Freckles in April: Under $5 Gift Guide

Monday, December 5, 2011

Under $5 Gift Guide

Janssen was invited to a rather high number of "Under $5 Gifts/Favorite Things" parties. I was invited to none. There are two possible reasons for this: 1. my real life friends are boring non-party throwers or 2. Janssen is way way more popular than I am. Leaning toward #2.

Anyway, we were talking about how hard it is to find cool things for under $5. Almost everything that came immediately to mind, like my mascara or fav nail polish, was in the $7-9 range. Under $5 is an elusive category populated with scented candles and cheap bath salts. We thought we could do a little better.

The key to giving inexpensive gifts is presentation. A couple colored pencils wrapped with twine or a pretty ribbon and a gift tag feels special even if you only spent $3. The dollar store carries all kinds of ribbon options for cheap and I love using basic office supply string tags as gift tags.

1. Mirra makeup brushes - These are surprisingly nice, given the price tag, and can be found at Kroger grocery stores (includes Frys in AZ and Smith's in UT and probably a bunch of others in other states). I own a few and use them quite a bit and they've held up really well. Prices start at $2.24 (with my Frys VIP card. Otherwise it was $2.99). There are a few brushes in the $10 range but most are under $5. Bundle two of the cheapest ones together or pair one with...

2. Cover Girl Eye-Enhancers 1 Kit Shadow - Comes in 25 shades and was $2.55 at my grocery store when I last checked.

3. Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy Pens - Archival, acid-free, smudge-proof, water-resistant and all kinds of fun to write with. Black, cranberry and sepia available online for $1.99 apiece.

4. Sequined floral coin purse - Pretty, sparkly, and $4.80!

5. Bar Brow Aviator Sunglasses - Let your friends channel their inner Maverick or Ice Man for $2.49 (on sale from $5.50)

6. DIY Sea Salt Spray - Pick up small spray bottles from Target or Wal-Mart and mix up a big batch of my favorite DIY hair product. You can get a LOT of bottles worth from one little container of epsom salt and one tube of gel so the final cost per person would be well below $5. Bonus points for creating a cute little label to stick on your bottles.

7. Fun tights - I think under $5 options are easier to find in stores than online but I found these awesome pirate ones and diamond textured ones on Amazon. Check Target or Wal Mart.

8. Flour sack kitchen towels - I've found 3 packs for $1 at Dollar Tree. They're wonderfully multipurpose. Good for cleaning up and great for crafts. I let my kids draw on one with colored sharpies and then paint it and we hung it on their wall for a while. I made another one into a baby dress.

9. Erasers with famous paintings and their artists - I kind of feel like maybe my life has been incomplete without one of these sets. On sale for $1.99 (orig. $4.99). It also sounds like they're maybe pretty decent erasers.

10. Pantone colored pencils - for the color nerd who knows what the Pantone color of the year is (it's Honeysuckle) and can't wait to see what it will be for 2012 (yay!). $1.39 apiece in almost any color you can imagine.

11. Socks - Fun ones! Stripes, argyle, polka dot, fuzzy! I've had good luck at Target (I can always find the cheap ones in the store but not online) but I'm sure Wal Mart and department stores like Macy's or JCPenney would also be good. The ones in the picture are, sadly, $7.50. Foiled.

12. Local treats - I get all my bread from a wonderful mom-and-pop bakery. It's about $4 a loaf and I would love to tie a red bow around one and give it as a gift. Delish! I also have some options for locally produced honey and chocolate that would make lovely gifts. Find something you love and share it!

13. Dover Thrift Editions - Cheap paperback versions of classics. I picked up a ton of these in college and they're awesome. Bonus: they tend to be small and thin so I can squeeze more into my limited shelf space.

14. A deck of cards - the more decks you own the greater variety of games you can play! Plus, I don't know about you, but we're always having to buy new decks because one card disappears forever into the depths of our couch. This deck of cards is barely over $1 so you've got some leftover change to include an ebook with instructions for a bunch of different card games if you'd like.

15. A pretty notebook - I think that empty notebooks are among the most wonderful and useful things in the whole world. A purse sized one is perfect for jotting down grocery lists, inspiration, random thoughts, and reminders. Or you can always go with one of those basic spiral-bound $.99 ones from the grocery store (those are actually my fav) and include a fun pen!

16. A pretty bottle - Fill it with homemade lemonade (or something a little stronger, if that's your thing). I'd be thrilled to receive this one! $3.99 at Ikea.

