Cheap Gifts: 53 Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas

Need some quick, easy and *cheap* holiday gift ideas? We’ve got 53, plus more in the comments.

gift-ideas-MoneyUnder30Back by the overwhelming demand of anonymous Internet searchers (who are already far ahead of their holiday gift planning than I am!), here’s our list of no fewer than 53 inexpensive holiday gift ideas!

Got an idea that’s not on this list? Please share it in a comment.

For even more gift ideas, check out our 2013 holiday gift guide, with ideas ranging from the under-$50 to the $100 range. Or for more affordable gift ideas, check out alternatives to store bought Christmas presents.

A note: “It’s the thought that counts” is a cliché—a facile way to excuse bad or lazy gift-giving. But, as you’ll see from these picks, it’s really not money, but thoughtfulness, that distinguishes a so-so gift from a great one.

For The Home

A potted plant
Once Christmas is over, the winter months can feel like a dreary, leafless wasteland. A little bit of indoor plant life can inject some much needed green (of the non-$$ variety) into the gloom of January and February. Also great for a friend who’s considering getting a pet or starting a family, and who needs a little practice in keeping something alive.

A nice poster or print in a good frame.

If your friends are anything like 95% of the people in their 20s, their walls are totally bare, or covered up with unframed posters left over from college. Picking out decor for other people is always dicey, but the Internet is full of a lot of talented artists making really cool stuff. Are they really into music? Maybe find a nice concert poster from their favorite band. Are they really into Dr. Who? The Internet is overflowing with fan art, and a unique, high-quality print usually costs no more than $20. Look on Tumblr or Etsy to find out what’s available.

It may take a little searching, of both the Internet and your memory of your friend’s passions, to find just the right print, but it’ll be worth it.

Shop for posters at AllPosters.

Decorative recipe cards and a cute little box, with a few of your favorite recipes already inside.

Recipes from a book or the Internet are great, but there’s something especially wonderful about recipes you get from other people. And no need to worry about spilling canola oil all over your iPad.

A kitchen tool or two

It takes a long time to stock your first kitchen, especially with stuff that’s going to last. For that friend who needs basics, think a can opener, potato peeler, or corkscrew. If you want to get fancier, you could go for a garlic press, a potato masher, or a pastry cutter.  Maybe throw in a pretty tea towel for some color.

Shop for kitchen items at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Ship for kitchen items at Williams-Sonoma.

Scented candles

In those weeks leading up to Christmas, everyone’s house smells of delicious pine. In the weeks after, when that pine tree’s desiccated corpse has been tossed out into the street for trash pickup, a nice scented candle can fill (with a lovely aroma) the void it left behind.

Be mindful, however, that some people were born with very sensitive olfactory senses, and may find strongly scented candles aggravating rather than soothing.

Shop for candles at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Christmas tree ornament

We all had those favorite ornaments as a kid, the ones we fought with our siblings to be able to put on the tree ourselves, the ones whose origins we didn’t know but whose presence was a cherished part of our childhood. Now that we’re all grown up, it’s time to start building Christmas ornament collections of our own. With each ornament you give, you’re helping your friend get one step closer to not having to throw a whole bunch of those gold balls (that always fall off) on their tree.

A small flashlight

It may sound basic and utilitarian, but that is totally why it’s a great gift. They’ll be so grateful the next time they run the microwave at the same time the coffee’s brewing, and have to trudge down to the scary basement to get to the fuse box.

Small gardening tools

Great for new homeowners suddenly faced with caring and tending to their own garden. Think some basic pruning shears, or the delightfully British-sounding trowel.

Shop for gardening supplies at Home Depot.

A great cookbook

A great way to save money is to make meals at home, but the sheer number of cookbooks available can be overwhelming. For novice chefs, I recommend the Budget Bytes cookbook, which is designed for people who are new to cooking and who want to save money. The focus is on simplicity, with a lot of basic recipes that can be adapted or modified however you wish. Plus, with the food blog boom, you can give your recipient a book that already has a built-in community, where they can seek out further recipes as well as tips and tricks. For someone who really wants to dive in, consider either Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything or How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Funny shot glasses

For that friend who’s still pretty into college—and tequila.


