Just like last year’s roundup of budget-friendly holiday gifts, we’re back to share what tickled our fancy this year. So we set off to three mainstream stores that hopefully many of you have access to (if not there’s always online ordering) and snapped a few pics of our favorite non-fund-depleting finds. The best part is that many of them can be had for just a few dollars and nothing in our roundup is over the 20-something range. Plus some of these items can be adapted or DIYed so you can whip them up for even less at home. Doesn’t that put some seasonal spring in your step? So without further ado, here’s what made us want to rent a Santa suit and utter “ho ho ho” to anyone who would listen…
First we stopped at Crate & Barrel since they’re always a great place to sleuth out pretty glassware, bud vases, and more on a dime. We always walk into the store assuming that things are in the $50+ range but there are so many amazing items that still look super high-end but can be snagged for just a few bucks. Like these stemless wine glasses for example. At just $2.50 a pop you can grab a set of four for $10 and just pick up a bottle of bubbly or cider to round out the gift in under $20. Plus C&B will wrap everything up so nicely for you (in tissue and a chic Crate & Barrel box for free) that we guarantee your giftee will never guess that you only spent a few bucks on each wine glass. Bonus- they’ll think of you every time they share a toast. Plus you can even etch them with a custom monogram for a DIY spin that’s super personal and sure to be appreciated.
These festive under-$5 mugs would make great little gifts full of hot cocoa mix and mini marshmallows or gourmet biscotti. They could even be paired with a tin of fancy tea and an inexpensive tea infusers for a charming tossed-together gift that looks elegant and anything but haphazardly glued and over-glittered.
Then we have these pretty $7 and $10 jars that are made from gorgeous green recycled glass and would look adorable full of homemade cookies (you could tie the recipe on a string around the rim). You can even stuff them with something more personal (like yarn for someone who loves to knit or pretty stationery for someone who sends out frequent letters). We’re always a fan of presents where the packaging isn’t tossed away and actually serves as part of the gift- and these containers would be amazing if they lived on as chic sugar or flour containers on a kitchen counter.
And if the jar-o-cookies thing is a bit too tried and true for you, this cute little recycled cruet (which is under $6) would be a pretty holiday hostess gift full of some sort of handmade dressing or marinade (again with the recipe tied to the rim, so the giftee can whip it up again and again). Or the lucky recipient can enjoy your gourmet dressing and then choose to use their cruet to store olive oil or vinegar in style for years to come. Again, you gotta love when the package is part of the present…
These pretty little $3.95 birch-wrapped votives were so natural and cozy that we instantly fell in love. We could picture one atop a tin of gingerbread cookies for a charming gift that looks and smells as warm and inviting as it tastes. Is there anything better than enjoying gingerbread by the light of the fire- er, candle?
Although the goal was to find as many $5-10 items as we could, these bookends were too cute not to mention. At $29 they shouldn’t totally break your budget, and how great would they be if you gifted them along with one of your favorite reads to a fellow bookworm?
We also loved this trio of small frames for $14.95 (which means they break down to less than $5 each if you separate them). You could frame three memorable photos of yourself and three different giftees to create three personalized presents for under $5 a pop. And they’ll all have heartfelt meaning and some serious style.
We also loved this va-va-voom red bud vase that’s just $8.95. You could fill it with fresh flowers or even pair it with tickets to an arboretum (or anything else that’s flower themed). But it doesn’t stop there, you could also gift it along with a box of red and white striped candycanes or gourmet peppermint candy for a red themed present that’s half edible and half keepsake. And everyone knows someone who proudly proclaims that red is their “signature color.”
These cocktail glasses are even cheaper than the stemless wine glasses we shared above (just $1.95 each) and four of them would be super fun paired with cocktail mix and even one of those sugar-the-rim drink kits for an easily under $20 gift that feels festive and fun.
And not all glasses have to be used for drinking. In fact, we thought these pretty colored glass tumblers (on sale for under $4 each) would make charming little votive holders. Just toss a candle in two or three of them (you could go with one of each color or three of the same hue) and even include another item in that color palette (like a jewel toned table runner for example) to round out the little tabletop decor kit.
And for anyone seeking a slightly more substantial gift for someone special, if that person is a wine lover we’ve got you covered. Who wouldn’t adore this gorgeous, sculptural wooden wine rack that just happens to be on sale for $24.95?
