No matter who you’re shopping for, a thoughtful gift doesn’t need to break the bank. To help you find something affordable that is guaranteed to still delight your giftee, we put together this list of gifts under $50. And as a bonus, with each purchase you’ll be supporting a queer-owned brand or business. (And if you’re looking for even more gift options, we have gift guides from Black-owned brands, Hispanic- and Latinx-owned brands, Indigenous-owned brands, and AAPI-owned brands too.)
Boy Smells candles are a perennial Strategist favorite and a good gift for just about anyone. Cowboy Kush is a heady mix of saffron, suede, patchouli, white leather, and pot leaf that the brand describes as a “tumbleweed” of a scent.
For the college student just trying to make it to finals, this bag of coffee beans from Couplet Coffee should do the trick.
New York’s Coming Soon is one of our all-time favorite design shops. Its under-$50 section is chock-full of surprising gifts, but we were particularly charmed by these rubbery resin coasters from designer Gaetano Pesce (a favorite of model Paloma Elsesser). They come in sets of 2 for $30, so you can buy your favorite dinner-party host a set of four and still be on budget.
You might be looking for a piece of jewelry for your partner (or yourself). This solid 14k gold earring is available in yellow, white, and rose gold. It’s from NYC-based fine jewelry brand Automic Gold, which makes all its pieces from reclaimed gold and is well-known for their size-inclusive offerings.
If you’re sourcing lingerie for your sweetheart, in our roundup of the best plus-size lingerie, style expert Corissa Enneking recommended Origami Customs: a “gender affirming, super inclusive brand making lingerie that is truly for everyone,” pointing to its custom sizing and trans-friendly styles as two things that “are moving the lingerie world forward.”
And if you’re looking for something else to bring into the bedroom to show your partner how much you care this year, Early to Bed is a Chicago-based sex-toy shop with plenty of affordable options. Satisfyer’s Lucky Libra — which makes some of our favorite affordable toys — utilizes both air-suction technology and vibrations that can be used alone or together for a range of sensation.
Or try this pressed pearlescent highlighter from KimChi Chic Beauty that comes in a cute heart-shaped compact.
The be.come Project, founded by SLT alum Bethany C. Meyers, releases one Pilates routine per week with a focus on accessibility. Each one comes with easy-to-understand demonstrations for how to modify every move, perfect for the friend looking to move their body with more intention.
If you’re shopping for a housewarming gift, these pillow covers are made from dead-stock corduroy by Suay Sew Shop and are available in six shades.
For the CBD-curious, this tincture from Xula — which third-party tests all its products to ensure potency — is formulated with a 1:1 ratio of CBD and CBG.
Back in 2020, Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst dubbed Blk Mkt Vintage the best new store in Brooklyn for its focus on Black ephemera you won’t find anywhere else. Founders Jannah Handy and Kiyanna Stewart also sell a line of merchandise in addition to antiques, like this tote bag that is the perfect size for running errands.
For the friend who could use a little pick-me-up, this subscription from Bokksu will bring a selection of snacks, candy, and tea straight to their door from family-run businesses in Japan.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner Trixie Mattel’s makeup brand is known for its super-pigmented formulas and fun packaging. This eye shadow palette is no exception, with nine matte shades, one frost shade, and two pressed biodegradable glitters in a range of neutral earth tones and more bright yellows and pinks. Plus it’s vegan.
If you’re shopping for someone who prefers a more understated look, Noto Botanics multiuse pigment pots will add a flush of color to their eyes, lips, and cheeks. The formula is enriched with jojoba oil, shea butter, rose-hip-seed oil, and vitamin E for a hydrating, dewy finish.
Otherwild is a Los Angeles–based store, design studio, and event space that is “dedicated to carrying products made with care, concern, and awareness of their impact and design.” We love these wobbly serving spoons from Areaware and suggest gifting it to the roommate who is always throwing dinner parties.
The loved one in your life who always runs cold will certainly appreciate a warm knit hat.
Two Minds Press is a Philadelphia-based brand that focuses on hand-printed apparel, accessories, and prints. We especially like this T-shirt — available up to a size 3XL — that comes in both mustard yellow and cream.
Since we’re only just at the start of the year, this neon risograph calendar would be a welcome addition to anyone’s home office. Ash + Chess also has a wide selection of notebooks, stickers, cards, and prints available on its site.
Or perhaps they’d rather start off 2022 with a new journal. The Me-est Me Journal is an 88-page workbook that includes journaling prompts to help get your giftee started if they’re a newbie. According to the brand, “The journal is divided by pages devoted to reflecting, gathering, and exploring, while also giving you pages to play around with and pause.”
Tomboy X has plenty of things to choose from on its site, but these days you can’t go wrong with a new pair of supersoft sweatpants.
Astoria Bookshop is a quaint bookshop located in Queens that hosts events and has a robust online selection for those who don’t live in New York. While it carries books for all ages, we suggest checking out New York Magazine’s book critic Andrea Long Chu’s Females.
If your partner considers themself to be a Melissa Clarke in the making, this trio of baking spices, which includes cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, would be a welcome addition to their kitchen.
For the new parents in your life, this Jellycat plushie is downright adorable and comes from the NYC-based shop Lockwood, which “sources unique décor, stationery, clothing, kids’ gifts, and affordable lifestyle goods, focusing on local makers and up-and-coming brands.”
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.