‘Tis the season for holiday gift exchanges!
Every year, our group of friends does a White Elephant gift exchange. That's where you bring a gift under a dollar amount (ours is $25, which is a nice amount because there are plenty of ways to earn a little extra cash before the holidays!) and we all draw gifts in order. The first person picks a gift, unwraps it, and then waits. The next person can steal your gift or pick from the pile. If someone's gift is stolen, they can steal another gift or take another gift from the wrapped pile.
It's a fun way to do a gift exchange and the joy is more about the process and less about the gifts themselves.
(it's a Secret Santa hack too – instead of buying gifts for everyone, you only have to buy it for one!)
But regardless of how you may do gifts with your friends and family, you might be looking for a good Christmas gift idea that costs less than $25?
(heck, you can use these gifts anytime, nothing holiday or Christmas-y about them!)
Here is a laundry list of ideas for your next gift exchange with links to Amazon, so you don't even have to leave your house!
And if your group's budget is higher – here's our list of the best gifts under $50.
1. Sherpa Fleece Blanket
This first gift comes in at over $25 (the red one is currently only $26.94) but it's worth it – it's the Everlasting Comfort Sherpa Fleece Blanket. It's 50″ x 65″, warm, and very comfortable. We learned about this brand because of their seat cushion (great for our wooden dining room chairs and our butts during long board games) but the blanket has been a hit in our house.
2. A premium water bottle
Water is super important but you don't want to be drinking it out of a plastic bottle. It's wasteful AND microplastics are a huge problem we're only now starting to understand.
Why not get a premium stainless steel water bottle by Mira Brands instead? They cost less than $25 and you can get them insulated to remain cold (or hot!) for your favorite beverages.
3. GRADO Inspirational Cards
GRADO produces these beautiful cards (FSC recycled paper) that are beautifully designed, drawn, and produced. They come in a rigid box to protect the cards and each card follows a theme. I got the Live a Fulfilled Life – Awake Your Inner Self set of 48 inspirational cards and it's helped set my mood in the mornings.
Each set of 48 cards is only $23 on Amazon and they have a wide variety of cards, even ones for kids. They also have planners and greeting cards though I haven't seen those in person yet.
4. Reusable Ziplocs
Single-use plastics are expensive and bad for the environment.
Fortunately, reusable Ziplocs are a thing! Gift these to your eco-conscious friend looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
They aren't as cheap as the plastic bags you use once and throw away but can you put a price tag on Mother Earth?
5. The Extraordinary Book of Useless Information
I know it has the word ‘useless' in the title, but this gift is anything but useless. Your friends clearly need to know weird facts about presidents, animals, and refrigerators. This book is the perfect gift for trivia nerds and anyone looking for an entertaining read.
Check out The Extraordinary Book of Useless Information: The Most Fascinating Facts That Don't Really Matter … because why not?
(and if you have young kids who can read… this is a great way to occupy their time!)
It seems like everyone is cutting cable and moving to streaming services. If your loved one has finally said sayonara to their cable package, gift them a Roku. This streaming stick enables you to watch Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and a lot more from your TV.
7. Blue-blocking glasses
I don't know about you, but I easily spend the majority of my waking hours in front of a screen. While tech is convenient, the blue light emitted by our devices is damaging our eyes and making it more difficult to sleep. I've had this pair of blue-blocking glasses for half a year and I absolutely love them.
(and they look far better than the Blue Blockers that OJ Simpson used to promote in the 80s!)
8. Safety razor
Cartridge razors are expensive and not very effective. And let's face it: services like Dollar Shave Club are cool, but they're still kinda pricey. Give the gift of a close shave with a simple safety razor.
9. Drying rack
This sounds like a weird gift, but hear me out.
One of my close friends moved to a cramped Chicago apartment after college. I jokingly gifted her this drying rack because she said she had to dry her clothes on the patio. As it turns out, she loved it! This drying rack is perfect for college students, people in cramped apartments, or anyone who's trying to keep their utility bills low.
Remember the Tamagotchi craze from the 90s? Share the nostalgia with a pal thanks to Tamagotchi's revamped line.
It doesn't matter who you are; your feet probably get cold in the winter. Slippers are one of those things that we always buy for other people, but not for ourselves. Do your parents a favor and gift them these unisex slippers for the impending chilly weather.
These slippers look a lot like the LL Bean mocs and are a fraction of the price. I don't know if they'll last as long but at $20, worth a shot. There's a whole list of slippers on Amazon that are all affordable and look super comfy.