A photograph in a a nice picture frame
Do you have a mother? Does she love you? (Of course she does.) Do you know what she’d love almost as much? A nice picture of you in a good frame that she can hang up in the living room or put on her desk at work. Have you blessed her with grandchildren? If you have, then you have already given her the greatest gift of all, but she still definitely wouldn’t mind additional evidence of the existence of those adorable moppets. She can use it to taunt Barb, her workplace nemesis whose no-good son Brad has yet to even have a serious girlfriend. Giving someone a picture of yourself may seem narcissistic, but, trust me, your Mom won’t think so.

This also works with friends, but best to give them a photo of the two of you together, rather than one of just yourself. It’s all about the memories, man.

A photo calendar, coffee mug, or a good old-fashioned scrapbook

True story: At the end of seventh grade, one of my best friends moved to Iowa. I spent that entire year taking really bad (yet cherished) pictures of her and our other friends and put them all together in a scrapbook. In hindsight, it was maybe a little creepy, but my friend loved it.

And now, with services like Shutterfly, Snapfish, or even Target, you don’t even have to put those precious memories into a scrapbook. They can go on magnets, coffee mugs, mousepads, and to-go cups. Or just on a big poster. You could make a calendar for your family or friend group that has everyone’s birthday or anniversary listed on it.  No need to find somewhere to get real prints of your digital photos, and no need to spend an afternoon covered in glue and discarded bits of construction paper. (Unless, of course, that’s your thing.) Shutterfly runs big discounts pretty regularly, so keep your eyes open and you might be able to cross a whole bevy of people off your list with one order.

Nice stationary , a quality pen, and a few stamps

Now that our e-mail accounts are mostly just digital landfills full of listserv emails and one-time offers you somehow still get three times, it’s time for good ol’ pen and paper to make a comeback. Writing letters is more intimate than e-mail or the dreaded Facebook message. It’ll last a lot longer, too.

A journal or notebook with a personal note

Keeping a journal can help increase focus, promote mindfulness, and boost memory. An empty notebook is also just full of promise, especially for a person of a creative or analytical bent. I’m a fan of Baron Fig’s Confidant notebook, but the Internet and the world are full of options of varying size, style, and price. Include a little note of encouragement to subtly shame them into keeping up a regular correspondence (with themselves, or the void).

Apparel & Accessories

Hat, mittens, or scarves
Unless you live in Florida or Southern California, it’s probably cold where you are. And cold-weather accessories are, at least for me, always the first things that go missing just when you need them: they fall out of a pocket, or somehow find their way under the seat of your car, or you toss them in the back of the closet and only rediscover them the following summer when you’re looking for some long-lost piece of sports equipment.

What I’m saying is people always need more hats, mittens, and scarves.

Shop for winter wear items at Target.

Nice socks

Socks are always portrayed as the ultimate lame Christmas gift, but grownups know that good socks—especially warm ones with fun critters on them—are key to a good life.

A nice tote bag

It’s not just for subscribing to the New Yorker or donating to NPR anymore. Out of Print Clothing has a lot of inexpensive ($18) literature-themed totes (as well as pouches and coasters!). The tote bag is often pretty standard band merchandise, so do a little searching and see what you can find.

Travel pillow

Ever been trapped on a 6-hour flight with nothing but the headrest to comfort you? Then you know the pain you are sparing your friend by giving them one of these.

Creative key chain

This is another one of those nice-to-have items that almost no one buys for themselves. Most of us have our keys attached to a keychain from a now-defunct bank from 1998, or from our dentist, or from whatever commercial enterprise thrust one into our hands as we left their establishment at some point in a foggy, distant past. A nice, light keychain is an easy way to spruce up anyone’s daily routine.

An action figure or some other kind of figurine.

Work can be depressing enough without a dreary, barren desktop. Give your friend or loved one a reminder of their favorite comic book, TV show, or character from classic literature to bring a little fun to their workspace. (I hear there’s a new Star Wars movie people are pretty stoked about.)

A small die-cast car (again, great desk items for adults, too!)

Vroom, vroom! You can’t afford to give them that sweet 1967 Corvette in robin’s egg blue, but you can give them something to put on their desk, or, for the younger set, to “drive” around the living room.

Costume jewelry 

Cheaper than the sterling silver stuff, and often more fun, costume jewelry is great for your dramatic friend with the colorful wardrobe who wears nothing but “statement necklaces,” or for the budding diva in your family itching for her (or his) first closeup.

Wallet (with your photo pre-loaded!)

