holiday gifts 2017

62 Surprising, Delightful, and Weird Holiday Gifts Under $50

In all the Black Friday hysteria, you may have gotten a good deal on a flat-screen TV. But what about those gifts that elicit a truly delighted wow? Here, dozens of surprising, kooky, beautiful, and useful gifts, priced under $50 from our print gift guide, including the sparkliest backpack, a cheeky card holder, the most handsome lighter — plus giant googly eyes for, well, anyone.

Classy Lighter (above)

Green Tortoise Lighter by Tsubota Pearl
$40 at Tetra

Tokyo brand Tsubota Pearl has been making lighters (and money clips, cigarette cases, and other stately objects) since 1952.

‘Beetlejuice’ Pin

Beetlejuice crazy dance pin
$16 at Verameat

Verameat made only 50 of these, so you’re unlikely to meet another superfan with Delia Deetz on her jean jacket.

Party Socks

Simone Wild Velvet Socks
$38 at Tictail

From German designer Simone Wild: velvet jewel-toned stockinged feet.

Origami Lessons

Origami folding class
$25 at Taro’s Origami Studio

Students start with swans and graduate to elephants and dogs.

Kids’ Karaoke

FAO Schwarz Bluetooth Vintage Musical Microphone
$40 at Bed, Bath & Beyond

Connects to devices’ Bluetooth, so they can sing along to their Raffi playlist.

The Sparkliest Backpack

Style.Labs Magic Sequin Backpack, Mermaid/Black
$38 at Amazon

Bring fashion’s glitter takeover to school with this Style.Lab pack.

2-D Sneakers

Air Jordan Coloring Book: Sneaker Adult Coloring Book
$15 at Amazon

A coloring book featuring every Air Jordan sneaker from 1 to 23.

Squeaky-Clean Laces

Jason Markk Round Laces
$9 at Caliroots

Polyester water- and stain-resistant laces perfect for your sneakerhead.

A Peek at an Abandoned Subway Station

Subway fare
$3 at MTA

City Hall station is gorgeous but abandoned. Take a friend on the ninth car on a downtown 6 and catch a glimpse.

Cheeky Card Holder

Danielle Wright Yum Cardholder
$30 at Yo Vintage!

A not-so-serious Italian leather case to hold your tween’s first debit card.

Handheld Hologram

Merge Cube
$9 at Walmart

A holographic cube that, when viewed through your phone’s camera, can transform almost anything into 3-D.

Disguised Nail Files

Bauhaus Matchbook Nail Files
$5 at Odeme

Six teeny nail files secreted in a matchbook for the trying-to-reform biter.

Classic Comp Notebook

Comp Notebook
$20 at Comp Design

With a modern update, thanks to a Mead-obsessed Pentagram designer.

Travel Teddy

Travel Buddy Chocolito
$50 at The Gathered Store

The Mana’o Nani bear has hidden magnets and a unique name handwritten on a sticker.

Retro Hair Ties

Wood hair tie
$12 at Saskia Diez

Beechwood bobble ponytail holders made in Munich by designer Saskia Diez.

OCD Wall Calendar

2018 Wall Planner
$16 at Present & Correct

For the designophile, from Crispin Finn.

Crayola Upgrade

Full Spectrum Chalk
$25 at Fredericks and Mae

Pretty pastels from our favorite grown-up toy company.

Finger Monkey

Fingerlings Baby Monkey, Zoe, Turquoise
from $44 at Amazon

Unlike a real monkey, this Fingerlings can coo, giggle, and blow you a kiss.

Oaxacan Candle

Baby Bouquet candle
$25 at Aesa Jewelry

Mexico by way of New York.

Aquatic Sponges

Fish Sponge
$7 at MoMA Design Store

Rosy foam sponges from Hay that’ll swim in your sink.

Cat Licker

Licki Brush
$25 at Amazon

So you can lick your cat just like a mama grooms her young. No judgments here.

Red-Sauce Tee

Chicken Parm in Yellow
$25 at Katie Kimmel

For the post-normcore comfort-food fanatic.

ABC’s for Hypekids

Rap ABC Board Book
$21 at Rap ABC

Who likely already know that B is for Biggie Smalls.

Art Scarf

Hoffmann Adler Foulard
$28 at Neue Galerie

Your mother’s new favorite, designed by Josef Hoffman.

Giant Googly Eyes

Decora 7 Inch Giant Googly Eyes
$13 at Amazon

Seven-inch eyeballs that actor Wendi McLendon-Covey just so happens to put on the front of her microwave.

Brooklyn Beckham’s Book

What I See Hardcover by Brooklyn Beckham
$20 at Amazon

Life through the World’s Most Popular Teen’s baby blues.

Mah-jongg Lessons

Mah-jongg Lessons
$50 at The Brooklyn Strategist

For a slice of Floridian retirement right here in New York, mah-jongg lessons at the Brooklyn Strategist.

Giant Bubble

Giant Bubble
$19 at Amazon

That no child will be able to pop, try as they will.

A Consultation at a Danish Hair-Loss Clinic

$50 at Harklinikken

Harklinikken brought its hair-regrowth elixirs to New York this year.

Rihanna’s Red Lips

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint
$24 at Sephora

Or an approximation of them, at least, via her new Red Stunna Lip Paint, which is said to last 12 hours.

‘Groundhog Day’ in Midtown

42nd and Vanderbilt
$45 at TBW Books

Peter Funch’s photos of the same Grand Central commuters is a meditation on the daily grind.

