To Top

Thrifty Christmas Gifts For Large Family

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

We are giving away $200 in Amazon gift cards for people who answer questions on ThriftyFun in February! Click here to find out more...

Add your voice! Click below to answer. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!

October 14, 20080 found this helpful

You could find a set of nice glass christmas ornaments (12 to a box) and wrap them as individual gifts for the adults. The children will be happy with gifts from the dollar store, especially if they are young. They'll play with the boxes more that anything!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

On my blog is a code for photo mousepads for $2.99 shipped. I just got mine today (I like to try what I list) and it is nice. You could make some special photo memories for very inexpensive. Near bottom left under - NEED A GIFT

Also there is a link where Vera Bladley on-line is having a 50% sale and I got some great little gifts for teenagers. My shipping was only $4.95 and I got a lot. I also bought an apron for $10. Very nice.

There is also a link to E.L.F. cosmetics who are having a big sale on their nice makeup cases for 75% off. Take a look at what I described I got. You can also get some free shipping.

See - photo mousepads for the guys, Vera & E.L.F. for the ladies. There is also a free shipping code for Oriental Trading for some things for kids. Just a few ideas. I hope this helps.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

Also, have you ever suggested a gift exchange with your family or just giving gifts for the kids? (You inlcluded! lol) I think everyone would understand the starving college student thing. We have all been there!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

I was about to suggest the ornament idea but I see somebody has already said that! As far as your parents are concerned I would imagine they would just be very, very happy with some really good grades for the quarter! Our son is in his third year of college and is working as much as he can and taking a full load and we really don't want him spending money on us. It's a treat for us when he gets to come home. Nothing more is needed. However, I know how it feels to get and not be able to give. I'd go for something sentimental like hand painted and dated ornaments. If you do somethng like thread count you could do ornaments like that. One year for my school kids I made ornaments from their school pictures. I bought the little round frames at some place like Michaels and put the pictures inside.

Jared cookie mixes are easy and not expensive. Dress the jar up with ribbon and it's done.

One year I made bath baskets with soap that I made, bath salts I made, and a purchased scrubber and bath cloth. You could fill it with whatever you like. Guys could use one with "guy stuff" like shaving soap, cologne, razor, after shave, nail clippers. and anything else you can think of.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

I am in the same situation as you! I am in college and live on my own so sometimes things get a little tight on my end. Typically the day after Christmas is when I start my shopping for the next year! Everything is on sale so you can get some pretty good steals. Also, if some of your family doesn't get together until a day or two after Christmas, you can take advantage of this as well! Anyway, here is a list of my ideas..hope they help you! Good luck!

So you're looking to spend around $6-10/person. For the girls in the family, I would check out I live for this store when it comes to buying gifts! You can get necklaces (that are actually very nice looking) for around $5-6. This would be especially good for the nieces that are younger - they always cherish jewelry!! Also, in their luggage section, they have some pretty cute tote bags and make-up cases. Definitely worth looking at!

For your brothers that are married, maybe you could get a copy of a picture of the them and their wife and get a picture frame from a dollar store (about $5 each) and give that to them. You can wrap it up and give it to both your brother and wife. That cuts out having to give two different gifts.

Also, for the kiddos, if you go to Wal-Mart in the electronic department, they have some DVDs that are like $5.50 and they normally have some cute cartoon movies. I know I've seen Barney and Barbie movies.

One year when I was only making about $400 a month I made platters with cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, haystacks, etc. on them and you can get a nice Christmas platter for around $2.50 each. And the supplies to make the stuff will be next to nothing. Wrap them in colored saran wrap and put a bow on it and they will be a hit!

You can also try Most of their make-up is only $1 and from the stuff I have used, it's pretty good.