This is another essential that often goes neglected, until the poor wallet is dusty, dirty, and warped from all those years of being stuffed in a pocket (or a pocketbook). There are lots of fun options, including card wallets, or more full-bodied options for people who still carry cash around.

Shop for wallets at Target.

Food & Drink

A loaf of homemade bread

Everyone loves carbs (even the people who don’t eat them), and almost everyone is impressed by baking, especially when it involves yeast. Bonus: you’ll learn how to make bread.

A nice vase or jar filled with candy

Food, honestly, is never a bad gift. People need to eat, and they’d prefer to eat something delicious. Similarly, home décor is often the last thing on somebody’s mind. So give them a jar or vase full of the delicious manna of your choice, and once they’ve scarfed that down, they’ll have a nice receptacle for flowers to go on the dining room table. (Or the hand-me-down kitchen table with the bum leg that could really use all the help it can get.)

A coffee or tea mug  with a bag of coffee or a box of tea.

Mugs are another place where your knowledge of your friend or loved one will come in handy. Do they love owls, penguins, or turtles? (I hear owls are having a good year, merch-wise.) What about Bob’s Burgers? (Maybe they’d like this Tina mug I’ve been eyeing.)  And if their grand passion somehow doesn’t already adorn a fetching mug, you could probably make one on CafePress. And then sell it to other lovers of that thing, and become rich, or at least slightly less broke.

Shop for coffee and tea items at Williams-Sonoma.

A pour over coffee starter kit.

Pour over coffee is the latest in coffee connoisseurship, and it doesn’t require all that much to get started. A ceramic cone (like this one, from Hario) cost about $17. If you’re comfortable spending a little more, Crate and Barrel has a pour over kit available for $26. (A good burr grinder is pricy, so maybe be sure your coffee-loving friend already has one, or a loved one who plans to give it to them.)

A bottle of good bitters and a book of cocktails.

Once you’re past college and have stopped drinking trash can punch and Smirnoff Ice, you inevitably start to turn your taste-buds toward more sophisticated ways of getting plastered. Bitters is an extract that goes into classic cocktails like the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, the Mai Tai, and the Mojito. Give it to your vaguely pretentious friend who’s really into Tom Waits, along with a book of drink recipes.

A handful of nips of quality whiskeys

Whiskey can be an acquired taste, and it usually takes a few tries to get it just right. Give your friend several small samples to get the acquiring done quickly and economically.

A nuts and trail mix gift bag

Your gift will be a savory island of salty goodness in the holiday sea of sugar and rich chocolate.

A gift bag or basket of gourmet chocolate truffles or bars

Your gift will be another delicious drop in the holiday sea of sugar and rich chocolate.

Shop for gift baskets at Bed Bath & Beyond.

A six pack of a specialty beer

You can’t swing a dead cat around the countryside without hitting a craft brewery these days. Pretty much everywhere you turn, there’s a bunch of bearded guys in flannel shirts offering you a free sample of their latest creation, usually something with a clever name like Hops on Pop IPA. You could get something local, something seasonal, or something weird. Great for that friend who’s still drinking Natty Lite at age 32.

A good $10 bottle of wine (plenty abound)

Go to Whole Foods, or whatever vaguely chichi market you have in your town, and loiter in the wine section. Look a little confused, and it won’t be long before a concerned person wearing an apron or a nametag will wander up to you and ask you if they can help. And, oh, can they: tell them your budget, what your friend likes, and they’ll give you plenty of options. Be upfront if you don’t know anything – they can still make recommendations. Wine store employees are a lot like librarians: they wander about all day just dying for someone to ask them a question.

Shop for wine-related items at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Bottle of nice olive oil

If you’ve ever watched Ina Garten’s show on the Food Network, you know Ina’s all about using some “good olive oil,” and I’m told by people who actually follow her advice that you really can tell the difference. So, for that foodie-ish friend, consider doing a little research (or going to a specialty store) and getting them a bottle of olive oil that’d make Ina proud. And you might include a recipe for this delicious dipping sauce, which is especially great with some of that “good olive oil.”

A collection of nice hot chocolate mixes, plus a mug and marshmallows

As apple cider is to fall, hot chocolate is to winter—regular, steaming mugs of that chocolate-y goodness can propel you through the short days and oh-so-long nights of January and February. Grab a few packets of your favorite brand (and don’t forget you can get different varieties, like mint or Mexican chocolate) and put them in a festive mug for your recipient’s pleasure. Unsure which kind to get? The good people over at Epicurious picked Land O’Lakes Cocoa Classic Hot Chocolate Supreme as their favorite of 14 hot cocoa mixes. Add in a little pouch of mini-marshmallows (cinched with a jaunty little ribbon), and you’re good to go.

