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10 Affordable Gifts That Are Easy to Ship

Christmas gifts

IF YOU HAVE A LOT OF people to shop for this holiday season, you may be thinking two things: What can I buy that's thoughtful but also inexpensive? And what's easy to ship? Because as the holidays draw closer, rushed shipping costs will balloon, and you likely would rather spend more of your money on the gift rather than on shipping costs.

Plus, it would be nice to avoid crowded lines indoors as the coronavirus continues to plague the country.

With that in mind, here are 10 affordable gift ideas that are easy to ship. Yes, you can order anything from Amazon, Walmart, Target and numerous other online retailers and have a gift sent to a friend's or relative's home. But if you're looking for something more creative, you may want to try something a little further off the beaten path.

Online Classes Gift someone an online class – no shipping required. MasterClass.com is offering a two-for-one holiday deal (two annual memberships for $180). Most classes have about 20 lessons that are 10 minutes each and come with PDF workbooks. Some big names are associated with these classes. Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches Scientific Thinking and Communication. Doris Kearns Goodwin teaches U.S. Presidential History and Leadership. Natalie Portman teaches acting. Penn & Teller teach a magic class. This is an original gift idea that may last someone several months.

Photos In the old days, you might take some pictures of your kids, and then buy a frame, and then you'd hoof it over to the post office. Not that this was an insurmountable ordeal, but it was a bit of a process. Now, you can send those photos to a website like Shutterfly.com, order a frame or put the photo on a mug or blanket and have the company send it to your family or friend.

Subscription Boxes Subscription boxes have exploded in popularity over the years. Trade Coffee (starting at $13 a month), for instance, will send you new bags of coffee every month, and ScentBird ($14.95 a month) will send a new 8 milliliter bottle of perfume. There are subscription boxes for books, plants, jewelry – and the only downside, of course, is that you'll pay for this gift every month. You may want to put a time limit on the gift, unless you want to buy the gift every month in perpetuity.

Magazine Subscriptions You could go old school, and instead of cheese or toys or candles, you could send somebody a magazine subscription, like The New Yorker, People or Good Housekeeping.

Man Crates This may sound like something out of 1955, but it is a pretty cool idea: gifts for guys that come in a wooden crate, complete with a crowbar to open it. Now, you may quibble with the idea that this is an affordable gift, because some of the gifts are pretty pricey, but if you're only getting the giftee one gift, you might argue that it isn't too expensive. There's also a buy one, get one 50% off deal going on until Dec. 23, and so that would make it less expensive if you're buying gifts for two guys.

You can get things like a Breakfast Making Kit ($79.99), a Whiskey Connoisseur Crate ($129.99), an Exotic Meats Crate ($109.99) and so on. Inside the Exotic Meats Crate, for instance, you will find a lot of jerky – elk jerky, wild boar honey bourbon jerky, an ostrich jerky stick and more.

Gift Cards You will not blow anyone over with your creativity, but you will likely receive a big thank you. If you're not sure what gift card to send, sites like GiftCards.com will allow you to buy gift cards from various retailers like Target, Best Buy, Home Depot and so on, and the gift card will be emailed to whomever you want.

Lottery Tickets They're generally not very expensive – generally a couple bucks per ticket – and you can slip them in a card. But you should know the giftee well. In other words, you don't want to send lottery tickets to someone likely to develop a gambling problem, and because of that, even some lottery ticket companies suggest not giving lottery tickets as a gift to a minor.

Stuffed Animals They're light, and so the shipping costs will be a bit less than the rock garden you were thinking of buying and shipping. Sure, you can buy stuffed animals at many retailers and send them through the mail if you want, but you may want to check out StuffedSafari.com, a website that only sells stuffed animals. Want to send a kid a stuffed crocodile? A stuffed rattlesnake? Perhaps a dart tree frog or a dinosaur? This site has them and conventional teddy bears, too. Shipping costs in the U.S. range from $5 to $13. If you spend $75 or more, it's free.

Celebrity Greeting It may be cheaper than you think, or maybe not. You've probably seen the TV ads for Cameo. You could ask a celebrity to record a greeting to a family member or friend. With some actors, you can get a greeting for $20 or less. Mostly, though, buying a clip on Cameo.com is going to cost you. But if you have a parent, for instance, who loves "The Brady Bunch," you may figure $140 is totally worth it to get Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady, to record a personalized message for your giftee that they will likely marvel over for years. (If $140 is too much and your mom or dad also loved "CHiPS," which came on the air a few years after "The Brady Bunch" ended, actor Larry Wilcox will offer up a personalized message for $40.)

An Experience Experiences are fun and can make fantastic gifts. This has been a year where experiences have been in short supply, and granted, buying certain experiences isn't very practical right now. But don't completely rule it out. For instance, a lot of theaters are offering gift certificates with no expiration date. That could be a nice way to support the arts and give a loved one a gift for the future. But since we're all generally safer outdoors, if you have anyone in mind who might enjoy a good road trip, you might want to consider giving them an annual pass that will allow them into any of the national parks. The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is $85 (it's $80, the website states, but there's a $5 process and handling fee). It'll cover you and three accompanying adults age 16 and older; children 15 and under don't have to pay an entry fee.

This article was originally publsihed by Geoff Williams, usnews.com.

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