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When I’m feeling blue, one of my favorite pastimes is to look at all the things I’ve collected over the years that make me happy. There’s a comfort in knowing that I’ll always have a ready-made smile somewhere in my home because I’ve purchased those items with that intent in mind.
It sounds so simple when it’s written out that way, and I suppose it is—if I see something that fills me with joy, I’ll buy it, knowing that it’ll come in handy later on. From the high-tech to the cutesy, there’s a unifying method to this particular shopping habit.
If you aren’t careful, this can get pretty pricey after a while, especially if you find yourself with unexpected downtime and a laptop handy. Therein lies my secret, however: you don’t need to spend a lot of money to surround yourself with happy things!
In fact, I’ve found droplets of joy all over the internet for under $20 that I hope you’ll love as much as I do. Here are 20 adorable smile-inducing finds you can get on a budget.
1. Multicolored lights to jazz up a room
There’s something so satisfying about being able to set a little ambiance at home that puts a smile on my face. This LED light strip, for example, can be hung basically anywhere, comes with a remote control, and can be set to 16 different colors.
Just think of the possibilities! A soft blue right before bed, a gentle burnt orange when you’re trying to concentrate, a relaxing yellow when you want to set the mood… I’ve seen such strong lighting flexes all over TikTok, and for under $10, it’s pretty difficult to pass these up, especially when they come recommended by more than 2,000 Amazon reviewers.
2. A night light that illuminates your toilet
Picture it: A nighttime stroll to the bathroom, in the pitch dark, without your cell phone’s screen to illuminate the path. Then, the bone-chilling realization that once you reach the powder room, the overhead light will blind you if you turn it on.
This gadget, however, whose existence makes me unbelievably happy, will remedy all of that for you. It’s a motion sensor night light that sits conveniently on the outer rim of your toilet bowl. The coolest part is that you can pick between eight different colors. I’m pleased to live in a world where something like this costs less than $10.
3. This colander shaped like a monster
Nothing puts a smile on my face quite like taking normal, mundane household tasks and turning them into something fantastical. This colander, for example, has two enormous eyeballs protruding from the side of it. Why? Truthfully, for no other reason than to bring a little brevity to the world.
And for only $20, I’m here for it! It still maintains its functionality as a strainer, but it’ll help you keep an eye on things, too. I imagine that the designer thought to themself, “I wish cooking could be more fun,” and then they woke up in the middle of the night to this beautiful revelation in cookware.
4. A candle that smells like fresh laundry
I’ve sometimes wondered how candles work; the wick and the wax I understand, but the controlled burning from start to finish is still a little confusing. The only thing better than a candle that smells incredible is one that burns slowly so you can enjoy its calming scents for much longer.
This soy candle comes recommended by more than 25,000 Amazon reviewers who give it a 4.5-star rating. While we’re partial to the fresh linen scent, there are 39 different scents you can choose from.
5. Flowers that bloom all year
One of the greatest pieces of advice my roommate’s mother ever gave me was to “plant flowers that will never die” in your street-facing flower beds. When I pressed her for more details, she said to literally prop up plastic plants next to real plants because folks can’t tell the difference.
I thought she was crazy at first, but there’s actually such a simple beauty to this idea. Over time, I’ve grown fonder of plastic blooms, like these lovely tulips for only $16.99. I’ll never be able to replace real flowers in a vase, but these will do the trick in the cold winter months when florists don’t have what I’m looking for. That simple joy in life definitely puts a smile on my face.
6. Small reminders to “bee happy”
I’m such a sucker for decorations with little phrases on them. This one, for example, is a simple wooden block with the words “Bee Happy” painted on it, next to a little bee rendered in nails and string. There’s not a lot to it, but I think that’s the point: You don’t need much to elicit a smile sometimes.
One of the best parts about this little knick knack is that it’s only $12.99. For such a low price, this gem would brighten up anyone’s desk or living room without costing a fortune, and it’s truly a great reminder to pause, take a breath, and just be happy.
7. A dachshund-shaped planter
Throughout 2020, I dedicated my time to learning as many new skills as possible, and I actually managed to keep up with one: horticulture. Well, the houseplant version of it, anyway. I’ve always had something of a green thumb, but with limitless stretches of time at my disposal, I really tested out that magical digit and transformed my bedroom into a veritable jungle.
The thing I’m missing from this botanical masterpiece is this extremely adorable planter shaped like a dachshund. First of all, it’s only $12.99, which is such a great deal, and second of all, it’s in the shape of one of the world’s cutest creatures, bar none. Just imagine this little guy sprouting with succulents.
8. This planter with a smiley face
At first glance, it’s a run-of-the-mill planter, but upon closer inspection, it has little feet and a smiley face. It’s these personified household items that get me every time whenever I see them in the world. Do I have plenty of planters already? Of course. Would I put this one in my cart just because? Absolutely.
This little slice of splendor is only $17.99 on Etsy and it’s handmade! As an added perk, especially if you’re looking for a new project, the seller suggests adding your own flare by painting it. Imagine this face with a tiny bow tie? Or leopard spots? Instant happy!
9. Beautiful faux mercury votives made from recycled glassware
I’m big on reusables, and so these refurbished glass votives caught my eye right away. This small business takes old vessels (any sort of drinking glass will do) and transforms them into candles. What a treasure!
This votive set can be loaded with a variety of different fragrances and come as a pair for only $13. I’m imagining these sitting nicely inside the vintage lanterns I have hanging in the corners of my kitchen or book-ending the plants on my bedroom dresser. Wherever they end up going, their homemade, cost-friendly vibes will keep me smiling.
