Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas gifts do not have to be expensive; thoughtful or homemade gifts often mean more to the recipient than the pricey expensive ones. This is a guide about frugal Christmas gift ideas.

November 28, 2016 Flag
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I have 2 kids (grandparents), 6 grandchildren (all grown), and 18 great grandchildren (oldest ones are 6 years)! What do I do at Christmas when I live on low income Social Security?

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July 1, 2008 Flag
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I am already thinking about Christmas. I know it's early, but with my budget I need to plan ahead! My whole family buys for each other, even though I have suggested many times to maybe draw names, but this never seems to go over well.


They all want to buy for everyone. But my question is what can I buy different from every year? Mostly I end up buying clothing because I am at a loss as to what to buy. I would appreciate any suggestions. I am not too imaginative and would love to do something different this year. Please help!

Lisa from VA

November 24, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

I often choose one thing/theme each year. This year, I'm making personalized Xmas ornaments for people in my family. A couple of years ago it was knitted scarves

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October 27, 20081 found this helpful

I wish i had more people to give to because i always have tons of ideas! I only have about 8 people to give to and sometimes colleages if I am working a temp job around the holidays. I make soap, candles and bath items that everyone usually "expects" every year but I get bored with just giving those items so I also incorporate:

*Gifts in a Jar

*Thrift store clothing or gift certificates

*Used Books (my mom reads a lot so i pick them up year round when i see them for less than $1)

*Coffee cards that I get free with collected airmiles

*Baked Goods

*Homemade Caramels (this was a HUGE hit last year)

*Homemade Jams and Zucchini Salsa

*Handmade journals using recycled cardboard, paper and using stamps to decorate

*I make my own "zines" which are basically my own mini booklets that are all about frugality. You can make one booklet, either with stories, articles, poetry, drawings, crafts...then photocopy give everyone the same booklet!

*I also bake cookies, loaves and make drink mixes

*Make magnets using those flat clear marbles they sell at the dollar store. Cut out printed images and glue printed side on to the flat surface. Use a special glue which willstick to glass. Glue on magnet. People love these!

*I also go to Freebie websites and collect freebies all year round. If you have a teen to give to, they love bath & beauty freebies. I've made baskets full of freebies for people who thorougly enjoyed it. E-mail a company you like and request a freebie or sample.

*A gift certificate for a hair cut or esthetic service from a cosmetology school is inexpensive and also great. You get star treatment from my experience!

That's all I can think of at the moment!

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November 10, 20081 found this helpful

I think a lot of the ideas are great, but some just wouldn't fly in my family. I do think the soup in a jar would work with some and jars of cocoa mix. I do buy cleaning and household supplies and put in a big hamper to give to my son and his girlfriend, but they also get cash and a few gift certificates.

Last year I bought inexpensive cocktail size Christmas napkins. I attached a small spreader (small knife for a cheese ball), and a beautiful ribbon. They made an awesome presentation and really only cost a couple of bucks. This year I'm doing a plain wine glass with a small finger towel wound so that applique shows through the glass toss in a few ribbons on top. They are both good gifts for coworkers.

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December 3, 20150 found this helpful

December 1, 2010 Flag
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Offer a free Christmas gift this year, such as a night of free babysitting, a day of house cleaning, an afternoon tutoring a child or adult, or even just spending time with a shut-in person who is unable to get out. The recipient will thank you for your thoughtful gift.

By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO

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Anonymous Flag
December 1, 20100 found this helpful

Love your idea! Bless you!

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December 1, 20100 found this helpful

Great idea, Fossil - especially when the person has everything he or she needs in material goods. Time is what I asked for from my girls last year. We went out to lunch, although we did each pay our own way. In fact, I intend to ask for the same gift this year. Thumbs up!

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December 2, 20100 found this helpful

I did this one Christmas when I was flat broke! I wrote out what the "gift" was on a little card (I cut up a cereal box - yes I was THAT broke!) signed them, and gave them out nicely decorated with a bit of holly and ribbon, each in its own envelope. It was a great success and much appreciated! babysitting, doing the shopping, errands, paying bills, ironing, picking up kids from school and looking after them for a couple of hours.....etc.etc.

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December 12, 2011 Flag
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Here are a few of my ideas for inexpensive but thoughtful gifts.

