12 Thoughtful Holiday Gifts for Under $20

November 29, 2018

As an employee of a PERA-supported employer—or as a young person in general—you’re probably used to having to monitor your holiday spending. There’s nothing better than getting someone the perfect gift—and if you can do it without breaking the bank, all the better. Here are 12 ideas, from personalized to practical, that will bring convenience, creativity, and cheer into the recipient’s everyday life.


Give the gift of fresh air and style

Succulents are easy to find—you can usually get them for as little as $3 or $4 at your local Trader Joe’s or Home Depot—and even less of a hassle to keep alive. To make it extra special, consider buying a unique planter; we love these locally made, gold-dipped quartz terrariums on Etsy. $5-20

Give the gift of photography prints (not antiquated yet!)

Photos are still crazy cheap to print—usually about 33 cents for each 4x6—but it’s the kind of task people rarely set aside the time and effort for these days (thank you, iPhone). Taking the time to print and frame someone’s favorite profile pic—whether of a family pet, your recent gal-pal vacation, or, hey, you two together—is an inexpensive but sentimental gesture that will be appreciated for years to come. Since the frame is the most expensive component, we recommend shopping around for frames on Etsy, your favorite local gift shop, or discount stores like TJ Maxx to find the best (and most stylish) deal. Bonus: For an extra artsy touch, you can also order these coasters with a slot for photos (they’re sure to be a conversation starter around cocktail hour). $5-$20

Give the gift of quality time

Vertellis is the “mindfulness card game” that every family should have in their game cabinet. Created in The Netherlands—with a very Dutch tag line of Less small talk, more genuine conversations—this card game is a sort of antithesis of Cards Against Humanity. Each card has a thought-provoking question, like “What was one of the most beautiful places you’ve visited?” or “Of which personal achievement are you most proud?” to inspire heartfelt and genuine interactions among family and friends. $19.99


A sugary treat for kids and grownups alike

C’mon…who doesn’t love hot chocolate? Hammond’s hot cocoa gift set—which includes a can of double chocolate cocoa, classic peppermint cocoa stirrers, and miniature marshmallows—is sure to please every age. $19.95

A warming cup for cold days

Do you know a tea connoisseur—or perhaps a coffee-lover who’s trying to convert? A tea sampler might be the perfect gift for them. You can get a box of tea from Boulder-based Celestial Seasonings for as little as three bucks and some change, or go all in on a six-pack (which is still under $20). $3.39-$20

A saucy present for the hot sauce lovers

K-Sauce’s selections are made in small batches with no preservatives, artificial thickeners, or colorings. The Centennial-based company sells seven different hot sauces—of varying heat levels in flavors ranging from mango to chipotle—that retail for $7 for a 5 oz. bottle.


Give the gift of creativity with do-it-yourself (even at home in your pajamas!) kits for making your own…

Soap. Artisanal soap seems to be everywhere these days—so it can’t be too difficult to do—plus, it’s something that everyone needs. This soap-making kit from Etsy is the perfect setup for children and adults alike who wish to dip their toes into this squeaky-clean business. The foolproof kit has everything you need to make two 4 oz. soy wax candles. Bonus: Shop around for kits on Etsy, and you might stumble across other great options—like this candle/lip balm all-in-one. $10-$20

Jewelry. Again, from Etsy—the website for DIY everything—this pack includes six different colors of beads, thread, clasps, instructions, and everything else you need to string your own bracelets. Available in different sizes and color schemes for $16.

Drawings. The meditative practice of coloring cannot be overstated, and there are myriad books out there for ages 0 to 100. This book—with 24 unique, hand-drawn illustrations by the Midwest-based Lunawind Design and Iron Maid Art—will be especially appreciated by animal lovers. $12


For that person who needs to stay hydrated (i.e., all of us)

Pretty much everybody totes around a reusable bottle these days, but if you know someone who is behind the times—or could use a new one—check out Polar Bottle’s hot- and cold-friendly lightweight polypropylene bottles. The Boulder-based company’s water bottles are customizable, available in 11 different colors, and most retail for less than $20.

For that Colorado newbie who is still struggling with the dry climate

Help the Chapstick-obsessed break their habit with the cheap stuff by gifting them one of Sweet Bee Sisters’ locally made lip balms. Buy the consciously made balms (or one of their other lovely products) online, or find them at the Holiday Flea, happening this and every weekend throughout December (check the schedule here). $3

For the conscious shopper and design-lover

Zeal Living was founded by a South Africa-to-Colorado transplant who wanted to connect people to talented African makers and designers. Now the Westminster-based company sells myriad handcrafted items imported from the continent, including this hand-woven basket that was made (in a fair trade environment in Uganda) from raffia, a native African palm tree. $19.95