I originally made this gift guide for miscellaneous categories — co-worker gifts, neighbor gifts, teacher or coach gifts, white elephant and silly gifts — stuff like that. But then I realized almost everything on this list is good for teens too! So consider this a miscellaneous list + teen list. Plus I included a few ideas that are perfect for family gifts too (items the whole family would enjoy). There are 26 options and more than half are $15 and under, with a whole bunch under $10 too.
As usual, I started with last year’s list and updated it with a bunch of new picks. I hope this guide is helpful!
26 Affordable Gifts for Neighbors, Co-workers, and Aquaintences:
Silver fanny pack — $14. Could be perfect for a white elephant exchange. Or, since fanny packs are totally on trend, it could be perfect as a teen gift with no irony intended.
Casa Tissue Box Cover —$5. We were gifted one of these many years ago and we’ve kept it on our living room coffee table all this time. It’s still the cutest tissue box ever.
Mini Cast Iron Skillet — $8. Talk about a bargain. This 6.5″ skillet is both adorable and totally functional. You could pair it with a cook book as well.
Related, you can get it even smaller at 3.5 inches for $4.50 — could be a fun stocking stuffer. I also noticed these mini cast iron skillet cookie sets that are designed for gifting.
Spark Series: 50 Ways to Ignite Bright Ideas — $12. They look like the prettiest little matchboxes, but inside, each match is designed to spark an idea instead of a fire.
Watercolor Matchbox — $7. Yes, those are fake matches above, but these are real. : ) A pretty box of matches makes a sweet hostess gift or party favor. Homart makes dozens of pretty designs, and many are available in multiples at a discount.
Sticker Book — $9. Hey there 80’s kids. Remember collecting stickers? Well sticker books are BACK. And they’re better than ever. This is a great one, and if you want to see more, the whole collection from Pipsticks + Workman is perfect for gifting.
Roz Chast Ten Graphite Pencils — $8. This one is silly and fun. It’s a box of 10 graphite pencils, all the same color, but each with a different name.
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions — $12. Did someone say absurd hypothetical questions? I’ll bet you know just the person this book was written for.
Wooden Spoon Set — $10. Even the most well-stocked kitchen can always use new wooden spoons. Tied with a big bow, these make a handsome set and would work well as a hostess gift.
Octopus Kite — $11. This one is somewhere between silly and cool. It’s inexpensive, but interesting and would very likely get used. It comes in several different colors.
Mini BlueTooth Speaker — $25. This has 4.5 stars with almost 40,000 ratings! It comes in 6 great colors, and would work for anyone who has a cell phone and likes music or podcasts (which is pretty much everyone).
Retro Uno Cards — $11. It’s just Uno, but it looks so cool with the retro packaging. And who doesn’t love Uno? Another easy stocking stuffer.
Hot Sauce Challenge Book — $24. This seems like a perfect co-worker gift, right? Or maybe for a brother-in-law? Or teenager? I can picture lots of laughs as someone tries out the challenges with their family or friends over the holiday break.
Mixed Pets Socks — $10. A five pack of cute socks. It’s a safe, happy gift.
Magnetic Bottle Opener — $20. This would make a good-looking addition to the fridge.
Bush Craft 101 Field Guide — $10. This is another book with wide-appeal for anyone that seems even mildly interested in the great outdoors.
Honeypot with Dipper — $12. I think of this as a neutral kitchen accessory. It’s charming and useable, and most people don’t have their own little honey pot with a dipper.
I made a whole category of magazine subscriptions because they are one of my favorite things to gift. All you need is someone’s mailing address, and you can gift them something they’ll personally love and that will last all year.
Usually, I order the subscription online, and then pick up a current copy of the magazine at a newsstand. I roll up the magazine, tie a bow around it, and tada!: An easy, affordable, thoughtful gift. It’s also great for last-minute-picking-up-at-the-grocery-store-gift on the way to a party.
And there are so many different magazines!! It’s easy to find one that will fit anyone’s interests. Here are 5 I highly recommend:
Atlantic Magazine — $60. Thoughtful long form essays on current events.
Bon Appétit Magazine — $20. For foodies.
Sunset Magazine — $5. This one is ideal for anyone living in Western States (or for anyone who wishes they were).
The New Yorker Magazine — $5 for 3 months (that’s 12 issues). You always feel smarter when a issue of The New Yorker shows up in your mailbox.
Magnolia Journal — $20. Know a Fixer Upper lover? This subscription will make their day.
