9 Great Kid Gifts for $20 or Less

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Boy reading by flashlight.
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Buying gifts for kids can be incredibly entertaining. They don’t want ties or underwear, they want presents that are fun and lively and sometimes a little bit zany.

Here are some kid-approved gift ideas that are both cool and easy on any budget. Whatever you give, however low the price tag, do spend time and energy wrapping it elaborately. Opening a surprise is, as we all know, half the fun.

1. Craft supplies

Craft supplies
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You could buy craft supplies, or you could make your own set for less than half the price. Head to the dollar store and look for construction paper, markers, ribbon, glue, beads and other crafty items. Arrange them in an inexpensive bin or basket and wrap it in wrapping tissue or cellophane for a fun and creative gift.

While you’re at it, check out “21 Things You Should Always Buy at the Dollar Store.”

2. Temporary tattoos

Temporary tattoo
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There’s something about temporary tattoos that children love. It’s like being given permission to write all over yourself.

Look for inexpensive sets in a wide array of themes — emojis, Avengers, unicorns — you name it. There are temporary tats that glitter, that glow in the dark, that cover an entire arm or go on the face. The best part is they all wash off.

3. Coupon book

Pen on paper
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You can’t beat free. You don’t have to spend a dime to give your favorite kids a homemade coupon book full of little splurges. Coupons could be for an extra hour of screen time on the weekend, a night off from chores or even a night of dessert before dinner.

4. Give an experience

Grandmother and granddaughter baking.
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You’ll guarantee good memories when you give an experience. (Younger kids might not quite grasp the concept, so this gift is best for those who are a little older.)

Create a certificate entitling the child to a special date with you. It could involve taking your niece to see a matinee or going fishing with your grandson. Either pick something you know they’ll love, or let them make the call — as long as it is within reason.

5. Makeup bag

Makeup kit
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For this gift idea, if you aren’t buying for your own daughter, you’ll want to check with the child’s parents first. Many girls love the chance to play dress-up, and that includes experimenting with makeup. If you get the green light, pick up an inexpensive toiletry bag and stuff it with sample-size makeup items. If the girl in your life isn’t quite old enough for makeup, you could include lotions, soaps or other bath items.

If you’re buying for a teen, it could be that a gift card for popular makeup chain Sephora is a better bet than guessing on makeup. Check out “7 Beautiful Ways to Save Money at Sephora.”

6. A share of stock

Share of stock.
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Not all kids will appreciate this one when it comes out of the box, but if you make a wise choice, they’ll thank you later.

Buy a single share of stock in a company and wrap the certificate in a box or card. Show them how to follow the stock value and explain that eventually this gift might be worth a whole lot more.

Cheap stocks can be risky, but since there’s so little at stake that may be just fine. U.S. News& World Report has guidance and suggestions for stocks under $10.

7. Books

Young boy reading, with books stacked around him
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Some hardcover books can be pricey, but plenty fall in the $10-and-under range. And almost every kid loves some type of book. Even if they aren’t big readers, you can find Mad Libs, puzzle books or comic books that fit just about every level of interest.

8. Flashlights

Boy reading by flashlight.
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock.com

What is it about kids and flashlights? From making shadow puppets on the wall to reading secretly under the covers after bedtime, flashlights are a gateway to a whole slew of cool activities.

Since these are kids we’re talking about, no need to buy top-of-the-line models. Get one or two four-packs of colorful flashlights, and you’ll be good to go for a family party.

9. Toe socks

Toe socks
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Socks are boring, but toe socks are the bomb. Not only do they fit feet like a glove, but they come in all sorts of fun patterns. You can get everything from cute kitties to these rainbow stripe socks. Best of all, you don’t have to break the bank to buy this toe-tally awesome gift.

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