You can do better than a Starbucks gift card. You can. I am speaking directly to you, person googling “cheap Christmas gift ideas.” A budget-friendly holiday gift doesn’t have to mean a peppermint bath bomb or novelty key chain or a scented candle (which, I would argue, is an extremely personal gift you should only present to someone with whom you share olfactory intimacy). This holiday season give your loved one the gift of not having to drop off that chenille scarf at the nearest Goodwill. I will help you! Below you’ll find unique gift ideas for the food lovers on your shopping list, none of which is over 50 bucks. Several are even under $20. There’s an elegant and minimalist olive oil carafe, a cookbook for the fungi-obsessed, and chili oils galore. Nothing here strike your fancy? There’s always a waffle maker.
Iconic Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce has works in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Pompidou Center, the Met, and—soon—the living room of your Uncle Marcos. These hand-poured resin coasters, which Pesce designed in the ’90s and come in an array of colors, look like melted Jolly Ranchers.
Full of warm spices like clove and ginger, this ruby-hued liqueur is a spin on sorrel, a Caribbean hibiscus drink with roots in West Africa. Founder Jackie Summers, who grew up steeped in the culinary traditions of his Bajan grandparents, is the first Black person to hold a distilling license post-prohibition, and this low-proof (15% ABV) labor of love has been years in the making. We think it’s a perfect component for a wintry punch.
Salsa machas are oil-based condiments that combine chiles with, often, nuts or seeds, and you can count on these three varieties from Masienda (we also love its masa) to add heat, depth, and texture to everything from eggs to tamales. The guajillo, cranberry, and hazelnut variety will liven up even the blandest holiday bird, while the revelatory arbol, nori, and sesame blend pulls inspiration from Japan.
For the sustainably minded cook, these reusable food wraps made with organic cotton and beeswax can replace plastic wrap—and they’re pretty enough to gift to the person who loves their coffee pods and single-use water bottles without it feeling like a pointed comment.
Supra Endura Beeswax Wraps
Oodaalolly’s small batch chocolate, made with Filipino cacao, is infused with Kasama’s small batch rum, which is distilled in the Philippines from local sugar cane. The trio—an excellent stocking stuffer—contains a 70% dark chocolate bar, a creamy and coconutty milk chocolate, and an actually good white chocolate studded with dried pineapple. Even better: A portion of proceeds go to a Manila-based orphanage and shelter.
Oodaalolly x Kasama Rum Chocolate
Gather ’round, youths. Before the iPhone we played Snake on our Nokia bricks and coveted our best friends’ Motorola Razrs and took big bites out of our flip phones made of cheese. The perfect gift for your BFF 4eva, this limited edition work of cheddar cheese art is completely edible.
Flip Phone Made Out of Cheese
I’m hard pressed to single out one of these four vinegars as the best of the gift set, but I will say that the spicy, vegetal Garden Heat variety punches up a Bloody Mary. If that’s not holiday self-care, I’m not sure what is.
Fly by Jing’s chili crisp is in such heavy rotation in my house that it rarely leaves the table—but thanks to my salsero spoon, it looks like a purposeful part of my home decor. A baseball-size marble sphere serves as the handle for a wooden spoon. Pop the spoon in the jar and the orb acts like a lid for your chili crisp (or other shelf-stable condiment). Buy just the spoon or a set that comes with a jar of Fly by Jing for your little sister who never got that rock tumbler she always wanted.
Fly by Jing Sichuan Salsero Set
You can’t very well keep that three-liter tin of Frantoia on your counter. Instead, decant your olive oil into this handsome terracotta bottle, which is ribbed for your aesthetic pleasure.
We’ve weighed in on our favorite ceramic plates and bowls for dinner parties, but this is by far our favorite dinnerware for raves. Under normal light this glass set is a transparent chartreuse, but cue the black light and they glow Slimer green.
Vaseline Glass Dinnerware
Who needs Netflix when you can watch your dog trying to figure out how to get frozen peanut butter out of the kong? But grocery store varieties are loaded with sugar, salt, and additives that your pooch doesn’t need. Big Spoon’s Coconut Chia Wag Butter contains just three ingredients—peanuts, chia seeds, and coconut—that are full of healthy proteins and fatty acids without the filler.
This list contains not one but three different chili oils hailing from various countries, so for extra credit consider throwing them all in a gift basket with a dozen eggs. Mẹ’s Way differs from the others in its use of fish sauce, which lends a deep umami note to the hot peppers and fried garlic. It’s available in 8- and 16-oz jars. Get the 16.
A fancy car with a big bow on the hood? Sure, if you like that kind of thing. High-qual tinned fish? Now that’s a gift. Fishwife’s beautifully packaged smoked salmon, trout, and tuna are the ultimate luxe-yet-cheap Christmas gift and are delicious in pastas, on toast with soft scrambled eggs, or eaten straight out of the tin with a squeeze of lemon.
We featured Smallhold’s mushroom grow kit in last year’s gift guide. If your apartment mushroom farm is still operational and you’re running out of ideas, this book—which includes a recipe for Creamy Mushroom Phyllo Pie by our own Christina Chaey—will spark your imagination. Proceeds will be donated to the Fungi Foundation, which exists.
Mushrooms in the Middle Cookbook
The first ingredient in these savory biscuits is butter. Ma’am, you have my attention. Wrapped with a festive silk ribbon, each box comes ready to gift and contains 45 crumbly bite-size rounds in assertive flavors like Parmesan olive, Gruyère date, and—my favorite—anchovy scallion.