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Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas

Category Frugal
A gift doesn't have to be expensive to be enjoyed and appreciated. This is a guide about inexpensive Christmas gift ideas.


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1 found this helpful
November 9, 2016

I went into my Dollar General store and was looking for a gift for a few friends. I decided on a small seasonal themed drinking cup with a straw as a container to hold three small Christmas cookies, some candy, and gum. The little cup will be reusable after the gift is opened.


To assemble the gift, open the drinking cup, keeping the straw in the cup, (or you could tie it to the cup with a ribbon), and pour the first layer of candy around the straw. Layer more candy on top of the cookies. I used gum balls for the very top layer.

Gift a friend or family member and enjoy their reaction!

Total Time: 15 minutes

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November 13, 20161 found this helpful

Great idea!! I am going to make some jar and coffee mug gifts this year so this would be a perfect one for a kid!!

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5 found this helpful
January 2, 2011

For those of us who have children and need low-cost or free gift ideas:

Check out sites like:

This site has tons of recipes for making play dough, modeling clay, jewelry clay, etc. Type "homemade toys" into Google for more ideas.

Check to see if your local thrift store has a "free bin" - sometimes you can find good stuff.

Public libraries often have free passes you can reserve for local children's and science museums, reserve passes for Christmas vacation. These museums often have free days, too, give your kids a coupon for a day at the museum.

Public libraries sell used books for 10-50 cents each.

Borrow movies from the library and have a fun movie marathon with your kids.

Teach kids how to make their own board games like "Nine Man Morris" (for directions go to

A box of crayons is a great, inexpensive gift.

Make baby rag dolls from old socks - take a sock, stuff it, tie it closed and fold the end down to make a hat. Draw a face or sew one on.

Make a finger puppet theater out of a box, and make finger puppets. You can find directions on line.

Make a beanbag game using beanbags made from fabric scraps and fill with sand or beans.

By Vaylmer

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January 3, 20110 found this helpful

Lentils make good beanbag stuffers. They are smaller than beans and make "easy to handle" bags for tossing.

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2 found this helpful
February 15, 2005

At Christmas, I was signing cards and found more than a few I'd like to endow with a 'tiny' gift. I enclosed a flavored tea bag or two and got nice responses.

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1 found this helpful
December 5, 2007

A wonderful, inexpensive, lovely idea for Christmas gift giving. Purchase a measuring cup, preferably glass. Tie a ribbon to handle with a card stating this or something like this: "The measure of a person should be...

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November 30, 20001 found this helpful

Here's my idea for inexpensive holiday gifts. It saves me some money to make many of my holiday gifts this way, and people seem to like them.

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0 found this helpful
September 16, 2008

When my 3 children were little, money was tight. So I bought a present for each child every month. Granted they were very inexpensive gifts but they still had 12 gifts to open on Christmas morning.

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November 15, 20050 found this helpful

If you're stumped on what Christmas gift to buy for someone or you're running low on cash AND have a computer and printer...

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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.

1 found this helpful
November 29, 2010

I'm an 18 year old college freshman, and I'm really worried about gifts this year. I know that, living in a dorm room or small apartment, getting stupid wasteful gifts isn't practical. I want to get some girls [and guys] I'm friends with small, cheap, and meaningful gifts that they can use and love. I'm looking at between 5-10 girls and 5 guys. Please remember that most of these people live in small rooms or apartments so we don't have room for random junk. What is something creative? Thanks!

By Maddie from Normal, IL

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November 30, 20100 found this helpful

How about getting pictures of you and each of them or group pictures, especially at parties or events? They will treasure these as time goes on.


