The Gift Guide: Under $30

An overhead shot of two of my favorite candles. A bit of rainbow light is reflected across my desk. The candles are Uncle Ron's Juicy Red Apples and Evil Queen's Big Witch Energy.

It’s getting to be that time of year again, when sales are everywhere and budgets are tight and you might be feeling pressured to buy nice gifts for lots of people. Especially this year, when so many of us will be separated from our friends and families, it can feel like you really need to focus on gift exchanges, and that’s okay! I’m here to tell you that no matter who you have to or want to shop for, there is something out there that fits your budget, treats your people, and helps support small businesses along the way. For those of us on less flexible budgets this year, or with work-led gift exchanges, or lots of people to shop for, here’s my gift guide for everyone in your life for $30.00 or less. If you’re looking to go big(ger) and wanna splash out, my gift guide for “people you really really like” will be out soon too.

The Candles

An overhead shot of two of my favorite candles: Juicy Red Apples from Uncle Ron's and Big Witch Energy from Evil Queen. One of my plants is poking in from the right side of the image.Some of you may already know this, but candles are kind of my thing (one of a handful of topics that I am unreasonably knowledgeable about for a hobbyist, but nevertheless, in true ADHD fashion, here we are). I’ve got a full candle round-up coming over the next few weeks with my favorites and my newest discoveries, but when it comes to sharing, there are two candlemakers that I repeatedly recommend, gift, and also buy for myself: Evil Queen and Uncle Ron’s. Both use soy wax in clear glass jars and retail for $20.00. I realize that may sound steep to some of you for just a candle, but the quality here is worth every penny (and the price point is pretty standard for smaller makers with handmade product). Evil Queen runs out of LA and Uncle Ron’s out of my hometown of Philadelphia, both by unreasonably lovely humans passionate about their craft. Both candles burn for 45-50 hours with a range of smelly goodness from “light, natural, and office-friendly” to “fill up your entire living room and make it feel like fall”.

Not sure which to choose? Evil Queen candles, in my opinion, tend to run a touch sweeter, a touch more playful, and most can fill a large room with minimal effort. Some of my favorites from EQ are Bitches Who Brunch, Exhale the Bullshit, and Big Witch Energy. Uncle Ron’s Candle Co. use a wooden wick and (usually) more nature-oriented scents that can fill a room, but don’t overwhelm an office either. Some of my still-available favorites from URCC are Black Metal Coffee and Juicy Red Apples, but Aaron is constantly pumping out new and exciting smells for your face holes so I’d keep a close eye on his Instagram. Both candle creators offer a monthly subscription box, and don’t sleep on Evil Queen’s rewards program.

Please note: there is a shortage of candle jars for creators across the country so don’t panic if a lot of items are sold out right now. I know they’re all working on it!

The CBD Gummies

A head-on shot of a jar of blue raspberry rings CBD gummies from JustCBD. The jar is open and positioned between two of my plants (marble queen pothos in a pink pot on the left and a bunny ears cactus in a small cement pot on the right).Over the last few years, accessibility to and the popularity of CBD has grown at an amazing pace. CBD is essentially the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant so while it won’t get you high, it can absolutely help with sleep, pain, anxiety, and a whole host of other low-acuity issues. CBD is available over-the-counter at a number of different retailers and websites, but unfortunately, as with most things, there are always people out there trying to make thing as cheaply as possible or get away with using low-quality ingredients. I have stumbled across several of these, and other brands with good intentions, but whose ingredients I am allergic to (a lot of CBD products contain soybean oil, which is a no-go for me, but doesn’t make the product inherently bad).

Earlier this year, I stumbled across the JustCBD website and genuinely have been a dedicated fan since. In addition to CBD oils, balms, tinctures, topicals, and even pet products, they have an enormous selection of CBD gummies in different styles, flavors, and perhaps most importantly, dosages. Depending on what you choose, JustCBD gummies range in dose from 8mg to 25mg and are priced as milligrams per container which (to me) is a really clever way to approach pricing. I personally like a higher dosage, that’s what is most helpful to me, so I’m a huge fan of the apple rings and blue raspberry rings, which are 21mg each. I eat one in the morning to help with anxiety, relaxation, and also muscle recovery. These would make a great gift for any of your high-strung, sleep-deprived, or fitness-minded friends/family and you can get 20% off your order with the code BEKA20. Both the 250mg jars (all flavors) and the new, 300mg packs of vegan gummy bears (10mg per piece) are under $20.00, and there is usually a weekly special as well.

The Food Glitter

A head on shot of a clear mason jar full of apple cider with red Prism Powder edible food glitter from Fancy Sprinkles. A jar of this red glitter with an open jar of gold glitter stacked on top of it are positioned at the bottom right of the glass.

