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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Rural on November 13, 2018, 06:52:11 PM

Title: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rural on November 13, 2018, 06:52:11 PM
So it appears that one family gathering at least is going to require $20 Secret Santa gifts of all adult attendees. These have to be generic, no thoughtful targeting to one person based on tastes, needs, etc, because there's no good way to predict who will get it. We've done this thing for years at this gathering, and every single year two such "gifts" go straight to the thrift store box once my husband and I get home. I imagine some relatives deposit the things in the trash instead - hell, I've been tempted just to get them out of my house/ keep them from entering the house in the first place.


So, do you guys have any ideas for gifts in the $20 range that any adult might like and that won't just get thrown out, don't involve tons of packaging (to get thrown out), won't produce tons of waste in themselves (and probably that aren't candy as we have many dieters)?


While we're on the subject, are there any good ideas for non-wasteful wrapping out there? I don't have time for sewing before all the events start, unfortunately.


Once we lose a couple of elders who get great joy from this, I'm going to sit it out and social consequences be damned, but for now, there's the issue of elderly relatives without much else to look forward to, and I'm unwilling to go that far. So far.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: yodella on November 13, 2018, 06:58:24 PM
Food!

We have a neighborhood gathering with the same price point, and this year I'm thinking of assembling an "Oreo sampler pack." Basically by buying one each of all the various Oreo flavors I can find. At $3/package it will be about 7 packages. A crazy amount of Oreos to be sure but kind of fun to try the various kinds that you might not buy yourself.

You could also put together a nice chocolate assortment in a basket or gift bag.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Steeze on November 13, 2018, 07:01:19 PM
We did a secret Santa last year, I asked for a used settler of catan. Was a solid investment.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Steeze on November 13, 2018, 07:04:25 PM
Also booze or wine is always good.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: MrsDinero on November 13, 2018, 07:04:45 PM
I second food.  You can give a bag of apples, pears, infused olive oils, or cookies, etc.  Basically anything edible is giftable. 

Handmade soaps are also a good gift.  At one of the yankee swap things I attended last year, cold pressed soaps were a sought after gift.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Zikoris on November 13, 2018, 07:06:38 PM
Some sort of bath stuff? One of my coworkers did that last year. She found some stuff that had a gender-neutral scent (I think it was sandalwood) and put together maybe two or three little bottles of soaps and lotions in a gift bag.

I received a gift bag with fancy coffee beans and Bailey's at that party, which was also a good gift idea, I though. Though I don't drink coffee or alcohol, so it became my aunt's Christmas gift shortly after.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: hops on November 13, 2018, 07:08:58 PM
We've given away almost every Secret Santa gift we've received, with the exception of a nice fleece throw and a flashlight.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: CNM on November 13, 2018, 07:10:49 PM
A candle. My farmer's market sells beeswax candles that smell nice and have zero packaging.  Plus they're "local" so cooler than just a random Yankee candle.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: tralfamadorian on November 13, 2018, 07:12:42 PM
Another vote for consumables. Homemade limoncello is a mustachian but popular option.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: snogirl on November 13, 2018, 07:16:06 PM
Real maple syrup
This place is near me so good! Their mail order business through the roof
https://aprilsmaple.com/

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: ChpBstrd on November 13, 2018, 07:21:26 PM
Give a charitable donation.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Cannot Wait! on November 13, 2018, 07:27:23 PM
Gift Card?
An umbrella?
Books?
Gloves?
Scarf?
Picture frame?
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: FallenTimber on November 13, 2018, 08:16:07 PM
Local honey
Cookbook (A popular one, not the bargain rack at B&N)
Netflix gift card
Homemade hot sauce
Wild game meat
Smoked salmon
Local brewery growler
Wireless cell phone charger
Knitted beanie

Just a few ideas from gifts weíve given in the past.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: degrom7 on November 13, 2018, 08:28:50 PM
Get an amazon echo dot


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Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: okits on November 14, 2018, 12:24:51 AM
If most family participating is from a culture or generation that still does handwritten correspondence, a book of stamps and a nice stationery or note card set.

Good quality coffee beans.  Easily regifted and will be appreciated by someone.

A sturdy umbrella is always handy.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Villanelle on November 14, 2018, 02:55:27 AM
I tend to bring wine or booze to those things.  Assuming most of the group aren't teetotalers, it's usually a fairly safe bet.

Also, gift cards (the more generic, the better, to think Amazon or perhaps a local grocery store chain if everyone is from the same area, or a major gas station, or iTunes if it's a tech-y or young crowd, or a major movie theater).
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: alsoknownasDean on November 14, 2018, 03:43:10 AM
I'd buy fancy tea (probably nicer bagged tea rather than loose leaf, unless you include the strainer) in that situation, but most of my family are tea drinkers so it's a fairly easy bet that it'll end up with someone who will enjoy it.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rural on November 14, 2018, 04:33:30 AM
 Wow, thanks everyone. Maybe this will all be useful for more than just me this year.


I'll have to steer away from anything scented like the bath products or candles (serious allergies), but otherwise those are great ideas for someone in a similar situation. I'm uncertain on the booze, but I might get away with one of the two gifts my husband and I need to take being alcohol (no teetotalers or recovering alcoholics, but there are children involved and older folks on medications that don't mix well).


