Your weird aunt. Your boss. The friend you’re not that close with who insists on exchanging presents. The random coworker you drew in the office gift exchange.
There are some people in life you either don't know well enough or would just rather not buy holiday gifts for. Yet somehow you find yourself shopping for them every year, at a loss for what to buy. Instead of getting them another candle or a boring gift card, why not get them something unique and interesting this year?
Everything on this list is under $30, but they're so nice we don't think your recipient will notice. Be careful, though—if you get them one of these 15 cool gifts, they’re going to want to keep the gift-giving tradition alive for years to come!
1. A soothing salt lamp
Himalayan Salt Lamps are polarizing—you either think they’re really cool or really stupid. Regardless of your personal thoughts on them, you have to admit they make a good gift. They’re unique, quirky, and often inexpensive, and some people believe they can counteract the negative effects of all the electronics in our lives (but we recently found out that's not true). So to that end, it’s kind of a thoughtful present, no?
2. The least expensive Echo
It’s no secret we love Amazon’s line of Echo devices, and you can give the gift of smart tech—without breaking the bank—with the Echo Dot. The upgraded version has better speakers as well as all the same voice-control features, and it's on sale for the holidays, a whopping $20 less than usual.
3. Super cute cat mugs
Anyone who likes cats typically talks about cats enough that you'll know they will like this gift. You’ll get two adorable cat-shaped mugs, as well as matching stirring spoons. They're cute, functional, and under $20.
4. A decorative letter board
Letter boards are having a moment right now, so you can’t go wrong giving one as a gift. People use them to display snarky quotes (me), take baby pictures, commemorate special moments, and much more. Plus, this particular option comes in a whole bunch of cool colors.
5. The ultimate office gift
Have you ever watched a coworker pour themselves a cup of coffee only to get called into a meeting before they can take a sip? When they get back, the coffee is cold—so sad! That’s why a mug warmer, like this top-rated one from Norpro, makes a great office gift. It'll keep their coffee warm through even the longest meetings or whatever other distractions come their way.
6. A homemade hanging terrarium
You get extra points if you make a gift by hand, so why not put together a cute little terrarium? Just order one of these adorable glass containers and several plants, put them inside, and call it a day! Easy, yet thoughtful.
7. Every coffee lover’s dream
As long as your recipient likes coffee, this will be a hit. MistoBox is our favorite coffee subscription service, and you can gift one, three, or six boxes for the holidays, depending on how generous you’re feeling.
8. An itty-bitty waffle maker
Waffles are always an appropriate gift, if you ask me. This mini waffle maker combines two amazing things—cute gadgets and breakfast foods—for a gift that’s sure to be a hit no matter who you give it to.
9. A kids toy that will entertain adults
I recently bought one of these for my 4-year-old cousin, and it’s tough to say who was more entertained by it, me or him. It’s endlessly entertaining to make this little robot spider crawl around, and I’m wagering it would be a good gift for anyone who likes electronics.
10. A top-rated cookbook from everyone’s favorite HGTV star
Cookbooks are another great sweet and functional holiday gift. If you’re having trouble choosing just one, you can’t go wrong with Magnolia Table, which was written by HGTV star Joanna Gaines. It gets rave reviews online and the theme is “recipes for gathering,” which is almost too appropriate for the holidays.
11. A gift they won't expect to wow them
Not only is it unsafe to futz around with your phone while driving, it’s now also illegal in several states. Give your recipient the gift of safety this year with a highly-rated magnetic phone mount for the car! This little gadget from WizGear can mount to any smooth surface, and then you just put the corresponding magnet in your phone case. It might not look like much, but it will be one of the best things they get this year.
12. Oprah’s favorite desk journal
Let’s be real: A lot of the items on Oprah’s list of her "Favorite Things" are really expensive (and we think some really aren't worth it). However, one cute Oprah-approved gift is this motivational desk journal, which encourages you to be bold! Who couldn’t use a little positive mojo in their live?
13. A badass drinking glass
If you’re shopping for a rough-and-tumble guy or gal, they’re sure to love the BenShot Bullet Rocks Glass, which has a real copper bullet embedded in the side. Reviewers rave about the quality of this product, with many writing that it makes for an unbeatable gift.
14. A popular board game
It’s no secret I’m obsessed with board games, which are an often under appreciated pastime in our digital world. One affordable and extremely fun game that makes a great gift is Codenames—its group play makes it perfect for families or avid entertainers.
15. A pencil that you can plant
There’s a lot of weird stuff on the internet, including these pencils that you can plant. Sprout's plantable pencils have seeds in the capsule on the end, so when you’re finished using them, you can plant them and an herb will grow. Random, but cool, don’t you think?
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.