And Crate & Barrel is also great for a few little things that round out a gift that’s almost there but just needs a dash of customization (or even just a little something tucked next to the bow on top of the box). These small leatherbound Sudoku and Word Scramble booklets are under $8 and the chic luggage tags and picture clips are in the $2-5 range so they all qualify as stocking stuffers or gift toppers with more flair than the average checkout-counter find.
Then we dropped in on Pottery Barn which had some really pretty holiday decor (this gleaming moss and ornament filled enclave reminded us of these little moss and ornament decorations that we made last year). Gotta love when natural things like fresh green moss meet seasonal sparkle for an understated and charming effect. DIY alert: you could grab some glitter-spray at any craft store and make your own sparkling seasonal pine cones to add to the mix just like they did here.
But back to the gift guide… sorry for that decorating diversion. We loved these gorgeously European-looking ceramic latte cups, coffee mugs, and cuppuccino cups that range from $8-10 and look so high-end and detailed they’d be gorgeous everywhere from a bathroom full of q-tips to a glass-fronted cabinet in a kitchen. Just like the Crate & Barrel mugs they can be filled with hot cocoa mix and marshmallows or even bags of gourmet coffee or cuppuccino for any coffee lovers out there. Heck you can even toss in some biscotti for extra credit.
And because everyone knows someone glamorous and confident enough to appreciate a $10 faux-fur wine cozy (that’s right, not only do they exist but they made our roundup!), this little sleeve of festive holiday ooh-la-la can be gifted along with a posh bottle of wine or cider. Is it weird that I want to pet it for hours?
For anyone who is a bit more decor obsessed (or even math or science obsessed) one of these elegant hourglasses (the big ones are $18 and the little ones are $9) would make quite a memorable present. Can’t you picture the large one on a cool looking Domino desk and the little one serving as an ultra chic paperweight atop a pile of bills and receipts. Nothing like a little accessorizing to make a stack of unpaid bills look good…
We also especially loved this simple stack of towels bound together with a gleaming ornament, so for anyone who is giving anything that can be folded and corralled with a bit of ribbon (dishtowels? placemats? fabric napkins? etc) channel the PB style gurus and add a little ornament to keep things fun and festive. Again there’s no wasteful one-time-use gift wrap that’ll get all balled up and tossed in the trash- and we love that you can pick an ornament and some ribbon that will work with whatever you’re “wrapping” for a chic little coordinated effect. Note: for more ways to wrap gifts in unexpected ways (that are easy on your wallet) check out this post from last year on the subject.
Finally we slipped through Urban Outfitters since they’re full of hipster-fabulous finds that are quirky, unique and oh so entertaining. Plus they won’t cost you an arm and a leg. First I found these gorgeous ceramic doggy banks (I used to think I only loved white ceramic animals but it turns out I have a thing for black and white ones too!). And at just $18 a pop they’re amazing gifts for anyone who loves dogs, banks, or just having some cool conversation piece on their bookcase or mantel. And they’re actually pretty big too (the photo sort of dwarfs them) so they’re definitely statement-makers for less than 20 beans. And in case it’s not painfully obvious, I want one really bad (are you reading this honey?).
To stick with the ceramic animal theme here for a minute, these $20 cow banks are pretty darn cool too. They’re definitely not for everyone, but you just might know some cute farm guy or gal who would adore one (and you could pair it with a cow creamer or some cow tails to take it even further).
And because we’re both pretty personalization-happy, and John is a lover of all things typography, we couldn’t fail to mention these amazing oversized metal letters that run in the $18-20 range and would definitely be cool gifts for anyone with… oh, a first or last initial for example. You could even get two initials and an ampersand for any paired off friends or relatives that you think would love something so bold and graphic. And maybe we just have babies on the brain, but we’re thinking one (or a collection of a few) would look pretty cool in a nursery too.
They also had these $8 wire letters that make a cool gift for anyone with a modern aesthetic or a love of industrial-chic design (they’d look especially great in a raw studio apartment or loft space). Plus at just $8 for these you could tie one of them to any gift you’ve already wrapped with ribbon as sort of the ultimate gift topper/accessory. They’re pretty darn fun and almost impossible to put down (I had to pry more than one out of John’s hands before we left).
