December 17, 2008 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Best gift for under $30?

I realize this has probably been done here before, but I figured at this time of year, such a question may be helpful to others as well.

What is the coolest thing you can think of that is available for under $30? This would be for a Yankee Swap type gift exchange, so the recipient is unknown. Therefore, what sort of sub-$30 item would you pick, that just about anyone could use/enjoy?
posted by mistikle to Shopping (19 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I have a Yankee Swap at the office today, and I'm bringing an immersion blender. Everybody loves smoothies.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Last year a wireless weather station was oddly the must-have.

(My family has done this for a few years, and it's usually gadgets, kitchen, bath, chocolate/coffee or something along a theme. I'm doing the theme this year -- a miniature garden gnome and bulbs for winter indoor flowers.)
posted by ejaned8 at 8:47 AM on December 17, 2008

I've had good luck putting together a themed kit. Once time I put together some melatonin, some scented relaxation candles, a soothing sounds CD, and a pillow for a "Good Night's Sleep." Another time was a frozen Omaha steak, a potato, some frozen veggies, small bottle of A1, and a selection of grilling spices from Penzy's as "A Big Meal." One gift at a Yankee swap that was fought over was called "Muffins: FUCK YEAH!" and was really just 30 bucks worth of muffin mix.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:55 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]

Probably the coolest thing would be a Zen Stone. It's an mp3 that holds a thousand songs, works as a radio, has a timer for jogging, and is very small and light.

Other ideas:

- Emergency mobile phone charger and socket pocket
- Sennheiser earbuds
- Smarwool socks
- High pressure showerhead (Got this idea from Mathowie in another thread)
- Book stay open
- Utilikey
- Leatherman all in one tool
- Jar popper
- Miracle Berry tablets
- Merkur Safety Razor
- Microplane grater
- Zen stones (mp3)
- LED ringlight

Good sites:
- Kool tools
- ThinkGeek
- Fredflare
posted by xammerboy at 8:58 AM on December 17, 2008 [5 favorites]

I have a silly Secret Santa tomorrow (our limit was under $20) so I made a little trio of infused vodkas - one with coffee (the guy I have is a big coffee freak), one pineapple and one lime. Easy to make and inexpensive, and pretty much everyone likes vodka.
posted by kerning at 9:05 AM on December 17, 2008

I would also add Wishingfish and Uncommon Goods to the list of sites. If you don't have time to have something shipped, maybe just look over the sites for inspiration and then go to a brick and mortar store to pick up the actual gift.
posted by scarykarrey at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

This Husky 200 lumen flashlight is pretty kickass for $24.99 at Home Depot. (Husky is the Home Depot store brand, I believe.) It's made a bit of a splash on the flashlight nerd forum because of its high brightness and low cost.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:58 AM on December 17, 2008

A check for $29.99.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:24 AM on December 17, 2008

The Thank You For Being A Friend Necklace.
posted by ND¢ at 11:29 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

A Klean Kanteen.
posted by andythebean at 11:44 AM on December 17, 2008

xammerboy mentions Fred Flare:

They have digital watches that say the time in Japanese. Got one for Mr. Hellbound, I did.

Also try the MOMA Store and Delight.com.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 11:54 AM on December 17, 2008

RC helicopter - Picoo Z Atlas
posted by A189Nut at 12:40 PM on December 17, 2008

A big, fat, all-American steak. And some A-1.
posted by geekchic at 12:57 PM on December 17, 2008

An R2-D2 pepper grinder.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:17 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I bought my nephew the EyeClops Bionic Eye, which lets you view objects magnified 100x, 200x and 400x on your TV screen. I bought it for educational purposes (really, he's 5), but think of all the fun anybody could have with this thing. (It is only under $30 at Amazon; they say the normal price is $50.)
posted by faunafrailty at 3:33 PM on December 17, 2008

Easy: Bacon Salt.
posted by mightshould at 6:29 AM on December 18, 2008

If you were going to give an mp3 player, I would suggest this sansa clip over the zen stone (as the zen stone has no screen, so no selection can be made).
posted by LaszloKv at 12:20 PM on December 18, 2008

A couple of years ago a friend gave us a small window-mount bird feeder and some birdseed. We have really enjoyed it (though, of course, we've had to replenish the seed). We're giving the same thing to a couple of people this Christmas.
posted by not that girl at 6:59 PM on December 18, 2008

Give a {beautiful, hilarious} T-shirt.
posted by shadytrees at 7:59 PM on December 18, 2008

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