Christmas is a wonderful holiday but the consumerism culture has taken much of the joy out of it and instead given us credit card bills, stress, and piles of junk. I’m not a fan of that so I try to give and receive meaningful and frugal gifts each year instead.
In the video above I go through my favorite frugal gifts that I give over and over again. Many of these gifts include low waste wrapping so the whole gift is a present, which makes it even more frugal!
If you are looking for even more frugal Christmas gift ideas, keep reading for my favorite frugal gifts!
We all know Christmas has wrecked many budgets and it is a particularly hard time for some people to say no to spending. With emotions high and sales pressure up, many of us spend more than we planned.
That’s why having frugal Christmas gifts on hand and ready to go is so important to keeping your Christmas budget in check!
Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas
If you’re doing your Christmas shopping and need a list of frugal but awesome gift ideas, look no further!
- Baked goods. Everyone loves baked goods during the holiday season so this is a frugal gift that is also a crowd-pleaser. You can make Christmas cookies or banana bread or any number of yummy edible gifts for very little money. Consumable Christmas gifts are a huge hit and many people appreciate not being given something that will contribute to clutter. This is a great option for any minimalists you know.
- Scrapbook. Make a scrapbook or a photo book showing your most fond memories with someone. You can do this very cheaply with supplies you have around or can get on clearance at craft stores. Print out some photos and it’s very frugal but meaningful. Adding sweet notes of memories and inside jokes will mean more than anything you can buy.
- Handmade Christmas ornaments. You can make personalized Christmas ornaments for your friends and family for next to nothing. There are tons of great ideas on YouTube and Pinterest for ways you can cheaply DIY very nice looking items. Just because the supplies came from the Dollar Tree doesn’t mean this frugal gift can’t look expensive!
- Regifted items. Let’s be real, regifting is a great way to do frugal Christmas gifts! If you’ve gotten duplicate gifts or items you’ll never use then there is nothing wrong with giving it away the next Christmas. Make sure you don’t regift to the same person, but otherwise it’s fair game. Just because you can’t use it doesn’t mean someone else won’t!
- Recipe box. You can make a beautiful recipe box or buy an affordable one and fill it with blank recipe cards along with your favorite recipes. This can be especially sentimental if you collect family recipes or go with another meaningful theme. Go the extra mile to delight the gift recipient and make one of the meals to go along with it!
- Photo Collage. If you’re handy with Photoshop or Canva, you can create a photo collage/montage, print it out and frame it! You could also do this the old fashioned way with scissors and glue. It’s a great way to give a creative memory that can be done for hardly any money.
- Framed family picture. Take a picture of your family or kiddos, frame it, and give it as a gift! We do this every year for grandparents and they love it! It’s frugal but delightful for those who want photos renewed each year. You can get nice looking frames at many stores on clearance or just stop by a thrift store for one.
- Coupon Books. Sure it’s a corny gift idea, but a personalized coupon book can also be super fun! You can go with classic favorite coupons as “back rub”, “dinner” or “clean the house”. Or spice things up with adult themed coupons or go super silly with practical jokes. There are lots of options for personalization here and none of the items in the book have to cost money to do! Most people would prefer experiences and time with you anyway.
- Family history. Put together a family history for someone with photos, written family histories, a family tree, a video and anything else you can think of that will bring their family history alive. This is an especially great gift you can give to siblings or a whole side of a family to knock out multiple gifts.
- Appreciation book. Use a blank journal to create a book about how much you appreciate the person! You can fill it up with reasons why you appreciate them, gratitude over their qualities, shared memories, and photos. If you can’t fill up a book, try doing this in a letter form and list as many things as you can.
- Your skills. Give the gift of service by offering up your skills as a gift. It won’t cost you anything but time. You can offer to cook a meal or offer your design services or tech support. If you don’t have any specific professional skills to offer, then offer up housesitting or babysitting.
- Groupon experience. Groupon offers frugal experiences perfect for gift giving. You can give a certificate for an experience like a massage, painting lesson, or outdoor adventure. Keep an eye out for a huge discount deal on something that you know will make a great gift for someone on your list.
- Card game kit. Buy a deck of cards, and a book of card game rules for different card games. You can have hours and hours of frugal fun once you learn multiple games you can play with one deck of cards. I loved playing card games on camping trips when I was younger and still love to pull out a deck of cards for good quality family time.
- Book gift pack. Look through the books on your own shelf that you’ve already read and put together a gift pack of books that you loved. You can package the books in a cute way that makes them feel like a special gift of hand selected books. Write a note about why you loved each book and why you think the recipient will love the book as well.
- Breakfast gift box. Put together a cute morning breakfast gift basket with some cheap basics: pancake mix, syrup, and pancake mix-ins. These items don’t cost much but they are super handy to have on hand for most people.
- Picnic gift basket. Grab some Dollar Tree utensils, plates, and tablecloth and then wrap the items up with a blanket inside a basket. Write a note inviting the recipient to go on a picnic lunch with you once the weather is nice. You could also pack snacks into the picnic basket as an extra gift.
- Memory jar. Write down favorite memories of the person receiving the gift on small pieces of paper and add them to a decorated jar with instructions to open daily. This works best when you can get lots of sweet and funny memories!
- DIY Coasters. You can make coasters for a very small amount of money and the personalization of using photos special to the recipient makes this a meaningful gift. DIY coasters are very easy to make, cost hardly anything, and can be a great sentimental item to give people.
- DIY bath and body items. You can make sugar scrubs, face masks, body butters and natural skin care products from items you already likely have in your home like sugar and coconut oil. These are cheap to make but feel luxurious when you get to use them, so they make perfect gifts! My mom loves and requests my peppermint sugar scrub as a gift each year.
- Change jar savings kit. This is an especially great gift for young children who are just starting to learn about money. Give a child a change jar or cool piggy bank and some starter change already in it. Then you can teach them about saving and spending their own money later in the year!
No matter which frugal gift you decide to give, remember that it is the thought that truly matters with the gift. Most sentimental and meaningful gifts are not expensive ones. They instead incorporate emotions, memories, and experiences.
Remember that spending the most doesn’t necessarily mean the most! Having a frugal Christmas is a great way to keep your financial goals on track and still please those in your life!
Mary is the founder of Pennies Not Perfection where she shares her journey to build wealth through online income. She quit her day job in 2021 after she paid off her debt and doubled her 9-5 salary.
Mary's favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. She uses their free tools to track net worth and work toward to financial freedom.