The big holiday celebration begins in a few days, and you've suddenly realized that you completely spaced out when it came to buying a gift for Uncle Walter or your cousin's girlfriend. Never fear. Here are a ton of great gifts for those unplanned moments. These items cost around $20 or less.
1. A humorous but thoughtful book. A thoughtful book is always a nice gift, but it's often humor that gets people to actually open the cover and enjoy it. "Little Victories: A Sportswriter's Notes on Winning at Life" by Jason Gay and "Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari are great choices.
2. Amazing coffee. Almost any coffee lover out there will enjoy sampling some delicious new type of coffee. Death Wish Coffee almost always makes for a fun gift (and some potent coffee, too). Kicking Horse Three Sisters coffee also comes highly recommended for a flavorful brew.
3. A pocket notebook and some good pens. Got any writers or hyper-organized folks on your list? Get them a pocket notebook and a high-quality pen. The notebooks in the Field Notes Shenandoah special edition three-pack are classically beautiful and very functional, while the notebooks in the DIY Indispensables Military Memo pocket notebook three-packare sturdy and very straightforward in their design. The Uni-Ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro is a great all-around pen for a low price, but the Pilot Juice 0.38 mm comes in a wide variety of colors for those who like to vary their inks.
4. A couple of bars of fancy chocolate. A bar of amazing high-end chocolate is likely to get cracked open immediately by any chocolate lover. Both the Akesson's Madagascar Single Plantation chocolate bar and the Amano Ocumare chocolate bar are award-winning chocolates for a reasonable price.
5. A local food product or beverage. If you're buying a gift for someone who lives far away, a local food product or beverage offer great local flavor. A bottle of wine from a local winery or a six-pack of beer from a local craft brewer are both good gifts. Chocolates or other snacks that are made locally are thoughtful gifts, too.
6. An adult coloring book and set of colored pencils. Adult coloring books have caught on as a great de-stressing tool for busy adults, particularly parents. They can make for a great gift for the quirky but overworked person in your life. A Prismacolor Premier colored pencil set serves well for coloring tools, and all of Johanna Basford's coloring books are wonderful, particularly "Secret Garden," "Lost Ocean" and "Enchanted Forest."
7. Golf balls. If you have a golfer in your life, a box of golf balls will always go a long way (pun intended). A big box of Wilson Titanium balls are budget-friendly. Callaway Supersoft balls have a reputation for traveling far. (A bag of quality tees is never a bad supplemental gift, too.)
8. A curated crossword puzzle book. If you have a puzzle lover on your list, consider giving Rainy Day Sunday Crosswords, which is a collection of The New York Times Sunday crosswords. If the recipient has a smartphone or tablet, a year's subscription to the Times' crosswords, plus access to the archives is an amazing gift, though it does exceed the $20 limit by a bit.
9. A high-end version of an ordinary care product. It's a simple little gift that works for everyone. Take a personal care product that everyone uses, such as shower soap, and buy a high-end version of it. For instance, you might buy a bar of Dr. Squatch's cedar citrus soap for a guy who likes to smell rugged but pleasant or a V76 bar for a man meticulous about his appearance. For women, a bar of Kahina Giving Beauty lemongrass nettle soapor a bar of Dead Sea mineral mud soap work well
10. A fun game. In case you haven't been paying attention, there has been a revolution in board games and card games over the last 15 years, with the some incredibly smart designs. Check out Hanabi or Trick of the Rails for two great little box card games that pack an incredible amount of fun and thoughtfulness into a tiny container.
The key to any good gift is to find something that matches the personality of the person you're giving the gift to, so take a few moments and think about the person you're buying for and then dive into the links in this article. Good luck, and have a happy holiday season.