I’m also a big fan of giving a beautiful scarf or a pair of exotic earrings to a good friend or relative, especially if I see something that screams their name. And these textured scarves actually screamed a lot of my friends’ names so I figured they might help you guys find that perfect gift for the fashionable gal on your list, whoever she may be. They’re far more elaborate and posh looking than their $10 price tag, and we also love using beautiful scarves like these as “gift wrap” of sorts, so you could twist them around a sweater or even a clutch with some ribbon and a card and there you have a stylish little gift pack for your fashionista complete with a scarf and another fun accessory.
And last but certainly not least, this $20 jewelry tree was so charming and sweet that we thought it would work for everyone from a coworker to a best friend and even a mother or grandmother. It’s made from white painted metal so it’s substantial and elegant in your hand, and imagine how pretty it would look on a dresser or night table with earrings and necklaces draped over a few of the branches.
So that’s a roundup of all the little tokens of love and friendship that we think could make thoughtful (and affordable gifts) for you and yours. Because there’s nothing like giving a ceramic cow without having to utter “holy cow” when you open your bank statement a few weeks later. Ok, so maybe the bovine joke was a bit of stretch, but we really hope you enjoyed this year’s little virtual shopping spree with us. And don’t forget to drop in on last year’s Holly Jolly Gift Guide for even more ideas that are as easy on the eyes as they are on the wallet. Happy holiday shopping to one and all!
Note: None of these stores paid us for this mention or otherwise rewarded us in any way. They’re just real places that we actually shop for gifts (in fact we picked up a few things for our family and friends as we went) so they’re perfect sources gift-giving inspiration.
Thanks for sharing! C&B is the best! The hard part is leaving the store with nothing for yourself. I was thinking of making flavored EVOO for some folks this year and those cruets would be perfect!!
I love to give magazine subscriptions as a gift – cheap and lasts all year!
Love the little picture frames!
Sadly, not a single one of these stores is close by me :(
Oh my gosh, love all this stuff!!
my boyfriend gave me that wine rack for my 21st birthday and i LOVE it! it’s beautiful and funky all at the same time.
Jeannine @ Small & Chic says
This is great! I got to shop at Short Pump without battling the traffic! :)
I’ve been seeing jewelry trees more and more in the last year (Urban Outfitters was carrying them last Christmas, too). I love that one…but I’m not sure I’d hang anything on it. It’s pretty on its own.
Great ideas you guys!! I love C&B!!! Especially at Christmas when they have so many fun holidays items!!! Thanks for sharing with us!!
what a great list!!! i love that tree at the end! and the deco diversion. and so much more!
Wow, looks like I need to stop by C&B and Urban Outfitters stat! I see some really awesome gift ideas all within my budget! I never would’ve thought C&B had such affordable stuff. I must go.
WOW i need to stop by C&B ASAP! thank you for putting together a very helpful and wonderful list of gift ideas!!
I’ve been coveting those hourglass timers for a couple of months now. For those of us up here in the great white north, Indigo/Chapters carries them.
You guys came at just the right time! I have been trying to figure out what to get the neighbors (the ones we borrow tools from ALL THE TIME). The wine glasses are perfect!
I had no idea those C&B mugs were so cheap. With some homemade marshmallows and cocoa, those would be a lovely gift! We thought about getting a specialty liquor as a gift with a recipe for a new cocktail (and maybe another ingredient, like cinnamon sticks to dress it up). That would be a cute addition to those cocktail glasses too. You could even use mini-bottles to keep the cost down.
Carolyne O says
When you are out “sleuthing” for the rest of us, I love John’s facial expression. He reminds me of a certain detective, aka Horatio Caine. All you need is a pair of sunglasses.
Haha, I’ll have to dress John up like Sherlock Holmes (complete with magnifying glass) next time. Love it!
Tiffany T. says
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Krys 72599 says
Okay, I absolutely LOVE your ideas!
Especially the jewelry tree, and the scarf to wrap a present, and OH – I SO want those bookends!!!
And I like the metal letters – I want a K, and a J, and an ampersand (&)!!!
Oh, that there was an Urban Outfitter’s around here – I have fallen hard for that ceramic Boston Terrier!
Great ideas, all!
Wow… these are supposed to be gift ideas, right? Turns out, I want them all myself. Bah humbug to me.
In all seriousness, these are fanTAStic ideas… can’t wait to take advantage of some of them, I just hope all of my friends don’t read your blog!!
LOVE LOVE LOVE!! I have the two larger crimson vases (from last year) and am DYING to grab the smallest one to complete my set.