Here’s another mini-category within this miscellaneous gift guide. These options are great as family gifts (and some could work as individual gifts too).
Soft Enough for a King — $40. We’ve had this set for a few years and LOVE it. Throughout the month of December, when my kids see their siblings doing something kind, they write it on a piece of paper “straw” and add it to the manger. The goal is to do so much service, that we make a soft place for Baby Jesus to rest in. The set comes with a wooden manger, a Baby Jesus doll, paper straw, and a beautiful picture book. It’s an excellent gift!
Retro Series Board Games — $15 to $20. There are a ton of options in this retro line. You can gift one box, or a few to make a set.
Rainbow Sport Kite — $27. I listed a silly kite above, and this one is more substantial and better quality. Kite-flying is a super fun family activity.
1000 Piece Puzzle of Bestseller Covers — $17. We love doing a puzzle together on Christmas Day in the afternoon. This one seems awesome because there are so many conversations you could have about all those books!
Oversize Connect 4 — $89. What an impact this would make on Christmas morning. It’s four feet wide! An awesome addition to a family room or play room.
Okay. That’s it for these gifts for acquaintances. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do these gifts spark any ideas for you? Feel free to share links in the comments.
P.S. — More gift ideas in The Shop.
31 thoughts on “The Very Best Gift Guide: 26 Miscellaneous Gifts (Plus Family Gifts too!)”
I got the retro Guess Who out of nostalgia and really wish I had just bought the new one; I think I’ll buy the new one for my kids this Christmas. I can’t play without being irritated by the lack of representation and want my kids to see that diversity doesn’t mean a small handful of redheads.
When were asking for input for gift lists, I forgot to ask for ideas for “the sister you love but don’t understand (who has no kids)” or “the father-in-law who needs nothing and asks for nothing”!! People who are important in your life but live far away or you don’t know well enough to know what to get them!!
Does your sister have a Pinterest account? I feel like it’s a strangely good way to get to know someone, AND to sneakily buy them the perfect gift.
Does your father-in-law like chocolates? It’s fun to gather a “flight” of local/interesting chocolates (or anything, really) and let them compare and find their favorites. What could otherwise be just a simple box of candy (or jar of honey, block of cheese, etc.) becomes a thoughtful gift.
Years ago I bought my husband a set of high-quality pencils and a German-made sharpener and it is the most appreciated gift I’ve ever given! They are used everyday and he truly loves the feel of them. Could be a good gift for a crossword puzzler or just someone who loves beautiful quality things. I bought mine from Levenger’s in Florida.
So glad you mentioned the Guess who issues. I’ve only seen the Monopoly and Candy Cane versions in real life so far. Good to know the new one is better on Guess Who.
And I love Jess’s suggestions. For people who don’t “need’ gifts, food or consumables are often a good fit. I remember my sister once gifting a collecting of 12 different rootbeers ‚ one bottle of each. That sort of thing is interesting and fun, but doesn’t hang around the house and bother anyone. You could present it as a taste-testing gift — 5 different BBQ sauces, or a collection of BBQ Potato Chips; an assortment of unusual fruit; chocolate bars, mustards, etc.
You could also go with something like a subscription to (politically neutral) Time Magazine. I think of magazines as consumables too. They find their way to the recycling bin pretty quickly.
The best consumable gift I suggest for my kids is a box of bandaids and a helium balloon. They go crazy for both, but they don’t stay in my house forever!
As someone who is probably “that person” in any gift exchange I get into, except with my sister, I heartily reinforce Jess’s idea of consumables or subscriptions (digital ones would be even better). If you know the person well enough to have any idea of their interest, a gift certificate to a locally-owned store is a good idea, & often can be found online if you’re not local yourself.
And if the person is a minimalist and a design freak (guilty on both counts) and you don’t want to give them something they’ll just drop in their donation box, a donation in their name to a charity you both approve of is an oldie but a goodie. I would MUCH rather you send Leader Dogs for the Blind or Heifer International what you were going to spend on me. Really.
And there’s always the obvious. I have never yet turned down an Amazon gift card.
THANK YOU for that UNO link. I tried to buy just regular old UNO for my kids, and I got a junky knock-off. I thought maybe it was going to be impossible, but here you come to save the day.
Nativities are one of my favorite things to gift. I’m giving this one to my sister’s family this year (she has a collection), and I love Serrv’s mission.
You’re welcome! We love our retro Uno card set, and we’ve gifted a bunch of these too.
