holiday gifts 2021

52 Truly Surprising, Strange, and Immensely Pleasing Gifts Under $50

Including lilac bitters, Hermès nails, and assorted glo-fish.

Video: Joe Lingeman
Video: Joe Lingeman
Video: Joe Lingeman

Typically, we share recommendations for the best products period — it doesn’t matter when they came out as long as they are exceptionally useful, beautiful, surprising, or otherwise worth recommending. Last year we surveyed celebrities on the best thing they bought themselves during the pandemic. This year we have gone in a different direction, focusing almost entirely on the world of the recently released. Here, you’ll find a wide assortment of new-ish things for every person on your list, from lip gloss for a friend who already owns a tiny Telfar bag to a board game for an Animal Crossing obsessive who might want to take a break from their Nintendo Switch. Plus, of course, dozens of other ideas, including a state-of-the-art soccer ball and vintage mooncake molds that are (probably) from the 1900s.

Don’t miss all of the Strategist’s holiday gift coverage right here.

Long-Haired Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig
From $25
From $25
Photo: Joe Lingeman

This cheerful long-haired guinea pig “popcorns” — that is, jumps up and down — when particularly pleased (from $25 in adoption fees).

Papaya Candle

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

From Hi-BYE World, Mexico City’s Opening Ceremony.

Handblown-Glass Dildo

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

The heart, apparently, makes it easier to grip.

Natty Meade

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Fermented this year from New York State wildflower honey.

Kid Color Theory

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

By Pascale Estellon, known for her opaque watercolors.

Hermès Nails

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Plus, a (relatively) cheap way to get that orange box.

L.A. Cap

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

With Hebrew-ish lettering, from much-hyped label Praying.

Toddler Trousers

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

All of Mmoody’s pants are made from recycled scrap fabric.

Bill Cunningham–Blue Napkins

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Hand-embroidered by Germany-based Malaika Linens.

Replacement Wheels

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

For the crustacean-loving skater.

Frozen Soup Dumplings

$40 for 2
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Fly by Jing’s first foray into solid food.

This Season’s Soccer Ball

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Ronaldo has already scored three Champions League goals with this starry design.

Evolved Turkish Delight

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Apple-ginger candy with just the right amount of CBD.

DTC Glasses and Assorted Glo-Fish

Video: Joe Lingeman

Known for its Always Pan, Our Place just launched drinking glasses that are pleasantly heavy and come in tons of colors.

They’ll need a rather large aquarium.

Collector-Approved Kids’ Watch

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor/Copyright Alexandra Rowley Photographs Inc.

Hodinkee alum Cara Barrett’s new brand is designed to get little ones hooked early.

Good Tee

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Proceeds from this shirt, designed by the Cevallos Brothers, help maintain the Jackson Heights Community Fridge.

Plump Key Chain

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

A retro-looking Jell-O mold for corralling keys.

Non-Offensive N95

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

A CE-certified, Elizabethian-ruff-inspired mask from Tia Adeola.

Lilac Bitters

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

A collaboration between East Fork and Heilbron Herbs, grown in western North Carolina.

‘Thrasher’ Reader’s Doorstop

$50
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Made with offcuts from recycled skateboards.

Easy-Grow Mushrooms

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor/deirdre lewis

With a spray bottle, rubber band, knife, and this kit, they’ll be harvesting their own blue oysters in just a week.

Four-Ingredient Lotion

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Just olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, and pomegranate oil.

Saffron Threads

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Harvested by female farmers in Afghanistan.

Reusable Eye Patches

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

They can fill these up with their go-to serum, gel, or eye cream.

Breakout Breakout Bar

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

The flagship soap from two Glossier alums washes away dead skin and excess keratin (“Soap Home” sold separately).

Note: Through December 23, use code SAMEDAY to get free same-day courier service delivery on orders over $50 in New York, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles.

Very Specific Coffee-Table Book

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

William Mullan photographed the innards of his favorite obscure apples.

Less-Obvious Hand Soap

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Vegan and foamy with a top note of frankincense.

Green Goblets

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Bodum has reissued its 1983 Oktett wineglasses.

Made-to-Order Chocolate

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

70 percent dark, filled with coffee ganache, and individually hand-painted with cocoa butter.

‘Monopoly’ Mash-up

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Players snatch up Animal Crossing–inspired fish, fossils, and fruit.

Better-Optic Yellow Balls

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

From Palmes, a new tennis-centric menswear brand.

Audre Lorde Recitations

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

The poet and activist’s first authorized collection of notecards.

Start-up Plunger

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Even the lowliest of bathroom tools has been unable to avoid disruption.

A24 Soap

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Looks like TV bars; a collaboration between the film studio and Wary Meyers.

Grandmillennial Ornament

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Modeled after a ca. 1740 British armchair in the Met’s collection.

Korean Tapas

$46
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Recipes from Jungwook Woo’s Seoul restaurant, where the team pairs natural wines with seoritae-mascarpone spreads and rospyeonchae.

Watermelon Candies

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Inspired by traditional Mexican fruterias (where fresh-cut fruit is topped with chile and lime).

Brooklyn Buckwheat

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Calming, caramel-y Soba-cha imported from Japan to Greenpoint.

Century-Old Mooncakes

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Newly sourced 1900s-era moulds.

Referential Video Game

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Slash through the underworld with the help of Greek gods.

Mortadella Towel

From $25
Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Artist Marianna Fierro grew up in an Italian pizza shop and has been inspired by meat toppings ever since.

Mystery Puppy

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Shave the pink fur off “Scruff-A-Luvs” to reveal a Yorkie or Frenchie.

Holiday Report Cards

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Rate your neighbors’ Christmas displays, then slip this into their mailbox.

Chile Crisp Trio

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Yun Hai’s cult Taiwanese-made condiments in five spice, cilantro, and Mala chile.

Recycling Truck

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Little ones can unload building blocks from the dumping bin.

The “Telfar of Lip Gloss”

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

So dubbed for its popularity among New York’s creatives of color.

Portuguese Poppy Seeds

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

The petals are edible.

Clementine Candles

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

They’re made of paraffin wax, hand-painted in Peckham, London — and come gift-wrapped.

Dairy-Free Chèvre

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

The Austin-based Rebel Cheese will send them a different vegan cheese every month.

The Late Anne Saxelby’s Favorite

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

Soft double cream with an ash-ripened bloomy rind.

Bovine Socks

Photo: Courtesy of the Vendor

From the Swedish label Socksss.

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 acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

52 Truly Surprising and Immensely Pleasing Gifts Under $50