading the Keepsake app and choosing a photo from your camera roll, selecting the perfect frame, and checking 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 to ship with your gift.

2. Custom Cookie Cutter

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.

Etsy also has a wide range of personalized cookie cutter options, from monogrammed stamps to portrait cut outs.

Custom Wedding Cookie Stamp

Custom Name Cookie Cutter

Custom Selfie Cookie Cutter

3. Minimalist Name Earrings

On the lighter — and very personalized — side are earrings you can customize. With more than 61,000 positive reviews, these handmade earrings come in whatever word or phrase you want, finished with a sterling silver, rose gold and 18K gold blend.

4. Personalized Custom Leather Keychain

Earrings can be specific. Leather keychains are much less demanding in the preference arena. You get ten characters to play with for the perfect personalized gift. And at less than $12, you could grab a few of this as a couple's gift or otherwise.

Best thoughtful gifts under $30

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5. Word Teasers: Old Wives Tales

Got trivia lovers 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. Other great party card games to consider:

6. Backyard Safari Little Pizza Garden

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.

If your gift is leaning toward food (or a foodie), the best holiday cookbooks to gift in 2019 cost less than $30 — if you're looking to invest, check out some of 2019's best gadgets for home cooks.

7. State Scented Candles

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.

Wild Woodlands Signature Scented Candle

If you want to step things up with a scented gift, consider the recently reinvigorated Illuminations candle brand. The Wild Woodlands candle is made of a blend of fir needles and cedar-wood, as well as amber, musk, patchouli and clove. It's a solid choice for the holidays considering the colder temperatures.

8. Anthropologie Geode Coasters

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 Blue — are so gorgeous you’ll want to display and use them over and over.

9. Chronicle Books Serenflipity: 30 Everyday Adventure Cards

Surrender to chance with a stack of cards designed to get you thinking about what actually matters to you. From connecting with others to exploring yourself and new places, this deck of cards is a $10 investment you won't regret trying out.

10. Gift Republic 100 Books Scratch Off Bucket List Poster

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. Of course, you also have several other options. Go with movies, video games, and even yoga poses.

Best useful gifts under $30

11. 2020 Passion Planner and Agenda

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.

If you want some more color in your planner gifts, ban.do has your back. From its Coming Up Roses academic planner to the colorful Block Party edition, there's a design and a planner for everyone there.

12. Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands

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.”

13. 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.

If multi-tools under $30 are part of your holiday shopping, the iconic Victorinox Swiss Army Knife universe might be worth checking out, as well as some options from Gerber.

Victorinox Swiss Army Multi-Tool, Evolution Pocket Knife

Gerber Suspension-NXT Multi-Tool with Pocket Clip

14. Create Your Own Reel Viewer

Personalized gifts — or gifts that allow the recipient to personalize their creations — are the closest to thoughtfulness you can get without being specific. Using a code that's included with the reel viewers, you'll be able to add any images you want into an old school reel that you can pull out whenever and view, no LED screens involved.

15. Ticket Stub Diary

Like any diary, this one is designed to help you remember life's significant moments — except it's offline and more tactile than an online photos folders. From your favorite team's games to concerts, movies, and plays you don't want to forget, gift this to that person that can't get enough live events.

16. Bedside Essentials Pocket

While your pants and backpacks are often riddled with pockets to satiate any and all needs, couches and beds are less forthcoming. So this pocket is designed to answer the call of anyone who keeps losing the remote or doesn't know where to throw their book or phone after reading in bed.

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