Cute! And fountain pens is on my list too… ;)
Great idea! Another fun office supply I love to give is animal shaped paper clips. Perfect for a stocking!
I love the marble coasters and the honey pot!
So, would the teachers out there prefer the octopus kite, the honey pot, or a gift card?
One year I got all the kids’ teachers a Starbucks gift card (my sister who is a middle school teacher told me $5 was fine but you could go $10 even, if you don’t have many to buy for.) Then I put it in a mini gift bag along with some chocolates/candy that I had portioned out from a large bag. Pretty easy and most people drink/love coffee, so it was a big hit.
Thanks, Megan M. I’ve always heard that teachers prefer gift cards. I just feel like it’s copping out (on my part) –like I could do better in the gift giving. :)
I agree! I felt the same way until I really got to know my kids teachers and saw how much they truly loved gift cards and a thoughtful note from the students!
As a school librarian, definitely gift cards are very much appreciated!
Number one best teacher gift is a thoughtful and genuine note from a kid. The best! Gift cards are also great. My personal favorites: coffee of any kind, or Kindle/bookstore (English teacher here!).
The best holiday gift of all time was when one of my previous students and her brother (who was currently my student) recorded their own little CD of holiday songs with one playing piano and the other playing violin. Not an easy or typical holiday gift, but it is to date one of the best I’ve ever received.
My mom has been a teacher for more than 20 years and she loves receiving gift cards to Target and to bookstores the most!
As someone who is gift-challenged I would just like to say that you are very good at this! Thanks for the guides. I will definitely be referring to them!
I have gifted several of the Fontanini sets. They are lovely, can be handled by little ones without concern of breaking, and the company continues to make them so one can build the set throughout many years and/or easily replace missing pieces…… such as when a certain four-year-old in our household years ago would continue to move Baby Jesus to the Polly Pocket jet plane. We started our children with the basic stable and Holy Family as a gift in their toddler years. Each year on the night before Epiphany we would use a variation of the Mexican Three Kings custom: our children would each decorate a cardboard manger (shoe box) with paint, drawings, etc. and filled with straw (shredded paper). The mangers were placed under their beds with the tongue-in-cheek discussions of Epiphany camels leaving a new nativity piece by morning. Our oldest has moved out now and has a complete nativity as a reminder of home and faith.
Oh my gosh, I’ve had my Fontanini set for years & years! And yes, the kids play with it often, even going so far as to drag our tin bicycle ornaments into the scene when they were toddlers. We’ve got 13 figures so far, but my husband has had to restrain me from buying the whole town of Bethlehem…. luckily our church has the Full Fontanini Monty (innkeepers, gaggle of geese, Roman soldiers and all) set up at Christmas. Lovely!
I can sooo relate. We never bought all of Bethlehem! Our sets include the standard nativity pieces plus a dog/cat if that’s what was added to our family that year and maybe a figure that happened to have their name.
All of the things are so nice.
Thanks for sharing this informative post.
Please keep it up. :-)
I highly appreciate you and your hard work, Gabby. Especially since you didn’t have to make gift guides for us. I enjoyed the men’s gift guide best and the big kid’s gift guide best– I used several ideas and links to fill my gift drawer this year with stocking stuffers. Thank you.
We might be getting close to having all of Bethlehem at this point- we set up the manger, with holy family, the wise men with tents and several shepherd and animals on the piano, and then have the village (carpenter shop, green grocer, bakery, wine shop, and well) on the sideboard in the dining room. It’s a lot (and a lot to store in a small apartment), but we love it!
This is a helpful list, but it’s worth clarifying that a year-long subscription to The New Yorker is definitely more than $10! I just purchased a gift subscription while renewing my own, and I think $99 is the lowest promo price they offer for a gift year. Cover price for a single copy is usually $8.99. All money well spent, but anyone hoping to buy a subscription for $10 based on the list above will be sorely disappointed.
Not a huge magazine lover but I miss “Cookie” magazine :-(
I love the hot sauce for the BIL suggestion – my sister gets my husband hot sauce and coffee every year because I don’t like either and she is quite the connoisseur. He loves her present!
I just wanted to make a plug for gift cards to your local (or the recipient’s local) independent bookstore. Most sell more than just books, and some have cafes, events, etc. so it can be a treat for a day or night out. Plus it keeps these stores in business!
Just wanted to say that we bought the octopus kite on your recommendation as a Valentine’s Day surprise for our kids. We flew it today and it was amazing!