50 Gifts Under 50 Bucks

We all know who the greatest Christmas gift-giver of all time is.

That would be the big, bearded man in the funky red suit with the herd of reindeer: Kris Kringle.

But then we grow up and realize Santa Claus exists only in our imagination, and it’s up to us to find thoughtful Christmas gifts for our loved ones.

This is never easy. Most of us tend to procrastinate and overthink the yuletide gift-giving process, and then we underestimate the actual time involved to pull off the purchase and delivery of the perfect gift.

That often leads to Grinches like me scurrying from store to store on Christmas Eve on a last-minute gift-buying mission, cursing all the way. And we end up buying an awful sweater for our spouse, which goes directly to back of the closet. Or some discount chocolates for our in-laws that cost less than the wrapping paper we purchased. Or some crazy gadget that’s supposed to improve our lives by doing some cool, unique thing, yet adds only aggravation.

The annual tradition of giving Christmas gifts goes way back. According to Christian beliefs, the custom is tied to the birth of Jesus Christ, when a group of three wise men presented gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh in celebration. The whole Santa Claus thing can be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire and an early Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas, who was known for his kindness and generosity.

The Santa Claus image – white beard, red suit and portly profile – became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the influence of an 1823 poem titled “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.” And the tall tale grew from there, with elves, reindeer, and a North Pole residence joining Team Claus.

So here we are heading into another holiday shopping season. Don’t be that guy, or girl, with the good intentions but bad gift purchases. Christmas is the one awesome event that the coronavirus pandemic won’t wipe out, so you need to be on top of your gift-giving game. If you’re frustrated with the whole Christmas shopping experience, relax. Appleton Monthly’s got this. Check out our 50 Great Gifts for Under $50. They will keep you out of the doghouse, won’t cost you a bundle, and will add some ho ho ho to your Christmas.






Gifts for Her

  1. Birthstone Necklace. Commemorate the birth of your children or a special birthday or two with this personalized necklace. Design it yourself by selecting a finish and the stones. They do the rest. My children gave me one of these for Christmas. It is colorful and meaningful. Etsy. $36. (Miela Jewelry).
  2. Real Leaf Necklace. This delicate charm is made from a real leaf! You can find it in gold or silver. It is as delicate as it is gorgeous, and it makes a strong statement. Etsy. $29.90 (Karousos Jewelry).
  3. Casual Knitted Duster. This long sweater is like wrapping a trusty knit blanket around your body on a cool, fall afternoon. It comes in both muted and more trendy shades. It even has a hood and oversized buttons! Wish.com $29.
  4. Guide Birds. Each one of these colorful, hand-painted, delicate birds corresponds to an encouraging word. Keep them where you need a little love. Who doesn’t need a guide bird these days? Uncommon Goods. $48.
  5. Self-Care Gift Box. An indulgent and moisture-rich stress relief care package that includes oatmeal soap, lotion, and a konjac sponge, among several other items with which to pamper yourself. Etsy. $40. (Smalltown Table).
  6. Warming Slippers. Plush slippers that are microwaveable. Filled with all-natural grain and dried lavender, plop them into the microwave for warming comfort and soothing aroma. Amazon. $19.86. (Intelex).
  7. Indoor Bonsai Tree. Inside a decorative container, this 6-year-old tree will provide aesthetic value in any corner of your home. Amazon. $40-50. (Brussel’s Bonsai).
  8. Minimalist Bi-Fold Wallet. This compact and functional wallet holds a few credit cards and bills while affording you a fun flash of color when you whip it out to pay the bill. (Comes in lots of hues). Amazon. $18.95 (Borgasets).
  9. Sustainable Bracelet-Making kit. Do-It-Yourself bracelets that give back and care for others. There are multiple shades of Karatasi beads, hand-rolled by Ugandan women. Plenty of supplies are included to make several different bracelets. Akola.com $49.99.
  10. Statement Earrings. These earrings come complete with a name: The Maureen. In shades of blood red and delicate pink with tortoiseshell studs, these earrings will make any outfit go from cool to extraordinary. Etsy. Vintageroyalty.com. $45.

Gifts for Him

  1. Tabletop Cornhole Game. Who doesn’t enjoy a game of cornhole? Who can beat a cornhole game on top of the bar with you? What’s not to love? Uncommon Goods. $48.
  2. Portable Smartphone Charger. For the man who is always on the go, or always losing his charger cord. Amazon. $23.99. (Yoobao).
  3. Crop Care Kit. “Premium Groin Hygiene Bundle” says it all. Cruelty free and vegan, this company brings male hygiene to epic levels of freshness and, judging by their anti-chafing deodorant, comfort as well. Enjoy guys! Manscaped.com $44.99.
  4. Do Your Gin. One of a kind botanical gin-making kit. A drink to share with your friends in just three days! Etsy. $49.90 (doyourgin).
  5. Favorite Song Wall Hanging. A print of his/your favorite song lyrics in the shape of a vinyl record. You can customize the center of the record with a brief message too! Blim & Blum. $40.
  6. Star Map. Select a time and a place of some special moment, or maybe his birthday, and receive a custom map of the stars on that exact date! Under Lucky Stars. $45 for 12×16.
  7. Personalized AirPod Case. Put his initials or his whole name on the front. He will look sophisticated and he might stop taking yours by mistake! Etsy. $19.90 (April&Kiwi).
  8. Make it hot in here! A do-it-yourself kit for spicy food aficionados to create and share six flavor combinations of their own invention if they dare! UncommonGoods. $40.
  9. Beard Grooming Oil. Kiehl’s has been offering grooming solutions since 1851. He can soften his facial hair or smooth rough, shaved skin. Blended with essential oils it hydrates, exfoliates, and energizes. Kiehl’s.com $30.
  10. Mismatched Socks Set. Cleverly mismatched socks that let him dress up and let loose. Each sock is different, yet they share a common pattern and color. Uncommon Goods. $35.