I'd go with a flashlight but that's a good idea that was stumbled on at this gathering several years mpback, and now there are usually several involved. I've done the cell phone charger myself in the past, but I've decided good ones are really a little above the $20 range and I don't want to give a lower quality one that will die and hit the landfill faster. Gift cards would come across as a passive aggressive refusal to participate with this crew, sadly. They point up the pointlessness of an exchange of equal value crap without even a specific participant in mind. They also make the most sense, that or just tying a bow on a twenty-dollar bill.


Maybe the coffee, but the younger ones likely would turn up noses at preground and the older won't have a grinder. I tried tea one year - turns out I'm the only real tea drinker.

But a good, solid umbrella won't get thrown out. Maybe the local honey from the area where I am, or other fancy edibles. Actually there's a local bakery that does very regional, traditional items, run by a local religious group. Maybe a gift box from there and then either good whiskey or local honey.

I think I have a difficult crew. Or maybe I just care too much about finding something no one will hate since I don't know who will get it.

Thanks again, all. Keep the good ideas coming if you have them. I can't be the only one who will face a situation like this in the coming weeks.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: SnackDog on November 14, 2018, 04:48:27 AM
I once took a ceramic chicken to one of these events and it was the hot gift of the night. Everyone stole the damn thing.  I don't know why. It was ugly.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: slappy on November 14, 2018, 05:43:51 AM
Real maple syrup
This place is near me so good! Their mail order business through the roof
https://aprilsmaple.com/

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

This place is near me too! Well, near where I grew up. I'm in southern NH now.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: I'm a red panda on November 14, 2018, 06:24:32 AM
Nice jellies or mustards?

Tickets to a movie theater?

Board/card game?

Reusable straws?

Pop socket or phone stand accessory?
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: smalllife on November 14, 2018, 06:27:05 AM
Movie tickets and candy - it's received less like a gift card and more like a night out.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Roadrunner53 on November 14, 2018, 07:26:31 AM
A first aid kit

A gardening basket with seeds, trowel, flower bulbs

A basket with a variety of K cups (hot choc, tea, coffee), two mugs (dollar store), line basket with a new colorful dishcloth, some kind of cookies in sleeves

A bottle of gourmet vinegar and olive oil

Make a snack bundle. Individual bags of chips, nuts, cookies, popcorn

Martinelli sparkling apple cranberry, 2 wine glasses, some cashews

A nice pen, some post it notes, pads of paper

An at a glance yearly planner, pen

Grocery store gift card, gas card, Bed Bath and Beyond gift card plus find a 20% off coupon to add to it.

Crossword puzzle and word search books with pens and candybars or chocolate kisses

Soup!  https://www.amazon.com/Imagine-Organic-Soup-Savory-Black/dp/B0091DZHBE/ref=sr_1_17_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1542205449&sr=1-17-spons&keywords=soup&th=1









Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Sugaree on November 14, 2018, 07:45:03 AM

Tickets to a movie theater?


This is what I would suggest.  I like going to the movies, but have a hard time justifying the cost these days. 
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: GuitarStv on November 14, 2018, 08:03:41 AM
I usually give toilet paper in these types of things.  Everyone needs it.  It won't end up in a landfill either (although it will in the sewers).  :P
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: slappy on November 14, 2018, 08:18:53 AM
I usually give toilet paper in these types of things.  Everyone needs it.  It won't end up in a landfill either (although it will in the sewers).  :P

Haha brilliant. I would personally be thrilled!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: I'm a red panda on November 14, 2018, 08:32:26 AM
I usually give toilet paper in these types of things.  Everyone needs it.  It won't end up in a landfill either (although it will in the sewers).  :P

For a "white elephant" stealing type exchange this is brilliant.

I mean I guess for a "serious, nice gift" it is actually brilliant too, I just don't know if it would be received that way.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Roadrunner53 on November 14, 2018, 08:51:22 AM
I usually give toilet paper in these types of things.  Everyone needs it.  It won't end up in a landfill either (although it will in the sewers).  :P

How about adding canned baked beans with the TP as an added bonus!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: GuitarStv on November 14, 2018, 09:05:35 AM
I usually give toilet paper in these types of things.  Everyone needs it.  It won't end up in a landfill either (although it will in the sewers).  :P

How about adding canned baked beans with the TP as an added bonus!

No need for canned, I make my own baked beans in the slow cooker thank you very much.

https://www.ricardocuisine.com/en/recipes/5043-slow-cooker-baked-beans-with-maple-syrup- (https://www.ricardocuisine.com/en/recipes/5043-slow-cooker-baked-beans-with-maple-syrup-)
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: snogirl on November 14, 2018, 09:12:02 AM
Real maple syrup
This place is near me so good! Their mail order business through the roof
https://aprilsmaple.com/

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

This place is near me too! Well, near where I grew up. I'm in southern NH now.
Awesome! Yes I just moved from over by Lake Champlain to retire in IP.  April's is my favorite place. The family super nice!
Great ideas here for inexpensive gifts in this thread. So awesome

Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: dcozad999 on November 14, 2018, 09:20:58 AM
I found this at target the other day and had a lot of fun messing with my 7 and 2 year old. Too much fun really.