12. A great grater
Knife skills are something you learn. For people, like myself, who are knife-challenged, graters are your best friend. I've gotten very familiar with this OXO grater set, which can grate and slice veggies in mere seconds. It even has a carrying case so you won't lose anything!
I've had my Lifestraw for years and it's amazing. This doodad enables you to safely drink from streams and rivers out in the wild. It's a fantastic gift for hikers or outdoors enthusiasts. Lifestraw is also an important addition to any emergency prep kit, too. We just throw it in our backpack so we already have it.
14. Waffle iron
I finally felt like a complete adult the moment my parents gifted me a Cuisinart Waffle Iron. There's nothing like the aroma of freshly-made waffles with butter and syrup. Mmm. Gift this waffle iron to your family for breakfast deliciousness.
Do you ever feel guilty when you have to toss a notebook in the trash? Rocketbook solved this problem with their reusable notebooks. Simply write with a Frixion pen and microwave the book to wipe away your notes once it's full.
16. Metal straws
With more and more eateries banning single-use straws, it's wise to have a set of your own. I got this set of metal straws on Amazon and love them. I keep half at the house and half in my car, just in case. They even come with pipe cleaners so you're sure to clean out the insides.
17. DIY facial kit
Everybody needs a little pampering! I've fallen in love with the weird-yet-cool Zombie facial treatment face masks. You look like the living dead for 15 minutes but will have beautiful glowing skin afterward.
Pair it with the pet grooming gloves and you're ready for your very own cameo in a campy horror movie!
18. Silicone baking mat
If you talk to any home baker, they use a lot of parchment paper. It can get expensive and annoying buying parchment paper every time you want to bake cookies. Gift your favorite baker this set of AmazonBasics silicone baking mats for no-fuss cooking.
(and parchment paper is just paper coated in a thin layer of silicone – so a silicone mat is just the reusable version of parchment paper!)
19. French press
While there's a place and time for coffee shop drinks, it's best to make your morning cup of joe at home. If your loved one enjoys quality coffee, consider gifting them this nice French press by Cafe Du Chateau. It even has a French name so your friends can rest assured they can make Starbucks-level coffee without leaving their kitchen.
20. Minimergency kit
21. Cards Against Humanity
This ain't your grandma's card game. Cards Against Humanity is an irreverent and adults-only game is a must-have for any gaming closet. Remember that this game contains adult content and isn't a wise gift for kids or people who may be easily offended!
22. A true blender bottle
As a shake drinker, I love my blender bottle. However, the little ball of metal that's supposed to stir up my shake just doesn't do enough. The PROMiXX blender bottle literally has a blender attached to the bottom of the bottle, giving you the option to whirl your smoothie to perfection when you're on the go.
If you only need the version with the wire ball, the best is probably BlenderBottle.
Aromatherapy is an amazing way to unwind. If your best friend can't live without her lavender oil, consider gifting her these roll-on essential oil blends. They also are small enough and secure enough to throw in a bag.
24. Sleep headphones
My husband is super finicky when it comes to sleeping with headphones. After years of searching, he's fallen in love with these sleep headphones. Whether your loved one travels frequently or needs to drown out the sounds of a snoring partner, they'll love these headphones.
25. Bluetooth speaker
Got a music lover on your Christmas list? Consider gifting them this portable Bluetooth speaker by Anker. It's small and designed for travel, so it can be used wherever and whenever they feel like jamming out.
26. Whiskey stones
There's nothing more disappointing than a watered down drink. Consider putting these whisky stones under the tree for the whisky connoisseur in your life.
27. Cheesemaking kit
Oh, yes! You can make your own cheese and home, and it's incredibly easy. Gift this cheesemaking kit to the DIYer or devoted home chef on your list.
Zoodles are all the rage these days, but buying spiralized veggies can get a little pricey. Gift this spiralizer to any vegan or keto-lover to help them save a little cheddar on their grocery bill.
29. Tile Mate
Do you have that friend or coworker who always manages to lose their keys? They can use the Tile Mate system to track their keys, or any other object, to avoid five minutes of panic every morning.
It's on you to figure out how to tactfully gift it though!
30. Pyrex dishes
I avoided buying Pyrex dishes for so long because I couldn't afford them. Once I bit the bullet and switched to Pyrex, though, I finally saw the light. These dishes make meal prep and leftovers so much easier to handle. If your loved one is trying to streamline mealtime, Pyrex dishes are the way to go because they can go in the microwave and the oven.
