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50 Extremely Small Gifts Under $40 2022

Nov 17, 2023

50 items in this article 7 items on sale!

Caroline Weaver is a small-business consultant and writes the newsletter Caroline Finds It. She previously owned and operated the stationery shop CW Pencil Enterprise.

For small-space city dwellers, minimalists, and reformed hoarders, holiday-season consumption can feel stressful and unnecessary. And besides, if you’re traveling, bringing gifts to and from just means an extra checked bag or two. This year, when my family chose to do a destination Christmas in Sicily, I suggested that we give each other tiny gifts instead of our normal exchange. In order to accommodate objects of all shapes, the rule is that the sum of the dimensions (length, width, height) cannot exceed ten inches. Additionally, the gift must cost less than $40 — with unofficial bonus points for the most clever, smallest, cheapest gift. For my competitive and creative family, it's turned out to be an amusing shopping challenge, and it gives me peace of mind knowing that I’ll have control over my suitcase space. If you, too, wish to downsize and gamify your holiday shopping, I’ve got 50 extremely small gifts to surprise everyone on your list with.

A set of mini cheese knives is a thoughtful gift for someone who enjoys a nice picnic, and these colorful French ones are as nice as they come.

I’d give this to someone who wishes they had a real log cabin. Paine's classic balsam-fir incense is best burned in this tiny log cabin, where the smoke billows out of its chimney. This set is an all-in-one kit to turn your home into a cozy winter wonderland.

An obsessive toothpick user will appreciate that this personalized leather holder takes their favorite oral-hygiene task very seriously. You can even personalize it with their initials for added effect.

My sister is a fragrance snob who recently got her first adult car, so she's getting a pair of these ridiculously fancy air fresheners from me this Christmas because they smell amazing and are just kitschy enough.

Helen Levi's famous swirly Beach Mug comes in a size that's a mere 1 inch by 1.25 inches, and according to her product description, "would be best suited holding 10 teardrops, or a drink for a pet hamster, or a fairy's brew."

This tiny donabe-shaped Japanese ceramic condiment jar is seriously upgraded storage for a ramen lover's shichimi togarashi, or even just a fancy salt.

A very delicate porcelain vase, in a variety of colors and shapes — well-suited as a bud vas, or a hiding spot. I’m gifting one of these cuties to someone with a penchant for collecting colorful vases this year.

Elevate your martini-drinking BFF's bar cart with these small and sophisticated cocktail picks. (For other options, the Strategist has a delightful roundup of cocktail picks.)

A shard box is a special type of tiny box because it's made to showcase a piece of broken porcelain in its lid. You could store rogue buttons, jewelry, or small treasures in it.

Little linen coasters are a compact and stylish way to keep marks off of a coffee table. Fog Linen's sets come in a variety of lovely stripe and check patterns and lend themselves to a more grown-up cottagecore aesthetic.

Everyone loves corn on the cob, especially when they have a fun pair of fancy corn holders to eat it with. Buy these for the friend who's often hunting for dental floss at a barbecue.

For the friend who just really loves pickles: The Heinz pickle pin, originally designed as a promo item for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a spectacular early example of wearable merch.

This saffron is handpicked by women on family-owned farms in Afghanistan, is packaged beautifully, and is a terrific culinary luxury for your favorite cook.

Fold up these small papers like an accordion, light the end, and they’ll release the resin-y, spicy fragrance the 800-year-old Officina Santa Maria Novella perfumery is known for. Gift these to a jet-setter who cares about home fragrance.

Your aunt who's obsessed with season two of The White Lotus will love this Sicilian soap that comes in its own tin. Ortigia makes luxury olive oil soaps in fragrances inspired by the Sicilian landscape.

Travelers who are also obsessed with caring for their skin will appreciate this finger-size, fast-drying silk facial mitten for gentle face cleansing while taking up no space at all.

These very, very small plastic capsules hold just enough water-activated face washing powder for a single use and are a useful and cute thing to keep in an overnight bag or gym bag. They’re a cult-favorite Japanese beauty product for their cleansing power and convenient and compact packaging.

From a nearly 300-year-old American soap company, a high-quality folding pocket comb, for channeling your inner Clark Gable or grooming a mustache.

Coucou Suzette makes extremely sturdy and detailed hair clips in a wide variety of food and animal shapes, like this funny little mussel.

This festive glitter eye shadow, from Bobbi Brown's fantastic new line of makeup, looks amazing on people of all ages and is easy to apply with just a finger.

Hogwash is magic soap that contains cornmeal for scrubbing, and is an absolute necessity for any gardener, frequent wine-spiller, or parent of young children.

Pets need to take care of their skin too! Zizia makes a safe multipurpose botanical balm to keep their coats shiny and paws soft and protected.