Hudson Bay Mitt

Hudson’s Bay Company Oven Mitt
$12 at Lord & Taylor

For his famous lasagna.

Baggu Alternative

Pleated Eco-Bag
$36 at UGUiSU Store

A pleated ecobag from Japanese brand Kna Plus.

Spherical Soap

GOLDA Hiba Sphere Soap
$18 at Studio Cue LA

Made with an oil found only in 300-year-old aomori hiba trees.

Kilroy Nalgene

Kilroy Nalgene
$26 at Powers.Supply

Designed by Brooklyn-based artist Eric Elms.

Next-Level Peanut Butter

Spicy Thai Peanut Butter
$9 at Eliot’s Adult Nut Butters

Artisanal and, of course, Portland-made, with Kaffir-lime leaves and lemongrass.

Eco Cargo Truck

Cargo Truck
$20 at Houzz

Made with sawdust recycled from furniture factories.

Political Tote

Keep Going Tote Bag
$18 at Everytown for Gun Safety

Add this canvas bag to your tote rotation to show support for Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.

Anywhere Vase

Anywhere Vases
$38 at Fruitsuper

For the infrequent flower buyer, a metal slip that’ll turn water cups and pitchers into vases.

Stress-Relieving Croissant

HooMore Jumbo Croissant Silly Squishies
$11 at Amazon

A squishy foam baked good by HooMore for the post-fidget-spinner-er.

Build-Your-Own Roller Coaster

FAO Schwarz Roller Coaster Building Set
$50 at Bloomingdale’s

For the aspiring structural engineer: the thrill of Coney Island in your living room, in 753 ready-to-assemble pieces.

A Salt-Cave Session

A salt cave session
$40 at Montauk Salt Cave

Forty-five minutes of restorative breathing in a cave built from 14 tons of pink Himalayan salt.

Greenpoint-Made Amaro

St. Agrestis New York Amaro
$38 at Astor Wines

Digestif drinkers can finally buy local.

A Catchall Tray

Frank Tray
$24 at Fab

A lacquered steel tray that practically begs to store your pencils and spare change.

Mouth-Scorching Pepperoni

Ghost Pepperoni, 6 oz
$14 at Underground Meats

Heritage-pork salumi with a kick from a million-plus-Scoville-units chile.

Vintage Game Set

Wooden Boxed Vintage Inspired Game Set
$5 at Amazon

Perfect for a weekend away, complete with a yo-yo, pickup sticks, and handsome wooden dice.

A ’60s Reissue

I Work Like a Gardener by Joan Miro
$13 at Amazon

A new edition of the 1964 classic that delves into the artist’s philosophy.

Twill Coveralls

Ralph Lauren Western Twill Cotton Coverall
$45 at Macy’s

For cowboys ages 0 to 24 months.

Low-Cost Peace of Mind

$20 at WyzeCam

Eyes everywhere for a bargain.

A Slumpy Sloth

Jellycat Cyril Sloth Toy
$31 at Amazon

A most-relaxed-looking fuzzy stuffed animal.

Jerry Garcia Socks

Cotton Tie Dye Socks
$24 at Assembly New York

For the white-sneaker addict looking to level up.

Game Boy Nostalgia

BittBoy FC Mini Handheld
$40 at BittBoy

The BittBoy mimics the hardware of the Nintendo classic but runs with 300 built-in games.


Green Tones Melody Glockenspiel with Mallets
$38 at Amazon

Hohner’s been crafting instruments in Germany for 160 years. This one is made of mango wood.

Membership to the Tonya Harding Nancy Kerrigan Museum

THNK1994 Museum Membership
$30 at THNK1994

If the movie isn’t enough, there’s a museum dedicated to the most insane story in ice-skating, which started in the Crown Heights home of two comedians.

Courtney Love’s Favorite Toothpaste

Buly 1803 Opiat Dentaire Toothpaste
$29 at Net-a-Porter

With hints of mint, coriander, and cucumber, made by the stylish French beauty brand Buly 1803.

Giant Cone Planter

Giant Ice-Cream Cone Planter
$35 at Third Drawer Down

A (14-inch, plastic) kid-friendly Group Partner alternative.

Instagrammable Poppy Seeds

Blue Poppy Flower Seeds
From $5 at Burlap & Barrel

From blue opium flowers grown in the Turkish city of Afyonkarahisar, which translates to “Poppy Black Fortress.”

A New Coat for a New Yorker

$20 at New York Cares

As part of its annual drive, New York Cares partners with apparel vendors to donate brand-new coats.

Cheap Masks

Naruko Amazing Mask Set
$28 at Amazon

This Naruko set comes with the perfect mask for every kind of skin concern.

Puppy Pineapple

Waggo Playful Pineapple Dog Toy
$10 at Amazon

Best served frozen for teething dogs.

Worldly Peg Dolls

Ancient Cultures Wooden Dolls
$35 at Goose Grease

Made of Bogotan Urapán wood, these palm-size figurines come dressed in the ancient garb of Egypt, Rome, India, and China.

Rosy Views

Gradient Smoke Gunmetal Aviator Sunglasses
$28 at Kenneth Cole

Classic aviators with perspective-shifting pink lenses.

*This article appears in the November 27, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeansrolling luggagepillows for side sleepersultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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62 Surprising, Delightful, and Weird Holiday Gifts Under $50