It’s that time – our last gift guide of the season! Whether you’re stuffing a stocking or scrambling to gather enough gifts for eight crazy nights, this list of my favorite under-$15 finds is sure to make gifting on the cheap a cinch.
(Also known as the “under $30” guide). Because most of us have the highest of ambitions but the lowest of budgets, my list of cheap thrills for the holidays is here to help you keep that holiday credit card balance in check. Turns out, it actually is possible to give a thrill-inducing gift and stay under budget – who knew?
Who can’t use another tote? This one has the added bonus of a cross-body strap and a stylish, not-too-sweet graphic. And it’s made by a dear friend of mine! Chrysanthemum tote, Westmama Designs, $29
West Elm has a bevy of beautiful throws this season, but this one’s cuddly soft and comes in a rainbow of hues. Add your favorite paperback of the year, and give her an excuse to snuggle up. “Favorite” throw, West Elm, $29 (on sale for $19!)
I never seem to have enough cosmetic bags to throw into handbags, carry-ons and totes. This one reminds me of Chanel, but won’t make me cry when my lip gloss leaks. LeSportSac “Kevyn” cosmetic case, $25
If there’s a teen or tween girl on your list, I promise you, this is the gift to get her. Absolutely every color under the sun…so you can prove to her there’s more to makeup than piles of black eyeliner. Expert Mega Palette, Avon, $30
Bargain gifts for men are hard to come by, but this watch is infinitely more handsome than its pricetag allows for – I especially love the webbed strap, which gives it an urban edge. Military style canvas strap watch, Avon, $15
I’m basically obsessed with this stuff – it’s become my savior during these dry, windy winter days. Trust me, she’ll be addicted too. Blood orange body balm, McEvoy Ranch, $22
Chocolates are always a great bargain go-to, and these have a fun twist. Each flavor is modeled after a bigger, badder (much more caloric) dessert. Red velvet cake truffle, anyone? Ultimate Dessert Truffles, Godiva, $25
A classic holiday scent that’s festive, but not cloying. And I always love the packaging from Linnea’s Lights! Pumpkin soy candle, Linnea’s Lights, $21
Okay, this one’s a smidge over budget. But you get six single-glass bottles of wine for that price, custom grouped by region or selected by master chefs. For a budding oenophile, it doesn’t get any better. Mario Batali Selection 6-bottle wine sampler, Tasting Room, $33 (looks like you save $10 by signing up for their mailing list!)
For the friend who reads cookbooks like they’re novels, thinks Dean & Deluca is the mother ship, and is always dragging you to the new fusion restaurant in town or making you her guinea pig for the secret ingredient du jour (this month, I hear it’s harissa).
Foodies rarely need an excuse to party, but a subscription to a champagne club should secure your seat at his next dinner party. Henri’s Reserve champagne club, from $600
Who isn’t chasing the next best caffeine fix? For tea drinkers, Harney & Sons makes my favorite holiday blend – warm and cozy, with just a hint of holiday spice. And for coffee lovers, choose a bag or two from Ristretto Roasters (based here in Portland) – it’s simply the best I’ve had. Holiday black tea blend, Harney & Sons, $15; Ristretto Roasters, from $14 for 12 oz
Nothing transforms ordinary cooking faster than good salt and great olive oil. Get them one of each, and they’ll eat well all year (or until they run out). Olive Oil – 2011 Blend, McEvoy Ranch, from $22; Finishing salt starter set, The Meadow, $38
I’m always looking for rectangular bakers in just the right size – this set gives you all the options you’ll need. 3-piece potluck baker set, Crate & Barrel, $30
Maybe more of a stocking stuffer than a full-fledged gift, but I’m on a perpetual quest to find the perfect spoon. These two are high on my wish list this year. Silicone batter whisk, Tovolo, $12; Acacia wood paddle, Michael Ruhlman, $25
Vosges Haut Chocolat is the gold standard for foodie treats. Their exotic truffles are perfect for a gourmet, but my heart belongs to the Toffee Trifecta hat box, packed with 3 varieties (including bacon caramel!). Vosges Toffee Trifecta, $58 and Exotic Truffles, from $26
A cookbook is a no-brainer gift for a foodie, but you need one that suits their style to a T. For casual home cooks, I love me some Paula Deen, but hardcore food lovers will be more enamored of Michael Ruhlman’s latest. Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible, $17; Ruhlman’s Twenty, by Michael Ruhlman, $22
Hands down, the most stylish way I’ve ever seen to BYOB. Felt wine tote, Graf+Lantz, $79
Adapted from an illustration in a 1927 Parisian book on wine appreciation, this apron is the perfect addition to any foodie’s kitchen. L’Art du Vin apron, The Met Store, $30
Foodies are forever chasing the “next big thing” in culinary creativity. A set of exotic spices will get their creative juices flowing, and keep them ahead of the pack. Spice kits, Williams-Sonoma, from $40