The Low-Cost, High-Joy Gift Guide: 76 Under-$40 Gifts That Leave Everyone Happy
The Low-Cost, High-Joy Gift Guide: 76 Under-$40 Gifts That Leave Everyone Happy

The Low-Cost, High-Joy Gift Guide: 76 Under-$40 Gifts That Leave Everyone Happy

There's a commonly used "law" of business that promises the following: Nothing can be fast, good, and cheap all at the same time. It can be fast and cheap but not good; good and cheap but not fast; fast and good but not cheap. No matter what, there's something you have to sacrifice. But after Who What Wear's team of experts put their heads together ahead of the holiday season, one thing became clear. Whoever came up with this theory hadn't met us or, better yet, shopped for the gifts we spend the majority of November sourcing. If they had, they'd see quite clearly that this particular law of business isn't without exceptions. The 76 gifts below are proof enough of that. 

Fast, good, and cheap (like under-$40 cheap) are three words that describe to a T every one of the gift ideas featured ahead. From premeasured Sicilian sea salt that your foodiest friend will delight over to a table-top loom that'll get the creative juices flowing for your right-brained family member, the presents you're about to see and shop are destined to spark joy in whoever unwraps them. Scroll on for Low Cost, High Joy with Who What Wear, our under-$40 guide to making everyone on your holiday gifting list happy.

True gourmands can be some of the hardest people to shop for. Their taste levels are hundreds of steps beyond even a regular-old food lover, and they spend large chunks of time learning about the latest nosh-related fads around the world. Because of that, it's essential that you take a step into their shoes and do some serious research. Luckily, our team houses quite a few connoisseurs in this particular area of interest, all of whom were all too eager to share their wisdom. From sell-out duck-fat tortillas to Portuguese canned sardines, if the person you're shopping for loves food, the gifts below are sure to impress. 

1: Duck-Fat Tortillas

Anyone whose interests consist of food, full stop, is probably well aware of Carmelo tortillas—which, in addition to gracing the cover of Bon Appétit, are famously difficult to get your hands on and unbelievably tasty. 

2: Truffles

These aren't just any chocolates. They're chocolates designed way back in 1919 as a chic gift for first-class steamship passengers. NBD or anything.

3: A Pink Pineapple

"To eat or to look at in awe"—these are genuine thoughts one might have if they received a Costa Rican pink pineapple.

4: Japanese Fruit Knife

The only knife worthy of cutting the above pineapple. 

5: Canned Sardines

This is the year of tinned fish, be it straight from the can, tossed in a Mediterranean pasta bowl, or atop a piece of toasted sourdough.

6: Butter Knife

With this handmade resin butter knife to spread it, your butter won't just taste good. It'll look good too.

7: French Chili Butter

The only thing the French do better than dress is make butter, and this is a butter unlike any other. Beloved by some of the culinary world's most elite chefs, Jean-Yves Bordier's Le Beurre Bordier chili butter is a masterpiece. It's no wonder people used to smuggle it past border control upon their return to the U.S. from France. And no, we're not exaggerating. 

8: East Asian Omsom Sampler

Cooking doesn't have to be difficult. This sampler contains six starters to make meals like Japanese yuzu misoyaki, Korean spicy bulgogi, and Chinese mala salad.

9: Dishoom Cookbook

When a flight to London to wait in line for a meal at Dishoom isn't possible, the recipes in this cookbook are close enough. 

10: Oyster Grow Kit

Who knows how much we'd have saved our food-obsessed friends in high-end grocery fees had we only known before that growing oyster mushrooms at home was as easy as buying this $38 kit.

11: Italian Linguine

Obviously, it's important for pasta to taste good, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be pretty too.

12: Premeasured Sea Salt

Disco di Sale takes the guesswork out of salting pots of water, making perfectly seasoned pasta and vegetables a snap. Made by Jacobsen's partners in Trapani, Italy, each disc ("disco" in Italian) contains 10 grams of pure Italian fine sea salt.

13: Family-Recipe Cookbook

No professional cookbook compares to one filled with passed-down family recipes—period.