I have a question for you though – have you ever been asked to leave for taking pictures? I’ve had friends who have gotten in some trouble for taking pictures in stores, including Target, which I know you’ve done successfully. I love that you do it, I’m just wondering if you ask for permission first, or if you’ve ever been approached by an employee about it.
Good question! In smaller mom & pop shops (or local favorites) we always get permission before we snap away, but in mainstream stores we just whip out the camera and start shooting (since there are tons of pics everywhere from google to flickr that are shot by regular people as they’re browsing at these stores). To date no one has ever asked us to put away the camera or stop taking photos- I guess they figure taking pictures of something is a sign that we like it (so they’re cool with that). Hope it helps!
Jocelyn Stott says
I LOOOOOVE C&B and I have been impressed with their prices for years. As always, great post.
Such awesome ideas! Just read through this entry to help pass the end of my boring work day and got gift ideas for everyone who was left on my list! You guys are so awesome and creative – I’ve implemented a couple ideas from your blog at my house and for gifts and I always get complimented. Of course I always send people your way! Keep up the great work :)
I love those bookends and that jewelry tree! Thanks for sharing. And we have a Crate and Barrell outlet in the next town…don’t hate me for that. LOL!!!
I love everything. I want all of it!!!!!!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me how I can get that super cute white tree jewerly stand you showed in the second to last pic. I’ve been on the pottery barn website and can’t find it at all!!!! It’s a must have for our master bedroom that we are in the process of remodeling.
BTW, I LOVE the blog. You both ROCK! :)
That’s from Urban Outfitters! We profiled a few gifts from Crate & Barrel, then Pottery Barn, and finally a few from Urban Outfitters at the end. Hope it helps!
Rose N. says
Cute… but not one of these stores is anywhere near me. I was thinking you’d highlight some Tar-jay or something, but you still had some nice finds.
Since a few of our recent online shopping sprees were both at Target (check out this one and this one) we decided to switch it up this time, although we’re sure you can find awesome things there as well. Happy hunting!
I can’t find a couple of these gifts online at C&B, are they in store only? (looking at the cow bank and the hourglass)
The cow bank is actually from Urban Outfitters and the hour glasses are from Pottery Barn. We profiled a few gifts from Crate & Barrel, then Pottery Barn, and finally a few from Urban Outfitters at the end. Hope it helps!
None of those stores are close to me either but they all have stuff online. I’ve never ordered from C&B but it’s other store CB2 I’ve ordered from a ton and they have lots of cute stuff too and they pack everything so well I haven’t had a lot of broken stuff. Even if it does get broken they’re great about sending replacments. Check them out too for fantastic stuff at great prices!
But truthfully, I love online shopping which is a good thing since most of my favorite stores are no where near me!
Jessie (Vegan-minded) says
So many nice things! I love the jewelery tree at the end!
I have those stemless wine glasses from C&B and they’re great! I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on them, too- I wouldn’t have expected since they’re so simple, but people just love ’em.
Thanks for letting me know about the white Jewelry tree. I’m on my way now to pick it up online! :)
Thought of you when I spied these at the Barnes and Nobel!
Dachsund white resin bookends at the link below. They look fab in real life!
So cute! Love them.
Your gift guide was cute, but before you shop at Urban next time, remember it’s an awful store.
I’m not going to bore you with a ton of article links (the one above was the first one on my Google search), but Urban has disgusting political connections and store practices. They sell a wide variety of graphic tees and one in each batch is usually stupid. A couple that stick out in my mind: “New Mexico: Cleaner Than Regular Mexico”, “Voting is for old people”. The store supports politicians that are anti-gay, anti-condom and that promote teaching intelligent design in schools. Furthermore, they sell items that contain harmful amounts of chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects in babies. In California, we have a law that mandates that signs be posted around buildings/materials that can harm you (Prop 65? I think? Off the top of my head at 2 in the morning?) and the Urban by my house is full of them. Also, most of their stuff is crappy, falls apart really fast and goes on sale for 1/25 its original price.
Big favor… I love ( and want) the Urban Outfitters scarves! I’d like to send the photo to my folks to push them in the right direction…can you post a jpeg? They are not on UO’s website. Otherwise I will print from here. (They can open email and photo , but after that directing them to websites etc is too high tech)
If you right click on the pic of the scarves in the post above you should be able to save it to your desktop (or you can drag it over to your desktop if you’re on a Mac). Then you can include the jpg in an email, etc. Hope it helps!
thankya very much
Jessica at Lavender and Lilies says
I could live in Crate and Barrel. If I had to pick on store to shop in for the rest of my life that would be it!