So I bought it for the white elephant exchange game at work (or whatever it's called).

https://www.amazon.com/Zany-Toys-No-Sound-Button/dp/B0098LH0XW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542212323&sr=8-1&keywords=zany+no+button+gag+gift
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Poundwise on November 14, 2018, 09:25:53 AM
Potted herb or flower? Find and clean a planter from Goodwill, or upcycle a tin can.

How about a nice portable sewing kit? Or a tool?
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: BeanCounter on November 14, 2018, 09:30:27 AM
We've done lottery scratch offs for the dirty Santa game. (where you pick or steal). And they usually go around a few times. Could be a good gift, could be a white elephant. Just depends what you get after all the trading is done and you scratch them off.
I also like gifts of alcohol, box of fancy coffee/tea/cocoa, and movie tickets and candy (but two tickets plus candy often go over $20 I don't worry about that, but others do.
I also like the idea of a fun umbrella. I feel like I always need a new umbrella.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Shinplaster on November 14, 2018, 10:04:26 AM
Non alcoholic apple or pear cider.  We gave locally bottled pear cider last year to family, and it was a huge hit.  No worries then about people who don't drink alcohol, but still something special.

If you have access to maple sugar places, try maple butter.  Everyone thinks it will be really sweet before tasting it, but it is less sweet than honey.  Great on toast or plain bread, and a little in your coffee is nice too.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: GizmoTX on November 14, 2018, 10:36:28 AM
I love the TP idea! Our families do the Grab Gift thing every year & it's tough to come up with new ideas, especially since we travel there by air. TSA forced me to discard a tool I ended up with one time, so we always have to trade stuff like that away. One time I contributed a rubber chicken (dog toy) & it was a huge hit, go figure! Plus it now makes a surprise appearance every year (accompanied by a gift card) & each year's 'winner' signs it -- fun. In recent years I have been bringing something I want to end up with. Otherwise I don't mind the exchange, as it satisfies our family's fondness for present opening without being a big expense.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rosy on November 14, 2018, 11:14:23 AM
1. Our local market has a stand with "all natural" goat milk products - soap is super popular -no scents-no allergies:)!
But you can order it online at Amazon, incl. hand cream or lotion.
Wrapping - three bars of soap around $15. - wrap in a X-mas themed hand towel. Voila - no packaging.

2. One much appreciated gift by everyone is those magnetic To Do lists for your fridge - everyone loves them and uses them. They are $2.99 for the nice big ones with sturdy magnets on the back, at Marshal's and Tuesday Morning.
You could do a set of three, perhaps with a couple of extra fridge magnets and one three pack of really nice roller pens.

3. Emergency power outage - first aid kit for your car - mini flashlight for your key ring - fat white emergency candles - canned heat - flashlight to keep in your car -  a box of matches that is windproof and waterproof - camping lantern - weather radio.

We'll be doing a Secret Santa thing too and in our crowd - good coffee beans - gourmet snacks and food-it is so easy to do a football snack basket, the guys love those:) - booze and home and garden gifts are the winners along with camping and emergency supplies since we live in hurricane country.

4. So this year - I'll do a super pack of good quality batteries along with those long bbq lighters and perhaps a set of three Glade candles - they have lovely scents like apple/cinammon (but our crowd likes all the perfumey scents) and Glade always offers special holiday scents in a nicer format - our crowd loves and uses those and they are a lot less than a fancy Yankee candle.

5. Also, practical things like a portable rectangle shopping container for the trunk of your car - the kind that also has an insulated compartment. Some people like those collapsible boxes - two decent quality ones will be around $20.

I do bake cookies for those who enjoy them - in that regard I've used all sorts of wrapping ideas, from placing them in a dog or cat food specialty container to a gingerbread house tin.
Simple to do: a set of 2-3-4 food containers ($1 at the dollar store - sometimes they even have nice Christmas ones in the right size) and filled one with cookies, set it on a plastic or ceramic plate ($1 from the dollar store) for balance then wrapped the whole thing in a holiday kitchen towel. Tie with ribbon up top or cut a strip of fabric with pinking shears and use that for an original tie.

6. You can also fill a container with emergency food for 72 hrs - you know, cans of tuna - peanut butter - Nutella - crackers - nuts - tea bags-instant coffee - muesli - energy bars.
If you go that route you can put a small flashlight with a carrying handle and extra batteries, matches and a small emergency candle, ibuprofen, aspirin and an antibacterial cream in another container.   

These days I just hand out a pretty metal tin with the cookies inside wrapped in parchment paper. I'm an old lady, you better appreciate that I took a whole day to bake some macaroons or vanilla cookies etc. from scratch:) and I'm lucky because yes, they do.
Sometimes I splurge on the tin ($3.99 or so) if I see a really pretty one, mostly I get the dollar store ones. I need the tins so the cookies stay fresh and don't get banged up by the time we travel to everyone's house for X-mas.

This year I'll let one set of the family know that I'm done with gifts - just home baked cookies and a hostess gift from us this year. We all have more than enough and I'm sure the younger ones will be delighted to finally stop the gift exchange.
I've tried with our friends with no success, but will bring it up again this year - things have changed some so I think it will fall on more receptive ears.
The other big set of friends - sigh - there is one old family matriarch that just will not allow the out of control gift giving to die.

Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: whitewaterchica on November 14, 2018, 11:20:25 AM
For wrapping paper- I love using brown craft paper to wrap gifts. You can add things like real leaves, pine branches and/or cones, or flowers to dress it up. Jute twine makes for a nice ribbon and it can easily be recycled, composted, or used to start a fire. The paper and twine are always at dollar tree.

Ditto everyone with the gift card and food suggestions.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: AMandM on November 14, 2018, 11:31:40 AM
For wrapping food gifts, use a tea towel. For bath products, use a hand towel. For a tool-type gifts, use a shop rag. etc.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: lexde on November 14, 2018, 11:51:22 AM
Handmade soaps (Etsy is good, Mrs. MM has some great soaps at about $5 ea); a decent bottle of wine; pedicure kit; cozy throw blanket; etc.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Catbert on November 14, 2018, 12:28:32 PM
Electronic 20 questions game.  Something like this

https://www.amazon.com/QUESTIONS-ELECTRONIC-GAME-Colors-Vary/dp/B000IVENWW

I was gifted one 10 years or so ago and it was the hit of the day.  Good for kids as well as adults.  DH tried to stump the game the first time with "carburetor" and was completely amazed that the game figured it out.

   
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: diapasoun on November 14, 2018, 01:26:28 PM
I once took a ceramic chicken to one of these events and it was the hot gift of the night. Everyone stole the damn thing.  I don't know why. It was ugly.

We once brought a pug cookie jar that was the first present to get locked down. It was incredibly ugly, and I think that's why people were into it -- shameless pug-lovin'.

Also, this thread is honestly just a great gift list overall! Helping me to figure out a few things for some of my harder-to-gift folks....
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Cassie on November 14, 2018, 01:32:52 PM
We do a white elephant gift exchange with friends but it has to be something you made or already own.  When itís over people frequently trade which l great. I have made scarves, given consumables and costume jewelry that I got for a gift but didnít want.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: NV Teacher on November 14, 2018, 02:14:37 PM
One year my mom did breakfast in a box.  She put in a dozen eggs, pound of sausage, frozen oj, pkg of english muffins, a small bunch of bananas, cheese, and a half gallon of milk.  Everyone loved it.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: AMandM on November 15, 2018, 06:38:37 PM
A pair of wool socks used as wrapping for some hand/footwarmer packages.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rural on November 15, 2018, 06:46:10 PM
New idea: USB-rechargeable AA batteries.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: iris lily on November 15, 2018, 10:12:32 PM
Please, no bath stuff or artisan soap or candles. Justóno.

Booze. A slightly fancy coffee, but nothing overly flavored. Expensive cashews and other high end nuts.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: wordnerd on November 15, 2018, 10:48:28 PM
Please, no bath stuff or artisan soap or candles. Justóno.

Booze. A slightly fancy coffee, but nothing overly flavored. Expensive cashews and other high end nuts.

This is correct on every level. You can buy me gifts anytime.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: RetiredAt63 on November 16, 2018, 07:27:55 AM
I just got given a gift basket, and the nicest thing in it is a small jar of honey with honeycomb.  Yum.  (The rest is good too, but that is the highlight).

Any non-perishable food can be re-gifted.  Red wine gives me a headache, so when I get given red wine it gets passed on to someone who can appreciate it.

Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: SheWhoWalksAtLunch on November 16, 2018, 07:45:08 AM
Fire extinguishers.  Everyone needs at least one and most people keep the one they have long past its natural lifetime.  The size that fits well on a kitchen counter or in the trunk of your car looks (and shakes) a lot like a bottle of wine when wrapped up in a box. 
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: ChpBstrd on November 16, 2018, 07:45:55 AM
Precious metals like silver coins?
Nobody gives antiques. I've always found that interesting.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: GuitarStv on November 16, 2018, 08:42:49 AM
Precious metals like silver coins?
Nobody gives antiques. I've always found that interesting.

Antiques fall into three categories:

- Old junk that nobody wants
- Old stuff that's precious for emotional reasons
- Old stuff that's expensive

In the first instance, nobody wants it as a gift.  In the second and third nobody wants to give it.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: meerkat on November 16, 2018, 08:50:58 AM
Bed pillows. No one thinks to replace theirs despite sleeping on them night after night for years.

Throw cushions are iffier, it went over well years ago when we had a bunch of cousins all establishing households in a short time frame. Also a basic tool kit or picture hanging tools.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Mississippi Mudstache on November 16, 2018, 09:05:10 AM
Precious metals like silver coins?
Nobody gives antiques. I've always found that interesting.

Antiques fall into three categories:

- Old junk that nobody wants
- Old stuff that's precious for emotional reasons
- Old stuff that's expensive

In the first instance, nobody wants it as a gift.  In the second and third nobody wants to give it.

Not necessarily. Although I agree that for a non-specific gift exchange, it would be tough to choose something that would be universally appreciated; hard to think of something much better than, say, and old silver dollar.

But back to the point about gifting antiques: My Dad and I are both woodworkers. I learned to save money on hand tools like planes, squares, chisels, etc. by finding inexpensive, unloved tools on eBay and putting in a little elbow grease to restore them to their former function and beauty. I would often find a $5 tool and turn it into something worth $40-50 that my Dad actually uses. Old tools were made far better than most consumer-grade modern versions, so it's a bargain for everybody involved, saving me money, my Dad ends up with a better-quality tool, and one less mass-produced piece of crap is brought into the world. This kind of gift requires insight into the recipient's needs and preferences, though, so it's not really apropos to the present topic.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: CNM on November 16, 2018, 09:21:26 AM
Homemade vanilla extract.

