50 Unique Holiday Gift Ideas for Him Under $50
Finding the right gifts for the men in your life can be challenge, but it doesn't need to be an exercise in tedium. Our guide features 50 inexpensive ideas, from grooming products to kitchen gadgets to fitness equipment, as well as novel suggestions sure to match the interests of just about anyone. Best of all, each is under $50.
A reclaimed-wood bottle opener painted to reflect his interests makes a unique and personalized gift. The Grizzly Bear Creations store on Etsy charges $35 for rustic designs that include football teams and branches of the military, and can be customized by contacting the maker.
A miniature terrarium maybe just the right gift for the guy with a green thumb. A terrarium kit starts at $10 on Etsy and can always be personalized with unique finds -- a special moss from the garden center or a few trinkets from a flea market, for example. Some kits come with the container; otherwise buy a Mason jar at the dollar store or a decorative glass vessel costing $10 to $20 at a craft store. Once complete, one of these miniature wonders can brighten his day at work or his favorite room at home.
His phone may have a camera, but there's still something special about using a device specifically made to take pictures -- especially if he builds it himself. The Fotodiox DIY Twin Lens Reflex Camera kit costs $15 and comes with all the parts necessary to build a working twin-lens reflex, 35 mm camera. In reviews, users generally say assembly is fun (heads up: "springs C and D are swapped," according to one post), although reports about photo quality are mixed. Film not included.
Store-bought whiskey won't be just another bland holiday gift after it's infused with flavors he likes. The site Boozed + Infused offers several recipes, from a classic limoncello to more adventuresome habanero honey whiskey. Infusing takes anywhere from a day or two to well over a week, depending on the recipe.
A full bottle of liquor may be too pricey, but mixers are a cheap alternative. Bring out his inner mixologist with tea-based mixers from Owl's Brew ($8 to $17). Or go with bitters, an important ingredient in many drinks. A classic like Peychaud's ($12 on Amazon) belongs in a Sazerac, while Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters ($20 at Amazon) lend a touch of chocolate spice. For the drinker committed to quality no matter where he goes, The Bitter Truth makes a traveler's set of bitters ($20).
Help a bacon lover truly appreciate pork in all its glory with the Original Bacon Kit ($20). It comes with a curing bag, the cure, maple sugar, a thermometer, and directions. All you need to add is 5 pounds of pork belly, currently selling for about $5 a pound at a local butcher. The bacon can be made in an oven or a smoker and the entire family can reap the benefits.
For a guy who eats a meat-free diet, the website UncommonGoods sells a tofu-making kit ($19) that comes with GMO-free soybeans, a mold, and cheesecloth. The only other required supplies are a blender and a lemon, and the only choice he has to make is how firm to make the tofu. A 1-pound brick is ready in less than an hour and can be used to enhance a stir-fry, slapped onto a grill, or marinated and baked for snacks or salad toppings.
If your man relaxes with a beer in hand, give the clever Beerzicle beer coolers (three for $18 on Amazon). Warm beers will be a thing of the past with these freezable coolers, which are inserted in a bottle so the liquid stays cold. Wrap them up with a six-pack of his favorite beer, or a more expensive brew he wouldn't buy for an ordinary evening.
Hunters, hikers, campers, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds need a second set of eyes. Backed by the Bushnell brand, lightweight Falcon series binoculars ($23 on Amazon) feature high-definition clarity and come with a case. They're rugged and built for outdoor wear and tear.
Here's an idea for the man with a discerning palate and a way with pots and pans: a grow-your-own-mushrooms kit from Back to the Roots ($20). The first harvest of gourmet, organic mushrooms should take less than two weeks after watering begins, although some buyers report that it can take longer. The kit yields more than a pound of pearl oyster mushrooms.
The more irreverent version of the family-game-night favorite Apples to Apples sells for $25 on Amazon and at many game shops. A printable version of Cards Against Humanity also can be legally downloaded for free at the game-maker's website. Although it takes about an hour and costs about $10 in ink and paper, it's a frugal way to get your hands on a popular gift. Six expansion packs, three holiday-themed packs, and three additional variety packs are also available for $5 to $10 each. The expansions and downloadable version include blank cards for creating unique questions and answers.