What do you get for the hostess with the mostest? How about a bevy of under-$40 gifts that even she doesn't already have? We're talking about handmade French candlesticks (and yes, they're customizable), a bobbin-lace apron for her chicest bottle of red, and a card game designed by a relationship expert that is bound to make even the most awkward of parties wildly intimate. And those are just the highlights. 

14: French Candlesticks

French. Handmade. Customizable. Candles. Enough said.  

15: Paper Lanterns
16: Red Wine Glass

Sometimes, you just have to remove dangerous skinny-stem wine glasses from the equation entirely. Instead, opt for Ichendorf Milano's glassware, which is the safer option at a party and is aesthetically satisfying in every way. 

17: Party Game

Goodbye, Uno; hello, Where Should We Begin?, relationship expert Esther Perel's party-ready card game that's all about kick-starting enriched conversations that don't shy away from topics that may have once been considered off-limits for party settings. When this game gets brought out, expect things to get intimate. 

18: Hand-Painted Place Cards
19: Vintage Party Book

Sixty-four pages of party advice from the generation that did it best.

20: YSL Lighter

Sometimes, the best, most impressive gifts come in the smallest of packages. Case in point, this $8 zebra-print lighter from Saint Laurent, which has the potential to become the chicest party favor of all time this holiday season.

21: Bottle Apron

Is your table well dressed? Gift-wrap a bottle of pét-nat.

22: Ceramic Candleholders

Excuse us for saying this, but candleholders have a tendency to be, well, boring. Luckily, Cape Town–based ceramicist Jade Paton has an eye for the unusual yet aesthetically stimulating.

23: Truth or Dare Card Game

Think of this gift as 52 opportunities to bring you and your friends together via thought-provoking questions or playful challenges. And as an added bonus, all the options are predetermined, meaning no one can go rogue and throw out a wild truth or dare. 



If you've spent the last five years gifting the green thumb in your family and/or friend group the same 12-month subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, it's time to switch things up. That's where the 10 gifts ahead come in. From jazzed-up camping equipment to gardening doodads that feel fun instead of expected, prepare for an elated look on whomever's face that unwraps one of the below options this holiday season. 

24: Gardening Cap

The best way to find more gardening fanatics is to wear your passion on your sleeve—err, head. Help your green-loving best mate make friends who feel the same way with this casual-cool cap from one of London's coolest brands.

25: Radish Seeds

If food is your love language and your best friend has a green thumb, this gift will work out in both of your favors. After all, there's nothing better (and chicer) than radishes paired with salted butter and a toasted French baguette.

26: Moon Calendar

This calendar tracks the lunar and astrological cycles with tips on how best to harness the energy of the stars and the moon on any given day.

27: Kenzan Set

Used in the Japanese art of floral arrangement, kenzans, or floral frogs, are small pin-embossed objects that are meant to be placed inside of a vase to ensure your flowers stay upright and in place for as long as possible. Our suggestion? Get these for your friend who always has a fresh batch of flowers (and share the link to this easy-to-follow TikTok tutorial). Perhaps they'll be able to delay their weekly deliveries by a few days.

28: Thermos

Sorry, but is this not the cutest thermos you've ever seen in your life? If whoever receives it doesn't drink hot cocoa out of it, it's well within your right to take it back.

29: Solar Lamp

This is great for camping or to keep by your bed as a reading light. For every lamp sold, one is donated to the brand's partners in rural Africa, where they are working to bring solar energy to all.

30: Meditation Deck

Be truly one with nature with this pack of cards that'll help you practice mindfulness in the great outdoors.

31: Mushroom People Magazine

A no-mushroom-missed guide for all the fungi enthusiasts in your life.

32: Plant Food

This hyper-nutritious plant food will keep their green babies not just alive and well but also thriving. Even better, its ingredients are all made from supermarket food waste. 

33: Gardening Clogs

Gardening clogs are all the rage right now, but it's best not to forget who made them cool in the first place—actual gardeners. 

Whether you're looking to buy a (much-deserved) gift for yourself or eyeing a present for that person in your life who desperately needs some relaxation time, you've come to the right place. Ranging from bath and nighttime essentials to a five-minute journal that can solve a lot more problems than you'd probably think, they're each designed to help whoever receives them lay low and unwind. 