Pancake mix and maple syrup

Pancakes are the ultimate weekend indulgence, light and fluffy and redolent of sleepy Saturdays when you were a kid. While the idea of pancakes is almost always appealing, the actual fact of making them usually isn’t. A mix can help expedite and simplify the whole process, allowing for less time measuring flour and more time stuffing your face.

Homemade cookies


Shop for fancy cookies at Williams-Sonoma.

Fun & Leisure

A few free months of Netflix (or Hulu Plus) and a bag of popcorn.

Netflix is great for that friend who never gets your House of Cards jokes, or who’s yet to experience the joy of Orange is the New Black. Consider Hulu Plus if the recipient is an art house aesthete, as Hulu Plus has a large selection of Criterion Collection films.

A mix CD, a $10 iTunes gift card, or a month (or two) of Spotify or Rdio.

They’re not just for hopeless crushes or your girlfriend from college. Most people, as they get older, get less and less invested in new music, or even in finding cool old music to listen to. Getting a curated CD (great for people with longish commutes) or playlist can allow them to feel current without having to trawl the depths of Pitchfork for something they like. (Choosing between Spotify and Rdio is one of personal preference, though if the recipient is a T-Swift fan, then you should go with Rdio, which has her full catalog. Update: Rdio just declared bankruptcy, so go with Spotify.)

For that extra special touch (and for something to actually wrap up in a box), include liner notes you wrote yourself.

The first issue of your favorite comic book or graphic novel series.

Comic books are a growing market, and there’s a lot more out there these days than just Marvel and DC. There are classics like The Watchmen (for someone who’s interested in a new take on superhero tropes), socio-political graphic memoirs like Persepolis or Maus, and literary works from Chris Ware or Daniel Clowes. A great recent series is The Wicked + The Divine, about 12 gods who are incarnated every 90 years as David Bowie-esque pop stars.

And, for a hardcore superhero fan, you might consider getting them a month’s subscription to Marvel Unlimited.

A deck of playing cards and a book of rules

Cards are a great holiday game (for many years, my family always played a highly contentious game of spider on both Thanksgiving and Christmas), and injecting some novelty into an old tradition can keep things from getting stale. Go for a classic deck, or maybe for something themed, if that’s your thing. Introduce your family or friends to such classic games as whist (kinda out of fashion, but ripe for a comeback), bridge, or the many varieties of poker.

Board games

You can go old-school with childhood classics like Trouble, Hungry, Hungry Hippos, or Sorry. Or you can go with strategy games like Settlers of Catan, Risk, or Agricola. For word nerds, consider Scrabble or Bananagrams. Again, consider your friend’s interest. Are they really into pigs? Well, there’s a game for that.

Shop for games at Target.

A few of the recipients’ favorite magazines

True story: I asked for a subscription to The Economist for several years in a row, and never got it, and it always bummed me out. Now, The Economist is not a cheap gift (there’s a reason I asked someone else to buy it for me) but there are plenty of other magazines subscriptions to be had for far less than the combined newsstand price of a few issues. (For instance, you can get three months of print and digital access to the New Yorker for only $12, plus a free tote bag! Tote bag!)

Puzzle book (crosswords ,Sudoku )

Whether they’re crazy for crosswords or mad about Sudoku, puzzle enthusiasts can almost never get enough. Load them up with head scratchers to keep them busy until the spring thaw. If you’re willing to spend a little more, and know someone who loves doing puzzles on their iPad, then consider a year’s subscription to the NYT Crossword for $39.99.

A travel guidebook for an upcoming vacation

This is where it’s all about the thought. Do you have a friend who’s always dreamed of going to Paris? Or who wants nothing more than to sunbathe along the Amalfi coast? Backpack through Thailand? Give them some encouragement—and the tools to create their dream itinerary.

Personal Care

Winter skin care kit

The horrors of winter are manifold—frigid temps, bone-chilling wind, the radiator that slowly leaches any and all moisture from your skin. Give a gift that will protect its recipient from the worst of winter’s physiological terrors: some nice lip balm, a good hand lotion, some cuticle oil, and maybe a facial moisturizer or shaving lotion. Kiehl’s has a nice kit for $18.