17. Carafe - Find 'em cheap at thrift stores. I never pay more than a buck and I use mine all the time. It makes our beverage of choice (water!) seem so much fancier.

18. Serving Bowl - I think this $1.99 option from Ikea is gorgeous.

19. Cookie cutters - buy online or go to JoAnn's or a baking supply store (they're cheap when you pick them up individually). Include your fav recipe for sugar cookies!

20. Scarf - Thrift these (if you're ok with giving secondhand stuff as gifts). You'll probably spend less than $2 apiece and can sometimes find some really nice ones. Alternatively, places like Old Navy frequently have them for pretty cheap on clearance.

21. Magazine holders - I felt like I finally saw the light when I got myself a set from Office Max to hold all my old Real Simples, Ensigns, etc. But this set of 4 for $2.99 from Ikea (this is becoming the Ikea show) is way prettier.

22. A house plant - Pick up a small glass container from a thrift store. Throw in some pebbles for drainage, a little soil, and a plant. Succulents are ridiculously easy, upkeep wise, but an herb plant would be awesome too.

23. An ornament - You can find pretty options for cheap everywhere (especially after Christmas) but even over the past couple weeks I've had awesome luck at Kohl's, Macy's and random mall kiosks. If you're crafty I'm sure there are some good DIY ideas floating around the blogosphere.

24. Scrabble Slam - We love this game! Much faster paced than its predecessor and you only play with words that have four letters so it's not as intimidating for someone who maybe didn't ever think of high school vocabulary tests as a good time (please tell me someone else out there loved vocab tests as much as I did!).

25. Padded hangers - This is $12.97 for a pack of 10 but you could easily divide them up. Nice hangers are so awesome. I learned the hard way about how cheapy ones ruin your clothes (the shoulders of my fav sweater will never be the same). Some nice wood ones would also be fun.

26. iTunes gift card - music is always a good gift. A $5 gift card can buy a handful of great songs!

27. Rug - If you like to put a rug near your doors then you know they get filthy and beat up fast and usually don't last real long. A cheap stripey one is just the ticket for your friend who likes you to wipe your feet when you come in. This one is $3.99 from Ikea.

28. Your fav snacky food - The Funyons were Aaron's suggestion. I'd probably go with Reeses or something. Maybe a sugar cookie from Sweet Cakes! That's actually a really good idea. Note to self. And they don't need to know you used grocery coupons.

29. Eos organic lip balm - pretty, functional and tasty! I've wanted to try this one for ages and finally picked up the summer fruit flavor at Wal Mart last week. I love it!

30. Homemade candy - caramels, toffee, nut clusters, rock candy. The options are endless! You can even try your hand at making homemade versions of your friend's fav candy bar.

Bonus extra item: when I told my friend RA about this gift guide she immediately pointed me toward these brilliant Apple Core cord wranglers. There are 3 sizes and they're all under $5. They're so well designed (and come in pretty colors!) and I think just about anyone who has electronic devices would appreciate one. I immediately added it to my list. I need something to corral my headphones. They drive me nuts with the constant tangling!

Janssen came up with 30 more ideas. Hop on over to her blog to see the other half of the Under $5 Gift Guide!

*Remember: if you shop online, go through ebates! You get cash back for online purchases. Seriously! I got a check for almost $20 last week. Plus, if you're new, you get a $10 gift card to Target, B&N, Home Depot or when you sign up. Also, they did not pay me to say this. I really just love ebates.


  1. This is awesome! My friends will likely see some items on this list. Now I just need one for my husband since we are travelling instead of exchanging gifts for the holiday.

  2. Ooh, so glad you dropped in the Apple Core plug! I have not personally experienced the awesomeness, but a guy on a flight I was on had them, and they made him look VERY slick indeed. The sampler 3-pack is on my list for a future Amazon order. :)

    Nice gift guide!

  3. These are awesome ideas! Very impressive that you guys came up with 60 different ideas.

  4. Hey, thanks so much for posting this! Great stocking stuffer ideas too, I really appreciate it! :)

  5. I seriously love these ideas. Especially that Apple Core! Must look into that, asap.

    lace, etc.

  6. Confession: I love vocab tests. And I really enjoyed taking the GRE.

  7. This is absolutely amazing. I'm stealing tons of them! My stockings will be so much more exciting this year!

  8. Great ideas, I would love some funky new stockings, and the gift of a water jug (carafe) and cookie cutters is awesome!

    Talitha xx


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