For the kids, you can also get a coloring book and some crayons (maybe the 24 pack) and wrap it up. They'll love it!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

I live my entire life on a budget, so one day I'll have some decent cash in my bank account. Until then, I suggest taking old or new family photos and framing them. Perhaps get 3 or 4 and buy one of those multi frames and put them in there. That's about $5. Then if you really want to get into you could decorate the frame with old pendants and other jewelry from the Goodwill or some other thrift shop.

It's a sentimental gift and it's inexpensive.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

When we were college students and on a tighter budget we had to make things to give to people. One of the cheapest things we made was Christmas Wreaths. I got the wreaths off of the local free cycle website, the pottery, and hobby lobby with their weekly coupons. Then at Michael's they have a 50% sale on all decorative stems during the holidays.

All you need is a glue gun and wire cutters. I did put lights on a couple, the strands were only $1 a piece. I would only pay $1-3 for the wreaths, you can make even the thinnest wreath look nice with little manipulation.

You can also make those fleece blankets with the tied edges. Fleece is on sale right now, but will go off sale as it gets cooler. You might find some on clearance.

Another thing you can make for the young girls is a neat picture frame. Find an old picture frame, any old puzzle at a yard sale and paint over the puzzle pieces in different colors. Then glue them on top of one other all around the frame. Cute! Then you can add your own things.. glitter, plastic gems, whatever you like.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

This may sound cheap, but why don't you make some coupons up for things like cleaning a car or free babysitting service, and maybe for the nieces and nephews, take them to a movie as a group or individually.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

I just thought of this:

You could also go to  dex.asp?pgn=home

and get them a dining certificate for very little. Search their area for a restaurant you know might be one they like. Once you buy the dining certificate you could print out on colored paper.

Right now they have 80% off so a $10 certificate is $.60 and a $25 certificate is $2.00!

Code at checkout is EIGHTY

Expires: 10/15

These are good for one year after they are purchased.


Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

Everyone likes photos of their family. Have you seen those clear plastic cups you open & slide the photo into? Or how about those ornaments that are meant for a photo to be inserted? Every parent loves to have photos of their kids! One of my favorite gifts is a personalized calendar with a different family photo on each month. I believe they sell them at Costco as well as Wallgreens, but you can buy or download a program & make a stack of them all by yourself. This would be a great gift for the adults & I bet some of the older kids would also like them too. Be sure to include photos of the family pets.

One of the things you can do for all ages is to bake a different batch of cookies once or twice a week in starting in November & freeze them. This way you'll end up with 8 or 10 different kinds of cookies. Then the day before Christmas take them out of the freezer & put several cookies from each batch in a fancy box, bag or tin. Everyone loves homemade cookies!

As far a food goes, you can make powered Chai mix or even that stuff we use to call "Russian Tea" which was made with tang, lemonade & instant tea, cinnamon, clove & spices. You mix thgis power with boiling water & drink it on freezing cold snow days.

Someone earlier wrote in about family photo mouse pads. I think this is a wonderful idea!

Younger kids like stickers & you can always find them in dollar stores. You can also buy the younger kids a box of crayons & a coloring book. You can also make your own playdough for the kids. Look for recipes online.

For women & teenage girls you can make bath salts & bath oils. There's lots of great recipes on ThriftyFun & the web. The trick is to put them in a fancy jar with a bow & a small silk flower. The glass jars are usually found at most dollar stores.

If you have access to an apple or fruit tree you can pick the fruit then dehydrate it & put this into fancy containers. Who doesn't love dried fruit!? I always see unused & still new in the box dehydrators at second hand stores.

It doesn't matter what kind of gifts you give your family, they'll all appreciate the thought behind your gifts & know you were thinking of them, so stop worrying & just have fun.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 15, 20080 found this helpful

Photo Mousepad Information

http://www.arts  px?ProductId=160

CODE (at checkout): MSPD99

Expires: 12/31

I know I have responded a couple of times but your situation is so real to me since I have been there and I want to help.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 16, 20080 found this helpful

Rush down to your local dollar store!

They have a great assortment of things and you can even combine a couple of dollar items to make a very nice inexpensive gift.

