Christmas on a Budget: Gifts Under $30

The nation's anemic economic condition means a more lethargic Christmas for many consumers. But even with a tightened budget, parents and purchasers can find deals for children for less than $30.

Toy Tips and Parenting Hints Magazine president and publisher Marianne Szymanski tells you about some of the deals for people looking for good, inexpensive gifts this holiday.

Szymanski suggests being upfront and honest with kids about what to expect this Christmas and telling them you'll try to do your best. For little ones, Szymanski suggests telling them Santa brings what he can, but has lots of little kids to bring toys to so he has to share.

Gifts for the Elementary School Crowd

Melissa & Doug Discovery Magic Set by Melissa & Doug
Price: $29.99

This set includes 10 professional-caliber yet easy-to-master tricks for beginners. Young magicians will improve their confidence and fine motor skills as they amaze family and friends with exciting tricks and illusions. "Secret Silks," "Magic Number Prediction," "Egyptian Prediction" are among the 10 classic tricks included.
Recommended ages: 8+ years

Qubits Construction Toys
Price: $29.99

It's a simple plastic toy that can be built-up using a unique patented modular geometry. It quickly captures the imagination of those who might have visions of becoming architects, engineers, scientist or even nanotech designers.

It has 90 construction pieces and is molded with high quality plastic featuring bendable pieces that will allow curved shapes with a rainbow of color in every kit. The large foldout color instruction sheet gets your imagination started. Qubits will help students understand the possibilities in rearranging nature's building blocks.

Disney Princess Adventure Hut by Playhut
Price: $29.99

Three kids can hide in this large play structure while someone crawls out the back tunnel port. You can sneak out the 4-foot long secret passage tunnel.

It's made from durable soft non-woven materials. The hut sets up in an instant and is light weight and portable. A carrying case is included and the toy is ideal for children 3 and up.

Presents for Pre-teens

Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro Car by Spinmaster
Price: $29.99

Teaching science skills and reinforcing the concept of gravity is what this micro car does. The racing car drives on any smooth surface including the floor, up walls or upside-down.

Price: $3-$7

Bakugan is a game you've probably never heard of, but your kids have. Based on a Japanese cartoon, Bakugan looks a lot like Pokemon.

It features a card game played with magnetic, spring-loaded marbles that flip up to form little action figures. Then they battle. The best part about the game for parents is the price. While some of the bigger packages of game pieces will run you between $20 and $35, some individual game pieces cost no more than $3 to $7.

Snowball Blaster By Wham O
Price: $29.99

The snowball maker and launcher makes and launches snowballs up to 50 feet. It has a removable 3-ball snowball press on top of launcher and power-wrist support handle. It's ergonomic for easy use.

High School Musical 3 Dance Mat
Price: $29.99

The High School Musical mat gets your feet moving and your body groovin'. The mat has built-in lights, music and routines. It features three different skill levels and plays four different songs: "All For One," "I Don't Dance," "What Time Is It" and "Fabulous."

Gifts for Teens

Project Runway Fashion Design Sets
Price: $14.99 - $27.99)

This includes different sets, fashion angels, a sketchbook, design and illustration studio set. It's all you need to create a fashion portfolio.

Nextar Mp3 Player
Price: 19.99-29.99

This uniquely designed, peanut-shaped mp3 player is only 2" long and features high-speed USB 2.0 interface for fast file transfer. It also supports seven languages and provides 12 hours of continuous playback with one AAA battery.

It's available in five colors, and is priced based on capacity. It cost $19.99 for a 1GB capacity and $29.99 for a 2GB capacity. Its affordable price makes it a great "stocking stuffer" for kids or anyone who could use an affordable mp3 player for outdoor activities, travel, or anywhere you don't want to bring an expensive player with you.