In a holiday season where money is tight, it’s important to make every dollar count – but just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t give a really memorable gift. If you’re strapped for gift ideas and low on cash, consider one of these unique stocking stuffers. They’re all under $25, many under $15, and are sure to surprise and please your recipients.
These Primula Flowering Tea sets are both incredibly elegant and very affordable, containing 12 tea flower buds that “bloom” when placed in hot water. Hand crafted by Chinese artisans, each bud is made of intricately sewn green tea leaves that expand and unfurl as soon as they’re put to steep, creating a beautiful leafy flower blossom that can brew a whole pot of tea up to three times. They look great in a glass bowl or tea pot, produce a strong jasmine flavor and fragrance, and are just plain fun to watch as they “grow” while your tea steeps.
These Whiskey Stones from Teroforma are one of my favorite stocking stuffers. They’re compact, relatively inexpensive, and get some of the greatest expressions. So what are they? No, it’s not like stuffing your best friend’s stocking with rocks – these babies are the best ice cubes you’ll ever get. Made of specially designed squares of soapstone, these whiskey stones retain cold (or heat) extremely well, and allow you to chill (or heat) your drink without diluting it. They’re non-porous, so they won’t absorb any odors or flavors from whatever you soak them in (and won’t make your drink taste like rocks, either!), and won’t scratch your glassware or ceramic mugs, so they’re safe to use even with your nice bar glasses. It brings a whole new meaning to “on the rocks” and is sure to get a few good laughs, and plenty of use.
In colder climates, smartphone owners are finding out just how hard it is to use a touch screen with gloves on. If you’ve got an iphone fiend on your Christmas list, Smartouch Gloves might be the perfect gift. Designed with conductive thread in the index fingers and thumbs, these gloves are fully touch screen compatible, warm, and have a sturdy rubber grip on the palms – no more one frozen hand and a glove in your mouth while you try to return a call!
The Platypus Water Bottle is the lowest-tech-looking green innovation out there. Totally BPA free, this 1 liter bottle is ultra flexible and easy to fit into just about any space. Better still, when it’s empty, it rolls and folds down to about the size of your finger and weighs almost nothing. Great for frequent fliers and backpackers, or anyone that wants to stay hydrated but might not have a lot of purse or backpack room to spare.
Another great gadget for a smartphone lover. From the front, this iBottleopener looks, well, just about like any other iphone case. But on the back it comes complete with a simple, ergonomically designed bottle opener. It works great, is unobtrusive to the phone, and is really just about the best way to always have a bottle opener on hand at all times, without having any extra weight to carry or anything to remember to bring.
These Digital Keychain Photo Frames make great gifts for moms. I don’t think I’ve ever met a mom that wouldn’t proudly display pictures of her children (or grandchildren), and this little 1.8 inch screen displays a slideshow of up to a megabyte of your favorite160x128px images. These devices have come down hugely in price over the last year or two – this one is just over $10 – but will still look almost like magic to a parent or in-law without a lot of tech savvy.
In the quest for the world’s most perfect hide-a-USB-key, this Swiss Army USB Key ranks pretty high. On the outside, it’s a totally standard looking swiss army style knife. Inside, there’s no knife at all – but a 4GB USB 2.0 thumb drive that hides completely and discreetly, and is totally TSA friendly for frequent fliers. It also has 256 bit encryption and password protection, automatically backs up your files, and allows you to browse anonymously on public computers, which makes it an especially great gift for a business traveler or a student.
Finally, for all your favorite audiophiles, this compact Xmini Speaker is perfect for listening to music on the go. It plugs into just about any smartphone, mp3 player, or laptop with a 3.5 mm audio cord that stows on the bottom of the speaker. It expands ever so slightly when in use, and produces amazing quality sound and big, boomy base – especially for a speaker so small you can carry it in your pocket. The Xmini speakers easily outclass ones that are much larger and more expensive, but are still priced low enough to make a great stocking stuffer.
What are some of the best budget gifts you’ve found this season? Anything you’re especially proud of? I’d love to hear your best gift ideas in the comments!