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November 30, 20100 found this helpful

Well, I'm 34 and due to economic downturn I am making Gratitude Journals for those close people in my life. I bought composition books at our local 'Dollar Tree' (where everything in the store costs only $1) and plan to cover the front and back cardboard covers with pretty/attractive scrapbook paper. I have a stamp that actually says "Gratitude Journal" on it, so I am going to stamp this on a coordinating piece of paper and then secure it to the face of the journal. One gift will only cost me my time plus about $1.20 to $1.50 but I know those special people in my life will love this! Or, at least I hope they will! I think it's a pretty clever idea, anyway! LOL. I made my own and I simply love mine! Merry Christmas, and give to others with a joyful heart always! God Bless! :)

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December 1, 20100 found this helpful

I'm a practical thinker, and don't know many college students who don't constantly need quarters for the laundromat. If you're dividing one roll of quarters between two people, it would probably be cute if you cut net bags and tied them with thin ribbon. You should be able to find fine net at any sewing-supply store like JoAnn Fabric, or the sewing-supply area at Wal-mart or your fave department store. Merry Christmas!

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October 19, 20040 found this helpful

For several years now, when I do an internet search for "Homemade Gift Ideas". I come to your site, and see all the great ideas, like Jar, or basket gifts etc. But even those seem to be too expensive, and not really workable for my needs.

Here's my problem.

Christmas is just around the corner, AGAIN! And I have almost no money, I have almost 300 people to send Christmas cards (and a little "something" to go with it) to (So it has to be flat (easily mailable, and that won't make the envelope too big or heavy), not fragile, and useful, something that anyone (man, or woman, and if it can even be for any age, that'd be even better) will find useful. It can't be food or teas or whatever, because so many people on my list have allergies, or illnesses or are on a diet, or are picky, or etc. And, it also has to be quick and easy to make, because I'm almost out of time. And I've already made bookmarks, several years in a row. I need something new.

I hand make each of the greeting cards we need, each year. But I haven't started yet, for this Christmas and next year. So, ideas on card designs would be appreciated too.

Also, on my list are a few people that I can spend a tiny bit more on, and That I can hand deliver the gifts to. These people have everything, or go into phases where they get rid of everything they own (almost). And stuff. I need "useful gifts" that aren't food. And I need good gift ideas for a 4 or 5 year old boy (I know very little about age appropriate gifts). I don't see him often, so I don't know what he loves most and what he already has, and etc. (something other than food, or a "toy", would be good).

Also.... For a Christmas Party I'm going to, I need a "healthy" cookie recipe! (and it needs to be fancy!).

So, you can see, I have a lot of trouble each year, because this is what I'm faced with each year. My annual "Christmas Anxiety" has begun.

Please, please, please, help!

-- In Peace, Phoebe.

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October 26, 20060 found this helpful

With reference to your card query, i may have a cheap way of making cards for you. I got a load of handmade paper samples from a discount stationery store and a bumper pack of xmas table confetti. Then i cut the paper samples into small squares, glued on a snowflake or star from the confetti and stuck it on the card.

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December 8, 20060 found this helpful

A nice healthy treat is simply dried apricots 1/2 dipped in white chocolate ...I don't even like apricots but I love them done this way.

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June 26, 20080 found this helpful

Get a glass salt and pepper shaker and wash and dry thoroughly. Spray paint the top to coorindate with your colors. Put bath powder in the shaker and decorate the outside with buttons, lace, ribbon, etc. This makes an excellent gift for ladies or girls to pack in their suitcase or leave on dresser. Your cost is usually under $1.00.

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0 found this helpful
December 11, 2009

I have a 5 year old step son and he is into the Hulk, Transformers, Mickey Mouse, cars, and just all this boy stuff, but he has all the toys in the world because his dad and real mom spoil him. I was just wondering what I should get him with a budget of $50 for him maybe only $25. Please help me.

By Nikkie09 from Corpus Christi TX

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December 13, 20090 found this helpful

I would find a place in your area that he would like to visit; children's museum, ball park, zoo, amusement park, and wrap him a package with a trip to this place announced and then plan a special day with him there. Even several movie nights would be special if he does not get to do that. Being with "you" would be the best gift for these times.

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December 13, 20090 found this helpful

Why not do a little photo album of you, his dad and all the things you do together? Including other family members in the photos would be great too. It would be just his little album.

