What can you buy these days for $20? Actually, a better question this time of year might be: What can you buy someone else for $20? It’s a price point that would work for any number of gift recipients — a friend, a family member, even a co-worker you really, really like. The fact that you can pay with a single Andrew Jackson is a nice, tidy bonus. So, for this year’s tbt* Holiday Gift Guide, instead of scouring bargain-basement retailers and tiptoeing around luxury-goods boutiques, we decided to stick to a single price point. Here are more than 25 great gifts we found for around $20 apiece.
Since it has locations on both sides of the Bay —Ybor City and St. Petersburg — Agora is a great spot for imported and global-inspired gifts at all price points, from purses to soaps to home decor to beaded tchotchkes. This clever Snake Jewelry caught our eye. Made of stainless steel and available in a variety of hues (including gold, silver, pewter and rose), each piece can be twisted into a unique necklace, bracelet or headband. The 36-inch version is $15; the 72-incher is $20. And even if you don't wear jewelry, it's pretty fun to play with — it might make a nice piece of moldable, flexible desk art. Two locations: 1515 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City; and 232 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. shopagora.com.
Dinner Do's plate set
Got a friend with a picky young eater at home? Gift them with a set of these Dinner Do's kids' plates, available in sets of three for $20 from Mi Bebe in Westchase. The melamine platters are printed with retro hairstyles and little else, leaving the rest of the plate as a blank canvas, so parents or kids can design a funny face at mealtime. They're available in both girls' and boys' styles. Even if you don't have kids, a couple of sets of these will liven up your next dinner party. Mi Bebe, 10113 Montague St., Tampa. (813) 792-7988, shopmibebe.com.
Chef'n Tea Tree
Historic Italian grocery Mazzaro's opened a standalone home goods store, Casa di Mazzaro, in 2013, and it's packed with kitchenware, soaps, jewelry and other perfectly gifty items. There's also a tea bar and a nice assortment of kettles, mugs, infusers and other tea-related gifts. This Chef'N TeaTree tea infuser ($19.99) is both elegant and ingenious: Fill the infuser with loose-leaf tea, turn the tree upside down and dunk it inside your favorite mug filled with hot water. Once the tea has steeped, remove it and set it aside. Voila: No more soggy tea bags staining your desk. Casa di Mazzaro, 3001 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 321-8500, casadimazzaro.com.
'Walking Dead' action figures
Comic-book newcomers need not fear entering Emerald City Comics' spacious new megastore in Clearwater. The warehouse-like facility is bright, clean and extremely well-organized, so even the n00biest of n00bs can feel like l33t shoppers. Here you'll find comic books galore, plus a huge array of action figures, props and collectibles (may we interest you in a $35 Starfleet Academy class ring?). For The Walking Dead fan on your list, pick up any of the series' graphic novels for $14.99 or a one-eyed zombie bottle opener for $18.99. Or simply go with an action figure for $16.99. We like this one of the Governor — prop him up on your desk, and your cubicle will feel like your own personal Woodbury. Emerald City Comics, 4902 113th Ave. N, Clearwater. (727) 398-2665, emeraldcitycomics.com.
Barry Manilow tickets
Imagine the look on your friend's face when he or she opens your present and finds … two tickets to a Barry Manilow concert? Huh? Sure, "two tickets to a Barry Manilow concert" sounds like the punchline to a really bad joke, but ol' Barry remains one of the greatest, if schmaltziest, songwriters of the past 50 years. Tickets to his Jan. 31 concert at the Tampa Bay Times Forum go all the way up to $157, but the cheapest seats are only $9.99 apiece, and at that price, can you really afford not to buy them? Besides, once your giftee gets to the show, we have a sneaky feeling they'll be unable to resist the lure of Copacabana. Music and passion are always in fashion, after all. tampabaytimesforum.com.
William Dean mendiants
Walking into William Dean Chocolates' Belleair Bluffs boutique, you feel like, well, a kid in a candy store. You want to sample each one of the jaw-droppingly beautiful chocolates — they were used as props in the Hunger Games films — and wrap up the rest for your beloved. Twenty bucks will buy you a trio of chocolate bars ($5.50 apiece, or $6 for their signature PB&J Bar), with enough left over for a passion fruit chocolate dollop. But we recommend the $20 box of mendiants — small chocolate squares topped with orange peel, pistachio, dried fruit and more. It's only available in the store, not online, so your giftee will know you went the extra mile … and maybe you'll get a taste. William Dean Chocolates, 2790 West Bay Drive, Belleair Bluffs. (727) 593-0656, williamdeanchocolates.com.