I put together a very nice gift for a coworker by buying a couple of very nice scented candles and a candle holder. total cost $3.

They have cosmetics, jewelry, toys, food, tools, kitchen gadgets, music, etc. The possibilities are endless - go now and get some ideas and then you will be ready to make your selections when you go back to do your Christmas shopping..

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 16, 20080 found this helpful

This year. my family and I have decided to do a "White Elephant" gift exchange. Each year we exchange names at Thanksgiving and set the rules for the holiday season. Sometimes the price of the gift is limited to a certain amount. The children in the family are not included. You can get board games at some stores 2 for 1.

Watch the ads. Or give the child a certificate for an afternoon with you including a picnic lunch. You can find tons of free activities for children in your area in local newspapers, "family activity magazines. etc. That leaves you with your boyfriend's family, a nice photograph and you and your friend taken with a good camera, can then be reprinted. There are many discount stores that offer inexpensive frames, my local 99 Cents Store has nice frames.''

Good luck

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 16, 20080 found this helpful

We started a new tradition for the adults in our family. We donate money to a charity that is meaningful to us that year in everyone's names. For example, last year we made a donation to the Cancer society after my husband's grandmother and a dear family friend both fought a battle with cancer. You don't have to say how much you donated, just that you did. Plus your money goes to a worthy cause.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 16, 20080 found this helpful

Kimberly..I would want you to really check out things if you use this

'Photo Mousepad Information

http://www.arts  px?ProductId=160

CODE (at checkout): MSPD99

Expires: 12/31'

I went to that site and read some of the forums. There are a lot of unhappy people there that are supposedly store owners, etc..There seems to be no customer support etc...Please be careful and read a bit b4 getting into this co. There was also a post about another 'free' product and the artsnow pulled the offer with no warning..


Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 17, 20080 found this helpful

Please remember that it isnt the price of the gift that makes the receiver like it. Price doesnt make it worth more to them. I especially liked the suggestions given by Emily, the college student.

I do most of my Christmas shopping online because gas is expensive. But I also look for gifts throughout the year. I like TJMaxx for their Clearance items. You can get notecards, books, toys, clothing, photo frames, etc that are quality, but for lower prices.

I also liked the idea of getting everyone the same gift. I like framed family photos, but try to get a nice frame on sale. Ornaments for the tree are an excellent idea. Again, I'd look for sales. But I'm betting you can buy some really nice ones for around 5 dollars each. Even children like to have their own ornaments for the tree. They keep them when they are adults.

In the past, I've been able to make scrapbooks, but I am a mother of grown children and had the sentimental items needed.

A nice gift for a woman is a sewing box to keep her thread and needles. Even if the woman doesnt sew, she sews buttons, etc. When I visited my daughter I noticed she didnt have a pin cushion. Handy, thoughtful, and useful... need I mention inexpensive.

One year my daughter gave each of us a small first aid kit for the car. My son's employer gave everyone in the office a kit that has everything you need in case your car breaks down.. jumper cables, flashlight, etc. (I think Walmart has them).

YOu are a college student so I know you will do well. Be creative. My rule of thumb is "never pay full price for anything." If you remember that you will always have enough money. (smile) My dad said, "Its not how much money you earn, its how you spend the money you have."

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 17, 20080 found this helpful

I find that the dollar tree is a wonderful place to get craft supplies. I recently went there and found shadow boxes you can paint, decorate or whatever. Put something that someone might collect inside, or a photo, piece of old silverware, etc. Line it with some fabric or lace, and you are set.

Another thing that they have is the "fimo type" ornaments that are 4/1.00. You can find pin backs and magnets at the same store, and useing E6000 glue, make them to personalize your gift. Someone collects angels, snowmen, santas, etc, you can give them what they collect. They have flowers, wood shapes, glitter glue, fake food, baskets, frames, and so much more. You could literally spend 30.00 there and get things to make everyone something different.

