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15 Great Gift Ideas for $10 or Less

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Given how tight most budgets are, I thought it might be an interesting exercise to see what could be bought for ten bucks or less and still be a gift that wouldn't seem, well, cheap.  While cash and gift cards are always nice I think there is something very nice about picking out a gift.  I tried to find some unique items and some tried-and-true as well. I used a date range of June through September for my search and read hundreds of great ideas. I tried to cover most age groups.

Illusion Science
Available from Amazon for $8.54 (free Prime shipping)
Experiment with over 20 optic activities and learn the scientific explanations behind them. Kit includes illusion tricks card, spinning top with four illusion cards, 3D picture cards, stencil, markers, 3D glasses, carry pouch and detailed information on each optic activity.

Aromatherapy Candles
Bed, Bath & Beyond has lots of these for under $10 ($5.99 for one in photo).
You might be able to get two or three, on sale, for under $10.  My girlfriend loves these and she loves getting them as gifts.  Lavender seems to be a popular scent. LINK

Pocket Etch-a-Sketch
$7.65 at Amazon

but can be found at many other places as well. I bought these for my sons for Christmas last year (both over 18) and they still have them and use them once in a while. If you can dream it, you can draw it-and now, it's a snap to take it along with you! The all-time-favorite classic drawing toy is now available to go wherever you do. Pocket Etch A Sketch looks and operates exactly like the original, but is scaled down to feature a 2 x 3 drawing screen. For ages 4 and up.

Great casual bags for women and about $9 from
You can them for $8.50 each if you buy three and down to $6.50 each if you buy six.  They come in a ton of colors, some of them are marked as Neon . 

HDE Executive All-in-One Pen with Stylus, Laser Pointer, and Flashlight
$5.25 (list is $16) at Amazon
A great little gadget for gadget lovers of all ages and actually very practical. Since I couldn't find this anywhere else to directly to the item at Amazon.  This one pen will come in handy throughout your day! Twist the tip for the pen or stylus, use the buttons to activate the laser, flashlight, or UV light. Take notes in the dark, make presentations, entertain pets, detect counterfeit money... this pen is more tricked out than James Bond!

Wow Doodle Books
Around $9 at Toys R Us & Amazon but other stores carry them(quite a collection)
This mess-free doodle book lets you color--with water! Includes four Water Wow doodle boards, four play and learn game pages and one Water Wow brush.

One Pound Pistachios
$7.05 (give or take) at Amazon or check your grocery store.
Who doesn't like Pistachios?

One pair very nice athletic socks
$9.95 from Amazon
High quality socks (the photo is of a pair by Reebok).  The kind people don't like to buy for themselves due to price. You can get them in sports teams or just with the manufacture label.  I love socks like these but won't spend ten bucks on just one pair.

Lottery Tickets
From your local lottery store.
I have given these to folks many times over the years when I could think of nothing else.  I found that ten one dollar tickets seem to look nice in a little box. They can be scratch-off or drawing or a mix.

Upgraded Ear Buds
About $9.95  at Amazon for JBuds
though you can find these at many stores. List price is $20. Most people get very cheap earbuds with their audio devices and might enjoy a nice set that also look very cool.

Nano Hex Bug- $6.49 at Amazon
but often on sale at Radio Shack during Christmas season.
I have bought a lot of leaves and they are great fun.

Power strip/Surge Suppressor
$7.99 at Amazon
but shop around.
This is a great gift for a college student or anyone with lots of stuff to plug in.

Small crafts tool kits
$8.70 for this beading kit from Amazon
but also check craft stores. This is a great little tool kit for most crafty folks.

Big Box of Crayola Crayons
$7.24 for a bo of 96 at Amazon
but may be cheaper elsewhere.

Water Clocks
$5.54 for this model at Amazon
Just pour a little water (or any liquid) into the tubes on the back of the clock. Without batteries, electricity or anyother power source the large LCD displays the time in clear, easy to read numbers. Here's how it works! Our exclusive state of the art Energy Converter extracts electrons from water molecules. This creates a steady stream of electric current which act as fuels to generate electricity and power the clock.

If you have trouble finding any of these please leave a comment and I will send you the URL.

Though I used Amazon as a reference price for most of these items, you can likely find them at good prices elsewhere as well.  I used about a dozen sites to distill down to these few items.
erick99 posted Oct 11, 2012

Real nice... I like the lotto ticket idea. I wish someone would purchase one for me. I usually just buy the $1 or $2 ones. Once in awhile, I would buy the $5 ones.

MdavidK30 (rep: 3.7k) posted Oct 12, 2012


Lotto ticket is like a bomb waiting to explode...anything can can either win you money or at the least you have got nothing to loose...

tanush6 (rep: 2.7k) posted Oct 12, 2012


those pistachios are pretty good =)

nimrodboy3 (rep: 68.2k) posted Oct 12, 2012


I have tried to put product links in several times and they get stripped out when I save. I've never had this happen before and it is very frustrating. I know HTML and I've done over 100 Pages for DP and have never had a problem with HTML coding. If I get a note from a mod that the problem is fixed I will go back in and add the product links again. This is VERY frustrating.

erick99 (rep: 430k) posted Oct 12, 2012


These are really great ideas. I can't even start to think about Christmas shopping this year

lilywow (rep: 8.7k) posted Oct 14, 2012


very nice and thoughtful post for people on a budget. like always, thanks for sharing erick.

gangstabarbie (rep: 20.9k) posted Oct 14, 2012