Take a bottle of high proof vodka (or other high-proof alcohol if you prefer) and stick a bunch of B-grade vanilla pods in it.  Let soak- the longer the better.  Decant into smaller bottles!

I have a giant bottle of vodka I got at Costco that I use for this.  I stuck a ton of pods in there about a year ago.  I give as gifts and use it myself, adding more vodka as needed.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Roadrunner53 on November 16, 2018, 09:47:35 AM
I have made vanilla extract too!

Also, you can make home made Kahlua: https://www.beanilla.com/blog/homemade-kahlua-recipe

Have made that too and to die for!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: esq on November 17, 2018, 08:46:11 AM
I once took a ceramic chicken to one of these events and it was the hot gift of the night. Everyone stole the damn thing.  I don't know why. It was ugly.

When my (now college-age) daughter was 5, my husband found her in our shower, head in the corner, crying as if her sweet little heart would break. When he couldn't coax her to talk, he called in the expert. I finally was able to get her to tearfully say that her cousin Amanda ended up with the dancing chicken that she wanted so badly at our Christmas gift exchange. It played the chicken dance and flapped its wings and jumped around. It got stolen the maximum amount of times and ended up with 20 yr old Amanda, who happily dug it out when she heard how devastated her little cousin was.

Did I mention this little episode happened IN THE MONTH OF MAY? A lifetime of holding in grief for a 5 year old.

Moral of the story: never underestimate the value of chickens at gift exchanges.

P.S. Shortly after this she became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and still is.

Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: BeanCounter on November 17, 2018, 11:00:56 AM
I once took a ceramic chicken to one of these events and it was the hot gift of the night. Everyone stole the damn thing.  I don't know why. It was ugly.

When my (now college-age) daughter was 5, my husband found her in our shower, head in the corner, crying as if her sweet little heart would break. When he couldn't coax her to talk, he called in the expert. I finally was able to get her to tearfully say that her cousin Amanda ended up with the dancing chicken that she wanted so badly at our Christmas gift exchange. It played the chicken dance and flapped its wings and jumped around. It got stolen the maximum amount of times and ended up with 20 yr old Amanda, who happily dug it out when she heard how devastated her little cousin was.

Did I mention this little episode happened IN THE MONTH OF MAY? A lifetime of holding in grief for a 5 year old.

Moral of the story: never underestimate the value of chickens at gift exchanges.

P.S. Shortly after this she became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and still is.
I love this story.
We had that chicken. My MIL gave it to my son when he was a toddler for a gift. That was the day I knew she secretly hated me.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: pdxbator on November 17, 2018, 03:42:02 PM
If you are in a state of legality Marijuana! I'd love opening it up and seeing some fresh buds.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Fomerly known as something on November 17, 2018, 04:27:58 PM
Costco has 2 reusable water bottles for $15 on black friday.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: marble_faun on November 17, 2018, 09:50:31 PM
First, in your shoes, I might advocate to a switch to a "White Elephant," where everyone brings a goofy item they already own to exchange.  And then people can go through a swapping process if you want. It's so fun!

But if the generic $20 gift is something your family is into, my suggestions would be...

* a nice insulated food jar that can keep soups/stews hot for long periods

* a homemade pie? (and seconding the recommendations of other consumables like honey or maple syrup)

* since this is family, maybe a photo book, like the ones from Blurb, where you gather a bunch of digital or digitized family photos and have them printed in book form. You could add in some text about the memories you have shared.

* a cheap bluetooth speaker (I received one of these as a "cheap generic gift" myself. I LOVE it and use it almost every day for my podcasts).


Regarding wrapping paper... I've wrapped gifts in brown paper from grocery bags before. I decorate them with stencils so they look festive.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Cali on November 17, 2018, 09:54:58 PM
I’d do a car first aid kit.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: AccidentialMustache on November 17, 2018, 10:01:13 PM
Along the food lines -- summer sausage (often doesn't need to be cold until opened) plus crackers? The cheese is tougher there but is also a bit more warm tolerant?
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Villanelle on November 18, 2018, 12:25:46 AM
I think this thread is proof that there is no fool-proof generic gift, especially if you can't do gift cards.  I don't drink coffee, I don't like chocolate.  Someone else may be allergic (or just sensitive) to specific scents or scented items in general.  Someone may have an robust emergency supply kit.  Bed pillows?  You bought firm and they like soft.  Some people love fancy soaps and candles; others think they are a silly waste.  Blankets and throws?  I've got those coming out of my ears, as do plenty of other people, I'm sure.