Thank you for this post. My husband’s side of the family always does a Secret Santa on Christmas Eve and everyone brings a gift for under $25. So this list comes in handy and really gets my wheels a-turnin’. Maybe I’ll play dumb and just pick my own fabulous gift :)
Elisa @ whatthevita says
I think I’m going to get these wire letters for my brother, alex, and his wife, alexa – yep that’s their names! A & A would be cute… but do you know if the wire letters have the & symbol?
Good question! We’re not sure. Maybe you can call the store to see if they carry them? Or find an ampersand somewhere else (Anthropologie has wall letters too) and mix and match them? Hope it helps! Happy hunting…
Ahhh… beautiful Pottery Barn decor. I have a love hate relationship with them. This fall I picked up acorns from the yard b/c of their inspiration, and ended up with little white worms everywhere. Btw… not that Burger has ever had a weight problem, but apparently, my schnauzer is getting fat. According to a very smug vet. Any tips on doggy weight loss? :)
Hmm, we really don’t have any doggie weight loss tips since our vet is really happy with Burger’s 8lb body. We do go for 3 mile walks pretty regularly (about 5 times a week) and he eats like a bird so that might be why (we actually leave his food out all the time for him and he grazes all day instead of scarfing it as soon as the bowl hits the floor). Maybe talking to your vet would be the best way to get answers since she can prescribe a specific weight loss food or exercise regiment for your little guy? Or if your vet’s too smug for your liking maybe you can google around for forums or online tips from a reputable source? Hope it helps!
Great ideas! I HAVE to have that faux-fur wine cozy. I can’t find it on P&B’s website. Maybe it’s an in-store only item? I’m obsessed with it…
Yup, any and all of the things we featured could be in-store only or available on the website so if you don’t have access to a store near you and can’t find it online we would recommend calling a store to see what the deal is (maybe they can ship one to you from the store even if it’s not on the website). Hope it helps!
Thought I’d chime in! I work at Pottery Barn (glad to see it getting some love on YHL!), and we regularly ship our in store merch for customers. shipping is reasonable and quicker than the catalog! Oh, and just a tip, try calling during the day on a weekday when they are not so busy, you will get impeccable service. The weekends during the holidays are crazy busy!
Thanks so much for the tip Amy! Definitely good to know.
You must know someone at C&B, when my my and I went to Chicago a month or so ago the sign on the door said, “No photography!” What up with that? We were going in to get ideas for her basement redo and were upset we couldn’t take any pics. But you go!! Love the ideas.
Maybe everyone is nicer here in the south? You know, good ol’ southern values? Haha. Nobody ever looks twice at us when we walk around snapping away! Or maybe we just have innocent faces. That might be it…
The Classy Woman says
I’m loving the jewelry tree and the book ends! I think I can make those bookends into a DIY project!
i want those wire letters! correction: i will have those wire letters very very soon!
I work at C&B, and appreciate the Crate and Barrel props!
I’ve never seen a sign stating no photography, but it’s entirely possible that the Michigan Avenue store (Chicago) requests that just because of the sheer number of customers frequenting it.
Thanks again for the love :)
P.S. After reading through some of the comments, I wanted to mention that a C&B store will do an over the phone order for those that don’t have a store close to them :)
Or, you can always try calling customer service and see if you can order it, even if it’s not featured on the website.
Nicole RJ says
Oooh… so many great finds! I may have to make the hour+ trek to Crate & Barrel! And find that ampersand while I’m at it… we have our initials left-over from our wedding decor, but I have yet to find an ampersand to go with.
Sunny's Life in Rehab says
Love the gift guide! I appreciate you doing all that legwork for me!
Last year, we made 78 mugs with cocoa mix using these wonderful funky colored cups from IKEA. At $0.59 each, our gifts came in at under $1 per person, which meant a thoughtful little gift for everyone on all of our lists was actually cheaper than a card.
Love the gift guide! You have the best ideas…I’m all about ‘theme’ presents..like red vases and peppermints or mugs and cocoa. Great ideas!
Also, I bought some pine cones and spray painted them myself with silver metallic paint and I’m LOVING them…sitting on tables…in jars with artificial snow…everywhere! So in love with this season…:)
Tracy Suzanne says
I just love the jewelry tree holder and the wine rack shelf is so unique and cool.
Merry Christmas…Tracy :)