10. A gorgeous handmade piece of art
Hand-crafted goods have a very unique and fulfilling sentiment about them because you know that you’ve brought something created by a real life person into your home. They’ve touched that artwork that you’re now admiring, and that’s a magical feeling.
When that homemade craft also includes a beautiful message, it’s a surefire way to brighten up my day. These small wood garden blocks come in two patterns with six color options available.
11. A bee-made hydrating lotion
Natural cosmetics are sort of my jam, and that definitely extends to products like this handmade hydrating lotion bar. Not only does it have gorgeous ingredients, such as shea butter and organic beeswax, but it’s shaped like a honeycomb. How adorable!
The other extreme perk with this product is its price: It’s only $9! I’ve also never really seen lotion in bar form before; if I weren’t already smiling over how cute the overall vibe is, I’d be beaming over the thought of having something to hydrate my skin that doesn’t also create more single-use plastic in the world.
12. Reusable homemade face scrubbies
We’re hitting the point in everyone’s skincare routines when the weather starts getting a little nicer and the cold ache of winter becomes a distant memory. As long as we’re diligently exfoliating away the dead skin brought on by the colder, dryer climes.
Enter these charming little reusable face scrubbies. They’re only $8 and are handmade, which is always a plus in my book. On top of that, these cuties can be tossed right in the wash (consider a lower setting for delicate knits) and be part of your daily routine.
13. This wooden robot to keep you company
I’m always on the hunt for desk companions, especially while I’ve been working from home. This little robot is perfect. For starters, the colors are absolutely stunning—I love when primary colors mix with pale pastel secondaries. Next on my love list is the robot’s bendability. It’s made of wood and cleverly-designed hinges, so it can be flexed into all kinds of human poses.
It’s the kind of toy that’s perfect for me while I’m experiencing the normal ups and downs of corporate work. Need to calm down? Bend your robot into the lotus position. Want to feel free as a bird? Spread your robot’s arms all the way out like it’s flying. No matter the position you’ll fit your new buddy into, the best part about it remains its price: At $18, this adorable creation can be yours!
14. A place to store your creative tools
Over time, I built up a pretty significant fountain pen collection. Some of them are super nice, some of them are really just handy utilities, and then there are quite a few that fall somewhere in between. I’ve never really figured out where to put them all so that they’re A) in one place and B) stored safely.
Enter this cute and super accessible carry-all pouch for under $15! It’s the kind of spacious zip-up bag that’s machine washable, just in case something leaks. If you need a little extra room, the next size up from this one is just a few dollars more.
15. This bright night light that looks like the moon
If you love staring at the moon through your windows every night, you’ll love this simple night light. More than 5,000 Amazon reviewers rave about this chic decor that works in just about any room of the house, from the kid’s bedroom to the living room. The light is modeled after the literal moon (no, really) and it comes with a stand that looks like a tiny hand.
16. An inflatable dancing tube
Think of these as the miniature cousins of the attention-grabbing skydancers that billow upwards from the street on your way into a used car lot. They do exactly the same thing, but these dancing tubes can sit anywhere you’d like them. I’m imagining a few of them sitting on my desk, reminding me of what joy feels like every time I need a pick-me-up.
They have their own little motors, so no need to provide a source of wind, which is what their bigger relatives need. All you need is $15, a place to display them, and you’re off to the races. Or, in my case, ready to greet a busy workday with a little bit of happiness.
17. A pot trivet shaped like a grizzly
If you’re anything like me, cooking can feel like a chore, especially if you’ve overexerted yourself and decided to make something elaborate. Suddenly, there are pots and pans everywhere, and it’s just not always handy to put things into serving dishes.
That’s where this adorable and very price-efficient grizzly bear comes in. At only $16, you can have a hot pot trivet in the shape of a bear pelt! Imagine that same frantic kitchen energy soothed immediately by the knowledge that you can comfortably and safely put out a side dish still in the pot on top of this silicone-based pot holder. If brown doesn’t go with your decor, no worries: You can get it in white, too.
18. This decision-making paperweight
Sometimes throughout the day, I hit a point when making just one more decision feels like a task unto itself. For me, that level of fatigue is remedied by a few things: a walk, another cup of caffeine, or filling my time up with something else altogether. Until this gorgeous piece of engineering appeared in my life.
It’s a paperweight that, when turned, will give you an answer for your next decision. Should I send this email or wait? Spin the paperweight to find out! At $18, you’re getting a helpful tool and endless smiles to break up your workday. Even if you don’t heed its advice, it’s still a fun way to pass the time between meetings.
19. This essential oil shower steamer
For most folks, there are two common staples that make mornings joyful: a strong cup of coffee and a shower. This item, for only $14, will elevate the latter of those two things by a significant margin.
It’s a little tablet that you drop into the floor of your shower (or anywhere that will connect with the stream of warm water the best) that diffuses essential oils into the air. The best part is that you don’t need to do anything after that—just shower as normal, but with helpful aromatherapy benefits.
You can choose between a small variety of steamers, which all do different things, such as Stress Relief, with lemongrass, eucalyptus, and orange, and Wake Up, with spearmint and two kinds of citrus. For folks who shower at night, you’d likely prefer Sleep Tight, which has lavender notes for stress relief.
20. A pollinator set in time for spring
The sound of birds chirping, buds on the trees, and the earth thawing is enough of a reason for anyone to smile a little wider, and with this pollinator set, you can be part of the season’s magic. They’re little tubes full of seeds that grow blossoms specific to three different kinds of creatures: hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.
While the whole idea is utterly fabulous, the price tag is an extremely positive selling point for me: $18. For under $20, you can grow your own wildflower garden and help these extremely important critters find pollen a bit easier this year.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: 20 joyful products under $20 to make your home happier