You can do better than a Starbucks gift card. You can. We are speaking directly to you, person googling “cheap gift ideas.” A budget-friendly holiday gift doesn’t have to mean a peppermint bath bomb or a scented candle (which, we would argue, is an extremely personal gift you should only present to someone with whom you share olfactory intimacy). This holiday season, give your loved one the gift of not having to drop off that chenille scarf at the nearest Goodwill. We will help you! Below you’ll find unique gift ideas for the food lovers on your shopping list, none of which are over 50 bucks. Several are even under $20. There’s an elegant and minimalist olive oil carafe, psychedelic coasters, and pretty-yet-practical wine bottle stoppers that make for excellent stocking stuffers. Behold, our under-$50 gift guide.
A few favorites…
Iconic Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce has works in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Pompidou Center, the Met, and—soon—the living room of your Uncle Marcos. These hand-poured resin coasters, which Pesce designed in the ’90s and come in an array of color options, look like melted Jolly Ranchers.
These red-rimmed coffee mugs have a classic diner look, but they also manage to feel modern. Get them for the recent college grad, or someone on your list who’s setting up their first home.
Forget tequila shots. These molds will allow the baker on your list to DIY. Let’s hope they immediately bust into this gift and let you reap the benefits of your gift-giving in the form of a warm cookie slicked with chocolate and filled with milk.
The problem with dishcloths, especially if you live in a humid climate, is that they stink up the whole kitchen after a week’s use. Not so with this kitchen towel, which is made of cotton and rayon infused with binchotan, a type of charcoal that has antibacterial and odor absorbing properties.
Is this the year’s trendiest gift? Quite possibly. Your Very Online friends have likely already been influenced to purchase this cup (or are drawing a hard line and opting out of this trend cycle), but we think it’d make a great gift for your mom. Tell her she has the internet’s favorite hydration vessel. She’ll love it, especially in a bright, fun color or in the pastel tones preferred by beautiful influencers.
Speaking of kitchen gadgets that made the rounds on TikTok, this Dash waffle maker churns out cute mini waffles and understandably had a viral moment. If you’re skeptical whether a waffle maker this inexpensive ($13!) could actually work, that makes sense. We’ve tested it, and while it doesn’t live up to the GOAT, it makes very serviceable mini waffles that go down easy and look adorable. It’s a perfect stocking stuffer.
You really haven’t lived until you’ve had the halva from New York-based purveyor Seed and Mill. It’s flaky. It melts in your mouth. It’s crunchy. It’s everything. Every flavor is delicious, and this sampler pack will allow your loved one to try a variety: salty dark chocolate, pistachio, and chocolate coconut.
People who love to cook do more dishes—there’s just no way around that. Give the person who’s perpetually on washing-up duty the gift of a luxurious skincare gift to soothe their hands after rigorous scrubbing.
Sure, you’re on a budget this holiday season and can’t give a full Le Creuset Dutch oven. But what about a delightfully charming mini version? This tiny Le Creuset is perfect for your friend who frequently cooks for one—with it, a solo baked egg dish on a weeknight suddenly feels extra special.
Full of warm spices like clove and ginger, this ruby-hued liqueur is a spin on sorrel, a Caribbean hibiscus drink with roots in West Africa. Founder Jackie Summers, who grew up steeped in the culinary traditions of his Bajan grandparents, is the first Black person to hold a distilling license post-prohibition, and this low-proof (15% ABV) labor of love has been years in the making. We think it’s a perfect component for a wintry punch.
A fruit bowl, but make it glamorous.
Bring spark to your spice rack with these Greek thyme buds that taste like a flowery oregano. Try them in marinades, crushed over olive oil-drizzled feta, or make your own herbal tea.
<places hot sushi bake right here>
Salsa machas are oil-based condiments that combine chiles with, often, nuts or seeds. You can count on these three varieties from Masienda (we also love its masa) to add heat, depth, and texture to everything from eggs to tamales. The guajillo, cranberry, and hazelnut variety will liven up even the blandest holiday bird, while the revelatory arbol, nori, and sesame blend pulls inspiration from Japan.
You could give the gift of a bottle of wine, or you could give the better gift of a bottle of wine plus these silicone bottle stoppers. They have an airtight seal to keep bottle contents fresh, and they come in a variety of colors—proving that gifts under $50 can be both utilitarian and nice-looking, too.