December 14, 2009 Flag
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Many of us frugal folks know that when we don't have money to spend on gifts, we sometimes choose to give people "coupons" for things like babysitting, cooking, mowing the lawn and other useful chores or activities.

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December 10, 2007 Flag
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I find it challenging to give all the gifts I'd like to without exploding my budget. For many friends and their children, I have a $5 budget. I feel like this can work when 1: the gift is thoughtful and original and 2: the gift is well wrapped and comes off looking more expensive.

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October 14, 2008 Flag
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I am currently a college student, living on my own, and definitely on a budget for Christmas. I have 3 brothers, all married, and 4 nieces and 1 nephew, plus my parents to buy for. My boyfriend's family I am also very close with, and everyone in the family always buys me something. There are 9 people on that side to buy for, as well.

I was wondering if anyone has some thrifty ideas on something sentimental I could make, or great places to shop. My budget will probably be around $150- MAYBE $200 for everything. I believe I have around 22 people to buy for. The ages of the nieces and nephew range from 1 year up to 11. Thank you for any help or ideas you can offer!

Kimberly from Tracy, CA

October 24, 20080 found this helpful


I'm a bargain hunter, and keep my eyes open year-round. I usually start buying Christmas gifts on boxing day :) Throughout the year, I buy visit sales and clearances, and if I see something I think one of my family members would like, I buy it, and cross off that name on my gift list. This year, I got my sister-in-law a nice Mexx wallet and whatever came with it, for about $15.

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October 24, 20081 found this helpful

Having been often in the same situation, I have come up with lots of ideas. Go to thrift shops and find funky but good stuff for your family. Old books are great - in fact, any kind of books! And you can get great deals on sale tables at Barnes & Noble, etc. One year I made apricot brandy - but it cost more than my thrift shop goodies! You could make a family calendar with family pix for everyone. This year I am collecting a lot of freebies to give as token Xmas gifts! Also look in obscure dollar stores they don't go to for little gifts. They have lots of nice stuff! Make up little combinations of small gifts that are coordinated.

(i.e. wash cloth/bath gel/loofa - that sort of thing.)

Get cosmetic/lotion samples from stores and online to put together gift packages (great for those who travel a lot.)

Get free magazine subscriptions online (go to I am giving one to a friend of mine for Xmas...If you think about what the person is like and what they would like, you find that you can give them presents that are very nice w/o spending a lot of $!

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November 7, 20082 found this helpful

Crossword puzzle books make good, fairly inexpensive gifts for those who like therm. There also things like logic puzzle books and other specific puzzle books.

For those you feel comfortable enough doing this with, something intangible, like a massage, or a "slave" day where you do their housework or cook for them or spoil them.

For the kids, depending on what they like, simple things like jump ropes or bubble sets (make sure they're the good bubbles...or find a good homemade recipe) are things they can enjoy.

Maybe make up a book of fun recipes for a little boy or girl who likes to cook, or make up a little "princess kit" of things like hairbands and maybe a mirror and a brush or some kid makeup or perfume for a little girl.

Maybe there are cool museums or zoos or parks that are free or very inexpensive you could take the kids to. Treat them to a day out if weather permits.

Used stuffed animals that are in good shape, especially if they still have the tag, are good for very small kids.

Look online for recipes for homemade bath salts and other such things. Go to the library and look up books that show you how to make things out of homemade products. Bath salts, deodorant, those little pouches that smell nice that people put in their dresser drawers or closets. Potpourri. Air freshener.

One book I borrowed from our library was called Supermarket Superproducts, and was CHOCK FULL of awesome ideas for putting together gifts and other useful things from cheap and usually environmentally safe products.

Hope some of this helps!

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December 4, 20080 found this helpful

December 9, 2011 Flag

Purchase a glass shaker jar. I found one at the dollar store. In a bowl, mix one tablespoon of cinnamon with a half cup of sugar. This will give you enough to fill about two or three jars.

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December 22, 2008 Flag
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I just came back from my weekly thrift store run and found small ceramic flower pots, already painted for 40 cents each. I am adding a envelope (downloaded from Alenka's printables) of seeds from my garden and a candy cane. I will give these as a small gift for office co-workers, since I am known as mother nature--this fits perfect with everyone's thoughts of me.

