5 Great Christmas Gifts For Under $20

5 Great Christmas Gifts For Under $20

Christmas is around the corner, and I’ve got about 200 presents to get. It’s my gift and my curse: everyone loves my presents. Except the police and fire department. But since I’ve promised to be marginally good this year, I’m going to issue fewer…projectile based gifts. That means fewer terrified house pets, and a quick revision to my budget. Follow me as I find five Christmas gifts for under $20:


I know we all have different friends and relatives. Yours are into tech, hers are into shoes, and mine are into gasoline and matches DIY entertainment projects. So for your convenience, I have one different gift for each common branch of Singaporean society. They’re all under $20, and will raise a few eyebrows. Or fists, if you miscalculate. I’ve got gifts for:

  • Video Game / Comic Geeks
  • Fashion Freaks
  • Techies
  • Jocks
  • The old Uncle / Aunt you will ungratefully forget for the rest of the year.


Video Game / Comic Geeks

For geeks, I go out of the way to get them abandonware. These are old school video games from the 80’s and 90’s, which are prized by serious geeks. The most valuable abandonware are old 70’s era Atari consoles and such, but those are too expensive. So for my geek friends, I go to Abandonia and burn 30 or 40 games onto a CD.


Atari 2600 console
“You said a cutting edge game console. The sides of that thing are pretty sharp.”


To really make it a gift, I also download all the manuals. The total cost is $0, it just takes a whole afternoon of work. I usually donate to the site after.

For comic geeks, I buy acid-free backing boards or sealing bags. These are a major expense for comic book nuts, so even buying about 10 of them will help. They’re about $3.50 for five (bag and board). Comics World sells these for pretty cheap, which might explain the “It’s still 1992” look of their website.


Fashion Freaks

For fashion lovers, I tap on my wide base of fashion industry contacts. I know literally dozens of janitors who have worked in fashion houses. But usually, I’ll call former design students and ask them for any old textbooks they don’t want. I just need one, and I’ll fork over $20 for it.


Heart on your Sleeve book cover
No better present for saying “Got dressed in the dark, huh?”


And I said books, not old magazines. Have some class, people! *Scratches gut, burps*

Fashion freaks love the eye candy in design books, and they like it even more when the book includes simple fashion tips.



Techies are the sort who buy multiple tablets just to “try them out”. Or buy a new phone and replace it after three days, because all they wanted was that one cool feature. These people find the idea of store displays / demonstrations to be strange and alien. The only way they can satisfy their curiosity is by owning things.


ipad 2 screen with many apps
“Is there an app for finding cheaper friends? Nah, didn’t think it’d be possible.”


Well they can own apps, and those are cheap. About $0.99 – $9.99 each, and there’s only one app I’ve seen that’s $9.99. I just ask the techies which apps they’d like, then download it for them on my account. Even better if I already have the app, since it’s free to download again. Just remember to log out after downloading it for them.

I usually stick to apps like paid-for e-zine issues or games, so they won’t have to call me to update it all the time.



This is the hardest group to buy things for. Sports equipment is expensive, so that’s out of the question. I find it’s good to cater to their current role model / team obsession.

Say someone’s an Arsenal fan, because they like drinking beer and staying unemployed. I’d go out of my way to find old trading cards, stacks of intact magazines, or even those rubber figures in bubble dispensing machines. The cost won’t come to more than $10 tops.


Stall selling soccer mechandise
Buy our merchandise, and succumb to the delusion that you had something to do with our winning.


Same if the jock is obsessing over a particular sportsman. Then its time to hit the discount section, and dig up a biography or two. You can find old or second hand sports biographies at Brash Basah Complex, and they go for about $12 each. Most are in mint condition.


Old Uncle and Aunt

I find gift cards work best for most Uncles and Aunties. Come Christmas, department stores like Tangs and Metro start giving great deals on this. The $20 you put into the card will fetch around $25 – $30 worth of products. And if the gift card doesn’t cover the whole cost, they can top up the difference; at least you’ll be subsidising the cost.


Store Gift Cards
“Thanks, now I just need SIX separate trips to get each present.”


Gift cards can seem a bit impersonal, so be sure to throw in a card as well. Preferably something hand-made. The secret to a good gift is to balance affection with joy. I know, because I am all deep and caring. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a new Nerf gun and want to get someone in the eye.


Image Credits:
Jan Seifert
See El Photo
Vincent Teeuwen
The Lamb Family

Got more ideas for budget Christmas gifts? Comment and let us know!