A great shade of nail polish, cotton, and remover

Consider something holiday-themed, like a nice pine green or a glowing fire-engine red. Be sure to get a brand of nail polish that doesn’t contain TPHP, which has recently been linked to endocrine disruption. Nothing spoils the holiday season like disrupted endocrine. Your endocrine system: decidedly not ripe for disruption.

A three-month subscription to BirchBox

This is also pushing it in terms of cheap, but a BirchBox subscription could be the gift that keeps on giving….for three months! Instead of trying to pick out what you think your friend might like, give her three months of chances to find something great on her own. (They also make BirchBox for persons of a more masculine variety, but those gift subscriptions start at $60 for six months.)

Travel-size toiletries

With the TSA still refusing to let us take our full-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash on the plane, and the airlines still charging $25+ to check a bag, it’s more essential than ever to have a good travel kit filled with 3.4oz toiletries.

Bubble bath, bath oils, or a nice soap

Winter can be hard on both the body and the soul. A nice, warm bubble bath can take a little of the misery out of the sun going down at 3:45pm.

For pet lovers: A box of pet treats and a pet toy

Pamper them by helping them pamper their furry friends. Make your own BarkBox! (Or, if you’re willing to pay a small premium for convenience, you could just get them a free month of BarkBox, which retails for $29.) Maybe do a little snooping, find out what Fido or Fifi’s preferred flavors and textures are.

Shop for unique pet supplies at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Water bottles

Hydration is important, and water bottles are everywhere. From the classic and rugged Nalgene to something a bit more decorative, there’s a lot of (BPA-free) options out there.

Shop for water bottles at Target.

A $50 savings bond (at a cost of $25).

Look after their financial health with a nice little investment in the future. (Okay, $25 is pushing the envelope of “cheap”, but what a great gift!)

What’s your favorite cheap or free gift idea? Please share!

Published or updated on November 2, 2015

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


  1. Higher Average says:

    EE bonds don’t work like you think they do anymore. It’s now $25 for a $25 bond that earns .10% annual interest. So cash is almost as profitable and an interest bearing checking or savings deposit is both more profitable and liquid. Hone are the days of paying 50% of the face value for EE bonds that can also beat inflation on interest.

  2. Send all your friends and family a Gifty Greeting instead of a Christmas Card this year! Pick candy, nuts, popcorn or a healthy snack, choose a label or upload your own design. We do the rest! Package it up pretty, label it and mail it. Just $5/ea! Includes tax and postage.Who wouldn’t be thrilled to find a tasty treat in their mailbox instead of a plain old Greeting Card?
    Order now for December 1 mail out. –

  3. Sammi Fantabulous says:

    Little girls always want a makeup kit so I suggest getting them a DIY spa kit. Some light lip gloss, some bath salts, something like that.

  4. a water bottle full of candy

  5. For moms and dads and grandparents too! Pictures of the children/grandchildren put on a mug. It makes a beautiful, long lasting gift that everyone LOVES! They’ll use it often and will love it every day. It’s only about $10.00 for each mug.

  6. Last year we gave $10 gift cards to sonic, cracker barrel,etc. I wrapped each of them in different colored paper and let everyone draw out one. I like the above suggestions.

  7. Buy an assorted box of 20 greeting cards from the dollar tree… And place a lottery ticket or $1 scratch off. Essentially, that’s less Than $2 per persplace
    Buy a decorative tin can, box, or jar In your home or From the dollar tree of Course … And fill With your Halloween candy that you still have!!! Loll
    (Since Christmas is the traditional commemoration of
    the birth of Jesus)
    Write, type, or print scriptures from the Bible… Or life quotes… Or good advice…. Place in a picture frame, or cut the inspirational words into many strips and place them in an empty jar, or bag.. Whatever is empty In your room and not in use… Then label it as THE JAR OF HOPE or THE HAPPY BOX or A BAG OF INSPIRATION. So whenever that prison

    EACH OF THESE THINGS… ARE LESS THAN $1.05 per person… If you can even give that….
    Just say Merry Christmas… And mean it…. Lol!

  8. AnonymousXmasLooker says:

    I thought to combine the hot chocolate one and the mug and the shot glasses one, maybe even through in the bubble bath idea so she has a soothing bath to wake up to, a nice cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate to enjoy after, and something to laugh about while drinking her coffee.