Gardeners love the variety of heirloom, native, and specialty plants offered by Hudson Valley Seed Co., especially when they come in their beautiful art packs, which feature work by artists all over the country.

Perhaps Coming Soon's smallest and most affordable gift, Hester the Nail is a playful and large brass nail that makes an easy hook to hang a set of keys, a bike helmet, or an umbrella from.

A level is something that everyone occasionally needs, but might not have room to store. This one is very small and magnetic, and stows easily in a pocket for when inspiration strikes to hang something properly.

A stylish and highly functional tiny-screwdriver set with a selection of different heads that are held into place by a magnet. Perfect for an apartment-dweller with a DIY spirit.

A middle-schooler with a favorite mechanical pencil will love this little pack of high-tech colored Japanese leads in seven different hues. They can be used in any standard mechanical pencil that takes 0.5-mm. lead.

It might seem like an unnecessary tool, but the Original Presto Letter Opener opens mail with a single satisfying swipe and also comes in handy when opening packages safely and easily.

This isn't the smallest tarot deck around (this one is), but it's the most compact one that's still shuffle-able, with cards measuring 2 inches by 3.25 inches. A regular tarot user would love this for travel.

Leatherman makes the most functional and durable multi-tool devices on the market, and this one is small enough to put on a keyring or tuck into a pocket. It has all of the tools you’d need for a weekend of fishing or camping.

My favorite book gift for children is this small hardback set of four Maurice Sendak classics, which are about the size of a playing card.

For trimming threads, these extraordinarily small and sharp scissors are a lovely gift for someone who's into sewing or embroidery.

People tend to think of golf balls and ties as typical and lazy dad gifts, but what about a silly novelty ball-maker for the putting green instead? That's a golf tool that they’re sure to not lose to a course water feature.

I have yet to find smaller notebooks that are as useful as these 3.18-inch-by-2-inch Rite in the Rain ones that feature smooth, water-resistant paper – originally designed for rugged outdoor use, but popular with daily pocket-notebook users.

A very serious fisherman recommended this retractable tether to wear on a vest or jacket to make frequently used tools more accessible while on the water.

The Oi Luxe bike bell is quite possibly the most minimalist and design-y bell out there and is lined with vegan leather to protect the finish on your handlebar.

The smallest gift you could possibly give a gamer is a die, and dice shopping is especially fun if that gamer loves D&D and might appreciate a special new D20. URWizards sells hundreds of dazzling resin, glass, and stone dice to suit all personalities and preferences.

Just like the ones all over TikTok — a tiny microphone that actually works when plugged into a phone or computer.

These little egg-shaped shakers are a cult-favorite instrument for kids learning to make sounds and play around with music.

Just as they did in the 1990s, these currently made Tamagotchis are keychain-size, beep at you to feed them, and are irritatingly addictive.

Name a cuter, tinier stuffed animal than this mouse tucked into its own matchbox bed. Maileg is a Danish brand of little heirloom-quality critters that are beloved by kids and parents alike.

Also from Maileg: a miniature metal chair, just right for a Maileg mouse.

Before there was slime, there was Silly Putty, which is still a lot of fun for kids and, according to the reviews on Amazon, strangely useful for adults.

Caran d’Ache Neocolor II pastels are rich, soft water-soluble wax crayons that can be used for drawing and painting. They’re a uniquely versatile medium that would be appreciated by artists of any age.

Knitters need ring markers to mark the beginning of a section or row, and since they’re small and easy to lose, new ones are always a welcome gift — especially when they’re this cute.

Baggu makes superior fold-up reusable bags, and the Baby size is just right for carrying small things and keeping on hand just in case.

Hafod Grange is a Welsh botanical paperweight specialist that is most known for its stunning dandelion model, which is a true marvel of craftsmanship. It ships from the U.K., but has reasonable shipping fees.

[Editor's note: Hafod Grange lists all prices in pounds, so the price shown here is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.]

Tiny Doll House is a shop with an unbelievable selection of exquisitely detailed dollhouse miniatures. Pick out something specific to the person you’re gifting to, like a favorite food or household product.

Anyone who loves eating fish straight out of the tin knows that a tiny party fork is the best for picking the last mussel out of the corner. This set will look especially chic alongside their Fishwife on a snack platter.

[Editor's note: This party fork set is currently sold out, but we’ll keep an eye out and update this story when it's back in stock.]

In the ’80s and early ’90s, Lenox made an adorable and detailed collection of spice canisters shaped like little buildings. They’re no longer manufactured, but are readily available on Etsy for around $30.

[Editor's note: Birdie's China Nest is currently taking a break, according to the shop's Etsy page, so these jars are currently unavailable. Sign up to get notified when they’re back.]

Thank you for subscribing and supporting our journalism. If you prefer to read in print, you can also find this article in the November 21, 2022, issue of New York Magazine.

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