30 Cheap Gifts That Look Way More Expensive Than They Are

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·9 mins read

Nothing takes the joy out of holiday shopping quite like looking at your credit card bill at the end of the month. But that doesn’t mean you have to cut off gifting cold turkey this year—that would be no fun. Instead, might we suggest getting a little more strategic with your purchases? Like these 30 gifts under $20 that look way more expensive than they are. You’ll get through your whole list, without sacrificing your reputation as the most thoughtful gift giver.

RELATED: Here Are the 22 Best-Selling Products of 2020...All of Which Make Great Gifts

1. Jacobsen Salt Co. Chili Lime Salt

Every culinary expert would agree that a good salt is a necessity, not a luxury. This one is infused with Chile de árbol, cayenne, lime and paprika for a contrast of savory and tart flavors that dress up even the simplest dishes. We think it would work especially well as bloody Mary rim (just sayin’).

Buy It ($11)

2. Madewell Chunky Small Hoop Earrings

In a world where most of our meetings and happy hours take place via Zoom, these silver-plated brass hoops add a bit of polish to a regular old tee (just sweep your hair into a messy bun to show them off).

Buy It ($20)

3. Relaxus Bamboo Loofah Bath Brush

Made with an organic bamboo handle, this natural cleansing brush is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional loofahs. Plus, it makes any bath routine feel like a trip to a chic spa.

Buy It ($15)

4. aida Harvey Candy Jar

This candy bowl looks like something straight out of Buckingham Palace, with its crystal-clear etched glass and domed lid. Go the extra mile and fill it with candies or macarons before gifting it to your host.

Buy It ($14)

5. Proraso Shave Brush

Teach the guy on your list the art of self-care with this indulgent shave brush. It’s enough to make any morning feel a little more special (even if he still won’t give up his disposable BIC razors).

Buy It ($19)

6. Capri Blue Burnished Candle

You know those candles that look so pretty but you can’t smell them—even while standing right next to them? This Capri Blue candle not one of those. Notes of freesia, incense, peony and cashmere add a fresh-yet-cozy vibe to any space, while the rose gold and marble vessel is pretty enough to stand on its own as a décor piece.

Buy It ($18)

7. maude Coconut Milk Bath

We love a good bath salt, but there’s something even more indulgent about this coconut milk bath soak. It’s made with dead sea salt for detoxification benefits, but the addition of dehydrated coconut milk adds a skin-softening element that smells downright dreamy.

Buy It ($18)

8. CHAMPS Genuine Leather Duo-Fold Card Holder

Men make minimalism look easy. Take this genuine leather card holder for instance—it fits a reasonable six credit cards in its super slim profile and goes nearly undetected in his back pocket. He still might ask you to keep it in your purse, though.

Buy It ($20; $14)

9. Givenchy Le Rouge Couture Spikes Lipstick Case

A lipstick case is fancy on its own, but embossed with the Givenchy name, and suddenly even a drugstore red feels super luxe.

Buy It ($15)

10. Bp. 52mm Small Wire Oval Sunglasses

These sunglasses are neither too big nor too small—as Goldilocks would say, they’re just right. The oval shape is universally flattering on all face shapes and the gradient lenses add a cool-girl finish that your niece will immediately post on TikTok.

Buy It ($19)

11. Madewell Gemline Stud Earrings

This crystal stud trio creates the same effect as having three separate piercings, without the extra holes. They’re fun yet sophisticated and perfect for your daughter who hates needles but can’t stop talking about getting more piercings.

Buy It ($18)


Along with hand sanitizer, hand cream is still an everyday essential. Nécessaire’s looks chic next to your ring dish, but it’s the fast-absorbing, clean formula (loaded with vitamins, omega fatty acids, squalane, and an age-defying peptides) that convinced us toss every other hand cream we own.

Buy It ($20)

13. Bistro Tile Salt & Pepper Shakers

When you can’t actually go to Paris, bring Paris to your favorite Francophile. This tiled set of salt and pepper shakers looks like it was plucked off the table of a sidewalk bistro café in Montmartre. Just pair it with a basket of savory croissants.

Buy It ($18)

14. Anthropologie Baker Cookie Container

The best part about the holidays? The cookies. Fill this matte black tin with a fresh batch of your famous oatmeal chocolate chip recipe—and you’ll become the most-loved neighbor on your cul-de-sac.

Buy It ($20)

15. Baxter of California Beard Comb

So, your brother has fully embraced the quarantine beard (even though your grandma begs him to shave it every time she’s on FaceTime). But that doesn’t mean it has to look sloppy. This handy tortoiseshell beard comb, which can also be used for his hair, will make him look and feel so sophisticated. Even nana will approve.