  9. When I found myself suddenly single with 2 small children, I had to think hard about gifts. I had no money. I started what we call an envelope Christmas I made the kids an envelope for every week of the year. Each week they got to open an envelope, which contained something special they got to do with me. It cost very little. It was just time together. Baking, going to the park, etc. Now my kids are in their 20s and still call to make sure they’re going to get their envelopes! Now they get one a month. They include anything from a home cooked meal, to a girls’ day out.

  10. Its the thought that counts

  11. Why qualify “for her”? If you think they are only “for her” then why should you feel the need to specify? But I rather hope you aren’t making judgement that nail polish is only for girls.

  12. annielee95 says:

    I’m a very creative person i buy a huge slab of clay (not more than $10 at hobby lobby) and make christmas mugs out of them by painting them and adding names. Or ill make scarves. A crochet needle is $1 and a ball of yarn is $2 each at big lots

  13. Another idea is a homemade fruit basket or any basket full of the recipients favorite items… You can find baskets and plastic covers at dollar stores or your local craft store and spend less than $20 on the whole basket but your loved one would love it

  14. mp4/mp5 cheap on most websites

  15. Adding to the list…
    1. Knit your friend a scarf in their favorite color
    2. A voucher for a Groupon/LivingSocial, etc. for a restaurant/store that you know they’ll like
    3. Inexpensive candles from IKEA, Marshalls, Ross, etc.
    4. For women, lip balm (I’m always losing mine).

  16. Consider shopping at a pawnshop. You may find a bargain on jewelry or something.

  17. Some ethnic food specialties are available on Amazon. I’m a Swede and I bought Lund’s Swedish Pancake Mix, which I know to taste like the real thing. I will use them to introduce this wonderful Swedish delicacy to friends.

  18. Love a lot of the ideas above. A lot I have done in the past and I will be doing this year, as well. I do not want to repeat too much but….

    1) Scrapbooks from Michaels. They have had coupons left & right for 50% off reg. priced items. I bought 6 scrapbooks from Michaels @ 3 for $10. They came with 10 pages, so 20 slots counting back and front for scrap pages. And another 2 leather scrapbooks @ $10 each (they were 50% off). The leather ones are really nice b-cuz they have the metal rings so that you can add more page protectors, if needed. And they are pretty large/wide. The 2 leather ones are for me :) I am starting the scrapbook for my mom and sister and I will be adding few scrap pages and scrap tools (ink, letters, etc.) so that they can make some of their own. I think it’s a great gift. Kohls also has good deals on scrapbooks sometimes. You can at times find them for 50-60% off and you end up paying right about $10-$12 (this is if you’re looking for fancier scrapbooks and you’re willing to pay more than $10 for a gift). Try the Dollar Store (even Dollar & Up Stores), Big Lots or shop the clearance section for cheap supplies.

    2) Simply buy a nice 8×10, two opening frame and insert a photo in one opening and print out a nice poem onto pretty paper. Or, even just print out a little something from the heart (Dear Mom/Bestie/Sis, blah blah blah, Love, Your so & so). (Use frame vertically!) One of my faves.

    3) Mugs w/ hot chocolate or coffee are great ideas! Especially for teachers!

    4) Ornaments that you can write a person’s name on. You can find nice ornaments at the Dollar Stores or even possibly Walmart. I wouldn’t spend more than $2 on an ornament unless it was absolutely something I think that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Again, great for teachers and for your small children’s little friends.

    5) Another one for teachers – a little note box with note paper in it and a pen. You can have the child write a little message on the inside of the box so when it’s opened by the teach, she will always see his/her message.

    6) Slippers, bath bubbles, body washes, eye masks, lotions, etc. Pick one, two or a few and put them in a basket or wrap in plastic wrap with a ribbon and DONE! Look for coupons first :)

    7) I bought a travel mug with a cheap print in it that can be changed. So, I decided to have my kids draw a photo on it and add their names. This will be for their aunt and I’m going to insert it in the slot and probably add a hot chocolate mix in the cup or try to find a small, inexpensive single cup bag of coffee.

    8) Costume jewelry is definitely a great idea, especially for teenage girls, as said by someone in the earlier comments.

    9) Homemade Christmas cookies, fudge or other baked goods in an inexpensive tin. Again, repeating, but great idea.