So really, there is no universal answer.  The good news is this frees you from the obligation of trying to find it.  Pick something you think 75% of your crowd would like and then stop thinking about it. 
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: NevermindScrooge on November 18, 2018, 02:16:47 AM
There is indeed no universal answer, but among those that are mentioned here (totally stealing the honey idea!) there can be some that fit in the 75% range you mentioned.
We did a white elephant once with friends and the extension cord I brought was a great hit :)
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: former player on November 18, 2018, 03:30:00 AM
Two packs of playing cards and a book on how to play card games
A Scrabble set
A jigsaw puzzle (you can customise these with your own photo)
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: GuitarStv on November 19, 2018, 01:22:47 PM
I think this thread is proof that there is no fool-proof generic gift, especially if you can't do gift cards.  I don't drink coffee, I don't like chocolate.  Someone else may be allergic (or just sensitive) to specific scents or scented items in general.  Someone may have an robust emergency supply kit.  Bed pillows?  You bought firm and they like soft.  Some people love fancy soaps and candles; others think they are a silly waste.  Blankets and throws?  I've got those coming out of my ears, as do plenty of other people, I'm sure.

So really, there is no universal answer.  The good news is this frees you from the obligation of trying to find it.  Pick something you think 75% of your crowd would like and then stop thinking about it.

Odds are high that you wipe your ass though . . . toilet paper FTW yet again!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: wordnerd on November 19, 2018, 01:28:54 PM
I think this thread is proof that there is no fool-proof generic gift, especially if you can't do gift cards.  I don't drink coffee, I don't like chocolate.  Someone else may be allergic (or just sensitive) to specific scents or scented items in general.  Someone may have an robust emergency supply kit.  Bed pillows?  You bought firm and they like soft.  Some people love fancy soaps and candles; others think they are a silly waste.  Blankets and throws?  I've got those coming out of my ears, as do plenty of other people, I'm sure.

So really, there is no universal answer.  The good news is this frees you from the obligation of trying to find it.  Pick something you think 75% of your crowd would like and then stop thinking about it.

Odds are high that you wipe your ass though . . . toilet paper FTW yet again!

Bidet enthusiasts are offended at your assumption.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: GuitarStv on November 19, 2018, 05:14:54 PM
I think this thread is proof that there is no fool-proof generic gift, especially if you can't do gift cards.  I don't drink coffee, I don't like chocolate.  Someone else may be allergic (or just sensitive) to specific scents or scented items in general.  Someone may have an robust emergency supply kit.  Bed pillows?  You bought firm and they like soft.  Some people love fancy soaps and candles; others think they are a silly waste.  Blankets and throws?  I've got those coming out of my ears, as do plenty of other people, I'm sure.

So really, there is no universal answer.  The good news is this frees you from the obligation of trying to find it.  Pick something you think 75% of your crowd would like and then stop thinking about it.

Odds are high that you wipe your ass though . . . toilet paper FTW yet again!

Bidet enthusiasts are offended at your assumption.

Bidet folks use TP too, if only to pat dry.  It's more dignified than skootching along the bathmat.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: wordnerd on November 19, 2018, 06:57:27 PM
I think this thread is proof that there is no fool-proof generic gift, especially if you can't do gift cards.  I don't drink coffee, I don't like chocolate.  Someone else may be allergic (or just sensitive) to specific scents or scented items in general.  Someone may have an robust emergency supply kit.  Bed pillows?  You bought firm and they like soft.  Some people love fancy soaps and candles; others think they are a silly waste.  Blankets and throws?  I've got those coming out of my ears, as do plenty of other people, I'm sure.

So really, there is no universal answer.  The good news is this frees you from the obligation of trying to find it.  Pick something you think 75% of your crowd would like and then stop thinking about it.

Odds are high that you wipe your ass though . . . toilet paper FTW yet again!

Bidet enthusiasts are offended at your assumption.

Bidet folks use TP too, if only to pat dry.  It's more dignified than skootching along the bathmat.
So, that's what I've been doing wrong. My bathmat will be relieved to hear this update.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: ixtap on November 19, 2018, 07:06:03 PM
Came here looking for something useful for Christmas, instead found something useful for cheering me up today!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Villanelle on November 20, 2018, 02:14:12 AM
I think this thread is proof that there is no fool-proof generic gift, especially if you can't do gift cards.  I don't drink coffee, I don't like chocolate.  Someone else may be allergic (or just sensitive) to specific scents or scented items in general.  Someone may have an robust emergency supply kit.  Bed pillows?  You bought firm and they like soft.  Some people love fancy soaps and candles; others think they are a silly waste.  Blankets and throws?  I've got those coming out of my ears, as do plenty of other people, I'm sure.

So really, there is no universal answer.  The good news is this frees you from the obligation of trying to find it.  Pick something you think 75% of your crowd would like and then stop thinking about it.

Odds are high that you wipe your ass though . . . toilet paper FTW yet again!

I do.  But TP happens to be one of the very few things about which I am a brand loyalist, and extremely picky. As someone with frequent... digestive distress, it makes a difference.  So anything except top shelf TP might not end up in a landfill, but it would end up being given to any friends who might have less discerning backsides. 
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Roadrunner53 on November 20, 2018, 04:30:56 AM
Give your scratchy TP to The Goodwill. I am sure there are plenty of people who are not picky.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: GuitarStv on November 20, 2018, 10:47:43 AM
I think this thread is proof that there is no fool-proof generic gift, especially if you can't do gift cards.  I don't drink coffee, I don't like chocolate.  Someone else may be allergic (or just sensitive) to specific scents or scented items in general.  Someone may have an robust emergency supply kit.  Bed pillows?  You bought firm and they like soft.  Some people love fancy soaps and candles; others think they are a silly waste.  Blankets and throws?  I've got those coming out of my ears, as do plenty of other people, I'm sure.

