Parents give so much each day, so a special occasion (holiday, birthday, etc.) is a perfect chance to show them some love in return.
And you don’t need a huge budget to do so.
It doesn’t matter if the parents are your own or good friends who’ve just had their first child. These 15 gifts under $25 range from sentimental to practical, and are sure to make them smile.
“What did you think your children would grow up to be?”
“Who was your first crush?”
This keepsake journal is packed with thought-provoking questions for parents, and it’s a clever way to spend time getting to know your parents.
They’ll have a chance to share memories with you, and it’s a way to preserve family history for your own children.
2. Smartphone Stroller Holder — $16.99
This universal mount attaches to most strollers’ handlebars and fits a wide variety of smartphone models.
It allows parents to text and talk via speakerphone. You can even mount it facing the child to entertain them, as well.
3. Teething Necklace — $11.74
New moms know dangling jewelry is out of the question unless they’re prepared for it to wind up in baby’s hands — and mouths.
This accessory is organic, free of toxins, dishwasher- and freezer-safe and features a breakaway clasp — so no one gets hurt if baby tugs too hard.
It also comes in five color options to match any wardrobe.
4. Drawstring Play Mat — $24.99
Technically, it’s “for” kids, but parents are the real winners.
This pack-and-go play mat makes nightly cleanup a breeze — no more stepping on LEGOs!
There’s enough room for several young children to sit on it and play to their hearts’ content.
Plus, a simple drawstring pull turns it into a portable shoulder bag for play dates, picnics and more.
The smaller version ($19.95) is water repellent, wipeable and fits on most restaurant tables to keep kids entertained until their meals come.
5. Not-Safe-for-Kids Books — $10 to $12
There’s a new genre of parenting books all about acknowledging and revelling in the craziness that is childrearing.
It’s a perfect gift for the parent with a certain sense of humor (or those who could desperately use a laugh to relieve some stress.
If your parent friends are slightly more conservative, opt for titles like “Safe Baby Handling Tips,” “The New Parents’ Fun Book” or “The Inappropriate Baby Book: Gross and Embarrassing Memories from Baby’s First Year.”
6. Tile Item Finder — $24.99
Being a parent can be hectic.
The last thing a parent needs while herding everyone out the door is to lose a phone, keys, purse or other crucial item right when they need them.
With the Tile Bluetooth tracker and its accompanying app, parents can track and find lost items.
7. VHS-to-DVD Conversion — $24.96 per tape
You hated it when your parents brought out that clunky camcorder when you were growing up, but chances are they’d love to relive the days when you were younger.
And with most households phasing out their VHS players, converting old memories to DVD is a great way to preserve those memories for years to come.
And it won’t take up a ton of space on the shelves.
8. Crock-Pot 4-Quart Slow Cooker — $19.99
A slow cooker is a great way for busy parents to make warm, homemade meals without spending a ton of prep time each evening.
This snazzy-looking red model is twice the size of other slow cookers in its price range and gets 4.5 out of 5 stars with more than 700 customer reviews.
9. Family Portrait
Parents take tons of family photos when their kids are young, but the tradition can taper off as everyone grows up and scatters.
An updated family photo can be an especially touching gift for parents who’ve become partial or total empty-nesters. It reminds them no matter how old everyone gets, you’re all still family.
Pro Tip: If you go in on a gift certificate with siblings, you can get even more prints.
10. DIY Photo Keepsakes
Forget boring old frames.
If you’re willing to put in a little time and creativity, there are so many fun ways to help parents display their beloved photos. Maybe even the new family portrait we were just talking about.
11. DIY Gifts That Make Life Easier
Don’t underestimate the value of cute but practical sanity-savers.
12. Streaming Service Gift Card — $15 to $25
They’ll be able to watch a movie or TV show whenever they manage to carve out some time.
Pro tip: You could potentially spend less if you can find a deal on a discount site.
13. Spa Gift Basket — under $25
14. Massage or Spa Voucher– under $25
Keep your eye on daily deals sites — you could snag a professional R&R treatment for way less than the usual price.
For example, at the time of this writing, you can buy a Groupon for a 30-minute reflexology foot massage in Chicago for $15 (normal cost: $30) or a 50-minute Swedish massage in San Diego for $25 (normal cost: $90).
It’s not as glamorous as a gadget or other wrappable item, but time away from the kids was the number-one most-requested gift when we surveyed parents. Apart from sleep, which you could also grant them by offering to watch the little ones for a while.
You could even put together a cute DIY coupon book using templates like this one.
Your Turn: Parents, what other inexpensive gifts would you love to receive (or have you received) for a special occasion?
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We would have shared them with you anyway, but a true “penny hoarder” would be a fool not to take the company’s money.
Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.