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Fifteen Prudent Gifts for the Budget-Minded

You enjoy the lights, you’re fond of the cocktails; you loathe the stores. Our shopping expert offers her online picks for under $30, so you can focus on making merry.

For Him

These stainless-steel astronaut cufflinks ($29 from Conran Shop) are one giant leap for his wardrobe. Every guy could use a little space.


The compact Zagat Movie Guide ($10 from Amazon) covers nearly 1,300 movies and has dozens of indexes that let him search by genre, decade, Oscar nominations, and more. Package it with a gift certificate for a month of unlimited mail-order movie rentals ($18 from Netflix), and some Raisinettes.


When you can only get one radio station, it’s bound to be Dixieland Jazz. Reclaim your radio with this FM transmitter ($30 from Target) that lets you play an iPod through the car speakers.


This inexpensive starter kit for would-be brew masters ($30 from Target) makes 20 12-ounce beers in two weeks. He gets a brew keg, brewer’s yeast, booster, beer mix, and a beer gut.


Karim Rashid designed this sleek, ceramic piggy bank for grownups ($18 from MoMAstore). It has a slot at the top for coins and a rubber stopper in the bottom for easy access when he needs meter money. Beats the heck out of an empty pickle jar.


For Her

This simple glass pendant ($25 from Plain Mabel) comes with a two-foot cord so she can adjust it to whatever length works best with her outfit. Each pleasantly geometric pendant is an inch square and features two colors of glass.


These ceramic planters ($20 from Sprout Home) look and feel like giant eggs. They come whole, and she cracks them open to sow the included seeds. Once the plants get big enough, the entire egg can be transferred to the garden. Also comes in a smaller size that looks more like a chicken egg.


Leather gloves are a sound choice for the gal who has nearly everything, or the one you don’t know well enough to buy lingerie. These classic winter gloves ($30 from Gap) come in happy spring colors. Choose from pink, blue, camel, green, and black.


Bunny slippers! Ferocious bunny slippers ($27.95 from Sci-Fi Genre). I’ve been looking for a pair of bunny slippers for years, but I never imagined that I’d find a carnivorous set.


She may look like a mild-mannered citizen to everyone else, but to you, she’s a hero. San Francisco designer Andrea Scher is a friend of mine, so I’m predisposed to adore her long-sleeve tees ($24 from Superhero Designs), which come in brown, black, orange, and white.


For the Kids

The best robot boxing game ever invented ($20 from Back to Basics Toys). Two players control the plastic bots until the winner knocks his opponent’s block off. Created in 1966, this classic favorite is introducing a whole new generation to the pleasures of aggression.


If you think Beth was a goody-goody, and Jo never should have married the old guy when she could have had Laurie, introduce your favorite little girl to Anne Shirley instead. The Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set ($24 from Amazon) follows the life of a bright, independent orphan with a fierce imagination. This set includes all eight books in the series.


Where did aspiring devil worshippers turn before Harry Potter? Welcome to Narnia, little ones ($29 from Amazon). Set includes all seven volumes and a dose of Christian allegory that you can ignore if you like.


This battery-powered Slurpee Maker ($25 from KB Toys) is a crowd-pleaser among the kindergarten set. You fill it with soda pop or juice, turn it on, and enjoy brain freeze in the comfort of your own home.


And you thought the ferocious bunnies were cool ($15 from Uncommon Goods).