Frugal Gift Ideas

It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to show people you care. This guide contains frugal gift ideas.

Frugal Gift
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Tip: Frugal Crossword Puzzle Gift Idea

By Saber Alexander 9 75

a person doing a crossword in pencilThis is a frugal holiday or birthday gift idea for people who like crossword puzzles. If you get the daily newspaper, or have a neighbor who does (and doesn't do the crosswords), do this:

Cut out the crossword puzzle, and find the page that has the solution on it. Staple, glue, tape, or otherwise fasten the puzzle and the solution back-to-back so each puzzle has its answers right with it. Collect as many puzzles as you'd like to give. You could one from every newspaper for a year and give it for Christmas or a birthday.

Add a pen, a cheap clipboard or other hard surface, and whatever else you think would go with a bunch of crossword puzzles. Put it in a box and wrap it with (what else?) the Sunday comics.

If your friend gets the same paper you do, ask a neighbor who gets a different paper, or gather old crossword books and cut out the used ones and their solutions.

If they really like a challenge, don't attach the solutions. Either put them in, loose (and they have to sort them out) or don't include them at all.

And when they're done with the puzzles, they can be thrown in the recycling bin (minus the staple or tape.)

Source: I got this idea because I usually keep the section of our newspaper that has the comics, but I kept the whole section. I have slowly been going through them and cutting out the comics I wanted to keep, and any undone crossword puzzles, and of course, I want the solutions, so I attach those, too. So I have this folder of thirty or so crossword puzzles.

By Saber from Omaha, NE

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Article: The Perfect Gifts Don't Have to Cost a Fortune

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

We've all heard that it's the thought that counts, but what could have more thought than a handmade gift. The craft-impaired need not worry. These gifts are easy, cheap, and perfect for the holidays (any of them!)

Handprint Magnets

These magnets make easy gifts that kids love to make. Pair each set with a hand drawn picture, and it's ready for the fridge! All you need to do is stamp your child's hand on a flat piece of magnet available at any craft store. (StazOn brand stamp pads are ideal.) Then, cut around the hand. Seal it with two or three coats of a spray acrylic sealer and it's ready to go. Very young children can create footprints rather than handprints.

Hands Down Best T-Shirts

Create a unique t-shirt by having children (or even adults) stamp their hands on a t-shirt using a permanent fabric stamp pad or fabric paint. Then, using fabric paint or a fabric marker, write "Best [Dad, Grandpa, Teacher, etc.] Hands Down!" on the front and label the child's name below his/her handprints. Make one for Grandma with all of her grandchildren's hands or make a special shirt for a babysitter.

Photo Coasters

Insert a photo into small square picture frames. Then, seal the edge where the glass meets the frame with clear caulking or a thick bead of hot glue; this will protect the picture from sweaty glasses or spills. Give a set to a grandmother and put a picture of each grandchild in each coaster, or have each child draw a special picture for each coaster and give the set to Mom.

Family Recipe Book

Plan ahead for this project. Start by collecting family recipes for loved dishes. This is a great family reunion project or even a pre-meal Thanksgiving activity. Type each recipe on a page with the name of the contributing family member. Add a special note about the meal if possible such as: "Grandma makes this dish every New Year's Day" or "This was Great-Grandfather Brown's favorite meal." A visit to the local office supply store will offer many options to bind the book together.

Make a Videotape

A good videotape avoids the phrase "Say something to the camera." Instead, invite those who will be in it to decide what they want to contribute. Teens may opt to show off their newest basketball lay-ups while another may read a personal message, create a skit, or tell a joke. Try videotaping everyday activities such as dinner, playtime, the morning rush, or evening downtime. These are the moments that show what people are really like. Many stores that offer photo developing also offer to transfer mini video tapes onto VHS or even DVD.

Whatever you create, keep in mind that it is truly the thought that counts. Even if your end product doesn't look like it came off the department store shelf, it won't matter. What does matter the most is that your gift will be a one of a kind gift packed full of love.