Wrapping up frozen ice cream as a gift is a non-starter, but a good selection of toppings is another matter. Grocery store dessert aisles stock a wide selection of hot fudge, caramel, butterscotch, and fruit-flavored toppings. Browse the aisles of Costco or Sam's Club and you might find a different assortment at lower prices. Add to the basket a couple of decorative bowls, such as the parlor ice cream dish from Crate and Barrel ($3), and a jar of chocolate or rainbow sprinkles to sweeten the treat.
Even in today's electronic era there's room for old-fashioned pen-on-paper writing supplies. Start with several attractive pens in a variety of ink types, including ballpoint, fiber tip, and gel. Add a couple of blank-book journals or standard notebooks -- a three-pack of Field Notes portable memo books costs $10 -- and present the gift in a basket.
One of 2016's hottest-selling (and perhaps most dangerous) tech gifts is a quadcopter, aka a drone. DIY kits and ready-made models cost anywhere from $20 to more than $1,000. Shoppers should look for Black Friday deals on drones of all kinds this year. For instance, the Swift Stream Z-9 camera drone, which records real-time video, will be available from Kmart for $60, down from $100.
Photo gifts are a good way to give a unique gift without forking over too much dough. Walgreens will put photos on a mug for a coffee lover for $12 or make them into a wall calendar for about $20, with each month highlighting a special memory. Many stores also have kiosks for uploading, ordering, and printing favorite shots that can be given as gifts in matted frames.
This is a useful holiday gift that adds a brilliant pop of flavor to gourmet and everyday dishes. Small-batch artisan salts from Chef Salt start at $10 each, or $25 for a gift box of any two jars, plus recipe cards for the chosen salts. Volcanic and sea salts are blended with herbs and spices to create varieties such as Bamboo Curry and Holy Mole.
What's salt without pepper? Cook's Illustrated deems Tellicherry black peppercorns perhaps the world's finest; they deliver a deep, complex flavor with a nice bite. A full pound costs about $14 on Amazon and should last about a year. Alternatively, divide the haul into four stocking stuffers for the gourmet cooks on the gift list. A little jar of peppercorns bedecked with a ribbon promises to spice up any meal.
Pricey disposable razor blades sometimes get thrown out after only a week. Help him save money -- and his skin -- with the Blade Buddy (from $14 on Amazon), which keeps those little cartridges sharp for months. This gift is good for the wallet and for the planet, and 675 customer reviews give the product an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars.
Bacon now enhances nearly every type of food, from cupcakes to beer. Cooks often use pancetta, pork belly, or the standard smoked variety, but guanciale -- cured meat from the jowl of a pig -- would make a singular Christmas gift for a pork-loving foodie. Popular in central Italy but less known in the U.S., guanciale is leaner and boasts a more pronounced flavor than bacon. Olio&Olive sells 4 ounces for $5, or 2 pounds for $25.
Unleash the barbecue beast within and give the gift of Cave Tools Meat Claws ($13 on Amazon) for preparing pulled pork. Strong enough to shred other kinds of slow-cooked, grilled, or smoked meat, the claws also can be used to pick up food and carve large pieces of meat without slippage. More than 400 reviewers award the claws an exceptional 4.8 stars.
Got a man in your life who's a world traveler or aspires to be? Help him remember past trips or offer motivation to start packing with a scratch map. For each place visited, he scratches off the country, lotto-ticket style. Depending on the scope of his wanderlust, choose a world map ($26 from UncommonGoods) or a version that focuses on the U.S. ($22). Reviewers who have given scratch maps as gifts say they're tempted to buy one for themselves.
Dessert is always a welcome gift and, for many, chocolate makes it doubly so. Aficionados will delight in "bean-to-bar" artisanal chocolate, which often goes for less than $10. Jacques Torres' Wicked Hot Chocolate mix ($18 for 18 ounces) contains enough cinnamon, allspice, and chili to rouse the taste buds of the most jaded palate.
Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean drinks don't still need chilling inside. Basily heart-shaped chilling stones ($20 for four on Amazon) are an ice-cube alternative made of stainless steel. He can use them in a good scotch or even chill a glass of fine wine without diluting it.
Save the arm strength for hugs this season rather than wrestle with stubborn wine corks. The Oster electric wine bottle opener (on sale for $13 at Best Buy) has won over thousands of consumers who have posted reviews on retail sites. The opener is cordless and comes with a charging base; one charge opens up to 30 bottles.
A solid block of iron shaped like a cannonball with a handle, the kettlebell is among the most effective single pieces of workout equipment an athlete can own. Even the most basic kettlebell exercises, like the two-hand swing, can promote rapid weight loss and improve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, strength, and explosive power. The 35-pound CAP Barbell kettlebell ($35 on Amazon) is solid cast iron and has a flat bottom to prevent rolling.