    I bought my sister a bottle of wine last year. I didn’t go buy a fancy box, I just wrapped that bottle up and put a bow on top. So, she knew what it was before she opened it. lol She’s my sister. Fanciness is not required.

    I could sit here forever and keep on and on, but I have gifts to put together.

  19. Get sdomething that they like, like their favorite chocolate bar or tickets to a movie to go together. :)

  20. Baked goods are easy to make. Like pumkin rolls, sugar cookies, etc. You can get cute little tins at any dollar store or dollar tree.

  21. Audrianna says:

    you can make a gift basket of candy

  22. Noreen Greaney says:

    I think if you find out what hobbie,s they have, then you can pick from there,I like painting,reading,musie,ect.every one likes them,good luck and have a nice christmas and a new year.

  23. Grandma Pudge says:

    Baked Goods are always a very inexpensive, tasteful gift to give. I make homemade cookies, cheesecakes, brownies or even pies, depending on who I’m giving them too and if their needing them for an actual occasion or if it’s just a get together during the holidays. This year though, I told my daughter, who’s 24 and my neice who’s 27, all I want from them this year is to get their behinds in the kitchen with me and let me teach them things that I’ve learned from over 30 years of baking. I bake everything from scratch. No store bought pie crusts in my house, EVER! lol I keep telling them that they don’t want to wait until it’s too late to try for themselves, especially now that they are both mothers too and could pass this down to their daughters. Too, Big Lots is a great place to find inexpensive cook books from Food Network Chefs.

    • Yea for you Grandma Pudge……. I love that you are taking the time to teach your neice’s to bake. That is something that they will always remember if they take the time to learn. I remember baking with my aunts. A precious memory for sure. :)

  24. Homemade rice socks are awesome gifts! They’re also called “therapy socks,” and “therapy bags.”

    A homemade sugar scrub is fairly inexpensive. :)

  25. Elizabeth Williams says:

    these are such cool ideas… I found a free and funny one for a friend that’s lost her keys TWICE this year…it’s a key return tag from Pop-A-Lock (so if she loses them AGAIN, they return them free of charge)

  26. Every year our “tradition” is to do a themed Christmas. My favorite was the year we had to shop at “used” stores. ie – Goodwill, Save & Serve (a second hand store) garage sales, etc. We had a limit of 15 per person. You cannot believe the new stuff with tags still on it that we found for 1.00 – 2.00 or 3.00. My best buy was a set of 10 wood cut houses like FJ Designs that were brand new still in the box for 2.00 each. They still had the price tags for anywhere from 12.00 to 40.00 on it. A store had cleaned out their inventory and we benefited. You can find a lot of things like this at second hand – goodwill type shops and makes your gift giving a whole lot easier on the pocket. I also got a terrific buy on two handmade tall wood stools with swivel tops at a garage sale. I told them what we were doing and that I only had 15.00 to spend and they let me have both stools (oak by the way) for the 15.00. They loved the idea and my son loved the stools. He still has them. :)

  27. Rockin Roll says:

    A great gift for her is a relaxation basket. In a nice basket put in some homemade foot scrubs and bubble bath. Maybe a little hair towel and some fuzzy socks. Some fancy tea would be nice too. Also a move basket. A movie, two packets of popcorn, and a packet of M&M’s would be nice.

  28. The commercialism of Christmas gets more and more out of hand each year. When it becomes difficult to know what to buy someone, that is when you focus on those who have nothing and give to shelters and charities. For families and friends, think of what they like to do and their hobbies. From there, give $10 to $15 gift cards to their favorite restaurant, coffee shop, or retail store. Also, a gift card to a movie theatre is always great because the movie outing has become ridiculously expensive and I can’t imagine anyone not appreciating this idea for a gift.

  29. Nice list! If you want to find truly personalized gifts on the cheap check out It imports Facebook profile data to provide customized gift ideas. Giftivo can also recommend gifts for friends with limited Facebook profiles or people with no Facebook profiles at all through a unique customization dashboard. Most of the gift suggestions are $50 or less.

  30. I love to give a nice batch of homemade cookies or candies. Truffles are easy to make and well received. I like to make biscotti because they are cheap, easy, and most people really like them. They are expensive to buy ready-made, so people seem to think they are extra good. Most people love them and you can give an assortment of flavors if you have a lot of people to give to.

  31. My favorite “cheap” gift is a home-made coupon book! I’ve given them for birthdays too! you could give a free babysitting, home-made meal, etc!