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January 4, 2001 Flag
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What is the best gift you've received that was not expensive?

Some of my favorites are:
A book of poetry by my adult daughter.
A picture of me drawn by my younger daughter.
(It's a funny picture, but I love it).
A set of tapes of my favorite music compiled by my son.

Anonymous Flag
January 7, 20010 found this helpful

Go to a fabric store and ask the clerk to cut a fourth yard of the currently popular nylon fleece. It comes in many colors as well as prints, plaids and designs. It is usually at least 60 inches wide. It needs no hem or fringe and makes a super soft, comfortable neck scarf, is washable and best of all costs less than $2.00 including tax. Kids , teachers, grandparents can all use it.

-Judy B

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Anonymous Flag
January 7, 20010 found this helpful

I have a couple of thrifty gift ideas for next Christmas! Neither idea is mine (as, I saw them on another website), but both are EXCELLENT ideas for holiday gifts!

The first one is a gratitude album/scrapbook. I purchased 2 pkgs. (100/ea. pkg.) of plain, white index cards. Each pkg. was ONLY 50 cents! In the top, right-hand, corner of each card, I wrote dates, beginning from December 26, 2000 all the way up... to December 25, 2001! I pull them out EVERY DAY and write, on the card, what I'm grateful/thankful for (about the person I'm giving the gift to!). As I'm a rather "crafty" person, I also love to draw/or paint... so, I also design little pictures (etc.) to go with each item I'm thankful for. I draw the picture right under where I write. If you're drawing/painting-impaired, you could always use different stickers, pictures from magazines (etc.)... just as long as it's small enough to fit on the card. Then,

I will purchase a ONE-DOLLAR, 3-ring binder (from our local "Dollar Store"); a ONE-DOLLAR roll of clear, contac paper; use paper we already have and create a, ONE-OF-A-KIND, PERSONAL (THREE-DOLLAR!!!) gift... that my spouse will SURELY appreciate! I'm doing the same for my 8-yr. old son, as well! This is a gift for ANYONE... no matter age, sex, religion, etc!!!

The other idea is to create one-of-a-kind coupons, custom-made... for each person on your list! For instance..... my son LOVES Pokemon. I might make, for him, Pokemon coupons (featuring pictures, TRACINGS, etc.) of different Pokemon characters, for such things as "THIS ENTITLES THE BEARER TO ONE FREE, POKEMON DINNER... FEATURING "Pikuchu's Party Pizza," "Sandshrew's Sensational Salad," and "Jigglypuff's Jolly Jello." I KNOW, my son would LOOOOOVE that! Another one might say, "THIS COUPON ENTITLES THE BEARER TO ONE SATURDAY NIGHT OF YOUR CHOICE OF MOVIES (games, etc.)."

For my husband..... he enjoys science-fiction and action movies. An example of a coupon I may give to him may be, "THIS COUPON ENTITLES THE BEARER TO HIS CHOICE OF ONE SCI-FI BOOK." I find various things, like this, at flea markets, yard sales, consignment shops, thrift stores, dollar stores, etc. He also works with computers... so, another idea might be, "THIS COUPON........................TO HIS CHOICE OF ANY NEEDED COMPUTER GAME."

Again... these things are found, inexpensively, on the internet or any of the other places, mentioned above. Well..... those are JUST a few! Happy hunting!!!!! -HMS

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January 8, 20010 found this helpful

This Christmas I made hot pads and mitts our of recycled blue jean material and lined with cotton mattress padding or old placemats. I then put on a nifty tag which I copied out of Amy Dacyczn's TIGHTWAD GAZETTE which is as follows: "Our products are made of naturally seasoned denim with an unpatented process."

"First sewn into pants and worn by actual human beings, the material is exposed to sweat, grime, sunlight, and hundreds of washes to achieve an authentic fade and uniquely confortable feel. Then using only select portions of unpatched, seamless, and pocket-free fabric we handcraft our original potholder design." "THE BLUE JEAN POTHOLDER, a product alrady withstanding the test of time."

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February 6, 20030 found this helpful

December 16, 2000 Flag
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I always have canning jars around. At Christmas, I fill some with assorted Christmas colored candy; those star brite mints, gold and silver foil wrapped candies, etc.

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