A nice photo would be great too, and a decorated frame you did esp' for them is very personal without breaking the budget. They all know you are financially strapped, so keep it simple and they will love whatever you can give them. Good luck!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 18, 20080 found this helpful

A "Movie Party in a Bag" is an inexpensive present that is fun! Get a gift card from a movie rental place and get a plain gift bag from a craft store to decorate yourself. Put a bottle of soda in the bag, along with microwave popcorn, treats (homemade or store bought), & tie the gift card to the bag. TA-DA! Party in a bag! You could personalize it by finding out the recipient's favorite soda & treats.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 21, 20080 found this helpful

A chain of grocery stores Dillons/Gerbes keeps a few baskets toward back of the store with SALE items. My friend picked out a cool neon bar sign for her son's room it had a skull on it for $3.00 yes three dollars original price was $39.00 early summer and she found it in the sale basket. She looks and gets great deals that way and I have learned to LOOK.She has 9 kids,

lots of grandkids, oodles of lil great grand babies so she is thrifty. She is all done with this year's Christmas shopping....ugghh. Good luck.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 23, 20080 found this helpful

I give what is called GIAJ (gifts in a jar). I also do hot chocolate with a mug from Dollar Tree. You can make scented coasters to go with it. You could go to Dollar Tree buy vases and fake flowers and do arrangements. Buy a couple of towels and washcloths ( Walmart has washcloth as a bundle of) some special scented soap and body spray, tie it up with a pretty ribbon.

Go to Family Dollar buy some BIG soup bowls. Go to Walmart or Hobby Lobby and buy some plain aprons with some fabric pain and decorate them. I did this one year with some BBQ tools and it was a hit! Make some pillows for a bed or couch. Dip some pretzels into chocolate as well as oreos, YUM! Buy leg warmers.

How about blank CD's? Gas cards are always welcomed! Coloring books, jump ropes, dolls, bubbles, jacks, playing cards. I bought $30 worth one year from dollar tree and made gift bags from them. Buy combs, brushes, soap, perfume, powder, chapstick (vitamin E sticks from the vitamin section at walmart), face scrub, etc. and make a beauty pack. Gloves and hats.

I went one year to Walmart and bought a bunch of hand heating packs from the hunting/sports section them bought pull over hats, gloves, and scarves and gave to the men. Candy and snacks are great for men also. You could do a snack pack. Make napkins and place mats from the $1 cloth table at Walmart.

One year I bought some shower curtain rings to use for napkin holders ( was cheaper). Posters are great for kids and they are about $3-5 each. Also those velvet marker coloring posters the kids LOVE !! Books with book markers are great. I find a lot of them at Goodwill. I guess you get the idea by now. I hope this helped.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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 $!

Reply Was this helpful? 1
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!

Reply Was this helpful? 2
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

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
December 23, 20160 found this helpful

One thing I enjoy is getting up to date pictures of my children and the grandkids. So maybe a good picture of you and your boyfriend to give to the adults and a small gifts to each of the kids. When I was little, our older cousin would take us one at a time out for hot chocolate and a sweet at a restaurant. Does not have to be fancy, I take my grandson to DQ, for a buy one get one free blizzard. Hey they love spending time with you and you can catch up with whats going on in there lives.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

Add your voice! Click below to answer. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!

Related Content
Holidays and Parties Gifts ChristmasOctober 14, 2008
Man in a Christmas tree costume.
Making a Christmas Tree Costume
Making a Christmas Tree Topper
Making a Christmas Tree Topper
Boy Dressed as Christmas Elf
Making a Christmas Elf Costume
Cardboard Christmas tree photo from an earlier Thriftyfun project.
Making a Cardboard Christmas Tree
Father's Day Ideas!
Mother's Day Ideas!
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Desktop Page | View Mobile

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

© 1997-2017 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Published by .

Generated 2017/04/27 01:33:14 in 3 secs.
Loading Something Awesome!