Gifts for Guys & Gals

  1. Custom TIME Magazine Cover. A personalized news keepsake that will be cherished forever. Etsy. $25 and up. (CaptureTheMomentByAJ).
  2. Adventure Challenge: Friend’s Edition. Spend nights with your tribe creating lasting and extraordinary memories. Scratch off and perform the activity. You will be forever inspired. The Adventure Challenge.com $39.99.
  3. Wireless Charging Station. This fast-charging wireless station supports iPhones, Apple Watch, AirPods, and Apple Pen all at the same time. It charges fast and it is foldable, so it saves space. Amazon. $25.99 (QIEU)
  4. New York Times Custom Front Page Puzzle. Celebrate a significant day and interact with this productive memento for years to come. UncommonGoods.com $49.95.
  5. Chunky Board Book. A custom-created, durable board book that is by no means only for young children. What story will yours tell? ArtifactUprising.com $35.
  6. Personal Photo Wall Calendar. Clean lines and sleek, black-and-white design, this calendar personalizes your big plans in style, while photographically commemorating times gone by. ArtifactUprising.com $39.
  7. The Places You’ll Go Cork Globe. Mark dream destinations or commemorate past adventures using red pushpins (included). PersonalCreations.com $47.99.
  8. Moon Chain Necklace. Although marketed for men, this necklace is a nice addition to anyone’s adornment repertoire. Set in silver, the charm features the phase of the moon on a significant date of your choosing. MoonglowJewelry.com $49.
  9. Wine Simple. Hardcover wine guidebook. This is a guide to wine, penned by a word-class sommelier, making wine accessible to everyone from newbies to connoisseurs. Amazon. $23.65
  10. Sound Wave Art. What a unique gift for a loved one! Record a message or a song, and these words can be hung on their wall for years to come. Etsy. $34.95 for 4×6. (ArtsyVoiceprint).

Local Gift Ideas

  1. Outdoor Squirrel Picnic Table. Handmade and comes complete with two ears of corn for your furry friends. Lou’s Brews. $25.
  2. Wisconsin Wood Cribbage Board. Play a great game with a great looking board that reminds you of your state. Blue Moon Emporium. $45.
  3. Scooter G’s has tons of sports fan paraphernalia. Shop local for the athletic ware addict in your family. Plenty of gifts are $50 and less.
  4. Mandles. With scents like Dirtbag, Dirty Hippie, and Stoner, the candles’ tagline is fun in and of itself: “Real men burn mandles.” Pick one up for the man in your life. Eco Candle. $18.
  5. Star Lantern. One of these lights would brighten up any space with an ethereal and colorful charm. EcoCandle. $25.
  6. Chord Jewelry. Handmade in Door County out of recycled guitar strings from local musicians. Necklaces, rings, and earrings. Hoot & Company. Start at $18 for earrings and $28 for necklaces.
  7. Windows of Light. As you may or may not know, rings are in style for men nowadays (said my younger daughters: “They’re hot.”) and Windows of Light has no dearth of sterling silver and special gemstone jewelry for both women and men alike. Plenty to choose from for $50 or less.
  8. Gingelly Glitter Spray. Glitter spray for hair and skin for a shining look all day. Hypoallergenic and all-natural products only. Bold Salon $28.
  9. Painted wood family name plaques. Custom designed print on rustic wood background. Beautiful for the entry hall to welcome family and friends to your home. Small $44.95.
  10. Several stores are offering Do-It-Yourself projects to work on at home. Something productive to while away the days in lockdown.
    1. Casting On has kits for knitting scarves, hats, mittens, and more. Most for $50 or less.
    2. Pinot’s Palette has canvas painting kits for $18.
    3. The Fire has ceramics, glass fusing, and mosaic crafts for your enjoyment starting at $38.

Toys for All Ages

  1. Tumi Ishi Balancing Stones. This “Mountain of Stones” requires more agility and accuracy than everyday wooden blocks. Improves balance and coordination for children and adults alike. Etsy. $17.99 (Blkomoqeurainc)
  2. Wood Building Blocks. Always a valuable pastime for developing creativity and fine motor skills. This set is a classic in subtle colors. LeToyVan.com $49.95.
  3. Wooden Pegboard. A hedgehog shape with eco wooden pegs that teach eye/hand coordination and color matching. Educates and entertains. Etsy. $37.39 (BusyPuzzle)
  4. Emile & Olive Food Truck Toy. Let your little chef take orders and serve you for once! Sandwich anyone? Food52.com $30 (Djeco).
  5. Cash Register. Imaginative play at its best. Kids love to imitate what happens at stores. Learning counting and money properties at the same time doesn’t hurt. LeToyVan.com $34.95.
  6. Beats to Go drum set. A percussion toy that includes a drum, cymbal, washboard, xylophone, and drumsticks. Stable and portable. ManhattanToy.com $38.
  7. Not Parent Approved. A 100% family-friendly, hilarious card game inspired by Cards Against Humanity. A perfect gift for tweens and teens. Amazon. $25.
  8. Suspend family game. An easy to set up activity game that improves eye/hand coordination, cognitive skills, and socialization. Great for all ages. Amazon. $15.49 (Melissa & Doug).
  9. Hot Potato. A frantic and laugh-out-loud electronic musical passing game for two to six players. Amazon. $34.95.
  10. Poetry for Neanderthals. A word-guessing game for all ages in which hints can only be given using one-syllable hints. Mess up and get hit on the head with the bop stick! ExplodingKittens.com $18.99