Gift Guide: 20 Under $20

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Christmas shopping can be a real drag, man. But it doesn't have to be. Our handy-dandy gift guide will help put the joy back in holiday consumerism (because, you know, America). Inside you'll find 20 unique gifts for less than an Andrew Jackson, plus some ideas for the particularly difficult person on your list. And if shopping's not your bag, we've also got some ideas for gifts you can make yourself (and for much less).

C-bus bottle opener, $20

This cozy gift shop is packed with local products and goods emblazoned with Ohio and Columbus imagery (I was also taken with an eyeglass case stitched with a patch of the state, even though I don't wear glasses). Best of all might be this sharp bottle opener, which doubles as the world's easiest rebus puzzle. Package it with a sixer of a local brew of your choosing. AD

Mary B's

223 E. Kossuth St., German Village

Autographed David Sedaris books, $13.99-$15.99

Honestly, any of David Sedaris' books would make a fine gift on its own. His essays are self-effacing, insightful and often hilarious. Of course, an autographed copy makes an even more memorable gift, and The Book Loft has multiple signed copies available of "Naked," "Me Talk Pretty One Day," "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk," "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" and "When You Are Engulfed in Flames." AD

The Book Loft

631 S. Third St., German Village

Tin picture frame, $19.50

Sometimes the simplest gifts are the best. This tin picture frame is at once modern and vintage, and should appeal to a range of styles and tastes. Add a personal touch by including a photo of the two of you along with the frame. AD


177 E. Beck St., German Village

Doggie Christmas tree ornaments (various breeds), $17

Once I spotted the Boston Terrier ornament, there was no way I wasn't including it on our list (maybe you remember Ben from our "What's your favorite dog?" staff question?). There were more than 25 different breeds available in ornament form, so there's a decent chance you can find one that looks something like your friend's pooch. And trust me they'll love you for it. AD

Helen Winnemore Craft

150 E. Kossuth St., German Village

Buck High socks, $12 or 2/$20

Socks get a bad wrap as gift items. Especially socks as radass as these. You know there's not a Buckeye fan alive who would cringe upon unwrapping these beauts. JMC

Embassy Boardshop

3347 N. High St., Clintonville


Print blocks, $.50-$10

Looking for cheap, personalized stocking stuffers? Look no more. Clintonville's Elm & Iron has a full range of print blocks, from letters to American flags to old-school company logos. JMC

Elm & Iron Home Goods

3475 N. High St., Clintonville


Ohio license plate holder, $19.95

Vintage Ohio license plates attract Buckeyes like flies to vinegar. Nostalgia's a big factor, so when you combine that throwback vibe with practicality, you're left with what owner Katie Palmer said is one of SoBo Style's most popular gifts this holiday season. JMC

SoBo Style

3282 N. High St., Clintonville


"Floating Saucer Over Columbus" poster, $20

Not gonna lie. This poster by Alternate Histories is the coolest thing I found during our annual gift guide shopping excursion. Its beauty lies in its subtly. Scanning through the racks of prints at Wholly Craft, I almost skipped this poster (and two others - one of a zombie outbreak and another of the "Savage Creature of the Scioto" - also by Alternate Histories), and then the flyer saucer caught my eye. There's enough weird in these posters to compensate any Columbus-love fatigue. JMC

Wholly Craft

3169 N. High St., Clintonville



Ohio Stadium redwood ornaments, $15

Chances are you've got an Ohio State fan on your list. Give them a part of Horseshoe history with these ornaments made from reclaimed redwood that once served as the student section bleachers from the 1920s to 2000s. This ornament is the brainchild of local favorites State of Devotion and Griffin Hollow Studio. BK

Celebrate Local

3952 Townsfair Way, Easton

Up Cycled bike part jewelry, $15

For the cyclist who wants to keep a piece of a bike close to her heart during Ohio's hibernation season, get some handmade jewelry created from bike chain links. BK

Celebrate Local

3952 Townsfair Way, Easton

C-Bus coffee mug, $7.95

If your gift recipient is lucky enough to be from Columbus, they can rep their hometown with this classic black mug with 'bus logo. If they're from a lesser city, they can sip coffee and dream of living in a better place. BK

Bink Davies

160 Easton Town Center, Easton

Salt & Pepper 'Bots, $15.95

Who doesn't want robots to do their bidding? These classic wind-up clockwork robots will turn passing the salt into a Bond-villain-esque power trip. Just make sure you don't use them for evil or they'll go Skynet on us. BK