  32. Last year, my husband bought me my favorite things from my childhood. A copy of the Mrs. Doubtfire movie, some Dunkaroos, and some Kool Aid. One of my favorite gifts ever because it took so long of us talking about our childhoods for him to come up with my favorites. You could make it less expensive by eliminating the movie and going with favorite childhood snacks. You have to buy some on Amazon because they aren’t in stores anymore necessarily.

  33. You can find great gifts at thrift stores also :)

  34. I think the best christmas gifts are from the heart and are the gift of family and love. Shouldn’t that be it?

  35. Hayley Irene Nicole Phillipd says:

    Another great gift is wax bears. Get a slab of wax 7-8 dollars at flee market 2 bottles of the same scnt 20.00 melt wax adf sent get a stufged animal dip it in sented wax comb fur out let dry and harden can make 8 or 10 bears. Varying on size of bear. Tjen it will smell for ever if it stops smelling all you have to do is take a blow dryer and run across it its a great gift for moms grandmas aunts….anyone!

  36. Some great gift ideas. I find the less you spend then the more effort you put in and therefore i think it is much more appreciated. One that i do a lot is but a decent size frame for arround $4 to $5 and then hunt out a load of memorable photographs of the person that the gift is for and then make them into a collage inside the frame. This is always received with enthusiasm.

    • I do this all the time. This year it’s coasters that you can insert photos in. We are enjoying taking pictures for this project. Also snow globes that you can insert pictures in can be fun and priceless gifts .

  37. i do cheap gifts such as at the dollar store. dollar coffee mugs, cookie tins(then bake sugar cookies) for my boyfriends parents and the neighbors, lotions and bath gels and bath sponges for girls. i also go to wal mart down the travel size isle and get dollar mini axe shower gels, sprays, and shampoos for the guys. very in-expensive. i spent fifty dollars on ten people this year! five a person and it looks more expensive seams i used the dollars store! the lotions look like bath & body!! i spent more on my boyfriend but of course, hehe.

  38. My mother in law went to a garage sale last year and I just moved and wanted to decorate my kitchen in the wine them and you would never believe she found 2 nice vases with the tags still on them for 5 bucks. I loved it and thought it was a nice present.

  39. Katsmutti says:

    I often give homemade gifts for Christmas. I make homemade biscotti- almond or chocolate dried cherry and also include homemade hot cocoa mix or Russian tea mix. I have made homemade butterscotch and hot fudge sauce and given them in nice mason jars as gifts. Very cheap to do- buy butter, sugar and cream at Aldi’s. Everyone raves. I have also given wonderful scented soap that I carry home from Florida every year. I have also made Lebkuchen and strudel for gifts. My kids always get lip balm, a toothbrush and a movie pass in their stockings’ – it is a Chrismas tradition. I also go to resale shops and find really neat cookbooks for my daughter. They aren’t high priced and I am recycling them to another cook. I shopped at Sahalie last Christmas and got my DD and DDIL beautiful gloves for ten dollars each- free shipping and no tax!I like to give something that can be used and not end up on the table at the garage sale in a few years.

  40. Costume jewelry is a great idea. I don’t know about other people, but I freakin’ love those huge over-the-top rings, and clunky necklaces. But then again, I might just have bad taste.

  41. NOTHING. Stop giving gifts is the cheapest thing. I managed to stop gift exchange with friends, but family, well can’t win all the battles.

    • Try just doing a white elephant with your family. I only get gifts for the family I lived in as I grew up and a few cousins because of the white elephant! Works great!

  42. @DCBuppie: Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just tell everybody. “Eh, let’s skip the gifts this year.” It’s so much easier said than done.

    @Paula: I had NO idea cookbooks cost that much. Most of mine I have received as gifts…guess they were bigger gifts than I thought. Yikes!

    • the last 2 Christmas we have skipped the gifts….got togethr. ….good food….couple crafts for the kids….had kids bring their favorite Santa gift to play with…talk about a stress reducer

  43. I review cookbooks for a living, and I’m not sure I’d put “a great cookbook” up there. You’re going to have a hell of a time finding anything decent for under $30, and the hot new stuff for fall is all $50-up.

    Unless you meant writing someone a cookbook, an activity which I wholeheartedly support. :)

  44. How about a big old handful of NOTHING! money went to the

  45. There is really nothing better than nice socks.

    -Dan Malone-

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