Frugal Generosity: 17 Gifts for $50 or Less
Fifty buckaroos is the peak of my list of 17 gifts for $50 or less, but when I say frugal generosity, I mean it. You're not going to be browsing through 16 products priced at $49.99 and one at an even $50. There are plenty of finds here in the twenties and thirties, and even a few in the high teens.
If $50, $40, $30, or $20 is still too rich for your blood, or just more than you want to spend on the yay-hoos in your extended family this year, check out my even thriftier holiday guide to 20 thoughtful gifts for $15 or less.
Note: All 17 gifts for $50 or less are priced as they were at printing on November 26, 2021. Pricing, and availability, are subject to change.
Keyhole Companion - No-Measure Keyhole Slot Marker
Gotta say, I'm a big fan of mounting things. And while the Keyhole Companion is a specialized tool for making it easier to mount things with only a specific type of slot, I can still see how this no-measure helper could be very helpful in mounting...artwork and shelving and tech accessories! What did you think I was talking about, you dirty-minded dudes?
Zootility Super Thin Pocket Knife
If you think super thin is super fly, check out Zootility's ST-2 Super Thin folding pocket knife, with a thickness of just 0.125". Zootility designed the Super Thin pocket knife specifically to fit in the front coin pocket of classic denim. Though you can store or EDC the folder anywhere you like, its 3.51" closed length and 1.4 ounce weight make it the perfect little bird...er, blade to nest inside your pants.
Snactiv Multi-Tasking Snacking Chopsticks
Nobody describes a pair of multi-tasking snacking chopsticks better than Snactiv themselves: "A completely unnecessary but very cool snacking tool." And it doesn't stop there. Snactiv continues, in words after my very own heart, to explain the tool has "one function: "...to shove more snacks into your huge mouth without interrupting your activities or getting your crap covered in grease or snack debris."
What more do you need to know?
Stubble Buddy Beard & Manscaping Vacuum
The Stubble Buddy is basically a mini vacuum - much like this one or this one for your countertop and desktop - that's been given a grooming tool spin. Or rather, post-grooming tool spin. Its makers say the handheld vac for shaved facial and...other regional hair will keep you from getting into "stubble trouble," with any ladies you share your bathroom with, and also possibly your sink drain and plumbing pipes.
Lever Gear BitVault
The Lever Gear BitVault is both for your bits and your bits 'n' pieces. Beneath its sliding drawer the EDC keychain tool has a segmented chamber that holds hex bits, pills, toothpicks, a bill or two of cash, phone adapters, and any other small necessities you want to keep on you when you're out.
Micro Arcade Oregon Trail Game
Get ready to die of a little dysentery with Micro Arcade's miniature Oregon Trail game. It's all the fun, disease, and starvation of a covered-wagon road trip condensed into a handheld console the size of a credit card. And I thought shooting buffalo to survive was nearly impossible on the 28" x 34" screen of my Apple IIGS.
Ark Lite Nebula Projector
Another LED laser projector from BlissLights, the Ark Lite beams stunning illusions of celestial phenomena onto your ceiling to set the mood for parties, game nights, date nights, or some self-care in the bathtub. They describe the effect as a drifting blue nebula cloud with warped, rotating lasers moving around it.
ShiZap! Shocking Stacking Block Game
The dudes and ladies behind ShiZap! knew they couldn't solve all the world's problems, but when they sat down to consider their contribution, they concluded they could conquer at least one: how to make Jenga even more stressful and difficult. I think their solution, adding an electric shock component, i.e., physical pain, to the stacking block game, is a resounding success.
Oh, and instead of wood blocks, ShiZap! uses clear plastic blocks and an LED base that makes them glow green when the lights are out. To encourage gameplay in the dark. To jack up your vision and proprioception. To increase your chances of screwing up and getting ShiZap!-ed.
Mt. Fuji Glass with Wooden Coaster
I don't know much about Mt. Fuji, but any mountain capped with 4 fingers of whiskey - or tequila, scotch, or gin - instead of 40 feet of snow is going to be my favorite, and a worthy addition to my barware collection.
The Mt. Fuji Glass is a pyrex tumbler with Japan's tallest peak rising from its base. Or somebody's peak, anyway. It's unclear to me whether or not this is really Mt. Fuji, as all the photos I've seen of Mt. Fuji show it as a towering solo volcano, not part of a mountain triplex as the glass would indicate. So maybe this is just a Mountain Glass with Wooden Coaster. Shrug. It's probably a good gift for Dad either way.
Razor's Edge Safety Ring Knife
Not a whole lot that looks safe about this Razor's Edge Safety Ring Knife, but I guess compared to JHO Knives' Nug, this ring knife is almost cuddle ready. Doesn't hurt that it comes in an array of rainbow colors, and kinda looks like a little toucan in the photos.
Frank Lloyd Wright Kirigami Paper Models
This collection of Frank Lloyd Wright kirigami paper models includes templates for 14 of the architect's masterpieces, ranging from Fallingwater to the National Life Insurance Building. If you try your hand at one, think you can make the cut?
Rechargeable Emergency Light Bulbs
Power off, light on. It really is as simple as that with these rechargeable emergency light bulbs from JackonLux. I have them installed in 3 lamps in my house, plus the ceiling light above the toilet in the bathroom, an area around which I decided it would behoove me not to have to finagle a flashlight or risk missing my target during a power outage.
Streamlight KeyMate Key Flashlight
The Streamlight KeyMate key flashlight will light up the night like...a little Tinkerbell fairy. But, hey, sometimes all you need is Tink guiding the way if you just need to find the keyhole to your front door at night, or the wedding ring you were stupidly fidgeting with while drinking in your mama's backyard on a Saturday night.
Gooseneck Hands-Free Phone Holder for Bed & Household
Hands-free phone holder for my bed and recliner arm, I love you a bushel and a peck, and a hug around your gooseneck. While there's more to it than your standard phone stand or holder, this gooseneck hands-free phone holder is still a simple solution to a common problem: laziness.
And also neck fatigue, shaky hands, wrong-sized pedestal heights and prop angles, and the absence of brainwave-controlled robotic octopus arms that attach to your torso. Bet that last one's in the works though.
Rapid-Rope Extreme Utility Rope
If soap on a rope is your go-to gift for Dad, mix things up this year with Rapid-Rope. AKA rope in can! The extreme utility rope is a Shark Tank-backed piece of outdoor and survival gear that sees 120 feet of flat-braid, 1,100-pound test cord spooled into a shatterproof canister just a little bigger than a sodie can.
Octopus Tentacle Martini Glass
Here's another Octopussy that might catch the eye of Bond, James Bond. Especially if the tentacled martini glass were filled with a Vesper. Shaken, not stirred.
The Octopus Tentacle Martini Glass sets the cocktail's classic inverted cone atop a single spiraling, sucker-speckled polyresin octopus tentacle, finished in a steampunk-y metallic bronze. The glass holds 7 ounces.
OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?
2020 might have been the first year of my life that I actually wondered, OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say? The first year that I hear the kids, and the adults, on the Twitters and the TikToks asking, OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say? So good on Ben Sheehan for his timing in releasing such a relevant book - however did he know it would be such a hot topic? - and especially for making a detailed rundown and explanation of the American Constitution A Non-Boring Guide to How Our Democracy is Supposed to Work.