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December 13, 20090 found this helpful

These are all great ideas, esp. the ones involving spending more time with him. My 5 year old son loves all the same stuff plus he enjoys when I let him snap the photo. There are kid-tough digital cameras now. I know you are thinking what? But it could give him some independence and teach him some great skills. Who couldn't use practice taking good photos? I've seen these cameras for $49 and under now. Good luck!

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December 18, 2010

What to do with $50 bucks for Xmas? I am super poor right now. My other cheque hasn't come and it's almost Xmas time. I have 50 bucks to buy my kids and fiance gifts. I am looking for some gifts that I could get or make before Christmas.

By Krystal from Kenora, Ontario

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December 19, 20100 found this helpful

I am thinking a group day together enjoying a home cooked meal made by you and renting a nice movie you can all enjoy together and maybe playing a fun card or board game together too :-) Christmas really doesn't have to be about buying gifts but giving a gift of self in sharing time and love with others.

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December 22, 20100 found this helpful

This year many adults are taking a back seat to make sure the kids have something at least for Christmas. Your fiance should understand that. Check dollar stores, KMart for bargains, Walmart and even thrift stores for some really good finds. I don't know how many kids you have, but think of one thing each and then get one gift that they all share together. Take $1 of that and make some nice cupcakes or a cake that kids can all decorate together. Here's a great tasty shortbread recipe (no eggs!) that you can all make cut-out cookies with or just slice and bake:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon flavor of your choice, vanilla, lemon, almond, etc.

Cream the butter, add sugar, mix well. Gradually add flour, finally add flavoring. Shape into a roll, wrap in plastic wrap, chill for at least 2 hours. These cookies can be sliced from the roll, or rolled out and cut into shapes. Bake at 300 degrees for 18 to 20 or until lightly browned on the edges.

These cookies can be iced and decorated, dipped in melted chocolate, or left plain, and they're delicious!! They don't rise too much, but they're great.

Another idea is to make Applesauce and Cinnamon ornaments:


* 3 cups applesauce (1 1/2 cups works better for clay-like consistency), see note below

* 3 cups ground cinnamon


1. Mix applesauce and cinnamon together until it is thick enough to hold a form when cut into cookie cutter shapes. Flatten the mixture on a flat surface and cut into cookie cutter shapes.

2. Place cookie shapes on a cookie sheet to dry for 3 to 4 days depending on the size and thickness of the cookies. If using as a hanging ornament, make hole with toothpick before drying.

*Note>1 1/2 cups applesauce to 2 cups cinnamon works for me to get a clay-like consistency. Dust hands with cinnamon for handling. You can add a teaspoon of cloves, ginger and allspice to round out the fragrance. To get them DRY QUICKER, bake on an un-greased cookie sheet at 150 degrees for one hour. Remove from the cookie sheets and bake on the oven racks for another hour and a half. (Don't roll thinner than 1/4 inch if you're using this method.)

Making them each an individual ornament will make them feel special..or they can help you and design their own! Merry Christmas!

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December 22, 20100 found this helpful

Go to the dollar store they have neat toys for children.

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1 found this helpful
November 17, 2009

I saw a cute idea for Christmas. It was a letter and it said 1 kiss, and you put a Hershey kiss with the letter. I don't remember what all goes with it and what the letter said. Can anyone help?

By Eva from Miamisburg, OH

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November 18, 20090 found this helpful

This doesn't call for a letter but thought it might help you. they are called stress bags I use to send them to my girls when in college.

"A Gift of Stress Relief!"

It's a small plastic lace bag (I'll use a piece of lace material instead for a prettier touch) and includes:

1 stick of gum

1 candy kiss

1 pkg of smarties

1 starburst candy

1 mini snickers

1 tootsie roll

1 individually wrapped lifesaver candy

The attached tag says:

A Gift of Stress Relief!

A stick of gum:

to remind you to "stick with it"!

A kiss:

to remind you that you are loved!


to help you on those days when you don't have all the answers!


to give you a "burst" of energy when you need it!


because sometimes you just need to laugh!