So really, there is no universal answer.  The good news is this frees you from the obligation of trying to find it.  Pick something you think 75% of your crowd would like and then stop thinking about it.

Odds are high that you wipe your ass though . . . toilet paper FTW yet again!

I do.  But TP happens to be one of the very few things about which I am a brand loyalist, and extremely picky. As someone with frequent... digestive distress, it makes a difference.  So anything except top shelf TP might not end up in a landfill, but it would end up being given to any friends who might have less discerning backsides.

That's why you always give the cheapest TP possible.  The really low quality stuff doubles as 600 grit sandpaper if you've got a prima donna ass, and the abrasive qualities mean you need to use less for it's intended purpose.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Dr.Jeckyl on November 20, 2018, 10:59:42 AM
Consumable items. Food, drink, soap. Personally I hate the now what after the holidays. Now what do I do with this, how do I store it, what else might it displace, is it another thing that needs to be cleaned/dusted...
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Penny Lane on November 21, 2018, 08:38:26 AM
Maple syrup. A quart is about $16 here. Lasts indefinitely in the  fridge,and even the dieters need occasional French toast.  For a more expensive but amazing treat-  frontier Sugarworks does bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rural on November 21, 2018, 09:10:57 AM
Maple syrup. A quart is about $16 here. Lasts indefinitely in the  fridge,and even the dieters need occasional French toast.  For a more expensive but amazing treat-  frontier Sugarworks does bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.


I have never seen maple syrup for sale here. I'm sure Whole Paycheck imports some, but that's a drive of nearly a hundred miles. However, I wonder if most regions wouldn't have a good local (or localish) equivalent. Here, that would be sorghum syrup.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: frugaldrummer on November 25, 2018, 09:18:52 AM
One of those page-a-day desk calendars with cartoons or vocabulary words or trivia questions
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Roadrunner53 on November 25, 2018, 09:32:20 AM
One of those page-a-day desk calendars with cartoons or vocabulary words or trivia questions

Yes, just bought my Hub one with sports trivia.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: DrMoney on November 25, 2018, 11:48:08 AM
Reusable Trader Joe's Shopping bag filled with specialty goodies. There's a certain way you can fold the bag that makes it look like a gift box. Good luck!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rural on November 25, 2018, 06:02:30 PM
Ended up with a contigo vacuum flask and some usb rechargeable AA batteries. I'm wrapping them in 50 cent Christmas scarves from a thrift store.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: SKL-HOU on November 25, 2018, 07:56:31 PM
I usually give toilet paper in these types of things.  Everyone needs it.  It won't end up in a landfill either (although it will in the sewers).  :P

For a "white elephant" stealing type exchange this is brilliant.

I mean I guess for a "serious, nice gift" it is actually brilliant too, I just don't know if it would be received that way.

I did something similar for White Elephant at work last year. I had just ordered TP from amazon and still had the box that showed TP picture. I put some really cheap TP inside and at the bottom put an echo dot. The person was not pleased at first... until he saw the echo dot, which was stolen from him immediately.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Poundwise on November 26, 2018, 08:20:40 AM
Ended up with a contigo vacuum flask and some usb rechargeable AA batteries. I'm wrapping them in 50 cent Christmas scarves from a thrift store.

Awesome!!

I just remembered that in the past, I've contributed multitools. They are usually the most coveted items!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: I'm a red panda on November 26, 2018, 09:39:34 AM
One of those page-a-day desk calendars with cartoons or vocabulary words or trivia questions

We still have a 2013 Soduko a day calendar with like half the pages left.  I need to just throw it away, but we keep thinking we might do the puzzles.

These calendars are all junk to me.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rural on November 26, 2018, 06:06:35 PM
For anyone thinking about this, I just noticed Echo Dots are $20 today for Cyber Monday.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: mamamustache on November 26, 2018, 07:35:19 PM
I love this thread. I need to bookmark it for every Christmas and birthday here on out.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: talltexan on November 27, 2018, 08:35:21 AM
Posting-to-follow

Lottery tickets are the perfect gift.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: englishteacheralex on November 27, 2018, 08:44:18 AM
I once took a ceramic chicken to one of these events and it was the hot gift of the night. Everyone stole the damn thing.  I don't know why. It was ugly.

When my (now college-age) daughter was 5, my husband found her in our shower, head in the corner, crying as if her sweet little heart would break. When he couldn't coax her to talk, he called in the expert. I finally was able to get her to tearfully say that her cousin Amanda ended up with the dancing chicken that she wanted so badly at our Christmas gift exchange. It played the chicken dance and flapped its wings and jumped around. It got stolen the maximum amount of times and ended up with 20 yr old Amanda, who happily dug it out when she heard how devastated her little cousin was.

Did I mention this little episode happened IN THE MONTH OF MAY? A lifetime of holding in grief for a 5 year old.

Moral of the story: never underestimate the value of chickens at gift exchanges.

P.S. Shortly after this she became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and still is.