Moleskine stationery is sold at most major office supply stores -- and with good reason. This popular product line features durable covers, steadfast spine binding, smooth pages, and elastic closures. If he enjoys journaling or compiling to-do lists, or perhaps needs a place for work notes, consider gifting a few Moleskine notebooks or journals. Classic hardcover notebooks start at $10 on Amazon.
Moo has surged to popularity by offering luxury business cards online. Help him network at events, in meetings, or out on the town with a gift card to Moo, which lets customers design cards from scratch or use a template. A pack of 50 high-quality business cards starts at $20 plus shipping.
Gift cards from a local auto parts store are a surefire winner for car guys. They know what their vehicles need, what maintenance jobs are coming up, and what brands they like. AutoZone, O'Reilly, Advance, and most other auto parts chains sell gift cards in various denominations. Many can be ordered online at a discount.
There is bound to be at least one movie in theaters next year that everyone will want to see. Give a movie pass to a nearby theater chain or a gift card from the ticketing site Fandango. There's a $2 fee to receive a physical card, but a printout of the fee-free e-mail version also fits nicely in a stocking.
Google helped turn smartphones into virtual reality viewers with a just a few pieces of cardboard. Now there are 14 different cases (starting at $5) that bear the Google Cardboard badge -- a perfect inexpensive gift for a techie. The Google Cardboard ecosystem is associated with numerous apps, videos, and games.
Some guys just can't keep track of their things, making a lost-item finder a welcome and practical stocking stuffer. This is a small Bluetooth tracking device that attaches to keys, luggage, a backpack, a wallet, or just about anything else. Inexpensive options include Tile and Cube (both $25 on Amazon).
Rather than buying him more stuff, give the gift of an experience to enjoy. Wrap up a map of national parks or a guide to local nature-rich spots and plan a hike at the location of his choosing. Sweeten the deal with a versatile piece of hiking gear. The original Buff (starting at $20) is a multifunctional tube of moisture-wicking fabric that can be worn more than a dozen different ways. Users say it's indispensable for all types of outdoor activities.
Medicine balls are used by athletes across a wide spectrum of sports to build explosive power, speed, and endurance. Unlike many hard, rubberized modern medicine balls, this old-school throwback is bound in a triple-stitched soft shell. J/fit medicine balls are offered in weights ranging from six to 30 pounds, including a 18-pound model that sells for $34 on Amazon. Each ball is 14 inches in diameter regardless of weight.
For the young man living on his own for the first time, a kitchen starter kit is a welcome gift that can be as generous as the holiday budget allows: an oven mitt stuffed with utensils (whisk, spatula, salad tongs, etc.) from the dollar store will set you back about $20. Alternatively, give a 16-piece knife set from Chicago Cutlery ($39 on Amazon), which features forged, stainless steel knives with full-tang handles and a lifetime warranty.
Give the gift of a fancy dinner courtesy of Omaha Steaks. The Warm Welcome Collection sampler ($45) includes two top sirloins, four Omaha Steaks burgers, four gourmet jumbo franks, a pound of Omaha Steakhouse fries, and four caramel apple tartlets. Meat eaters salivate at this combo, which ships for free in the U.S. The food is frozen and packed in a cooler with dry ice.
You can get a good bocce set for up to eight players for under $50. A GoSports set ($43 on Amazon) contains eight poly-resin throwing balls in four colors, a small white target ball (known as a pallino), and an old-fashioned measuring rope. Four teams of two can pair up with the same color balls, and each pair of colored balls contains one circle-cut ball and one square cut, so eight single players can tell their balls apart.
An entry-level or refurbished iPad can easily cost a couple hundred dollars, but old-fashioned magazine subscriptions are a relative bargain. Make this cheap gift more meaningful by selecting titles that cater to his hobbies and interests. Subscriptions to Car and Driver, Men's Health, or The New Yorker, to name a few, are available for less than $20 (although that price may not buy a full year of some titles).
A favorite beer drinker a gift card to use at a local growler station. These are popping up in pubs, breweries, stand-alone joints, and even grocery stores all over. Search online to find one nearby and let him decide what brew to put in the glass jug -- kombucha and coffee taps are increasingly installed as well, and a fill can cost as little as $5 depending on location. (Note that some places fill only their own branded growlers, which can add significantly to the cost.)