It's engagement season! Gifts under $30 for the newly betrothed

If you feel like there's been a sudden rash of proposals in your social circle lately, you're not imagining it -- and you're not alone. According to, we're smack in the middle of engagement season, which spans Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day.

When it comes to newly betrothed friends and coworkers, you can often get away with a congratulatory card or voicemail. But chances are you'll be celebrating the engagement of someone close to you before your financial holiday hangover clears -- so here's a roundup of ideal engagement gifts for less than $30.

Wedding essentials
Most couples have never planned a wedding before, so they need all the guidance they can get. You can't go wrong with a catch-all planning and organizer book -- like this handy workbook/file combo one of my bridesmaids bought for me (Barnes & Noble, $21.56). Or think ahead to the big day itself and take care of one of those details -- the Knot's wedding shop has a huge selection of cheap, pretty guestbooks.

Something worldly
Wedding planning can feel like a chore -- but honeymoon planning never gets old. Indulge your favorite couple with a year-long subscription to Conde Nast Traveler ($12) or Travel + Leisure ($19.99) -- it's not like the groom is enjoying reading all those bridal titles. Or pick them up a travel accessory like these adorable Mr. and Mrs. luggage tags ($19,

His and hers
If you want to really stand out in a room full of well-wishers, gift the bride and groom separately. For her, a ring holder is classic and useful -- this cobalt glass stand has throwback charm and a fantastic price ($15.74 for two, For him: a season on DVD of a series he's been meaning to get into is the perfect change of pace from drawing up seating charts. has deals on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (seasons one and two for $17.99) and Bored to Death (season one for $27.99).

Last but not least, the ultra-cheap gift

We'll let you work out the cost of ingredients, but this diamond ring cookie cutter from The Flour Pot ($1.25) is a sure path to a crowd pleasing gift -- better double the recipe.
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