A great cake never goes out of fashion, but that doesn’t mean the classic Bundt pan couldn’t use a makeover. This geometric pattern is one part disco ball and one part Deco, and all those nooks provide plenty of pockets for glaze to pool.
For the sustainably minded cook, these reusable food wraps made with cotton and beeswax can replace plastic wrap—and they’re pretty enough to gift to the family member who loves their coffee pods and single-use water bottles without it feeling like a pointed comment.
We’re hard pressed to single out one of these four vinegars as the best of the gift set, but we will say that the spicy, vegetal Garden Heat variety punches up a Bloody Mary. If that’s not holiday self-care, we’re not sure what is.
That friend of yours who stores their butter in the dairy drawer in the fridge has no idea that they can have softened, spreadable Kerrygold on demand. Give the gift of buttery bliss with this clay pot. It’s simple, it’s pretty, it’s life changing.
This popcorn bowl comes with a genius attachment to sift out any un-popped kernels for your movie-night snack. But, its elegant shape makes it appealing as a serving vessel for salads and sides, too.
Iris Hantverk employs visually impaired craftsmen in Sweden and Estonia to make its traditional brushes and other housewares. A dough scraper is an essential tool for bakers, and this one, made of birch and stainless steel, comes with a hole in the handle for easy storage on a pegboard or hook.
Fly by Jing’s salsero spoon, features a baseball-size marble sphere that serves as the handle for a wooden spoon. Pop the spoon in the jar and the orb acts like a lid for your chili crisp (or other shelf-stable condiment). Buyor, for nine dollars more, that comes with a jar of Fly by Jing for your little sister who never got that she always wanted.
You can’t very well keep thaton your counter. Instead, decant your olive oil into this handsome terracotta bottle, which is ribbed for your aesthetic pleasure.
Who needs Netflix when you can watch your dog trying to figure out how to get frozen peanut butter out of the kong? But grocery store varieties are loaded with sugar, salt, and additives that your pooch doesn’t need. Big Spoon’s Coconut Chia Wag Butter contains just three high-quality ingredients—peanuts, chia seeds, and coconut—that are full of healthy proteins and fatty acids without the filler.
These minimalist Japanese ceramics will make it look like you have your life together. $50 will net you three matte black plates in different sizes that can be nested together as a set or used separately. Dishwasher safe.
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clay sugar and strawberry flavoring. Even if you lose all your gelt at the Hanukkah party, these wearable lollipops ensure you’ll still go home with candy.
This list contains not one but three different chili oils hailing from various countries, so for extra credit consider throwing them all in a tote with a dozen eggs. Mẹ’s Way differs from the others in its use of fish sauce, which lends a deep umami note to the hot peppers and fried garlic. It’s available in 8- and 16-oz jars. Get the 16.
These gorgeous striped kitchen towels, which come inor shades of blue, are woven in Ethiopia from 100% cotton. You can never have too many.
This reposado is distilled by a team of women using 9 to 10-year-old agaves from the highlands of Jalisco. After resting in wood for 8 months, it’s decanted into these eye-catching bottles, which will upgrade the lucky giftee’s home bar in more ways than one.
A fancy car with a big bow on the hood? Sure, if you like that kind of thing. High-qual tinned fish? Now that’s a thoughtful gift. Fishwife’s beautifully packaged smoked salmon, trout, and tuna are the ultimate luxe-yet-cheap Christmas gift and are delicious in pastas, on toast with soft scrambled eggs, or eaten straight out of the tin with a squeeze of lemon. Buy them individually, or opt for the bestseller three-pack.
For the Whoppers and Maltesers enthusiasts out there, these artisan malt balls are coated in single-origin dark chocolate made with cacao from Tanzania.
For your foraging foodie friend (say that five times fast), opt for a cozy mushroom-themed throw blanket.
This rechargeable waterproof speaker has a surprisingly long battery life and offers a lot of bang for its buck in terms of sound quality to size to price ratio. The perfect gift for your friend who’s always packing a picnic on the weekends, and needs some portable music (or for the friend who cooks in eerie silence in their home kitchen).
Read more Bon Appétit gift guides:
This piece was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2022 and 2023.