34: Milk Cleanser

By combining the redness-reducing qualities of salicylic acid and the glow-inducing powers of ginger-root extract, Swedish skincare brand Melyon managed to create the gentlest yet most effective cleanser money can buy.

35: Five-Minute Journal

Journaling may sound easy, but when you're dealing with emotions, it can be hard to get words down onto paper. This guided journal makes the process significantly easier, mapping out what to write about on a daily basis. It's no wonder celebs like Lily Collins and Emma Watson and even our own editor in chief swear by it. 

36: Bookmark

If you can pull yourself away from Emma Straub's novel This Time Tomorrow, slip this bookmark into its pages to hold your spot. Trust us—you don't want to miss anything.

37: Faux-Shearling Slippers

Leave it to Zara to make slippers that are also somehow chic.

38: Hair Oil

With baobab, argan, and sage oils, this lightweight blend will work wonders on their locks, defrizzing, moisturizing, and adding exuberant amounts of shine.

39: Moisturizer Stone

Bar of soap, meet bar of moisturizer. One of the latest bath-and-body fads to garner cult status is solid moisturizer thanks to former pastry chef turned beauty entrepreneur Kate McLeod, who developed Daily Stone. Mess-free and overwhelmingly luxe, this $45 product is perfect for anyone on your gift list who likes to feel good (i.e., everyone). 

40: Smoothing Brush

The only tool you need to slick back your bun to frizz-proof perfect.

41: Linen Boxers

Linen is the new silk when it comes to bedtime.

42: Japanese Wax Candles

These candles are perfect for starting a trataka practice, or candle-gazing meditation. This type of meditation is said to open your third eye for higher consciousness and increased intuition.

Boring, impersonal gifts are so, well, never. No one wants to unwrap a pair of unbranded tube socks during the holidays. We'd rather open nothing instead of something that was clearly conjured up at the 11th hour. Instead, think about ordering something specific to the eventual owner, be it a personalized French lip balm, an engraved pet tag, or a perfume that involves the recipient taking a quiz to find a scent that fits them to a T, all of which are included below.

43: Personalized Perfume

Have your bestie take this quiz to find their perfect scent.

44: Scallop-Trim Stationery

There's nothing more adult than personalized stationery.

45: Zodiac Puzzle

This doubles as an activity and home décor for your astrology-loving friend.

46: Flower Paint Kit

During the holidays, zodiac this and zodiac that are all the rage. But for the friend or family member who knows their birth sign but the buck stops there, this birth-month-flower painting is a perfect alternative.

47: Custom Stamp
48: Pet Tag

This 24k gold-plated pet tag is as much a gift for them as it is for their furry friend. 

49: Luggage Tags

A chic way to speed up the baggage-claim experience on your next vacation together.

50: French Lip Balm

Carmex, who? This French lip balm is nothing short of luxurious, from the rose scent to the customizable packaging. 

51: Custom L.L. Bean Tote

Yes, L.L. Bean's tote bags have made their way back to being on-trend. This time, everyone's customizing them with ironic embroidery thanks to Gracie Weiner of @ironicboatandtote.

There are two types of people in the world: those who think of their house/apartment as a place to sleep at night and those who make it a home. If the next name on your gifting checklist falls into the latter category, stop what you're doing and peruse the eight gifts ahead, which were hand-selected with the purpose of sparking joy in your homebody friend. Trust us—all it takes is a vintage design magazine or a really pretty candle.

52: Wick Trimmer

For the person in your life who just can't seem to get enough candles. (Is there a limit on too many?)

53: Mid-Century Modern Interior Design Magazine

Everyone has that one friend who spends their weekends searching for mid-century modern furniture on Craigslist and eBay. This one's for them. 

54: Tusk Candle

"To burn or not to burn?" is the real question at hand here.

55: Anthurium Plant

Thanks to Loewe Creative Director Jonathan Anderson, anthuriums are trending.

