I love celebrating the holidays. I love seeing the joy on my kids’ and loved ones’ faces when they open the gifts we’ve gotten them. I also love to not spend money. This might seem like a rather conflicting statement, but as I’ve learned over the years, there are ways to give frugal holiday gifts that save money yet still bring joy to the giver and joy to the recipient as well.
Here are 24 frugal gift ideas that you can consider this holiday season:
1. Handcrafted Fleece Blanket
We did these one year for the grandmas in the family and it was by far the favored gift of the year. We still see the grammies cuddling up with their fleece blankets during the cold season. Simply grab a coupon from your favorite fabric or craft store, pick out a fleece pattern that matches your gift recipient’s favorite colors or their home color scheme, and follow these instructions for a no-sew fleece blanket.
2. Homemade Candies
My aunt Brenda makes the most fabulous homemade candies. Some candies can be difficult to make at home, but others, like these homemade caramels, are easier. Either way, it’s worth the effort and a gift those on your gift-giving list will surely enjoy.
3. A Themed Gift Basket
This is something we’ve been doing for years with Rick’s brother. Instead of buying each individual child and adult a gift, we exchange themed gift baskets with the family. Some ideas for themed gift baskets:
- A movie night theme with popcorn, candy, soda and a great movie
- A garden theme with seeds, a garden journal, and labeling materials
- A golf basket with golf balls, tees, and a good golf book such as Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf
- A griller’s basket with some grilling tools, grilling spices and a grilling mitt
4. Service Gifts
Service gifts are great for the elderly, the exceedingly busy or the frugal-minded. We’ve used our gifts and talents to give a variety of service gifts such as hair cutting ( I was a cosmetologist in a former life), house painting, landscaping, and babysitting. Simply make a list of the skills that you have and match those skills with those on your gift giving list that may appreciate having gifts in the coordinating areas.
5. Homemade Baked Goods
This is another terrific gift for nearly everyone on a gift-giving list. Make a batch of homemade cookies, bars, brownies or fudge and place them in a wax paper-lined decorated tin box. The perfect gift for nearly anyone. Bonus points for using a secret family recipe.
6. Gifts of Time
Gifts of time work especially well for children. Gift the gift of a day away or a sleep over with a niece or nephew. Spend the day playing at a park, watching a movie at home or baking cookies in the kitchen. Those frugal “experience” gifts are often far more valuable than a gift of money or a new toy.
7. A Hand-Written Recipe Book
Purchase a note-booking journal that’s cute and hand-write all of your favorite recipes in it. Be sure to leave some pages blank so that your recipient can add some of his or her own favorite recipes too. You can also choose the recipes you add based on a theme too, such as a grilling theme, a foreign country theme or an easy-to-make recipe theme.
8. A Good Book or Movie
Or both. I love getting great books or movies as holiday gifts. When choosing a book or a movie that would be a good fit, consider your recipient’s favorite subjects, hobbies or pastimes, or grab an up-and-coming book or movie off of the best sellers’ or newly released list.
9. A Homemade Bath Set
There are all sorts of ways to make fragrant bath salts or body rubs at home to include in a homemade bath set. One of my favorite scrubs is a simple blend of equal parts of coconut oil and sugar. Add a loofah or bath scrub, a nice CD with relaxing music and put it all in a nice basket and you’re ready to go.
10. Tea or Coffee Lovers Gift Set
We get our 2.5 lb bags of Colombian Supremo from Sam’s Club for $14.98. Occasionally we’ll pair this purchase with this inexpensive coffee grinder as a gift. If your budget is a bit bigger, you can add in a nice coffee mug as well. You can also do this using tea instead of coffee. Simply replace the coffee and grinder with a variety of teas and/or a good book.
11. Cookie or Brownie Kits
One of my favorite gifts I’ve gotten was this Sandcastle Brownie Kit. You can use a large canning jar to make a number of layered cookie or brownie recipes that look absolutely adorable and taste even better. This is a great idea for kids to give to grandparents or teachers. For more cookie or brownie kit ideas, click here.
