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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.


Christmas presents don't have to break the bank: Get 53 inexpensive gift ideas.Yay for cheap gifts! Back 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 under $50 to the $100 range. Or for more affordable gift ideas, check out alternatives to store bought Christmas presents.

53 INEXPENSIVE GIFTS

1. Potted plant

2. A painting or photograph in a a nice picture frame

3. A scrapbook of photos/memories with the gift recipient

4. Hat, mittens, or scarves

5. A loaf of homemade bread

6. Great for a couple: Free movie rental coupons and a box of popcorn

7. A mix CD or $10 iTunes card

8. Nice stationary, a quality pen, and a few stamps

9. A journal with a personal note

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

11. A nuts and trail mix gift bag

12. A gift bag or basket of gourmet chocolate truffles or bars

13. A deck of playing cards and a book of rules

14. For her: A makeup bag and a cosmetic product or two

15. A few of the recipients’ favorite magazines

16. Board games

17. A nice vase or jar filled with candy

18. Decorative recipe cards with a few of your best recopies filled in

19. For her: A great shade of nail polish, cotton, and remover

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

21. A great cookbook

22. A travel guidebook for an upcoming vacation

23. Nice socks

24. Colorful post-it notes

25. An action figure (for adults too, they make great desk decorations)

26. A kitchen tool or two (think can opener, cheese slicer, potato peeler, etc.)

27. A decorative bookmark (could be homemade, and free!)

28. Water bottles

29. Scented candles

30. Costume jewelry

31. Photo album

32. A small flashlight

33. Homemade cookies

34. Small gardening tools

35. Travel size toiletries

36. Winter skin care kit (small lip balm, hand lotion, etc.)

37. Christmas tree ornament

38. A six pack of a specialty beer

39. A good $10 bottle of wine (plenty abound)

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

41. A USB thumb drive

42. Travel alarm clock

43. Bottle of nice olive oil

44. Puzzle book (crosswords,Sudoku)

45. Bubble bath or bath oils, or a nice soap

46. A handful of nips of quality whiskeys

47. Travel pillow

48. Wallet (with your photo pre-loaded!)

49. Pancake mix and maple syrup

50. A collection of nice hot chocolate mixes (plus a mug and marshmallows?)

51. Funny shot glasses

52. Creative key chain

53. A $50 savings bond (at a cost of $25). Okay, $25 is pushing the envelope of “cheap”, but what a great gift!

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

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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.

Comments

  1. There is really nothing better than nice socks.

    -Dan Malone-

  2. How about a big old handful of NOTHING!

    sorry..my money went to the bailout..lol

  3. 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. :)

  4. @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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 .

  11. 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!

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

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. Nice list! If you want to find truly personalized gifts on the cheap check out giftivo.com. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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. :)

  21. 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)

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

    A homemade sugar scrub is fairly inexpensive. :)

  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. 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.

  25. Audrianna says:

    you can make a gift basket of candy

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

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

  31. 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).

  32. mp4/mp5 cheap on most websites

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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.

  36. Its the thought that counts

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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
    Or
    (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!