When I was 14, my dad gave me $25 to go shopping and I blew almost all of it on a deep-purple Chanel nail polish at Macy’s. I wore the shade religiously and kept the small bag, thrilled to have a little something from the brand. It was the age of Gossip Girl, and I couldn’t afford the double-flap 2.55 bags Blair Waldorf carried (and still cannot), but the polish placed me in proximity to it, and that was enough. All these years later, I’ve become more practical in my curation, but I still love a little luxurious gift like body wash from Le Labo or a cardholder from Saint Laurent. These “entry-level” items also make great gifts, because they’re not exorbitantly expensive but still feel fancy.
Below, a roundup of 21 affordable gifts from very nice brands, separated by price to make navigating easier. For even more gift ideas, check out our roundup of all of our holiday gift guides.
For the overcaffeinated friend
A medium-roast blend from Flamingo Estate, roasted fresh twice a week and sourced in Guatemala and Colombia.
For the friend with a new apartment
Upgrade their shower routine with an organic-cotton washcloth from Melbourne-based Baina.
For the aunt who loves hosting
For the boss that Euro-tripped last summer
Hand soap that smells of Tuscan summer and comes recommended by gallerist Hannah Traore. And for $3 extra, you get packaging, which adds to the giftable effect.
For the girlfriend that loves a two-tone lip
For the DIY manicurist
A glossy red with a gel-like finish that comes in a fancy-looking box.
For the boyfriend with (empty) white walls
Fine art is expensive — this puzzle from MoMA is not. Your giftee can frame it once put together, and it’ll make a worthwhile weekend activity.
For the gym rat
A sparkly insulated water bottle that will stand out in a sea of Hydroflasks and Owalas.
For the scent-obsessive
A body-oil version of the ubiquitous (and very expensive) Baccarat Rouge 540, which is less than half the price of a full-size perfume. And for an extra $30, it can be personalized with initials or a nice message.
For the girlfriend who uses you as a foot warmer
Sandy Liang Subus for the giftee that’s always got cold feet. These come in three patterns — white strawberries, rosettes, and paw prints.
For the loafer enthusiast
Jacquemus can be eye-wateringly expensive, but the socks tend to be pretty affordable and often on sale. These multicolored ones have a fun color story and would look nice paired with loafers and mules.
For the cheeky (and design-minded)
A cheeky keyring that definitely looks like what it is but could also be interpreted as an abstract shape.
For the sample-sale shopper
For the cousin that’s still talking about the Renaissance tour
A high-shine cardholder that features a zip compartment for change and a front slot for cards.
For the sister who can’t leave the house without her earrings
For the (quirky) sister who can’t leave the house without her earrings
And if hoops aren’t exactly their thing, dice-shaped earrings from Marni.
For the bald dad
A cozy cashmere hat from Gigi Hadid–helmed Guest in Residence.
For the aunt who’s been collecting ornaments for decades
Tick off a box on the Santa Baby Christmas list with a bone-china ornament from Tiffany & Co.
For the roommate using their chair as a coatrack
For the bougie boyfriend
For the fancy friend
The Strategist is a new site 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 notebook, black T-shirts, fashion-editor-approved jeans, toothbrush, and apartment décor. Note that all prices are subject to change.
If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.