gifts they might actually want

30 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 gift 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 30 exceptionally thoughtful gifts under $5 that seem like they’re worth at least double that amount, many of which we’ve written about before.

Beauty and self-care

For the sister who always gets a scrub at the spa

Exfoliating gloves for anyone who’s trying to get their skin dolphin-smooth.

For the hairstyle maximalist

For the mom who doesn’t like scented candles

Piper Perabo’s favorite travel incense, which she first encountered at her yoga studio, is just $5 for three boxes.

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 cousin with multi-step lip look

Photo: Courtesy of the Retailer

This inexpensive lip gloss comes in 35 colors and is one of the Cut’s favorite nude lip products for darker skin tones.

For the cousin who just wants their lipstick to stay put

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 convert

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

For the sibling on facial sculpting TikTok

If they want to advance their routine even more, they can use this gua sha tool to help the mask sink into their skin.

For the sibling who’s over Marvis toothpaste


For the Old Bay superfan

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

For the Japanese candy collector

The chocolate-covered cookies are Bling Empire star Christine Chiu’s “ultimate go-to snack.”

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 fresh herbs.

For the boyfriend who makes encyclopedic charcuterie boards

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

For the friend who prefers fruit candy to chocolate

For the friend who loves a chilled red

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

This is artist Peter Shire’s favorite write-on-anything pencil for “glazed ceramic or glass or marking metals for cutting” — and it comes in a ton of bright, fun colors.

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

These calligraphy-style pens are stationery expert Caroline Weaver’s favorite “envelope-addressing, label-writing, everything pens.” “They make anyone’s handwriting instantly look fancier,” she says.

For the dad who always hosts poker night

A classic deck of cards (that also makes a great gift for hikers).

For the kinesthetic learner

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

This classic pink ball is a favorite of illustrator Maira Kalman, who 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 friend who always has a textile project in the works

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

For the new parents

Experts recommend this book 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 kid who likes a retro toy


For the parent of a hyperactive dog

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

For the cat with a strong predator instinct

SmartyKat Catnip Cat Toys
$2 for 3
$2 for 3

These small catnip-filled mouse toys are 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, which can also be frozen, Popsicle-style.


For the aesthetically minded stoner

For the obsessive annotator

“When I’m writing a script, I read a lot,” says Everything Everywhere All at Once co-director Daniel Kwan. He keeps track of important passages with these Post-it flags, which are so essential that Kwan tapes them to the cover of his Moleskine journal.

For the sibling who has traveling down to a science

Flight attendant Nikki Helms recommends packable detergent packets for doing a load of laundry in the sink, which gives her “more room in my bag for goodies I find on my trips.”

For the outdoorsy sibling

These “S-biners” are two carabiners in one, making them doubly useful for schlepping stuff, whether on the subway or on a hike. They come in several colors, including bright orange and olive green.

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.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

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