Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas

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


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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 by the content of goodness in their heart.

The amount of love they show and give.

The amount of compassion toward others.

The giving of themselves, even when they don't feel

like there is much to give.

The unselfish acts they perform.

The kindness they emit.

The joy they share.

The measure of a person should be by what is in their heart alone.

And you, my friend, Measure Up!

Thank you for being a true friend!

This Christmas, may your cup runneth over!

I wish you a Truly Blessed Christmas! 2007"


I wrote this and gave these last year to my best lady friends - it was a huge hit! They just loved them and were so very touched. I am so happy to share this with you all!

May God Bless you too!

By Bennae from Bartlesville, OK

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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. This is a relatively inexpensive treat, since they come in various sized boxes. It only takes one cup with a note 'for a little rest and relaxation'. People do enjoy it!

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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 Veronica

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November 30, 2000

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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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.

filled cup

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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, 2005

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.

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


November 29, 20100 found this helpful

This isn't really creative or unique but I would think shower gel/body wash would be welcome. Sometimes you can also find inexpensive day planners. A funky looking mug with a couple packets of hot cocoa mix in it.

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October 19, 2004

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.


By Becky (Guest Post)
October 19, 20040 found this helpful

First, I would think about cutting down the number of people you give gifts to. Are they all really necessary? Just the fact that you make them a card seems to me like a gift in itself. You seem to making this harder on yourself than it should be.

For the Christmas cards, always save the cards you receive. Cut off the front and any nice sayings from the inside. You can use these in the making of yours. Why not try making ornaments out of these too. (i.e. cut out a picture of an angel, embellish with a gold metallic pen, tie a pretty ribbon to the top). These would be a flat gift you could send.

For the kid, go with a book.

Kitchen gadgets always make good useful gifts. Pampered chef sells a handy opener (for soda and jars and 2 liter bottles), seasonal cookbook for $1, and other little gadgets that people love.

Good luck and try to enjoy the true reason of Christmas - Jesus and love! :)

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By krista (Guest Post)
October 19, 20040 found this helpful

I love magnets. you can make your own from photos and magnetic sheets for a personal touch. Almost everyone has a fridge or some where that they could use a magnet. It's small, flat and cost effective. For the boy, a book is a good idea as well as art supplies ie. colored pencils, markers, paints, paper, etc.

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By Mari (Guest Post)
October 20, 20040 found this helpful

How about making them stationery? A ream of paper is about $5. and just print the top border with whatever pattern you like and choose one which looks good in black ink. Such as a title "Memo From Mari".

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October 20, 20040 found this helpful

Magnets sound great and how about a favorite recipe (perhaps tailored to those with allergies etc. Printing one on an index card and making copies.
Depending on the time you have, the recipe card could be personalized with decorations or stickers.

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October 20, 20040 found this helpful

When my granddaughter was leaving the country for a year, I made a little bag, it could be an envelope, Then I added a birthday candle or star to index cards. I then added a bible verse, or a memory to each one, And on one Merry Christmas. On one I wrote Happy birthday. I think I made ten cards, It could be less. This was small, weighed very little and reminded her of home. She loved it. For the little boy, colors, pencils and drawing paper are always welcome.

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By Kelly (Guest Post)
October 20, 20040 found this helpful

I agree that you need to simplify! A cute idea for a little gift to put in a card: Felt ornaments. I use cookie cutters as patterns. Simple shapes like stars or hearts work well. Cut 2 pieces of felt the same shape and sew them together using embroidery floss. Leave a little opening and put a little bit of stuffing inside (cotton balls work) and then finish sewing shut. I use a blanket stitch to do mine. A nice finished look. Add a ribbon hanger. They wouldn't add to the cost of postage because they weigh virtually nothing.

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October 20, 20040 found this helpful

I know this isn't what you asked for :-) but I'm afraid I agree with Becky. Gifts are for family and close friends. Cards are for friends and acquaintances - in fact I have even stopped sending cards as I think bought ones are a complete rip off - I just send a very long newsy letter which people appreciate much more than a card or cheap useless gift. The fact that you spend the time to handmake cards should be a gift in itself. 300 gifts a year is insanity! If there is no one you can possible just send a card to I suggest you make gifts throughout the year as making and sending gifts under such stress negates the joy of giving. For help in organising for next year I would join Flylady ( and plan and execute your gift making in babysteps.

Regards and good luck for this Christmas!


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By Barbara (Guest Post)
October 20, 20040 found this helpful

re the suggestion of making stationary.....if ya want to be really TW'd print at your local library. Our library allows us something like 400 printed papers a month......2 or 4 to a sheet and you have quite a bit of stationery....or recipes, or a special poem....

give a gift from the heart......find a poem and decorate it for ALL.....enjoy and don't sweat the small stuff........and if these aren't business cards, do you REALLY receive 300 gifts back from all of these people? reconsider and drastically cut the list is what I'd be doing........

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By owenmohrbucks (Guest Post)
October 21, 20040 found this helpful

i thought about this on my way to work today and remembered a little gift that will almost cost you nothing. i know you said you made bookmarks and was looking for something else but here is my bookmark suggestion. have people save you all their junk mail envelopes. cut the corners of the envelopes so you will have a little triangle shape. you can then decorate them with stickers, etc. the bookmark will slip over the corner of the page you are reading.

