Secretly cheap gifts for everyone on your list

When the words “cheap” and “gift” appear together in the same sentence, “disappointment” usually comes next (often followed by “I sure hope this was a re-gift!”). Everyone is trying to save money this year, but that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing good taste or becoming Scrooge. 

DailyCandy tirelessly trolled the Internet to find gorgeous gift ideas that only look expensive.  With a little thought about the personality of each person on your list, you’ll find an affordable treat that will remind each of them how much you care for them, all year long. So which of the following personality types is the recipient?

Miss Priss, maybe your ancient Aunt Joan
She’s fussy and frightfully proper, and only the best will do. She’s the most likely to see through your cheap tricks. How to satisfy her champagne tastes on a beer budget? She’ll swoon over Hammocks and High Tea’s scented drawer liners, made from rice paper and printed with the most elegant motifs, such as Indian summer flowers, refined zebra stripes and stunning medallions. They’re then scented with Mandarin Jasmine, Coriander or Rose Tea organic essential oils. An old-fashioned tube of six sheets is $25 and will help her organize her treasures.

Or, appeal to her more eccentric side with a mesmerizing work of art by John Murphy. His limited-edition, archival prints, which range in price from $35 to $60, capture fanciful images of ostriches, deer and butterfly, and are fit for the museum that is her house. She’ll think of you each day, every day, as she gazes upon the piece you select.

If he’s a romantic at heart (or your pretentious Uncle Randy)
He might seem full of it sometimes, but you know he doesn’t mean to lecture, he just wants to share the many (many!) things he knows with the family. Don’t try to spend to match his stuffy taste; rather, choose a gift he’d never think to buy himself but will use constantly. One idea is Uma’s Mortimer bust candle, a waxy 18th-century head with wavy locks and piercing eyes that melts in the most intriguing way. It’s $32, comes in black or white and will look perfect with the many leather-bound books in Uncle Randy’s library.

Put his historical ambitions to good use and encourage him to record family lore in something as magnificent as his thoughts. A rich Moleskine notebook can be laser-engraved with photos, famous quotations or his great artwork and will become an instant treasure. From $39 to $49.

The hostess who has everything (your too-perfect neighbor)
She’s the queen bee of your cul-de-sac, wins every bake-off and never misses an opportunity to show off her domestic prowess. Don’t be intimidated, get creative. She’ll be shocked you discovered gifts this cute before she did. Like a double-walled glass cream pitcher from Pop Deluxe. Just $19, its playful, “udderly” adorable design will remind her of the moooooo-vers and shakers who give us milk. A cheeky but smart piece.

Even the hostess with the most-ess likes to curl up on the couch once in a while, and a plush, tufted fleece Home Classics Micromink throw +Micromink+Throw+Blanket.jsp helps her do it in style. Would you believe warmth this luscious is just $24.99? It’s like something from a posh L.A. hotel.

The glamour-puss (perhaps your teen niece who’s finally allowed to wear makeup)
You remember what it was like to be that tender, yet awkward age. She’s not a kid anymore, so don’t embarrass her with dolls or toys. But you don’t want to suffer the wrath of her overprotective parents, so tread lightly with anything too grown-up. Sephora’s shimmery collection of nine eye-shadows hits the mark for $28, as you’ll make her feel too cool for Yule.

Another way to pamper the petite princess on your list is with an at-home spa experience. Lush is a British company that’s been cooking up divinely scented bath treats for years, and they’re finally available right here in the U.S. The company is famous for its bath bombs, but teenagers don’t take the time to soak, so soothe her with Emotibombs, a decadent but everyday version that sits on the shower drain and fills the room with aromatherapeutic mist. All that relaxation is just $3.95!

For the nesting couple (or your single sister with too much time on her hands)
The newlyweds on your list are all about digging in and making a home, so grant their wishes for domestic bliss. You might also consider these ideas for your single sister, who is the embodiment of that old saw “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” She needs to be kept busy so she’ll stay out of trouble. For either recipient, your present should be a project. A fun action-starter that lets them roll up their sleeves and create is in order. WishWrap’s Blooming Garden in a Bag provides, in a charming canvas satchel, all they’ll need to tend an urban garden. For $42, you’re providing entertainment for weeks!

If reaping nature’s bounty is more their or her style, Through the Magic Door’s Vegetable Box is an amazingly thorough and strikingly designed collection of fourteen little cookbooks, for just $34.99. They’re organized with nifty, veggie-shaped tabs and contain hundreds of recipes for all her favorite from-the-ground or off-the-vine foods.

The grande dame — most likely, your mother
Although you find many of her ways peculiar, she is getting to the age where she’s earned the right to say or do whatever she feels. And in the case of your mother, she raised you, for goodness sake. So head off the annual holiday guilt-trip at the pass and pick a gift that reminds her how much you appreciate her, craziness and all. She’ll never guess how little you spent. For example, she cannot survive without her wine and cheese, and of course, everything about this daily ritual must be elegant. Uma’s state-of-the-art but utterly sleek slicer fits the bill gracefully but cheaply at $29.50. 

You’ll never be able to afford jewels worthy of her, but GS Lillian’s cuffs truly look top-dollar (and cost a mere $68 to $75.) They’ll be worth passing down through the generations.

If he’s a sharp-dressed man, or your adorable daddy
He always looks like a million buckaroos, even when money’s tight. He’s not afraid of his dandy side, and would appreciate scents like Wasabi Yuzu and Basil Spice. So keep him smooth as silk with Napa Soap Company’s shaving soap gift set. He’ll be blissfully unaware that you spent just $39.95 for a year’s supply of their fine foaming soap and a pure boar bristle brush, all wrapped up in a sweet box.

You might not believe it, but there actually is a line of socks (yes, socks!) that makes a wonderful holiday gift that snazzy dressers will adore. Happy Socks are made by a family-run company in Sweden that is also responsible for keeping the feet of Belgian and Turkish soldiers warm. But this no-nonsense warmth is available in fresh colors and patterns, so his sock drawer will become an art show. And we bet you’d never believe that could happen for $10 a pair.

For the insider's guide to what's hot, new and undiscovered — from fashion and style to gadgets and travel — visit