Buy It ($18; $15)

16. TRUFF Hot Sauce

Hot sauce isn’t just a condiment; it’s a way of life. This brand infuses theirs with black truffles from Italy, agave from Mexico and organic cumin for a savory, sweet, smoky finish that works on any dish. P.S. The cap is inspired by a truffle—could it be any more Instagrammable?

$18 at Amazon

17. Slant Collections Champagne Please Bell

Kitschy in all the right ways, this bell will go over extremely well with your bestie who unwinds best with a glass of bubbly in hand. Show her just how well you know her by gifting her a fancy bottle of champagne alongside it.

Buy It ($12)

18. Elago Leather AirPods Case

If you’ve ever misplaced your AirPods, you know the sinking feeling of throwing $200 down the drain. But that’s less likely to happen when this case is involved. It’s made with genuine leather and a brass carabiner that easily attaches to anything: keys, belt loop, bag strap, you name it.

Buy It ($20)

19. Amazon Essentials Men's 2-Pack Knit Beanie Hat

Slouched or cuffed. Grey or white. This two-pack of beanies has more than 1,300 reviews on Amazon, many of which praise both the quality and variety of colors. Gift them both to one beanie-loving person or split them up and check two people off your list.

$16 at Amazon

20. RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream

Behold: The most luxurious new addition to any self-care routine. Slather this raw coconut cream all over dry skin, use it to remove makeup or drop a dollop into the bath for even more skin-softening benefits. This multi-use product is even sustainable, vegan and made consciously, so even your most eco-friendly cousin will approve.

Buy It ($18)

21. Umbra Prisma Jewelry Tray

Jewelry is too beautiful not to put on display at all times. And this geometric tray is the ideal way to artfully showcase everything from necklaces and earrings to delicate bracelets, while adding style to any bedroom (or walk-in closet).

Buy It ($20)

22. Urban Outfitters Multi Instant Picture Frame

Instant cameras are a Gen-Z rite of passage (funny how trends always come back around). Gift your niece with this minimal black frame, meant to hold three of her favorite Polaroids. It will look so much more legit on her wall than just sticking the photos on with tape.

Buy It ($14)

23. Gentlemen's Hardware Survival Kit

Send him off on his next camping trip with this do-it-all survival kit. Inside, he’ll be delighted to discover a compass, fire starter, 6-in-1 penknife, tweezers, 210cm rope, wire saw and 10 safety pins. It’s small enough to fit in his pocket, or to stash in his car console, which means he’ll never be without it.

Buy It ($18)

24. Shopbop @Home Vintage Matchboxes 500 Piece Puzzle

This 500-piece puzzle features matchbox designs from all around the world. It’s like traveling the globe…without leaving your living room floor.

Buy It ($14)

25. Rosy Rings Wildflower Woods Scented Bundle

If your sister loves crystals, these scented bundles will be right up her alley. Combined with dried florals and natural wooden sticks and tied with a chic velvet bow, they look pretty and bring in good energy wherever they’re laid. Oh, and they emanate a fresh, woodsy scent when lit.

Buy It ($16)

26. Fabelab Organic Cotton Soft Rattle

Spun with 100 percent organic cotton, this sweet plush bear has a soothing rattle inside to calm (and preoccupy) fussy babies. Bonus: It’s actually nice to look at, so it won’t totally take away from the Scandinavian-chic nursery.

Buy It ($18)

27. Serefina Aurelia Cuff Bracelet

Sleek, simple and ideal for the minimalist in your life, this cuff bracelet is finished with 14-karat gold plated brass for a metallic finish. Stick to one or gift a few for an eclectic layered look.

Buy It ($18)

28. ‘The Mini Bar: 100 Essential Cocktail Recipes’ By PUNCH

These eight miniature cocktail recipe books are organized by base ingredient: whisky, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, champagne, sherry and amaro. Thanks to the sturdy slipcase and colorful spines, this gift is sure to be a welcome addition to any bar cart.

Buy It ($20)

29. ELITAPRO Milk Frother, Modern Design Electric Milk Frother

There’s just something so much more indulgent about your average cup of Joe if it’s layered in fluffy clouds of foam. This electric milk frother creates both warm or cold foam, depending on whichever your latte-loving roommate prefers. And lucky for everyone, it isn’t a total eyesore sitting on the counter.

$20 at Amazon

30. West Elm Textured White Marble Frame

Hand-cut and shaped in India of solid marble, this petite frame may be small, but it’s exceptionally sturdy and beautiful. The white marble finish works with virtually any décor style—just add a vintage photo of your grandparents and gift it to them on Christmas. Fair warning: There will be tears.

Buy It ($25; $20)

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