This is amazing. I vividly remember a rubber chicken at a white elephant having the same experience. Everyone wanted it. Why???
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: PoutineLover on November 27, 2018, 09:05:17 AM
Posting-to-follow

Lottery tickets are the perfect gift.
In what way? I'd consider that a non gift, you are highly unlikely to win anything at all so you're gifting someone a scrap of paper. Genuinely curious if other people would like that though, because I was at a double birthday party the other day and one birthday gift was a lottery ticket and the other was a gift card and I would so much rather get the gift card.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: I'm a red panda on November 27, 2018, 10:15:32 AM
I once took a ceramic chicken to one of these events and it was the hot gift of the night. Everyone stole the damn thing.  I don't know why. It was ugly.

When my (now college-age) daughter was 5, my husband found her in our shower, head in the corner, crying as if her sweet little heart would break. When he couldn't coax her to talk, he called in the expert. I finally was able to get her to tearfully say that her cousin Amanda ended up with the dancing chicken that she wanted so badly at our Christmas gift exchange. It played the chicken dance and flapped its wings and jumped around. It got stolen the maximum amount of times and ended up with 20 yr old Amanda, who happily dug it out when she heard how devastated her little cousin was.

Did I mention this little episode happened IN THE MONTH OF MAY? A lifetime of holding in grief for a 5 year old.

Moral of the story: never underestimate the value of chickens at gift exchanges.

P.S. Shortly after this she became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and still is.

This is amazing. I vividly remember a rubber chicken at a white elephant having the same experience. Everyone wanted it. Why???

Because it is all junk anyway. Might as well get the funny junk.


Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: sisto on November 27, 2018, 10:55:28 AM
Costco has 2 reusable water bottles for $15 on black friday.
This ^^^
I buy the contigo mugs for exchange gifts often. I love them so there is always something for me to try to steal that I know I like/want and will use.

Also emergency roadside kit
Shop Vac
Rechargeable Batteries
Battery pack to recharge electronics
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: frugalfoothills on November 27, 2018, 11:20:12 AM
Anthropologie has these really pretty globes for $18.00... I got one for a Secret Santa exchange this year. Went with the pink and gold version since all participants are women, but they have other color options, too. I think a nice looking decorative piece like that appeals to a lot of people... I actually want to keep this for myself! It's small enough that it could fit in tons of places and like I said, they have multiple color options. Looks more expensive than $18, too.

https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/kayla-nord-wanderlust-globe?category=SEARCHRESULTS&color=042

Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: slappy on January 14, 2019, 08:43:09 AM
Posting-to-follow

Lottery tickets are the perfect gift.
In what way? I'd consider that a non gift, you are highly unlikely to win anything at all so you're gifting someone a scrap of paper. Genuinely curious if other people would like that though, because I was at a double birthday party the other day and one birthday gift was a lottery ticket and the other was a gift card and I would so much rather get the gift card.

One of my coworkers got a bunch of scratch tickets for christmas. She told the giver to just give her the cash next time.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: marcela on January 15, 2019, 10:08:26 AM
I've started giving scratch off tickets as a sticking stuffer type of gift. It was a hit last year and only cost $2 each. My BIL got $20 and we all teased him that he used up all his luck for the year.
I wouldn't go it as a "real" gift though. Too much likelihood of disappointment.

Back to main topic:  my boss got us all these little portable steamers and that thing is amazing. So much easier than ironing and it's only about $10. My clothes have never looked better and I've finally gotten the creases out of my shower curtain.
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: geekette on January 15, 2019, 12:59:17 PM
For one of our three, yes, three gift exchanges/stealing games, I bought a box of those Belgian gold chocolate "coins" and then added $15 worth of $1 and $2 scratch offs.  My nephew ended up with them, and was thrilled to win $22.  He left the chocolates behind!

I'm definitely bookmarking this thread, because these sort of gift exchanges are pretty much all we're doing with family and friends, now.


Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: SweatingInAZ on January 15, 2019, 05:16:28 PM
Anthropologie has these really pretty globes for $18.00... I got one for a Secret Santa exchange this year. Went with the pink and gold version since all participants are women, but they have other color options, too. I think a nice looking decorative piece like that appeals to a lot of people... I actually want to keep this for myself! It's small enough that it could fit in tons of places and like I said, they have multiple color options. Looks more expensive than $18, too.

https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/kayla-nord-wanderlust-globe?category=SEARCHRESULTS&color=042

I fly to visit family for Christmas, and this is pretty much exactly what I don't want to receive. Just give me some granola bars, nuts, and trail mix. Homemade preferred!

This year I had to lug home over 10 pounds of books, and I was hungry the whole flight!
Title: Re: $20 gifts that won't be in a landfill in six weeks?
Post by: Rural on January 15, 2019, 06:01:49 PM
Anthropologie has these really pretty globes for $18.00... I got one for a Secret Santa exchange this year. Went with the pink and gold version since all participants are women, but they have other color options, too. I think a nice looking decorative piece like that appeals to a lot of people... I actually want to keep this for myself! It's small enough that it could fit in tons of places and like I said, they have multiple color options. Looks more expensive than $18, too.

https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/kayla-nord-wanderlust-globe?category=SEARCHRESULTS&color=042 (https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/kayla-nord-wanderlust-globe?category=SEARCHRESULTS&color=042)

I fly to visit family for Christmas, and this is pretty much exactly what I don't want to receive. Just give me some granola bars, nuts, and trail mix. Homemade preferred!

This year I had to lug home over 10 pounds of books, and I was hungry the whole flight!


Man, if I were flying in, there'd be no "had to" with books. They'd be staying at the home of the gifter.