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Tip: Frugal Outdoor Garden Gift Ideas

tiny succulentIdeas for frugal gardening or yard gift ideas as suggested by the ThriftyFun community.

Mini Roses

I would buy a mini rose bush at a department store. You could always dress up the container pot with fabric or a ribbon tied in a bow. They are indoor plants but are very cute. About $10.00.

by rudys mom

Beaded Butterfly Garden Art

While recently visiting a friend's garden, I saw these small adorable beaded butterflies. Just get some small craft beads and wire to form the butterfly shape. A stick wrapped with green beads can be easily attached. I'd make 3 of these for an unusual garden decoration.

by sandra b.

Garden Ornament On A Stake

I am thinking something you can attach to a stake for a garden ornament. Check out the dollar stores and see if they have something you can improve.

by cookwie

Tea Cup Bird Feeder

Make a tea cup bird feeder.


  • teacup and saucer (found at local thrift shop)
  • copper tubing (1/2" about 2-3 inches long)
  • copper end cap (to fit 1/2 inch or whatever size your tubing is)
  • old spoon (optional)
  • bird seed
  • strong silicone glue (for outdoor use, clear works best)
  • piece of rebar or other strong pipe to pound into the ground.


Glue the end cap on the saucer bottom. Glue the cup and saucer together. Glue on a spoon for the birds to perch (optional). Pour birdseed into cup. Pound your piece of rebar into the ground. Put the copper tubing over the rebar. Insert the copper tubing into the copper end cap and enjoy.

*By using the copper end cap it will make cleaning and winter storage a snap. Just pop off your cup and saucer, dump and refill or take inside for winter storage.

by Momof1

Editor's Note: Another version of this feeder can be found by clicking on the picture above or following this link:

Stepping Stone

You could also make a stepping stone. Just use a tin pie plate, quick drying cement and you could always write a name and add some small things. I've going to try this for my grandsons, sounds like a neat craft and something for them to keep.

by Grammar

Dollar Stores

There are great garden things available at the dollar stores now. You could get a plant and decorate it. Or cover a bowling ball with mosaic to make a garden ball - or find a plaster sculpture and spray with white paint?

by Pamphyila

Editor's Note: Here are instructions for making a garden ball:

Craft Ideas From Your Own Yard

How about handmade stationery with leaf prints from plants in your yard (dip the leaf in paint and press it onto plain paper)? Or a wreath made from vines in your yard? It wouldn't have to be very large, and you could decorate it with acorns and with leaves dipped in glycerin and dried. Got pine cones? Dip them in peanut butter and then birdseed to make nice bird feeders. Add a hook on the base to hang. A picture frame made of sticks glued or tied together at the corners.

by Jantoo

Bark Framed Butterfly Gift

I recently had to make a quick gift for a friend who likes outdoor things. I took a small wooden picture frame and covered it with bark paper. I then put a piece of handmade paper inside the frame (the kind that has flecks of bark, etc). Then I added a butterfly that I had bought at a euro shop for practically nothing. Finally, I cut some of the dead wood off of my own vines and glued that on for interest. Leandros liked it a lot and it was very inexpensive to make, and it was a quick project.

by Lisingreece

Cactus In Tea Cup

What I have done before is to use a cup and saucer and place a cactus in a cup of moistened soil. Place it in the garden or on a windowsill. Water once a year, if indoors.

by Flowerchild

Birdhouses And Feeders

I would think that if someone likes gardening, she probably likes birds. A simple and cheap gift would be a bird feeder and a bag of seed.

Another idea would be a dollar store or craft store wooden birdhouse painted and decorated by you. Go wild with the colors, then spray with clear finish, also available at the dollar store and it will last outside. Good luck!

by Hugus

Cookie Jars As Yard Art

I have a friend that goes to yard sales. She goes to buy cookie jars, if available. Then she uses them as decorations in her flower gardens and even in her vegetable gardens.

by Irene

Feel free to post your ideas below.