31. Cute succulents
It's a scientific fact that greenery makes us feel more cheerful. But for those of us with black thumbs, it can have the opposite effect. Give the gift of cheer to even the most plant-averse giftee with adorable succulents. Plant them in an adorable corgi or whale succulent pot to make a real statement.
Got a friend that's permanently hangry? Perfect! Gift them an assortment of fun or weird snacks to try. Gift these neat snacks from Japan to sate their wanderlust, or even this beef jerky assortment for a voracious meat-lover.
33. Gym survival kit
The New Year means more people will be going to the gym to conquer their resolutions. Help your fitness-obsessed giftees with a gym survival bag full of nice toiletries. Here's my favorite for women, and here's a great option for men. They're also awesome gifts for jetsetters, too.
34. Wireless Bluetooth earbuds
Do you have a coworker who loves listening to his music out loud in the office? Nip that in the bud with these nice-yet-affordable wireless Bluetooth earbuds.
35. Cell phone lens
Instagram is hot, hot, hot right now. Most of its users are concerned about taking a perfect, well-lit shot. If you know one of these picture perfect-obsessed Instagrammers, gift them this cell phone lens. It not only will help them focus for a crisper image, but supply more light to improve the shot.
36. Silk pillowcase
If you know someone who complains about bedhead or general bad hair days, they'll love this silk pillowcase. Aside from how it makes your bed 1,000% fancier, it's easier on your hair.
37. Head massager
I firmly believe that everyone can do with a good scalp massage. Unfortunately, a fancy salon treatment isn't in the budget for most of us, so we make do with awesome tools like this head massager. It's discreet enough for your friends to keep in their office drawer for a sneaky lunchtime massage.
38. Face cleansing brush
My grandma always said, “There's nothing like a good scrub.” And she was so right. This face cleansing brush single-handedly helped me beat adult acne for healthy, glowing skin. It's a great gift for makeup lovers, but I've also caught my husband using it a time or two!
39. Portable phone charger
Nobody likes fighting over outlets to charge their devices. Fortunately, with this nifty portable charger, your loved ones won't have to. I use this portable charger from Anker and it's saved my butt more than once on road trips.
40. Loose leaf tea set
While I'm a tried-and-true coffee lover, much of the population prefers tea. If your mom loves a mug of green tea in the morning, consider gifting her a loose leaf tea rig. You can score these tea diffusers and even this kettle for less than $25.
Winter comes with dry, cold air that does a number on your body. Give this humidifier, which also doubles as an essential oil diffuser, to keep your loved ones cozy during the cold months.
42. Pop Socket
Got a clumsy friend who keeps dropping his phone? Help him make cracked screens a thing of the past with a Pop Socket. These handy devices attach to the back of your phone and double as a handle and kickstand.
43. Foot hammock
Cubicle jockeys around the world are looking for ways to make the cubicle life more comfortable. This foot hammock easily attaches to the bottom of your coworker's desk so she can rest her feet without fuss.
44. Carphone holder
If you've ever used your phone GPS to navigate while driving, you know how treacherous it is to look up and down at the screen. Yikes! Minimize distractions with this magnetic car dashboard phone holder.
I use this one and it's much sturdier than air vent phone holders, especially if you have a larger phone.
45. Gratitude journal
Gratitude truly is the key to happiness. Gift this five minute gratitude journal to someone who seems like they already have it all. It's hard to wrap happiness with a bow, but this is as close as you can get.
46. Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
Got a Potterhead on your gift list? Great! This unofficial cookbook is perfect for Harry Potter fans who want to recreate iconic recipes from the book series.
47. Adult coloring book + pencils
Coloring is a soothing activity that's fun, whether you're 9 or 99 years old. Give this beautiful coloring book with these pre-sharpened colored pencils to your grandma or even for your office's white elephant party.
48. White noise machine
Whether you hate sleeping in absolute silence or you need to drown out the wailing of your neighbor's cat, a white noise machine makes all the difference.
49. Bathroom spray
I mean, everyone poops. Poo-Pourri is the gift that nobody admits they want, but everyone can use it.
(and they work well with porta-potties too!)
50. Sheet masks
Self-care and pampering are vital during the hectic holiday season. One of the best ways to decompress without leaving your living room is with a sheet mask. Gift this expansive set of sheet masks to someone on your Nice list.
51. Adorable dryer balls
Dryer balls by themselves can be a practical and useful gift. But when you consider how there are some really cute dryer balls out there, they make for the perfect gift. Gift a set of puffer fish or cactus dryer balls to anyone that loves soft laundry.