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Last Minute Holiday Gift Picks Under $30

The holiday season is well underway and available shopping days are almost gone, so it’s just about time to panic! We kid, but for many (ourselves included) stressing about shopping for last minute gifts is as much a holiday tradition as baking, attending parties and arguing with that relative – you know the one.

One of the (very many) awesome things about working at the State Museum is being able to pop down to the museum lobby and shop in The Cotton Mill Exchange. It’s a great source of unique gifts for just about any type of person, young or old. This year we thought we’d do a little last minute shopping ourselves and share some of our favorites finds with you, in case you are feeling that last-minute gift buying panic, too.

Click HERE to learn more about the Cotton Mill Exchange and see store hours of operation.

MERRITT’S PICKS, Director of Marketing

Home Dish

‘HOME’ PLATE – $28

This is the perfect hostess or host gift. It could be unisex and good for anyone who lives in this state! Its size makes it very versatile and it could have many uses. Decorative or used for snacks, nibbles, nuts, olives or even a candle. It’s also very trendy right now with all the state pride we are showing!

Lunch Sack

SACK THAT LUNCH (with bonus palmetto pride) – $15

Not only do I want one of these myself, I could also see it functioning as a great gift for a teacher or hairstylist or even a co-worker. I mean, everyone eats lunch right? It is small and convenient, not too bulky and really well made. More state pride too!

Cook Book

A COOKBOOK (southern-style!) – $30

I don’t care who you are, a big, hardback cookbook with colorful pictures is always a welcomed gift. We all love food, so this is always classy and never goes out of style. Since southern food is having such a renaissance right now in America, this would be a great book to ship to a cousin or aunt who lives outside of the state.

JARED’S PICKS, Public Relations Manager

scarf w pocket

INFINITY SCARF (with a secret!) – $26

This infinity scarf is sort of a boomerang gift. You see, my mom has a bad habit of not answering my always important phone calls. Her excuse? Not having her phone on her. Now she has no excuse. The scarf doubles as a handy pocket that carries your cell phone for you. WHAT? Now you don’t have to worry about where you put your cell phone and you’ll have two free hands.

letter opener

TINY SWORDS (otherwise known as ‘letter openers’) – $14 each in silver or gold

I’m distracted easily and this silver letter opener caught my eye when I was walking towards my next gift of choice. I couldn’t help but to think of my dad, who gets a lot of mail … I mean, a lot! I’m pretty sure he’s running an underground postal service out of his office. Most of it is probably bills and who doesn’t want a sophisticated way to open a bill? In any case, if he doesn’t use it maybe it can double as a fancy cake knife.


A ‘SWEET’ SIGN – $21.95

My sister and her husband just moved to Columbia. Actually, she moved just across the street from the State Museum. What better way to welcome her than with this neat sign for her hallway … or bathroom? I’d like to say I’m talented enough to make something like this myself, but I’m not sure I’d have the patience. This welcome sign will not only remind them of me constantly, but it’ll make them feel at home.


dino stuff

AN ASSORTMENT OF DINOSAURS – Tshirt $15, Crayons $3.95, Finger Puppet $1.50, Dinosaur Skeleton $4.50. Total: $24.95

I have TWELVE nieces and nephews, so finding gifts for each of them is important to me – but so is not bankrupting myself. I love making little baskets for them (especially those under 10) from smaller items available in the Cotton Mill Exchange. I’ve done space-themed baskets and bug-themed baskets, but I’ve found I can almost never go wrong with a Dinosaur theme. There are lots of great items to pick from, and to mix-and-match with, depending on the interests of the child. These are always a big hit!

bag by sally

AN ORIGINAL CLUTCH from Nana by Sally – $28

The museum has a really phenomenal exhibit on display right now called, Carolina Makers, which features handmade work being produced all over South Carolina by some very talented makers. This little bag is from Nana by Sally and I’ve been eye-ing it for a close friend of mine (her favorite color is green). Being able to give handmade, truly unique items like this always makes the gift feel extra special to me. There are also smaller bags available, with lots of color and pattern variations to choose from.



If you are from the midlands and you love history, or know someone who does, the new book Remembering Columbia, from Historic Columbia’s John Sherrer, is a wonderful gift. The book features a collection of historical images of our capitol city, along with information about the city’s past. Sidenote: I’m totally biased when it comes to this particular book because my grandfather is in one of the included images. I’ve already given out several to other family members and have a few more under the Christmas tree already!


Here are a few picks that were either slightly outside of the $30 price range or just didn’t quite make the ‘cut.’

bow tie


Cordial Churchman Bowtie – $40

Once you’re done with your holiday shopping, I think it’s okay to splurge a little on yourself. These cool bowties are available for a little more than 30 bucks but they’re one-of-a-kind and made right here in South Carolina. I like a splash of color so this one is clearly my favorite, but there are plenty of others to choose from if you want something less flashy.

cookie cutterz


Cookie Cutterz – Palmetto Tree $3.95, State Outline $1.95

My friend loves to bake. Any time we meet up she nearly always has a box of little treats for me straight from her kitchen. These South Carolina cookie cutters are adorable and as soon as I spotted them I could just see them sitting in her kitchen. I’m also secretly hoping that she’ll make me some cookies with these!