Tootsie Rolls:

to remind you not to bite off more than you can chew!


for those days when you need to be "rescued"!

A Bag:

to help you hold it all together and give you "food for thought"!

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December 5, 20090 found this helpful

I really like this. I have a grandson in college and it would be something nice to tuck in when I send him cookies, etc. What a good idea and showin' some love. I could also include the rest of the bags of candy in the box with this little bag on top. Thank you for sharing this. Barb

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October 4, 20140 found this helpful

I need some inexpensive christmas gift ideas for around 40-50 girls all over 13. Any ideas?

By Lydia R.

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October 4, 20140 found this helpful

1) Download some of the latest music and make CD's or DVD's. One I use is Individual songs can be downloaded for 15 cents each. Blank CD/DVD's are relatively inexpensive to buy.

2) Pretty journals from the dollar store and a nice pen to go with it.

3) Scarves are in now, so if you sew or know someone who sews, maybe you can pick up a variety of inexpensive fabrics and make or have made some infinity scarves.

4) Inexpensive jewellery eg earrings, toe rings, necklaces.

These are just a few things I thought of that wouldn't make you broke!

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October 6, 20140 found this helpful

Go to the dollar store or thrift store and find wooden flat frames. Then, find out the girls fav' colors and use either fabric strips or yarn to wrap around. The corners get tricky, so ovals are best but it can be done. PBP

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December 26, 2013

I'm on a extremely tight budget for Xmas gifts this year. I have only got $60 ($30 each child) to spend on my children. My son is 6 years old and my daughter is 4 years old. My aunt already bought them some DSs and games, train tracks, a cupcake marker, and one of those Barbie heads where you can cut their hair off.

I'm kinda unsure now what to get them. I would like to get them something that will be meaningful and will remind them of mommy and how much I love and miss them and that's good for their mental and physical development. I only get to see them once a month for 3-6 days. I'm dealing with money and personal issues, so they can't legally live with me right now, but I'm working on having them back in my home again.

Here is a list of gifts I'm thinking I might them:

For my son:

anything Spideman and Thomas the Train
a nice soft fleece blanket, the one he had as a toddler that I bought him, just something he can cuddle up too and it can be reminder of us having cuddle time.

For My Daughter:

colored rainbow nail polish, especially want to get her purple cuz its her favorite color; she can mix the colors on her nails cuz she likes doing that
light colored makeup
gold earrings (If I can borrow enough money to buy them.)
I was also thinking of making something for them as well, just in need of some creative crafts to make for kids ages 4-6 years. I also want to get and make some something they will actually use and need and like.

Any good suggestions would really be appreciated :D

I know Xmas is already over, but was thinking of buying gifts on Boxing Day to save money too and I don't get to see them until early January.

By Kristal Cecile D.

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December 28, 20130 found this helpful

Children that age don't really care if the gifts they receive are used. Just don't tell them that they are. Go to thrift shops and garage sales. There are lots of nice toys in these places. Check them over and make sure they are not ripped or stained, if not, buy them, take them home and clean them up and wrap up as gifts. When my daughter was about 6 years old, she saw a tin doll house in a magazine that she wanted so... bad. It was rather expensive. I thought to myself, she wouldn't know if it is tin or not, so I made her a cardboard one just like it. She loved it and never knew the difference.

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December 28, 20130 found this helpful

I think your ideas for your son are fine. For your daughter, no makeup, but nail polish is okay. Perhaps a build-a-bear (if not too costly) or play dress-up clothes like a boa, a hat, colorful dress, etc..

If you want to make them something, I would suggest something they could sleep with, like a stuffed toy or pillow. Good luck with your efforts to get your children back.

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October 26, 20000 found this helpful

I have a huge family. I start shopping for Christmas presents early. Does anyone have any good Christmas present ideas for 10 people for $10. or less. These are extended family members.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

December 18, 20100 found this helpful

I am looking for new inexpensive xmas gift ideas for a brother (36) sister in law (37) and grandfather (85) I usually buy clothes and such for each, but we are on a tight budget and need to find more inexpensive, but wonderful gifts for these family members. Thanks.


Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

This year my dh and I are making gift baskets with jar mixes in them: ie. Texas cornbread mix, confetti bean soup mix, sand art brownie mix, and a candle. The approximate cost for each item for the basket is: cornbread mix: $1.50? bean soup mix: $2.00, brownie mix: $3.00 , candle (bought from MOPS fundraiser): $5.00, basket: $2.99 or less (can get a lot cheaper at second hand stores). A little ribbon or curling ribbon .

Another thing you could make is candy cane bath salts or peaches and cream bath salts. They run about $1.50 per jar. We are giving our baskets as couples gifts so it is about $15 or less per couple. You can do a similar idea for a family basket. For the singles in our family (bachelor college age men) we are making them some baked goods. I also shopped at season end sales and got an outfit for each of our nephews for about $5 each child. The items were about 50-75% off. Next year we are going to make family fun night baskets for each family w/ideas/snacks/maybe some mixes, etc. The website I got my mixes from is: . It even has tags you can print off for each gift mix and links for more gift mixes. (11/08/2001)

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

Consider making gifts if these are close family members. Find an inexpensive picture frame at a thrift store and leave as is or decorate any way you like. For your grandfather find an old photo of you and him together or a photo of him, your grandmother, and you together. Simply make a copy of the print at your local photo shop. If it is a color photo make it black and white or sepia to make it more special. He will love this and probably not expect it. For you brother and sister in law use the same concept, but use a fun photo of you and your brother together or nice pictures of their kids or other family members. If your mother is passed a beautiful picture of her would be appreciated by your brother or grandpa. (11/07/2007)

By Rose

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

Glycerin can be found at most craft stores and also at most Walmarts in their craft department.
I make homemade soaps and everyone always asks for more the next year.
To make them cut up chunks of soap and put them in a microwaveable container (I use a glass measuring cup) and place in microwave for 30-45 seconds until soap is melted. Pour into soap molds and add drops of color (if preferred). I add 10 drops then I add about 5-10 drops of whatever scents I like. Let sit for 30-45 minutes until hard, turn mold over and release soap from mold. I wrap mine in Saran Wrap and make up a little gift basket. It is easy to make and inexpensive. The soaps last quite awhile. (11/07/2007)

By imaqt1962

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

My family does a homemade gift every year, we pick names out of a hat and you make that person a gift. So I have seen a few really good ones.

My aunt made my step dad a personalized Monopoly game, she used an old board she had with all the pieces, but personalized all the cards and spaces on the board, so for example Boardwalk was now Tim Horton's and Park Place was Starbucks. It's kind of neat.

Also hand painted Mason jars for tea lights, or soup can tea light holders are nice. Take a regular soup can and decorate with acrylic paint, poke holes all over with a nail and pop in a tea light, it makes a neat pattern on the wall when its done and can look quite appealing.

Of course the cookie, brownie, and cake mixes in the Mason jars are always a hit.

However its getting harder and harder each year to come up with different ideas. I need some fairly inexpensive, but interesting ideas to make for all members of my family. Someone please, help. (09/17/2009)

By Meg8514

Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

For the brother and sister-in-law, nice things would be household type gifts; a towel set, sheet set, a throw, even a cook book. Those are some things that my now "ex" and I received when we were married. One year one of my sisters made a queen size comforter for our bed. Sometimes you can find fabric wide enough, but my sister wanted to get by as cheaply as possible, so she used lower priced fabric and made 2-3 seams the length of the comforter.

After she got it assembled she used yarn and tied it in several areas to keep the layers from shifting. It is perfectly OK to give married couples a gift together. Another idea would be a gift card to a restaurant or one of their favorite stores. I always give my daughter and son-in-law together a $40.00 gift card to WalMart. They really appreciate it. (12/11/2009)

By redhatterb

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