Bink Davies

160 Easton Town Center, Easton

Brass rings, $18

Instead of "five golden rings" get someone a set of badass brass rings - available in horse, a "Donnie Darko"-esque Psycho Bunny, a series of "Star Wars" characters (including Boba Fett!) and many other options - for much less. Then that special someone can rock that RZA look on the reg. JT


787 N. High St., Short North

Homage hats, $18

There's nothing better in Ohio winters than a good warm hat. And why not rep Ohio while doing so? Available in a plethora of colors (red for Steve Zissou fans, blue for Charlie "we're crab people now" Kelly fans) it's easy to make someone - especially Keefe-ian types - happy. JT


17 Brickel St., Short North

Toys!, price varies but many are under $20

Remember how excited you were as a kid when you got that G.I. Joe or My Little Pony you'd wanted all year? It'll be an even more extraordinary feeling to be the one who brings back those feelings for an adult. Big Fun has every toy under the sun, including a ton of the originals we all love(d). JT

Big Fun

672 N. High St., Short North

Dress up fridge magnets, $11.95

Yes, those new "Stainless Steel" fridges don't actually hold magnets, but only highfalutin folks have those things anyway. Get that friend who's cool enough to prefer real photos over Instagram something to make them even more fun when they're put on the fridge. Who needs filters when you've got mustache magnets? JT

Bink Davies

668 N. High St., Short North‎

Original Ohioprints, $4.95- $15.95

Share your Buckeye pride with these clever Ohio prints made in-house at Objects for the Home. Not only are they easily framed, but they're also customizable. AM

Objects for the Home

1392 Grandview Ave., Grandview

Boxed note card set, 18.50

This is a great gift for your aunt, a teacher or you significant other's mother. It's pretty, functional and there's virtually no chance it can be interpreted in a way that would offend the receiver. Plus, it beats the hell out of your average post-it. AM

Peabody Papers

1261 Grandview Ave., Grandview

Cliff Originals Hair Arousal Wax and Face Wash Brick, $20/$10

If the man in your life needs a little sprucing up, give him a subtle hint with these organic, locally made grooming products from Cliff Originals. I mean, the products say "arousal" and "rum" right on the packaging … what man could resist? AM


1306 Grandview Ave., Grandview

Apint of Middle West Whiskey Eggnog ice cream, $10

When in doubt, break out the whiskey-laden ice cream. Egg yolk custard spiked with Middle West Spirits Michelone Reserve whiskey is sure to win over even the most particular person on your "nice" list. This is a great gift for the person who "has it all." Even if they have a pint of Jeni's Ice Cream in their freezer, I doubt they would argue having one more. AM

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

1281 Grandview Ave., Grandview (and other locations)


Quick Manicure gift certificate, $19

There are few things that ruin your look quicker than a chipped manicure, but not everybody has time for a full-on finger overhaul. In about 25 minutes, Elli staffers will soak, shape, groom and polish your lady's (or gent's) digits to perfection. This is a great gift for those high maintenance people on your list who are typically short for time. AM

Elli Nail Spa

1384 Grandview Ave., Grandview

Straight Outta Columbus T-shirt, $24

This simple shirt by Alison Rose with a local nod to N.W.A.'s gangsta rap classic breaks our $20 budget by a few bucks, but if your gift recipient has the attitude to wear it, it's worth it. BK

Celebrate Local

3952 Townsfair Way, Easton

Mixtape playing cards, $5.95

Here's a perfect stocking-stuffer for anyone who yearns for the days of the perfectly curated cassette mix: a deck of playing cards that looks like a tape. BK

Bink Davies

160 Easton Town Center, Easton

Photo credits:

Floating saucer: Courtesy of Alternate Histories

Pet ornaments: Andy Downing photo

Bottle opener: Andy Downing photo

License plate holder: Justin McIntosh photo

Sedaris: Andy Downing photo

Socks: Justin McIntosh photo

Picture frame: Andy Downing photo

Toys: Jesse Tigges photo

Redwood ornaments: Brad Keefe photo

Rings: Jesse Tigges photo

Print blocks: Justin McIntosh photo

Mug: Brad Keefe photo

Homage: Jesse Tigges photo

Wax/face wash: Abernathy Miller photo

Jeni's: Abernathy Miller photo

Salt and pepper: Photo provided by Amazon

Card set: Abernathy Miller photo

Magnets: Jesse Tigges photo

Prints: Abernathy Miller photo

Bike jewelry: Brad Keefe photo

T-shirt: Brad Keefe photo

Playing cards: Brad Keefe photo

Gift certificate: Abernathy Miller photo