10 Inexpensive Christmas Gifts That Won’t Look Cheap

Woman in sweater giving a wrapped Christmas gift box to child.
Anna Ostanina / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Christmas is coming with a big cost this year. Like everything else in the past year, most gifts are estimated to have gone up in price as inflation has taken hold on most categories in 2022, from clothing to food gifts

See: Thrift Shop All Your Christmas Decor for Under $200 — Including the Tree
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As Forbes reported in early November, “Nearly every popular holiday gift is more expensive this year than in 2021.” They cite prices of jewelry that have gone up 31%, electronics that have increased by 11% and toys that are 10.5% more expensive.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that the median average that American adults plan on spending for gifts this year is about $932. But that is by no means the case for everyone since three in five people are living paycheck-to-paycheck, according to Lending Tree.

If you only have a fraction of that to spend on your gift list, there are still ways to tap into some beautiful gift ideas that are affordable but look expensive – and truly live up to the idea that it’s the thought that counts.

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Spa Day Basket

Who couldn’t use some TLC after this year? Here’s a great idea that will be well received and cost under $20: Head to a retailer like Walmart or Target, buy a pretty gift basket and some decorative paper to line it and then add in a bunch of dollar section travel items that can double as a relaxing spa routine. Some options could be a loofah, foot scrub, body wash, hair mask, and maybe splurge a few more dollars for a bath bomb.

Cookie Tin

We know what you’re thinking but this is not just any old cookie tin. Gather some of your best family recipes, whip up batches of a few different kinds (choose opposite textures and colors for an artsy approach) and then place them in a decorative tin along with the recipe cards. If you’re willing to share them! Print out on nice cardstock and even add a personal anecdote about your favorite memory of enjoying the treats. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. 

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House Plant

Plants have found a whole new generation of fans in the past few years — as NBC News notes, the pandemic made them a huge trend when people needed something to cheer them up. Plants also make a fun, sophisticated gift that can last year after year. The key here is finding a standout planter to place it inside. Now that it’s technically winter, and not the prime summer season for greenery, you should be able to find some good sales.

Mug & Warmer

If we’ve learned anything from Starbucks it’s that holiday coffee drinks are a big deal. Per Entrepreneur, sales of Pumpkin Spice Lattes are up by 70% this year. For any coffee (or tea) devotee in your life, get them a “fancy looking” mug (Marshalls and Home Goods are great spots for finding some good ceramic deals) and upgrade it with a mug warmer that looks high-tech but is about $15 on Amazon. And maybe even throw in a homemade hot chocolate bomb for the perfect finishing touch.

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Spice Collection

For the cooks in your life, you can never go wrong with spices, especially unique blends they might not have on hand that will whet their appetite. And, if you go DIY with it, you can save some serious money while impressing your recipient. Use these examples from Real Simple to whip up the blends at home and then get a set of clear jars for about $12 on Amazon to put the spices into and voila!

Portable Photo Printer

With the popularity of Instagram and the increasingly high-def technology in smartphone cameras, a lot of things catch our eye. A portable photo printer helps keep those memories forever. There are affordable options on Amazon that retail for under $30 and work for both iOS and Android phones using a Bluetooth connection. 

Pup Socks

Customized gifts are usually pretty pricey — or at least look like they are, like in the case of Pup Socks. The company lets you upload a photo of your recipient’s pet — cats are welcome too — that will be used to design a special pair to cherish forever. The company has a sale right now, $24.95 for each pair. Blankets and ornaments are available as well. And the best part is, for every order, they help save a pup in need.

Yoga Classes

For any yogi devotee or yogi-curious person in your life, get them a subscription to Yoga Download, an online database of 2,400+ classes they can do on their own time with instructors of their choosing. Subscriptions run as little as $10/month and you can buy gift cards in increments of $10.

Whiskey Making Kit

Craft cocktails are a huge trend right now, but let the fans of the practice get even more granular by making their own whiskeys. This do-it-all kit features everything they need including woodchips, botanicals, test tubes and more, all for less than the cost of a night out at the bar.

Take Our Poll: How Has Inflation Impacted Your Holiday Shopping Plans?

Thrift Store Jewelry

While the price of brand new jewelry is up this year, as noted by Forbes, secondhand finds can be a great option — and super unique too. After you find the right baubles, buy an inexpensive bottle of jewelry cleaner to give it a fresh polish and buy a pretty box to put it in, all wrapped up in a bow.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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