The holidays are a time for giving, and contrary to what many people think, expensive gifts are overrated. You don’t need to be extravagant to let someone know how much they are loved and appreciated. As the old saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.” Whatever your skills or talents, there’s always something you can give that will warm the heart of almost anyone, and these cheap gift ideas for the holidays will fit nearly any budget or skill level. If you need a bigger Christmas budget, consider getting paid for your opinion.
Baked or Canned Goods
Baked goods are always welcome around a roaring fire on Christmas morning. Consider a nice box or tin of homemade cookies, muffins, cupcakes, or the recipient’s favorite sweets. Don’t want to go the cookie route? Why not try out some tea bread, like banana nut bread or zucchini bread? Baked a day or two before and sealed up tight, such bread can be delicious and moist for days to come.
If you prefer to err on the side of the long term, canned goods are an alternative. You’ll need some canning supplies, like mason jars and a pot big enough to boil them in. You can cook up fresh summer fruits to make homemade jam, or make up a mix of fresh veggies and create your own salsa. Alternatively, many people would love a gift of homemade pickles or relish.
Knitted or Crocheted Gifts
If you don’t like gifting food or want to give something that will last a little longer, why not try knitting or crocheting something? Everyone jokes about grandma’s holiday sweaters, but on a cold winter day, they can be a welcome gift. Or you can knit personalized stockings for the entire family to be filled and presented on Christmas morning.
There are dozens of free online patterns for everything from scarves and blankets to hats and plush toys. Or, if you can’t knit but know someone who does, knitting supplies like yarn and needles make great gifts!
Gift baskets may sound cheesy, but a lovely basket tailored to your recipient makes an excellent gift. The beauty of a gift basket is you can personalize it with anything you want. Choose candy and chocolate for the sweets lover in your family, tools and supplies for the crafty ones, or paperback books for kids who love to read. The sky’s the limit! Gift baskets fit any budget, just choose your size and fill them with whatever is affordable for you.
For a really cool presentation, add some shredded kraft paper, ribbons, or other decorations. Items like these can be found at most dollar stores, as can clear plastic gift basket bags so you can wrap the entire presentation.
Coasters and Magnets
Some people hate coasters, while others swear by them. If you know someone who would appreciate a fresh set of coasters, you can make them with ease! For under twenty dollars, you can buy a handful of bathroom tiles, a little corkboard or felt for the back surface, and whatever paints, wrapping papers, or patterns you want to grace the top surface. Make sure to seal the top surface when you’re done, or else hot drinks can ruin the design.
Homemade marble magnets can be put together for very little cash. All you need are small round magnets, glass or plastic flat marbles, and whimsical pictures to put between them! Seal them together with a little glue, and you can make festive holiday magnets, a family photo fridge set, or anything else you’re willing to cut up to put into a magnet.
The Gift of Time
Many people are either too busy or physically incapable of tackling tough chores like a garage cleanout or detailing the car. For them, a gift of your time to accomplish some of these tasks is better than anything else. If you know what your recipient needs or wants, you can make a thoughtful card with a coupon inside for the service you will provide for them.
If you can’t think of anything right off, an IOU for three or four hours of your service can work too. Let your loved one know that you will be at their disposal for any household tasks, errands, or handyman jobs. They will appreciate the chance to get a burdensome task out of the way and spend some time with you as well.
The Sound of Music
If you have some music that you and your friend or loved one always fall back on to remind you of the past, why not create an old-school playlist. It’s still possible to burn CD’s or create a mixtape; just make sure your gift recipient has something to play it on. There’s nothing quite like taking a trip down memory lane with some tunes that remind you of days gone by.
You don’t have to limit yourself to the past, either. Select any music you think your friend would enjoy, or put all of his or her favorites together. If you are musically inclined, you could even record your own songs to share.
Make a Recipe Book
If you’re the keeper of recipes in your circle, sharing the tried and true staple recipes of yesteryear is a thoughtful gift. Write out your secret recipes on new cards, press them into a photo album, or photocopy the ones you already have (spills and all) to make a vintage recipe book full of old family favorites. The great part about this idea is you can replicate it and make several books—one for each family member.
Devise a Scavenger Hunt
This is an excellent idea that you can use for one person or a whole group of friends or family. Send your participants around the house, neighborhood, or even the town with a list of clues to uncover. The ultimate goal, of course, will be something everyone can enjoy at the end. (Think, Christmas breakfast, wine and cheese, a cake, or anything else you can dream up) This idea can be great fun for everyone, and you can make it as simple or complex as you want to. You can even use a theme like a particular color, local landmarks, etc. It also serves as the perfect ice breaker for holiday parties.
Make Your Own Playdough, Slime, or Arts and Crafts Kits
Whether you need to find the perfect gift for kids or just kids at heart, this simple idea can help, and you can use items you probably already have in your kitchen. Homemade playdough is a breeze to make, is nontoxic, and can be personalized with different scents and colors to suit each child’s tastes. The same goes for homemade slime, which is surprisingly simple to make. Plus, you will know where all the ingredients came from.
Wrap your gift by putting it in a decorative jar with a lid, and be sure to include any instructions for use on a handwritten note.
Final Thoughts on Cheap Holiday Gifts
With these great cheap gift ideas, the holidays should be a breeze! It takes all the stress out of gift buying and ensures your gifts will be thoughtful and from the heart. While some of them require a little time to prepare, that time spent will be well-rewarded on Christmas morning.
Most of these ideas can be implemented for free, while others will require a small cash outlay for supplies. If you find yourself really strapped for money around the holidays, get creative and get paid to do surveys, selling unwanted items, pet-sitting, and more. For helpful ideas to make extra cash, check out some of our other articles here.