12. Home Canned Goods
One of the most well-received gifts we’ve given since we moved to the farm was our home-canned Homemade Smoky Chipotle Salsa. We canned the salsa using our own garden ingredients, added some spices and voila: gift giving success! Other canning ideas for gift giving can include jams, pasta sauces, pickles, and soups.
13. Handmade Knitted Items
My mom taught my kids and me to knit this year, and we’re using our new skills to make some homemade items such as scarves, hats, and mittens for family members. We caught the knitting bug after reading Little House in the Big Woods and we’re loving this back-in-time activity. I can make a scarf using a high-quality yarn for roughly $6 by putting in some time and effort. Knitting is really quite easy once you get the hang of it, and it’s a great activity to keep you busy during the cold winter months.
14. Freezer Meals
If you’ve got a time-strapped or less-than-able recipient on your gift list, it may be appreciated to give them some homemade meals for their freezer that they can pop out quickly and throw in the oven. Soups, stews, casseroles and lasagnas all make great meals for freezer storage.
15. Infused Olive Oils
Homemade infused olive oils are fairly simple to make and are a great gift for a food-loving friend or family member. Just remember that infused oils usually take about 4 weeks to complete (they need soaking time) and must be kept in the refrigerator. For some great ideas for homemade infused olive oils, click here.
16. Spice Sampler
If you’ve got a gift recipient who loves to cook (or to eat), consider giving a spice sampler pack. You can pick up not-so-basic spices at your favorite big box store, or hit a local cooking store to gather some sample packets.
17. Teach a Skill
Another great gift idea, especially for kids. If you’ve got a skill, such as knitting, playing an instrument or baking, gift the gift of education and offer to spend some time teaching your gift recipient your skill. Not only is this gift frugal in terms of cost, but the time spent with your recipient will be invaluable to both of you.
18. Microwaveable Heating Pad with Rice
One of the very best purchases I made when I became a mom for the first time was a felt-covered microwaveable rice bag that we use as a heating pad. It was shaped like a fish and filled with rice and cloves, and made a wonderful comfort to the kids when they were scared or not feeling well. “Smelly” as he is called, still gets used in our family to this day. For sewn rice bag instructions, click here.
19. A Memory Book
One year we gave our moms memory books filled with a lifetime of pictures of us kids and the grandkids. They loved looking through all of the cherished photo memories from long ago.
19. A Personalized or Decorated Picture Frame
With a simple wooden picture frame from a store, you can add a variety of personal touches to the frame to fit your gift-giving recipient’s likes and talents. Find some decoration ideas by clicking here.
20. A Heartfelt Letter or Poem
For my mom’s 60th birthday, my siblings and I made up a personalized poem that summed up who she was as a person and how much we loved her for all she had done for us. That framed poem, printed on decorated paper, still hangs in her living room over a decade later. Sit down and write all of the things about your loved one that makes you love them, work to turn it into a poem or heartfelt letter, and frame it as a Christmas gift. Don’t worry too much about your poetic skills; simply write from the heart.
21. Savings Account Match Program
This is a terrific gift for little ones. Offer to open up a savings account in their name (with their parents’ help if it’s not your child) and then offer to match any money they choose to earn and put into that savings account for the next year.
22. A Personalized Plaque
One of my favorite gifts from my husband was given to me the year he took a plain piece of pine, routered the edges, put the kids’ handprints in different color paints and put a polyurethane coat on to preserve it forever. That plaque adorns our living room to this day.
23. Home-Sewn Cloth Napkins, Kitchen Towels or Hotpads
Most people can always use fresh kitchen towels, hot pads or cloth napkins. By learning to sew or make these things from scratch to add a personal touch, you’ve got yourself a frugal and fantastic gift that is sure to be used. For some ideas for a stamped kitchen towel, click here.
24. A Gratitude Jar
Take out a piece of paper and think of every reason you are grateful for the person that you want to give the gift to. Then write each of those reasons on a tiny strip of paper and put it in a jar with a lid. The goal would be to have at least 20 to 30 reasons so that jar appears full. This will be sure to make the person feel special this Christmas.
With a bit of time and effort, you really can find ways to give heartfelt gifts on a frugal budget.
What are your ideas for frugal holiday gifts?