A well-targeted Instagram ad for Fancy Sprinkles got me with this completely unexpected, but entirely delightful treat. Completely food-safe edible glitter aka Prism Powder. If you caught my quarantine birthday post back in August, you may have noticed some gold glitter all over my chocolate cake and now you know the secret. Seriously, how cool!?

Add a pinch to your cocktail, dust on top of dessert, or go wild and add to literally anything else. These edible glitters are flavorless, odorless, have no texture, are soy-free, and are vegan too (some of the brand’s other products are not vegan).

Starting at $14.00 with paired sets of two for $28.00, these are a fantastic gift for just about anyone with a sense of style, whimsy, and humor.

The Travel Mug

A head-on shot of my blue Carter mug from Fellow Products is positioned in front of my favorite plant in front of a sunny window. A rainbow is reflected onto the desk from my Hemleva suncatcher.

I realize for some that a good travel mug is meaningless (especially right now), but for others it’s a crucial item in their daily life. While I only drink decaf and spend most of my days at home, your girl is a clumsy bitch and I would probably have destroyed a lot of expensive tech toys without a good mug.

Nick and I have gone through many a style over the years and while we both loved our slightly-more-expensive Kinto travel tumblers, when Fellow launched their Carter Everywhere Mug (12oz @ $30.00) earlier this year, we switched over completely. Wide-mouthed (with a really comfortable lip), ceramic coated, double-walled, and with a leak-proof seal, these are tough to beat and we haven’t seen anything else come close.

While we’ve got a few of the Everywhere mug at home, there is now also a Carter Move mug (8oz @ $27.50 / 12oz @ $30.00) that’s a bit more sleek for cupholders and packs a snap-in splash guard for true on-the-go’ness. Perfect for just about anyone who likes a hot bev.

The Rainbow Maker

A photograph of a rainbow reflected onto the wall and my dog's bed from the Hemleva suncatcher on my window (suncatcher not shown) An unexpected bringer of zen and joy (or maybe a very expected one and I was just sleeping on the concept) but these suncatchers from Hemleva are unbelievable. I had originally ordered a single suncatcher ($10.00) in hopes of using it for product photography, but honestly it made me so happy every time a rainbow of light shot through the living room, I then ordered the three pack ($27.00) so I could stick one on every window that got direct light.

An image of the monstera-print suncatcher from Hemleva. This image was taken from the Hemleva website.

They’re movable/reusable, and I can’t imagine any person whose mood would not be at least slightly improved by the presence of a rainbow in their space. For those rare creatures who get bright light through a window at the office, I expect this would be a delight for all. For the rest of us, in the home office, the living room, or even a bedroom, these botanical suncatchers feel like a breath of fresh air.

The Books (Obviously)

A head-on image of three cookbooks lying sideways and stacked on top of one another on my bookshelf. Nothing Fancy, One Tin Bakes, and Eating Out Loud.

If you thought I was going to make it through a gift guide without recommending a book of some kind, you must not know me very well (maybe you’re new here, welcome!) To be honest, I actually think gifting books can be pretty tricky unless it’s someone you know very well and since I don’t know the people you need to get gifts for, we’re going to skip the “regular” reading altogether and focus on the best of the best: cookbooks, of course! There are a lot of really excellent ones out there that fit within our $30.00 prompt, but there are a few that really stand out to me as “probably good for most of the people you know”. Whether it’s savory, sweet, or a bit of both, I’m all about minimal fuss and minimal dishes (really, who isn’t?) so these are my recs for everyone you love:


The Tea Towel

For the butcher, the baker, the blogger, or just the messy home cook, these hand-printed floursack tea towels from Philly/NJ crew Girls Can Tell are perfect.

They’ve nearly 100 different designs from house plants to landmarks to the anatomy of a lobster which means there is definitely something for everyone. There’s not a lot to say here: they’re well made, super fun, and at $16.00 a piece you could probably even gift two (for someone that’s like, really¬†special).

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An overhead shot a Girls Can Tell tea towel with a screenprint of "types of beer glasses" in yellow. This image was taken from the Girls Can Tell etsy page.

The Donation

For the person who truly has everything, please consider making a donation in their name to organizations doing the work to make this world better for those who need it most. The Loveland Foundation, The Steve Fund, and the gift receiver’s local Planned Parenthood chapter are great places to start.

Happy Everything, y’all.
Thanksgiving: Thurs 11/26/20
Black Friday: Fri 11/27/20
First Night of Hanukkah: Thurs 12/10/20
Christmas Eve: Thurs 12/24/20
First Night of Kwanzaa: Sat 12/26/20
New Year’s Eve: Thurs 12/31/20

Some links are affiliate links from which I earn a small percentage of sales at no additional cost to you. Some links are referral links in which I earn store credit in exchange for sharing a coupon with you. This post is not sponsored.

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