Sock Monkey Handwarmers
A gift and yarn supply boutique in Largo, Criativity's niche is alpaca fur products — socks, caps, scarves and other garments. Some, like Andean Trading Company's Paca Socks, can even be yours for less than $20. But the store has much more to offer, with a slew of quirky, clever and lovely gift ideas, most on the natural side of the spectrum. At $24, the felt bird feeders are just out of our price range, but we did like the $18 Glob botanical paint kit — just add water for natural, fruity-smelling paint — and especially these fingerless sock monkey handwarmers for $20. Criativity, 720 Ninth Ave. SW, Largo. (727) 584-4191, criativitystore.com.
Let's bring Back: the Cocktail Edition
Tampa's glistening Oxford Exchange is the perfect place to get something special for everyone on your list, provided you have a job that pays in the mid to high six figures. Yes, the gift shop is a little pricey, but there are still plenty of fun gifts in our price range. We were tempted by the chunky $20 rope of soap beads, mint or rosemary, that would make anyone look like the Mr. T of tub time. But we truly love Lesley M.M. Blume's Let's Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition ($18.95, Chronicle), a compendium of retro cocktail recipes ranging from the semi-familiar (the fizz, the zombie, the corpse reviver) to the enticingly forgotten (Ants in the Pants, Panther's Breath, Satan's Whiskers). For an extra $20, pair it with a sleek 3-in-1 bartender's pocket tool. The next round better be on your buddy. Oxford Exchange, 420 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 253-0222, oxfordexchange.com.
Black & Denim Machine gun scarf
Tampa's Black & Denim Apparel Company recently moved from its Seventh Avenue showroom across the street into Hoffman Porges Gallery, where its edgy T-shirts and accessories grace the walls alongside works of fine art. During a recent visit, they had a big selection of graphic tees on sale for $20 (we enjoyed the one that said "Only great men smoke cigars"), and you can get their military-inspired iPad cases and shaving kit bags for the same price or less. But nothing says Ybor After Dark like one of these lightweight men's scarves patterned with machine guns and Jolly Rogers. Black & Denim (inside Hoffman Porges Gallery), 1910 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. (813) 333-6905, blackanddenim.com.
Tampa Bay Rowdies socks
Do the sports fans in your life have all the Bucs, Rays and Lightning gear they can handle? Time to get them started on the new hot squad in Tampa Bay: The Rowdies. The St. Petersburg-based soccer team has built a loyal fan base, and most of them show up dressed to cheer. The Rowdies' online store sells scarves, jerseys, T-shirts and more, but the team's most emphatic fashion statement might be these gloriously gaudy socks. Available in green with gold stripes, gold with green stripes or black with gold stripes, they're the perfect way to get a foot in the door with Ralph's Mob, the team's fervent fan club. And at only $15, you can stuff those stockings with a Rowdies car magnet or team sunglasses, both $3, while remaining under budget. Shop the store at rowdiessoccer.com.
Local artist Charlie Greacen creates ceramic tile dishes (among other products) from maps and retro illustrations of the Tampa Bay area. Several — including those featuring images of Hyde Park, Plant High School, the University of Tampa and Academy of the Holy Names — are on display at High Cotton Living, a new, modern Southern-inspired apparel and gift boutique in Hyde Park Village. The smaller tiles are $20 apiece. Check out Greacen's work at towntiles.com. High Cotton Living, 1619 W Snow Circle, Tampa. (813) 644-5991, highcottonliving.com.
Pinch Minimergency Kit
Every woman breaks a nail, has a run on her tights or a wardrobe malfunction every once in a while. This small but mighty Pinch Minimergency Kit ($18) has all of those possible blunders covered. It includes a Band-Aid, safety pin, earring backs, deodorant towellette, nail polish remover pad, stain remover, clear elastic, lip balm, tampon, hair spray, clear nail polish, mending kit, floss, breath freshener and fashion tape, and it fits into even a large clutch. The Pink Petticoat, 714 S Village Circle, Tampa. (813) 253-2244, thepinkpetticoat.com.
This Great Gatsby-inspired deco bracelet ($20) has an Old World charm, and it's a statement piece that goes perfectly with this year's trends. Perfect for the fashionista in your life. The Shop, 3440 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 527-1400, theshopstpete.com.
Personalized Christmas ornament
Need a token of appreciation for teachers, tutors, babysitters or any other person you want to thank for their dedication? These Coton Colors ornaments ($19) can be personalized in store free of charge, highlighting the thought behind the gift. We also liked the "Bah Humbug" wine glass ($19), painted by local artist Emily Seaman. It's the ideal gift for that person who's always complaining about the holidays. Now they can drink to forget the holidays without ruining everyone else's merriment. Marion's Gifts and Clothing, 1301 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 821-2345, marionsonline.com.
Milagros in St. Petersburg makes its Sister Agnes soap locally with all-natural ingredients, and for $20 anyone can choose their scent and colors and make their own from scratch with the guidance of the store's expert soapmakers. The price includes their very own custom-made bar of soap. Purchase a ticket to a soap-making class, and your giftee can use it to schedule a session whenever they'd like, either one on one or as part of a group. Milagros, 1104 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 821-7555, sisteragnes.com.
