You know the holiday drill. You get a bunch of gifts that are the all-stars, and then a few supporting players that are “nice to haves”: white elephants and stocking stuffers and cards from grandma that comprise a Christmas haul that’ll largely be lost to some sad junk drawer in the TV console.
This year, two of my nice-to-haves included a $50 Walmart gift card from mom and a $50 Walgreens gift card from, randomly, a family friend. Because I’m a Strategist editor, I took the challenge of spending each card very seriously, careful to make the most of each half-Benjamin. In case you find yourself in a similar (non-)predicament, these are the things I contemplated before ultimately deciding what to buy.
The Under-$50 Things I Contemplated at Walmart
RVN says this is a cheaper dupe for the SK-II essence, and I could almost afford two of them at this price.
I kind of want to buy this fancy hand wash and fill it up with apple-scented Mrs. Meyers when it’s done, shhh.
I am constantly running out of and stocking up on Fatboy, which, of course, they have at Walmart (for four bucks cheaper than Amazon!).
Like Camila Cabello, I have an unhealthy affinity for Takis. Mini Takis in smaller bags are great, not for portion control (boo) but freshness.
The orange on the cover of this book really speaks to me, though blowing an entire gift card on a Phaidon coffee-table book may just be too pretentious.
I have a phone case for my 8 plus already, but would not be mad at a faux-marble situation, especially at this price.
I, too, have an Instant Pot and not the first idea of what to do with it (please don’t email me).
What I Ended Up Buying at Walmart
I decided to buy one slightly indulgent thing and one thing I would’ve spent money on anyway. Plus, if I pull my Mrs. Meyers trick on the Grown Alchemist hand wash, it becomes more of an indulgent long-term investment. It all rings up to $50.39 (plus free shipping).
The Under-$50 Things I Contemplated at Walgreens
A few months ago, I was suffering from a nasty sore throat and went on a mission to find these cultish Fisherman’s Friend lozenges IRL (to no avail, so I settled with Ricolas). Now, I can get them online.
I keep this at my desk and in my gym bag because my dermatologist recommended it, and the ceramides (some barrier-protecting ingredient) really do feel great.
My absolute favorite lip balm because it has those same ceramides (like the CeraVe) unlike basically any lip balm you can buy that isn’t Dr. Jart. It’s pink and tastes like cupcakes, which I’ve gotten used to at this point, but sometimes when I put it on, people around me will ask why the room smells like a Bath & Body Works.
Love these European vitamin C “mental sharpness and physical energy” tablets for the way they make tap water taste like a diluted Sunkist. Ana Gasteyer’s a fan.
What I Ended Up Buying at Walgreens
Here’s where I apologize for the demented drugstore shopping list, but everything at Walgreens is so cheap, I could get practically all of it with 24 cents to spare (next time, Fisherman’s Friend).
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 jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.