5 Unique Gift Ideas for Men for $20 or Less

At Home
December 10, 2012

By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com

If you're looking for something special for a man in your life this year, whether he be a father, son, brother, significant other, or friend, we've got you covered. Not only will we be keeping the budget at or below $20, we'll focus on a few unique gifts for men that you may not find elsewhere. That means no shaving accessories, watches or video games -- and definitely no ties or wallets. Yes, those can all be wonderful gifts, but how about something that will put a devilish grin on his face, make him laugh, or even make him think?

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Unique Gifts for Men Who Like to Travel. Is the man you're shopping for a world traveler -- or does he aspire to become one? Inspire him or help him remember past trips with a scratch map. The idea is to scratch off countries and states you've visited, lotto-ticket-style, as you complete your travels. Depending on the scope of his wanderlust, you can get him a world map ($20 on Amazon) or one that focuses on the U.S. or Europe. Reviewers attest that all the editions make great gifts -- so much so that many are tempted to get one for themselves.

A Unique Gift for Men Who Like to Eat Local. Here's an idea for an eco-conscious man with a discerning palate: A startup called Back to Roots recycles used coffee grounds as soil for grow-your-own gourmet mushroom gardens. Each kit costs $20 and yields two harvests' worth of pearl oyster mushrooms. Once he starts watering, he should have home-grown food in less than two weeks, although some buyers warn that it can take longer. It's a simple, affordable, and memorable idea that also keeps waste out of landfills.

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Unique Gifts for Men Who Like to Read. A book can be a good way to show him how well you know him. Ereaders and iPads may make the idea seem quaint, but unwrapping a new hardcover and discovering it's a perfect match for your interests is a uniquely satisfying experience. Top picks released this year include The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg ($16 on Amazon), Istanbul Passage: A Novel by Joseph Kanon ($16 on Amazon ), and Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012 by Carol Loomis (also $16 on Amazon ). Of course, you have to have someplace to store old-school books -- that's where the conceal shelf from Umbra (starting at $13) comes in. It makes books look like they're floating in midair.

A Unique Gift for Men Who Like the Outdoors. Rather than buying him more stuff, give the gift of an experience together. Find a map of state parks or a guide to other beautiful places in your area and offer to take him hiking wherever he chooses. Still want him to have something to open? Fans of Survivor will recognize the Buff (starting at $20), a multifunctional tube of moisture-wicking fabric that can be worn more than a dozen different ways. Users have found this an indispensible piece of gear for all manner of outdoor activities.

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Truly Unique Gifts for Men. Perhaps the only way to guarantee your gift will be one-of-a-kind is to design it yourself. If you have a great photo of the two of you or a special place you've visited together, making your own present has never been easier. A nicely framed photo is tried and true, but now a number of websites and stores let you print on canvas or metal as well. We've found Snapfish a good source not only for cheap digital photo printing but also for personalized gifts such as iPhone skins ($20), coffee and travel mugs (starting at $10), and playing cards ($20).

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