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Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Category Christmas
Hand Holding Small Christmas Gift
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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By 15 found this helpful
December 1, 2010

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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By 3 found this helpful
December 12, 2011

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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By 2 found this helpful
December 14, 2009

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.


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.


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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By 1 found this helpful
December 10, 2007

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

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.

Homemade cinnamon sugar shaker jar with tag.

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By 0 found this helpful
December 22, 2008

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, 20000 found this helpful

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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July 1, 20170 found this helpful

Large and multigenerational families can make gift giving at Christmas quite expensive. This is a guide about thrifty Christmas gifts for a large family.

A large family exchanging Christmas gifts.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 29, 2004

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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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
July 1, 2008

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
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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By 0 found this helpful
November 28, 2016

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
Best Answer

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
Best Answer

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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January 4, 20011 found this helpful

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.

Answer Was this helpful? 1
January 6, 20010 found this helpful

... TIME! ...

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January 6, 20010 found this helpful

I buy teacups for decorative jars {with lids} at a thrift shop and decorate them. I hot glue ribbon and bows on the jars and bows on the handle of the teacup. I then fill with tea bags, cinnamon sticks etc for the tea cup and cocoa for cafe mocha in the jars. You can adjust these to the tastes of the gift receiver. They average about 1-3 dollars a piece and people love them! - Lisa

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January 6, 20010 found this helpful

To give of your time to someone that needs it. Be it a job to be done or to listen to someone.

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January 7, 20010 found this helpful

Honestly, the best thrifty gift I've ever given was this last Christmas. I bought about 20 men's tube socks and filled them with rice. After painting each recipient's name on their sock, it became the own personal "rice buddy" to be heated in the microwave and used as a heating pad. I figure each gift cost me about $1.50!

Shelley Dabney

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January 7, 20010 found this helpful

Some of my favorite gifts this past Christmas were:

-a stocking that my 11 yr old daughter sewed, so that Mom would have a stocking too.

-a bottle of shampoo from my 7 yr old son--my husband said he tried to convince him to get me something else, but Thomas insisted that Mommy likes to shower after exercising and he thought I needed shampoo.

-A ceramic angel from my 14 yr old son who said he overheard me tell a friend about how we buy an angel ornament every year to remember the baby we lost 6 years ago.


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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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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

My friends and I are interested in the same types of music, so a while ago I went to Costco and bought a big package of cassette tapes. Through out the year when I don't have the motivation/money to buy gifts, I've made tapes taking songs from the radio, various cd's and tapes. It's also fun to add on a little comedy from my Bill Cosby or Hank the cowdog collections. (this can be done using a cd burner also)

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December 6, 20000 found this helpful

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?


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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,


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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?


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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.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
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