56: Colorful Storage Crates

These TikTok-viral crates are a perfect way to add organization and a touch of color to your space. But if a crate alone doesn't feel substantial enough as a gift, there's always the option of filling it up with knickknacks, snacks, and other stuffers that will make these fan-favorite storage units even more impactful.

57: Handmade Broom

Handmade by the students of America's only top college where tuition is free, Berea College, this traditional Appalachian broom is giving serious cottagecore vibes. It's best gifted alongside a nap dress.

58: Scented Starter Box

This is how the French perfume their homes. Light a square on fire right before guests arrive.

59: Ceramic Egg Tray

We're all in for any excuse to make a fridge look less fridge-like.

If your left brain does 99% of the work, it's understandable if a gift you have to make yourself sounds more like a nightmare than a cause for celebration. But for those out there whose creative side runs the ship, a DIY gift is the best possible kind. Left-brainers, step aside. This section is for your complete and utter opposite. 

60: Natural Dye Kit

If they love Proenza Schouler's tie-dyeing techniques as much as they enjoy getting their hands dirty, this natural dye kit is a match made in heaven. In addition to the nontoxic, Brooklyn-made indigo dye, this gift comes with a tutorial for mastering the shibori technique.

61: Grandparent and Grandchild Pen-Pal Kit

If you live far away from your grandparents or grandchildren, it can be tricky to stay in touch, especially if you're not the chatty-phone type. This pen-pal kit makes it easy.

62: Candle-Making Kit

For the friend who likes to work for their gifts, get them this candle-making kit that comes with a bubble-like vessel that can be easily recycled and turned into a vase or catch-all.

63: Hand-Dyed Silk Ribbon

Our editor in chief and self-professed ribbon nerd used this vendor for the ribbons on her wedding program. With over 100 color combinations, there's definitely a gorgeous option in your gift recipient's favorite color. 

64: Sewing Scissors

True sewing wizzes know that you can't cut fabric with just any sheers. For a clean cut as pretty as the piece they're crafting, handmade Italian scissors fit for the pros are the only option.

65: DIY Pottery Kit

Just think of all the ceramic kitchenware you'll get in return. With this gift, everyone wins.

66: Felt Yarn

Pretty soon, yarn balls just like this one will be all over their home. Trust us—we know from experience.

67: Tabletop Loom

A few years ago, my mom invested in a Saori floor loom, and it's been the centerpiece of her home ever since. When I go home for the holidays, I spend the majority of my time sitting at the loom, creating gorgeous weavings to gift my friends. Though much smaller, this Funem loom is great for travel weaving or for anyone just starting in the practice. Before long, I guarantee they'll seek out the big version.

68: Georgia O'Keeffe Watercolors

Inspired by Ghost Ranch, Georgia O'Keeffe's oasis in New Mexico, this four-piece palette was developed using a blend of lightfast pigments, tree sap, gum arabic, and Manitoulin honey, which creates a watercolor experience like no other. 

Toys and games aren't just for kids. They're for adults too—at least ones who like to play into their inner child. For those in your circle who don't take themselves too seriously and still enjoy a bit of nostalgia-inducing fun, the final eight gifts in our low-cost, high-joy gift guide are the only ones they'll want to find at your present exchange.

69: High-Bounce Ball

Vintage toys are sometimes the best toys. This ball bounces curiously high.

70: Surprise Ball

Unwind to delight in the discovery of 12 vintage-inspired keepsakes nestled in the paper orange's layers.

71: Freaky Deaky Puzzle

We're convinced that you don't know your friends until you try to complete a puzzle with them. It brings out parts of people like nothing else can.

72: Omy Wax Finger Crayons

Are your fingers crayons? Are your crayons fingers? Something to ponder while having fun with this set.

73: Lego Roses

Real flowers are always great, but why not give forever flowers? Not only will these last forever, but it's also an activity for you and your gift recipient to do together.

74: Susan Alexandra Dreidels

This sparks so much joy. Leave it to Susan Alexandra.

75: Wish Paper

Everyone writes their wishes on a special piece of this pink paper and lights it on fire, and they float up to the ceiling. If you catch the ash on its way down, your wish will come true.

76: Water Beads

Hear us out. Touching these jellylike beads will tickle even the most serious adult's tactile senses.