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Tip: Frugal Funny Gift Ideas

By coville123 326 89

Frugal Funny Gift IdeasHere are some frugal and funny gift ideas:

  • Wrap a strainer with a nice ribbon and attach a card that says, "We could not restrain ourselves from wishing you a Merry Christmas!".

  • Put ribbon around a box of hot chocolate with a card that says, "Wishing you a warm and wonderful Christmas".

  • You can do this with a box of microwave popcorn, write, "May your Christmas be poppin".

  • On a box of candles write, "May your days be happy, your heart be light, your Christmas merry and the new year bright".

  • Put ribbon on 2 litre bottle of root beer and write, "We're rooting for you to have a happy holiday season!".

Source: Simply Frugal

By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario

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Tip: Whisk Gift Idea

By Jennifer Conrath-Luntz 3 6

For an inexpensive holiday gift, for a teacher or neighbor. Get a whisk and fill the inside with kisses. Cover the outside with plastic wrap and and decorate with a ribbon. Also, for extra cuteness, add a little tag saying "We Wisk you a Merry Kiss-mas". It went over very well with the teacher last year!

By Jen from PA

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Question: Inexpensive Family Gift Ideas

By Maria McLean 1

I am needing ideas for nice, inexpensive gifts for my sister, sister-in-law, and brothers-in-law.

By Maria from Canada

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Most Recent Answer

By Lelia Jo Cordell 51 1,936 Flag

April 15, 2010

If they live far away or otherwise don't get to see you much, perhaps a small photo album full of pics of your family and theirs? Last Christmas I found lots of silly song lyrics I thought my friend would enjoy and put them in an inexpensive binder. I hadn't thought about the format, but recently learned it was perfect. She has very little function in her hands and must have all print material like this.

Hubby and are also in the "when in doubt, buy gift cards" ranks. And with today's gas prices, gas gift cards should be very popular.

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Tip: Cake Decorator Gift Idea

For cute holiday gifts that don't cost a lot use the cake decorating bags used for frosting cakes and fill with ingredients for your favorite recipes. Just tie the recipes to the bag and add cooking directions. This can also be done with cocoa. I've seen similar sold in stores for $5.00 to $10.00. Great gifts, fun to make and cost effective,

By Carol from Massachusetts

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Tip: Fast and Frugal Gift Bag

For a frugal and fast gift bag, use a brown paper lunch sack. Take a bag and fold it down about 1 - 2 inches from the top. Take a hole punch and put 2 holes in the center of the flap you just made. After the bag is filled, thread about half a yard of curling ribbon through the holes, tie, and curl the ends.

The outside of the bag can be decorated with rubber stamps, shapes cut out of craft foam, or a picture from an old greeting card.

We made these for our school's Santa's workshop, where the kids can buy presents for friends and family. They turned out really cute and made a great presentation.

By Wendiesioux from Edwardsport, IN

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Tip: Giving Services as Gifts

When it comes to birthdays and holidays, sometimes people are strapped for cash. In those instances, my family gives "services" for gifts.

For example, my Mom knew I wanted to repaint a very large room in my condo that would take me a long time to paint alone or be very expensive if I hired someone to do it. Since my Mom is a very experienced painter, her birthday gift to me was assistance painting that room. On my parents' birthday, I have handmade "coupons" and placed them in their birthday cards for a free hand car wash and wax because I know that is something they don't like to do themselves.

I'm sure everyone has a skill that a family member or friend would greatly appreciate more than a material gift.

By Petfinder

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Tip: Emergency Gift Idea

Here is an idea that helps when you accidently have forgotten a special occasion and need a gift. These can be kept in a pantry or closet area or where ever you can find some space. . .

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Holidays and Parties Gifts AdviceMay 7, 2013
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