gifts they might actually want

34 Gifts Under $5 (That You Can Buy on Amazon)

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the retailers

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Sometimes $5 is all you need to spend to make someone’s day. Whether it’s a small token for a birthday, a component of a multipart gift, or just something to show your appreciation, cheap doesn’t have to mean low quality or impersonal. We’ve rounded up 34 exceptionally thoughtful gifts you can buy for $5 or less (with a few $6 options; I’m sad to announce that inflation has hit the inexpensive-gifts sector of the economy) that seem like they’re worth at least double that amount, many of which we’ve written about before.

Have a more specific gifting question? Try our new gift search tool here!

Beauty and self-care

For the sibling who always gets a scrub at the spa

A fun shower upgrade for anyone who’s trying to get their skin dolphin-smooth.

For the friend who never skips a skin-care routine step

This mini-bottle of Thayer’s toner contains snow mushroom and hyaluronic acid, a powerful ingredient for hydrating skin.

For the hairstyle maximalist

For the friend whose candle stash is running low

This may not be a status-y candle, but it is the best drugstore candle, in our opinion. And this particularly stylish tin makes a great gift.

For the mom who doesn’t like scented candles

A warm, soothing vibe for just $5 for three boxes. (Nag champa also happens to be Piper Perabo’s favorite travel incense.)

For the cousin with a multistep lip look

Photo: Courtesy of the Retailer

This inexpensive lip gloss comes in 35 colors, if you want to curate a set; it’s also one of the Cut’s favorite nude lip products for darker skin tones.

For the friend who’s sick of gluing on false lashes

Our best-in-class mascara is beloved by makeup artists and beauty editors. “It separates well; it doesn’t clump; I don’t have any smudging or fallout,” says makeup artist Anabelle LaGuardia.

For the K-beauty fan

This pearl sheet mask from Korean brand Tonymoly will make their skin look lustrous.

For the friend whose skin hates winter

For the sibling on facial-sculpting TikTok

They’ll think of you every morning as they do a de-puffing lymph drainage massage.

For the jet-setter sibling

Radius Tour Travel Toothbrush
From $7
From $7

This ingenious travel toothbrush folds up to protect the bristles from debris but isn’t airtight enough to breed bacteria. (I never travel without mine.)


For the Old Bay superfan

So they can carry hot sauce in their bag à la Beyoncé.

For the Japanese candy collector

Everyone loves these frosting-covered biscuit cookies, which are Bling Empire star Christine Chiu’s “ultimate go-to snack.”

For the garnish artist

The only thing better than fancy salt is smoked fancy salt.

For the uncle with a thriving backyard garden

Photo: Retailer

If they’ve got a green thumb (or a smart garden), give them the gift of bountiful fresh herbs.

For the boyfriend who makes encyclopedic charcuterie boards

A fancy jar of raspberry preserves for their next charcuterie board or picnic.

For the friend who prefers fruit candy to chocolate

Candy fans love Haribo — it did invent the gummy bear, after all — and this yeehaw-themed bag of licorice and fruit gummies is an off-the-beaten-track choice.

For the friend who loves a chilled red

Rabbit Wine Bottle Stoppers
$3 for 2
$3 for 2

Pair that nice bottle of wine with a stopper to keep it fresh. Strategist kitchen and dining writer Emma Wartzman writes that these silicone stoppers are “very affordable, come in nice colors, are easy to rinse off, and seal my wine perfectly well.”

Toys, games, and art supplies

For the budding multimedia artist

These colored pencils can write on any surface, including ceramic, glass, and metal — perfect for the crafter who works across multiple media. (They’re also one of artist Peter Shire’s favorite things.)

For the friend whose to-do lists are works of art

These densely colorful, calligraphy-style pens are my favorite writing implement for labeling gifts. I learned about them from stationery expert Caroline Weaver: “They make anyone’s handwriting instantly look fancier,” she says.

For the new parents

An expert-recommend board book, perfect for for 6-month-olds: “Babies at 6 months start to be more inclined to pay attention to a book, and they’re starting to notice other babies’ faces. They really like to look at other babies,” says social worker Sarah MacLaughlin.

For the teen who watches Pokémon card-opening streams on Twitch

A small gift that provides hours of fun, whether they’re building out their deck or looking up prices of rare cards on eBay.

For the kinesthetic learner

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

There are a million uses for the classic pink Spalding bouncy ball. Illustrator Maira Kalman uses it as a brain reset: She throws it against the wall of her studio during breaks, which she says is “one of the greatest diversions and brain reactivators around.”

For the dad who always hosts poker night

Because you’ll never know when you have to kill time and wish you had a deck of cards (they also makes a great gift for hikers).

For the Online Ceramics T-shirt collector

If they got really into tie-dye recently, this blue dye would be perfect for trying out shibori.

For the friend who made all your warmest scarves and hats

A skein of yarn (or a bundle of different colors) always makes a great gift for the person whose love language is knitting you things.

For the kid who likes a retro toy

Eighty years old, still fun. For older kids, this retro metal Slinky makes a great stocking stuffer.


For the parent of a hyperactive dog

Pair this squeaky, ultradurable ball with a Chuckit launcher for maximum throwing distance at the dog park.

For the parent of a dog that remembers being a wolf


If their dog has a strong predator instinct for anything fluffy, they’ll love this small stuffed lamb squeaky toy.

For the cat with that loves catnip

Their cat will love hunting these small catnip-filled mouse toys — they’re a “playtime favorite” of former Strategist writer Karen Iorio Adelson’s cat.

For the food-motivated cat

Photo: Retailer

Cats are obsessed with these Go-Gurt-esque lickable treats that can also be frozen into a tuna-and-scallop Popsicle.


For the aesthetically minded stoner

For the cottagecore convert

This Frog and Toad–esque nightlight has a built-in sensor so it will turn on once it gets dark outside.

For the sibling who has a backpacking trip planned

If they’re already planning their next trip, share a fight attendant hack — packable detergent packets for doing a load of laundry in the sink. Flight attendant Nikki Helms says they give her “more room in my bag for goodies I find on my trips.”

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, bed sheets, coffee makers, 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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34 Gifts Under $5 (That You Can Buy on Amazon)