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By RoseMary (Guest Post)
October 22, 20040 found this helpful

How wonderful you have so many that you want to share Christmas with and those that recieve your hand-made card and gift must feel very special. Keep it up as maybe some of those you send to might only get the one you send. Gifts are not meant to be given only if you get one too. As for something easy, check out the ornaments in a magazine called Scrap and Stamp on page 32 the foil ornaments. They are made by krinkled foil put over ornaments that you cut from cardstock and then use glitter crayons, they are then melted with a heat gun and the affects are wonderful. You punch a small hole and string fancy yarn for the hanger. Cheap and beautiful.

As for the little boy, a learn to read book if great, so many people lean towards videos or toys at this age and a learn to read book is what they need to get a good start at school. I hope this helps.

Rose Mary

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus Christ

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October 22, 20040 found this helpful

How about making tiny travel sewing kits, that people can keep in their wallet.

Get some thin white card and cut into credit-card sized oblongs, rounding off the corners. Cut a few nicks in both of the long sides and wind around a couple of feet of different coloured threads - I suggest black, white, cream, brown and grey. Sew a shirt button on the card and stick a needle and two pins securely through the board. Add a safety pin. Slip the whole thing into a tiny polythene bag, or the corner of one, cut to size. Better still, get some transparent A5 document display wallets and use the bottom corners to make two holders for the sewing kit.

If you can get a cheap job-lot of some tiny embroidery scissors, or folding scissors, these would make a great addition, held in place by weaving between the threads. It might even be worth contacting manufacturers, to see if they can give you a decent price for a bulk order.

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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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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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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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October 26, 2000

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.



December 4, 20000 found this helpful

1) Good old Lottery ticket each

2) Go to the thrift store and get baskets, or tin cans and fill them with homemade candy or cookies.

3) How about creating a christmas ornament - here are two different ideas -

A) Get three different colors of acrylic paint. Last year the colors that I used that were really pretty were purple. light purple, and white. Also buy some glass balls. Now take out the silver hanger and rinse out the balls with vinegar and water. Let drain overnight to make sure that they are dry. Now, put a blob of paint of all three colors in the opening.

Here is the boring part - every 15 - 20 minutes you need to turn the balls until it is all colored. Then turn once or twice a day for about 2 more days. Turn the openings upside down to drain any wet paint. Put right side up in the tray. I like to wait a week and then glue the caps back on and add a bow. Awesome gift that will last for years and they will think of you while they are decorating their tree.

B) Get 12 small stryofoam balls. Take those cd's that come in the mail and cut into different small pieces. I spray paint the ball silver. Next glue all the little pieces of cd on the ball. add a ribbon and you have a GREAT ornament that will add color to the tree.


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December 4, 20000 found this helpful

For Children: How about McDonald's Gift Certificates? Or a comfy fleece blanket? My husband and I never go anywhere without our "bwankies" and the grandkids love them, too. We find them to be such a "comfort zone". Look for them to go on sale at Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, etc. I never pay over $10.00 for them. You can also make them yourself for even less!

For Ladies: Perhaps a box of all occasion cards and a book of stamps; photo album, Bible, (Bible cover) or maybe a silhouette of their children or grandchildren. You can also make a quick and cuddly shawl out of fleece with very little fabric. Add pockets if you like.
Teenagers: Videos or software for computers, calculators, gift certificates to the movies, Bible.

For Older Folks: THE GIFT OF TIME! Make up coupons that say such things as "Good for a hour of yard work" or "This coupon entitles you to 1 free ride to the (grocery store, doctors, library, church, friend's house, etc.) or "One hour's work of house work." A lot of older folks just can't do for themselves as they once did and these often mean more than anything you can purchase. You might also consider gift certificates at a grocery store.

For men: Work gloves, a nice pen, bullets (for hunters), a fold up nylon chair (can be used for fishing, at auctions, sports events, picnics, etc.) When you have a lot of family, sometimes it's easier to just draw names and set a price limit. You might also consider having a "Home-made" theme, where everyone can only give something they made (or grew, baked, or sewed) themselves.

Don't forget the art of rebating! I have a closet full of items that were totally free after the rebates! It may cost you a little up front but can be very rewarding.

Janet McClain - Abilene, TX

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December 8, 20000 found this helpful

Crafts and food are thoughtful gifts at this time of year. You can make several to leave under the tree for those last min. gifts you never got time to shop for. Last year my two children and I made these 5 quick and easy gifts all in one day for about 25 people. We sat down with a bag of flour, brown sugar, salt etc and made brownie jars. Easy to do. Get your favorite receipe and layer all the dry ingredients in a jar. (Pick a jar that will be filled to the top or close to it so it looks nice.) Then put a clean lid and band on it, attach a handmade (or computer made) card that tells what else needs to be added, pan size to use, temp. to cook for how long and attach with a ribbon. You can add stickers to the jar or hot glue some lace around the top etc. We also made a hot tea mix we found on the internet that had red hots in it that we put in fun jars with a different tag for adding it to hot water and enjoy. Another one we did was get a clear snowman candy dish (the type you see thru but opens on the top for a dollar at the dollar store), we filled with min. mashmellows and added a poem about it being filled with snowman poop. (This is a really cute gag gift for those office parties. Got the poem off the internet too.) Or make some bath salts useing epson salts (walmart), a few drops food coloring, and a few drops of potpourri. Put into a clean dry 2-lt bottle and shake well. Then fill a pretty jar and add a cute label about haveing a relaxing soak. For the kids mix a few table spoons of oatmeat with some small glitter and add a note saying to feed Santas reindeer sprinkle on the yard on Christmas eve. (It looks pretty and if you do not use to much it will collect the dew and disappear by the next morning.)

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October 4, 2014

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

By Lydia R.

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

December 18, 2010

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 suzanne

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 Meagan

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 Joan

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