Elephant Jute Bag
No girly girl ever said no to another bag, especially one that has a unique design and a mix of boho and dressed up elements. Whether it's used for a day's worth of produce shopping at the farmer's market or at school to carry all her books for that endless research paper, this combo is bound to be useful and cute. Pair this elephant jute bag ($15) with crocheted flower accessory ($4.65) to get your $20's worth. Skin Deep Spatique, 3030 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 895-1402, skindeepspatique.com.
Dog picture frame and dog sitter notepad
These doggie picture frames ($14.95) from Beach Papery and Gifts are breed-specific, making them perfect for dog lovers. And when they go out of town, instead of giving their dog-sitters 20 minutes of instructions, these notepads ($5.95) have blanks to fill in from the dog's perspective on favorite feeding times, games and walking spots. Beach Papery and Gifts, 553 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-8951, beachpaperygifts.com,
Your obsessed Florida fans may already have the koozie, the license plate and even a Snuggie with a Gator on it. But a potholder that looks like a gator is biting off their hand? Probably not. This oven mitt is $20 at Beach Papery and Gifts, 553 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-8951, beachpaperygifts.com,
A Reader's Book of Days
Tom Nissley's A Reader's Book of Days ($24.95, W.W. Norton & Company) is a little like Midnight in Paris, with fictional stories about how real authors came up with their famous characters, plot points or bestselling book titles. It also includes original reviews from when the books first were released. It's a perfect book about book writing for book readers. Inkwood Books, 216 S Armenia Ave., Tampa. (813) 253-2638, inkwoodbooks.com.
KEEL & CURLEY WINERY FREEZE KITS
Get a gift you can share on a pleasant winter day. Local winery and blueberry farm Keel & Curley appeals to Florida's frozen drink sensibilities with Wine Freeze Kits. Each set comes with a bottle of their fruit fusion wine and a mixer including margarita, pina colada and raspberry daiquiri ($19.99). Keel & Curley also sells their own signature blueberry wine, blackberry wine and ice wine as well as traditional grape wines online and in their winery store. Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 W Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 752-9100, keelandcurleywinery.com.
LIVAFRIKA HANDMADE CZECHOSLOVAKIAN CRYSTAL SCHOOL SPIRIT JEWELRY
Displaying Gator, 'Nole or Bull pride at the office gets a little easier with these unique beaded earrings, necklaces and bracelets ($14 to $18) in the school colors made by women from Durban, South Africa. The purchase helps the jewelry makers take a step toward financial independence and the handmade Zulu patterns ensure that you won't find a buddy wearing the same thing. LivAfrika carries a wide rage of home decor and accessories from bowls and platters to wire statues and springbok rugs. Funky jewelry is also available made from upcycled magazines, threads, beads and even cow bone. Inventory prices vary but most can be found for under $50. LivAfrika, 3403 MacDill Ave., Tampa. (813) 837-5400, livafrika.com.
ELLA BING BOW TIE LAPEL PIN
Give your bow tie-loving guy a way to sport his favorite team even when it's a suit-and-regular-tie kind of day. The pins ($16), which are handmade by local artisans, come in three colors — red polka dot; navy polka dot; and red, white and blue. EllaBing specializes in all things prep wear, from canvas belts to pocket squares. For something unique, check out their line of hand-carved wooden bowties. Ella Bing doesn't have a brick-and-mortar shop yet, so place your online order soon. ellabing.com.
FAB FORWARD ACRYLIC SPIKE SUN GLASS IN LEOPARD GOLD NECKLACE
Local online boutique Fab Forward has crammed so much sass in just one item. This faux gold chain ($19.99) screams diva, fashionista and Florida girl all at once. The recipient can pair it with a comfy tee and jeans to sass up a day look or be the focal point of a night-on-the-town look to kill for. Fab Forward carries a wide range of reasonably priced accessories with attitude, including "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" and "Keep Calm" necklaces. fabforwardaccessories.com.
FITLIFE FOODS GIFT CARD
Trying to gently nudge your friend or relative into eating better in 2014? Get them a gift card to FitLife Foods. The business makes fresh take-home meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, guaranteed not to expand your waistline. The staff will help n00bs chose the flavors right for them and maybe kick off a year of healthier living. The stores sell a wide variety of meals ranging from Mama's Turkey Meatloaf to Firecraker Shrimp. The menu changes occasionally, so visit a store to see what will be good right now. Several local locations; see eatfitlifefoods.com,
Divine Dezignz wine glasses
The glasses, both stemmed and stemless, are hand-painted by St. Petersburg artist Emily of Em'z Divine Dezignz. The Ohio native's designs are inspired by palm trees and other Florida staples. They're available for $19 at Green Boutique, 1032 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico. (813) 685-9494, greenboutique.net. — Keeley Sheehan