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The 2021 ultimate list of gift ideas for any budget

What we'll cover

  • Budgeting for gift buying

  • Inexpensive gift options

  • Gift ideas by occasion or relationship

Everyone is looking for ways to be smarter with their money — wherever and however they can. But with so many holidays, birthdays, and occasions when you want to give presents, it can be challenging to stay on your budget. That’s why we’ve created this list of gift ideas for 2021 and a few tips to keep you within your budget throughout the year.

When you plan ahead, it can be easier to stay on track with your budget . Our yearlong planner of gift ideas should spark your creativity and also inspire your strategy for savings.

Gift ideas for under $50

Finding great gifts under $50 can be an ongoing challenge throughout the year. So, we thought this is a good starting point when thinking about a years’ worth of gift giving. (Don’t worry — we also have ideas for the holidays and everyone who could possibly be on your list, too.)

For friends with children, gift a $50 gift card to a local restaurant along with a free night of babysitting. Or lean into the digital world with a personal digital assistant or tv streaming stick to access the latest and greatest shows. Lastly, you could make the recipient’s home cozier with windowsill friendly herbs and plants for the kitchen or brighten a room with fragrant hand-poured candles.

Pro tip: Establish a set amount for the year that you want to spend on gifts. Keep your gift savings organized with an Ally Bank  Online Savings Account , which allows you to create up to 10 different buckets (think of them as digital envelopes) within one account for your 2021 gift giving needs. Add money to your gift bucket, so when the next holiday or birthday comes around, you’ll have a stash to pull from and a way to keep tabs on how much you spend throughout 2021.

When you plan ahead, it can be easier to stay on track with your budget.

Gift ideas for birthdays

Everyone gets a special day with their birthday and finding a gift to match the day can be difficult. You can be trendy with the latest fun board game. Or nurture a green thumb with a succulent or houseplant. Go practical with a contemporary set of reusable grocery or farmer’s market totes or customize with a hometown themed puzzle or coasters.

Gift ideas for co-workers

It can be easy to overthink presents for co-workers. Go for things they can keep around the office that you can share a laugh or smile over.

If they’re an avid coffee or tea drinker, grab a funny mug with a quote from their favorite show or a cup warmer. Help them organize with an excellent planner or tearaway desk calendar. Or liven up their space with a kitschy decorative item or a framed print.

Gift ideas for friends

Your friends might be the people you spend most of your social time with, so find things that you can do together. Think: Concert tickets, sports, and special events like a beer tasting or a painting class. Want something more tangible? Get them a weekend tote bag with an itinerary for a weekend trip you can take together.

Gift ideas for kids

Kids by far have the best gift options out there, but the sheer number of choices can also make buying gifts for children a serious challenge. That’s why we suggest going classic.

Recent years have given us some of the best young adult fiction series to inspire young readers. Our take: Give them the first couple books from an age-appropriate, well-liked series and continue to gift more as a sort of “tradition” each year. Or foster their creativity further by giving a trip to a local zoo, aquarium, or museum.

We also elected for timeless favorites like bicycles, rollerblades, and skateboards or, if they’re younger side, an indoor playground and ball pit.

Gift ideas for weddings

Weddings are a significant milestone, so finding the right gifts for the occasion can be a bit pressure filled. You can go the sure-fire route by gifting something from the registry — then go the extra mile by adding your favorite recipe or a tip on how to make the most of the item. Other options the couple is sure to love is stylish luggage or custom, thoughtful, and handmade gifts from Etsy.

Gift ideas for retirement

Retirement is a significant milestone in anyone’s life, so the gifts should be equally commemorative. Try planting a tree in the person’s honor. You could choose to do this on your own or go through a more formal dedication program, which many park departments offer. Or if they support a particular cause, you can donate to an organization in their honor.

Other thoughtful gifts for retirement include world maps where they can log their travels or a versatile and high-quality carry-on that will weather the overhead bins and airline baggage carriers.

Gift ideas for Valentine’s Day

Buying gifts for your significant other or special someone isn’t always clear-cut. That’s why it can be easy to find yourself empty-handed as Valentine’s Day approaches. Our take: Find the right gift for your partner by leaning on the unique and thoughtful while capitalizing on time spent together to warm the heartstrings in ways that money just can’t buy.

Try something as simple as gifting a bunch of homemade tickets that they can use at a later date for a “game night,” “back massage,” “wine ‘n’ cheese,” or “special outing.” And remember — the way to a person’s heart is sometimes through their stomach. Food is a universal love language, so look into giving cooking classes, wine tastings, or delightful home cooked meals (made together).

Gift ideas for Mother’s Day

Moms may want nothing more than to hear from you on Mother’s Day, but you can also find great ways to show her that you care by treating her a little, too.

Pamper your mama with a little bit of a spa day, which could include anything from a facial, manicure, pedicure, or massage. Or, if your mother is more of a DIYer, spring for a well-reviewed nail lamp, a rainbow of polishes, an assortment of masks, or a bath bomb to bring the spa day home. Subscriptions are the gift that keeps on showing her your love. So, why not sign her up for a meal delivery service that will pay her back for all those years of homecooked meals and unique recipes?

And while the age of film photography may be over, most moms always enjoy a trip down memory lane or a way to commemorate new ones. Consider getting her a wireless compact color photo printer that can print directly from a mobile device or a subscription to an online photo service which can help her share, store, and frame old ones.

Gift ideas for Father’s Day

Shopping for dad isn’t always easy, especially if he’s the type of guy who sticks with what he likes, whether it’s cologne or shoes. If you’re looking to go traditional, appeal to his backyard and outdoor sensibilities by gifting a BBQ set, a slick pair of sunglasses, or a camping hammock.

If your dad likes a gadget but could use a little upgrade in the tech department, we suggest an easy-to-use, portable, and waterproof Bluetooth speaker. And for the avid traveler, you could pick up an attractive, useful toiletry kit for vacations. Or, if home is where his heart is, bring the fun to him with a meat, craft beer, or hot sauce membership that will keep him occupied (and full) all year long.

Gift ideas for the holidays

It can be challenging to find, plan, and not overspend on gifts around the holidays.

Try gifting a genetic insight and testing kit so recipients can investigate their heritage.  A BBQ, cookie decorating, or pasta basket that you put together can offer that special touch. Or go digital with a portable phone charger or well-reviewed Bluetooth headphones that will have them jamming all year long.

Wrapping it up

Regardless of the reason or occasion, a gifting planner can help you give gifts that everyone will love and stay on budget all year long.

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