Twenty Gifts That Go Easy on Your Budget

You’re a generous sort, but you don’t have much time (or cash). Ideas for gifts that won’t leave you paying off your credit cards through July.


Blue Drama Linear Earrings

$22 from Liz Claiborne

These earrings remind me of water droplets. Your gal can wear them with a sweater and slacks or her little red dress. The faceted stones are attached to a small chain, so they’ll move when she laughs.


Printed Umbrella

$23 from Boden

Offset her dreary days with this little piece of happy-go-lucky. A girl with a polka-dot umbrella is much more apt to break into tap dance and spin around lampposts in the downpour.

It’s 100-percent cotton with shower-proof coating and a curved wooden handle. It also has an engaging button that opens the dome with a cheerful “pop.”


Susie Moon Felt Floral Slipper

$25 from Target

Her slippers are ugly. Look at them. They’re ratty and tired and they look like her grandmother may have bought them for her.

Banish them, and make her feet happy with these kicky felt slip-ons. They have suede bottoms, cushioned soles, and a lot of spunk. When she wakes up, these will be only thing she’ll like to see more than her morning espresso.



Cable TV II

$25 from Kenneth Cole

The quintessential skullcap. It’s also available in blue, black, and white, but this deep gray is the most versatile. I especially like the cable-knit detailing. Ideal for skiers, hikers, and people whose ears get cold.




$25 from KidO

What is it? Technically, it’s a piece of plastic of indefinite use. What do kids think it is? You name it.

They use Bilibos as chairs, spin in them, fill them with dirt or toys (or both!). It’s a much more useful and attractive version of the ever-versatile cardboard box. I like to think of it as baby’s first piece of modern art. And you know how kids dig modern art.


Dinosaur Finger Puppets

$35 from Moss

This set of five dinosaur finger puppets by designer Francesca Basilico will get the babies growling. A mini-monster for every finger makes for superior dinosaur fights. (Tip: Tyrannosaurus beats pterodactyl.) Hand-crocheted cotton in yellow wool felt pouch.


Feed Me Bib

$8 from New Skool

The tummy’s growling, the baby’s roaring. Finally an image that accurately portrays a toddler’s lung capacity.

This 100-percent cotton bib has a Velcro closure. The “feed me” print was created by San Francisco artist Nathan Tan, and is also available on T-shirts for babies and kids.



Corporate Design Made Me Mediocre

$22 from Made Unique

Spending eight hours a day with outside-the-boxers and synergy-leveragers is bound to make anyone’s brain flabby and weak.

Here’s an amusingly blunt T-shirt for creative types who know how to laugh at themselves. Why knock vanilla? The people, they like vanilla.


Engravable Zippo Lighter

$35 from JCPenney

Smoking is a dreadful habit with impeccable accessories. No wonder it’s so hard to give up.

Pry the plastic lighter from your favorite smoker’s fingers, and replace it with a classic, monogrammed Zippo. Insta-charm.


Hand-Embroidered Napkins

$29 from Wisteria

Crustacean napkins for the clambake hosts. They’re nice and big, 16 inches square, which offers plenty of protection from garlic-butter drips. The little critters on the corner are hand-embroidered and happy.


Key Bottle Opener

$14 from Elsewares

A keychain bottle opener that doesn’t make you feel quite so much like you’re rushing a fraternity. It doesn’t come as part of a pocketknife, so they won’t take it away at the airport, and when you’re not on the town it’s a little less conspicuous amongst rest of your keys. (You lush.)


Lola Hurricanes

$17?$25 from Elsewares

These groovy hurricane lamps are made of painted capiz shells, which give a soft glow when lit from behind. They’ll update any mantle. The larger holds a 10-inch pillar candle; the smaller holds a three-inch pillar.


Magnetic Stripes

$10 from CB2

A nice stocking stuffer for the minimalist, these colorful magnetic stripes affix paper to metal surfaces without distracting tchotchkes attached. The recipient can make the stripes wide or thin by deciding how to pull them apart. Useful for framing photos or keeping recipes handy while you cook.


Mobile Foodie

$30 from Flight 001

A handy resource for those who would like to take their kitchens with them when they travel.

The Mobile Foodie herb and spice kit is a clever option for campers, or vacationers who want to use their hotel-room kitchenette. Send one to your favorite ex-pat who may not be able to get his hands on the seasonings that recall home.


Moleskine 2005 Pocket Diary

$18 from Amazon

I have some heavy brand love for Moleskine notebooks. I first heard about them from my friend Merlin, who’s even posted a page of Moleskine hacks on his site.

Just the thought of a pen gliding seamlessly over the silky pages of this date book puts me at peace. Forget PDA calendars and their irritating alarms. There’s nothing like an at-a-glance, tangible record of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

If you know anyone else who likes the feel of pen on paper, buy them one of Moleskine’s many variations on the basic notebook. You can’t go wrong.


Napkin Ring Place Card Holders

$20 from Target

This place card and napkin ring combo has an easy elegance. It’s not stuffy; it’s classy.

Each one comes with a reusable place card that wipes clean for the next guest. The set includes four napkin rings, six place cards, and a dry-erase marker.


Sorbet Votives

$15 from Wisteria

Pretty frosted glasses in fruity colors. These are an excellent gift to keep around in case someone surprises you with a present. You can put candles in them, or even small bunches of flowers.


Swivel Clock

$16 from Restoration Hardware

This two-inch travel alarm has glow-in-the dark hands and a leather case that protects it from being gouged in your suitcase. If you know anyone who makes a habit of missing planes, this is for them. Just don’t tell them about the snooze button.


Unlucky T-Shirt

$24 from KarmaLoop

This 100-percent cotton T-shirt is a testimony to balance. Some guy wants to hit the Vegas slots, and the bunny takes it on the chin. Well, not on the chin exactly, but you get the idea.


Wishes and Dreams Calendar

$16 from Elsewares

A hopeful wall calendar by artist Nikki McClure. Her wishes and dreams?“find it for free,” “defend civility”?are paired with lovely paper-cut designs, which she renders with an X-ACTO knife.

It’s hard to make something that’s both hip and wistful, but McClure manages seamlessly.