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.
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December 1, 2010 Flag

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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December 12, 2011 Flag

Here are a few of my ideas for inexpensive but thoughtful gifts.

Use your imagination. Chocolate boxes with coffee mug, various chocolates, a book, and book mark, maybe a candle.

By Tracy C. from Brockville, Ontario

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December 14, 2009 Flag

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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My partner told me that he didn't want me to spend more than $100 on both his birthday and Yule gifts (they are just a few days apart). So bought him a couple of needed items but wanted to do something special. Since we live together, he doesn't get any of my homemade goodies as he eats them here when I make them. I decided to make him a few coupons with corresponding items attached to them. These would be good for partners (girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives...)

Other ideas could include a massage. I have a friend who studied aroma massage online through a course, and is giving massage coupons to her female friends so she can practice and they get a little relaxation and it only costs her some time. I do Reiki which is Japanese Energy work which I learned and have given this to people as well.

If you are good at doing nails, hair or make up, you can offer your friends a free manicure/pedicure, haircut/style or special make up application. The choices are endless!

If you do house repairs or painting that could be a nice gift for someone.

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The cost of time is priceless and it's the gift people tend to cherish the most.

By freya1970 from Halifax, NS

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December 10, 2007 Flag

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. In order to stay within the $5 budget and to fulfill #2, you need to be well-stocked with wrapping elements that you have recycled, gathered, gotten at the thrift store or dollar store. Here are 5 ideas which can usually be done for $5 at Wal-Mart or other similar stores:

  1. Select a fruity-flavored bath gel, purchase the same flavor tea, and pair with a sponge, lufa, or washcloth in matching color. Present in a recycled basket or lunch bag tied with a pretty coordinating ribbon. I've done this with both peach and apple.
  2. Purchase a high-quality magazine and pair it with a single-serve packet of bubble bath. Tie both together with a pretty ribbon. Or, get a book from the used book store and do the same. You can even pair the bubble bath with the theme; either roses or ocean, etc.
  3. Vary this idea for the guys by getting a fishing magazine and putting it with a lure or a hunting magazine and a pack of hand warmers. Tie these together with twine or rope.
  4. For the kid, don't forget one of the very basics: a fresh box of 64 crayons and a color book. I've seen some pretty fancy coloring books lately, so this might even work for an adult who is young at heart! Or--make some recycled crayons to go with! And a bonus kids' gift: buy a magnetic alphabet set or alphabet sponges, pair with an alphabet template, and a can of alphabet soup and or pack of alphabet macaroni. This should provide plenty of ways to work on the ABCs.
  5. Purchase the odd but prety porcelain cup (with or without saucer) at the thrift store. Based on what is left out of the $5, purchase tea or tea and a box of tea biscuits to go with it. For the holidays, get a holiday mug or vintage holiday cup and put with hot chocolate. This gift is pretty in a recycled basket.
Hope these give you some good $5 ideas and help you from getting discouraged when it comes to fulfilling your generosity and keeping your budget! Happy Holidays

Source: These are mainly my ideas, but I read about gift giving all the time.

By Amy from Cedar Hill, TX

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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

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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December 16, 2000 Flag

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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October 29, 2004 Flag

One way to make a great Christmas gift is to take pictures of the children in the family unbeknownst to the family. This is tricky, and then make a photo album. Add a page in the album where you write a poem or your favorite time spent with the child was.

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November 28, 2016 Flag

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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December 2, 20162 found this helpful
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The best gift you can give is yourself. You may record stories of your youth, memories of them when they were young, or stories about people who have passed away. They would also appreciate old photographs or treasured recipes. As the saying goes, they need your presence, not your presents!

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December 4, 20160 found this helpful
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How about searching through all your family photos and giving your children a nice inexpensive photo book, one enlarged and framed special photo of them or even just an envelope full of their childhood photos?

You may be surprised how special that is for adult children and even their children will enjoy seeing their parents as little ones!

You may or may not want to write out a special memory to go with one or more of the photos too!

These memories are gifts that only you can give!

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December 7, 20160 found this helpful

These are some great ideas already posted, but might I suggest you keep the memory ones for the adults? Old photos in a Christmas card might really please them.

But for kids - oldest at six years - you can't begin to enter the battle of high-tech plastic and gizmos. I know, I've been there!

What about a money card? Using change up to a dollar ( or even 50 cents ), stick the coins to thick card in the shape of a face. They'll be just as pleased because it means they can choose something to buy all by themselves.

As for babies, a few thrift-shop containers for the coins you'll be giving them over the years, and just one coin on a card. Maybe with a photo of the baby on the front, if you can get one. Might be a nice record of how they grow and change.

* I don't mean expensive shop cards. Craft stock card might replace all those and be more individual into the bargain. Hope you have a lovely Christmas!

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July 1, 2008 Flag

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

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November 24, 20160 found this helpful
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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, 20082 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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October 14, 2008 Flag

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

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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

I found this article a couple years back when I was buying for my cousin with 6 kids. Has a lot of good ideas.

http://www.lots  day/LOKgifts.htm

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December 14, 20160 found this helpful

I have in the past made up baskets for each family. Each would include 2 or 3 movies suitable for their family,gourmet popcorn of different flavors, boxes of movie candies. Drink boxes for the kids a bottle of wine and two wine glasses for mom and dad. A gift card to cold stone for after movie family ice cream time. Wrapped in shrink wrap and tied with a bow. Add a toy cars or small dollar tree stuffed animals tied to the package . This is usually appreciated and doesn't cost very much. Family time can be so neglected and this a good reminder to spend some time being a family.

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January 4, 2001 Flag

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.

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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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December 6, 2000 Flag

I have a friend that I met online and we've been emailing back and forth for almost two years now. I wanted to send her a little something for Christmas, but don't have a lot of money to spend. Any ideas?

Kris

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Anonymous Flag
December 8, 20000 found this helpful

Because this is someone you know online, why not take excerpts from the emails you have been sending back and forth. Find the passages that mean the most to you and put them together in a "friendship" book to say "You mean a lot to me" and thank her for her friendship.

In two years I'm sure you have impacted each others lives. Let her know when and how this happened.

Just an idea,

Susan

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December 8, 20000 found this helpful

I love Susan's idea! Just a thought also - by now you two have worn out at least 1 mousepad - how about sending one with a picture or saying that would mean something special to her or both of you?

Roxsie

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December 11, 20001 found this helpful

I send one of my very close on line friend, that I also met 2 years ago from CA, a box of my homemade Christmas cookies every year. She looks forward to them as they are ones she doesn't make. It's a way of sharing part of my traditional Christmas with her every year. I find a good box and fill cup cake liners with them and put a piece of fitted cardboard between each layer and they arrive all in one piece, and I live 3000 miles from her. Some of the ones I make are very fragile too. Good luck.

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