Budget-friendly gifts are a necessity for many of us around the holiday season. I am a fan of not giving gifts just for the sake of giving gifts. However, if you have special people on your list who you would like to gift something thoughtful but funds are tight, check out these budget-friendly gifts that sometimes don’t cost anything but your time or maybe a few dollars.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
Here are my favorite budget-friendly gifts you can give this Christmas season or any time of the year:
1 – Babysitting services
Offer your free babysitting services for a family member or friend. Actually follow through and set a date for them. This is usually worth at least $50 for a night out! It will be very much appreciated!
Get creative and make a special coupon for the gift! Not feeling creative? You can buy gift coupons too!
2 – Dinner (and maybe wine) with a recipe binder
Cook dinner for someone you love, maybe a favorite meal you have shared together. If you want to go crazy and have a few extra bucks, gift them a bottle of wine.
You can also couple it with a print-out of the recipe in a new recipe binder so they can start their own cookbook of favorite ideas. Even in the days of Pinterest, we still love our old-school, print-out collection of recipes saved in a binder. It allows us to save magazine recipes, family recipes, or shared recipes from friends.
3 – A special book or adult coloring book
Search a used bookstore or thrift store for a really nice book or cookbook. You can also check out Thriftbooks.com for good deals. I’ve found some great book deals at the local Goodwill. You can also do an adult coloring book and some cheap coloring pencils.
4 – Make something from scrap fabric
Make something from scrap fabric, like a baby doll blanket or rag quilt.
I’ve made these reusable heat packs using scrap fabric and cheap white rice. They are fun and useful gifts! They are also all natural, and you can add essential oils to make them smell good once heated (just don’t make my mistake and add too much!)
5 – Make a video
Make a video interviewing your kids or friends and family asking what they love about a person. Edit it, set it to music, and gift it. It can be as simple as using your smartphone. Grandma already has everything she needs! Give her something she will cherish and can watch over and over again.
6 – Make a photo album
Buy an old school photo album with the little lines next to the photos (I’ve found these cheapest at Walmart or a pharmacy). Order your favorite photos and write down your favorite memories next to the pictures. There are a ton of free photo printing services. Shutterfly will often send you free 4×6 photos. You just pay the shipping.
7 – Give a special movie
Scour thrift stores for a favorite movie you shared with a person. Combine it with a bag of microwavable popcorn in a gift bag, and you have a pretty thoughtful gift! Share your memory of the movie with that person in a sweet note.
8 – A journal
Buy an empty journal. Write an entry page with your favorite memories about the person. If you want, you can get a journal with writing prompts. Sometimes this helps someone share their story when they don’t know where to start!
9 – Alcohol
Buy the wine or beer lover in your life a bottle of wine or 6-pack of good craft beer. You can get both for under $10. You can even buy large, individual 22-ounce bottles of really great craft beer at most beer stores. These are great gifts because many beer drinkers won’t treat themselves to these overpriced specialty beers, but the total cost is often under $10.
10 – A favorite snack
Get your friend a favorite snack with a nice note. I once got my best friend four bags of her favorite kind of potato chips because we were too short on cash that month for anything too crazy. It shows you pay attention to what they love, and then you shower them in excess! Not sure what to get? You can never go wrong with chocolate!
11 – Bake something
Bake something for a family member or friend. It can be anything. It can be cookies, banana bread, cake, or a pie. Not a baker? That’s ok. Pick up a nice pie at the grocery store and stick a bow on it!
12 – A photo gift
Shutterfly and Snapfish send out free gifts almost daily, especially around the holidays. All you pay is shipping. Leading up to the months before the holidays, be on the look-out for great deals you can get for super cheap after paying the shipping. You get even more deals on their apps.
You can also buy a cheap collage frame and fill it up with free photos.
13 – A gourmet treat
TJ Max has amazing deals on gourmet foods. You can pick up a specialty coffee, tea, jelly, olives, hot sauces, or any other number of things that someone on your list may love. Many of these items are under $6.
14 – A pretty mug
TJ Max is also a favorite stop for really pretty, oversized mugs. Many of them can double as a bowl for oatmeal in the office environment. You can pair a cool new mug with a specialty bag of coffee.
15 – A Wallet Ninja
The wallet ninja is a credit card sized multi-tool that fits in a wallet or purse and is no bigger than a credit card. It is a thoughtful, useful, and budget-friendly gift.
16 – Anything homemade
Do you have woodworking skills? Maybe you could find some free scrap wood from your neighborhood garage sale websites and make something special without spending much cash on materials. There are a ton of ideas out there in regards to upcycling items, woodworking, sewing crafts. etc. Look around your garage, outside at natural materials, or in your craft area. I bet you have something you can repurpose into a thoughtful gift.
One of my favorite homemade gifts to do with kids is a pot holder with handprints using fabric friendly paint. Preserve their handprints forever with a useful kitchen gift.
Here’s how I save money, shop online, and give gifts with intention:
If you ever shop online, sign up for eBates. You are losing money if you are buying online, at any time of the year, and you are not using eBates. All you do is click through eBates first, and you automatically get cash back on your online purchases. Sign up today before you do any online shopping!
Better yet, download the Google Chrome extension if using your laptop or desktop or download the app if using your phone. They make it super easy to get cash back.
If you sign up today through my link, you will also get $10 cash back for the first time you use them! That’s free money!
Budget-friendly gift ideas for Christmas or any time of the year!
There you have it! Budget-friendly gift ideas for Christmas or any other gift-giving occasion that cost little to no money. You can be thoughtful over the holidays and still give gifts people will love, cherish, or at least use on a regular basis. You can also give the gift of your time or your company! Giving doesn’t have to be expensive or break the bank for three months into the new year.
Need more ideas? Check out these clutter-free gifts for kids or simple homemade gifts for kids.
Hate Christmas shopping or just don’t have the time? Never leave your home and finish all your shopping before December with these Cyber Monday Shopping tips!
Hi, Brooke! This is a great post simply because of the variety of ideas you have. The edited video, I think, has to be my favorite. That would be more creative for my grandparents than new clothes or their favorite wine. Also, my family does a Secret Santa wish list every Christmas where we can’t spend less than $10 but more than $50. We love it since everyone can get something they’ll actually use, and we don’t have to spend a fortune on Christmas shopping. Your post gave me a ton of ideas for people who are undecided and want to be surprised, so thank you so much!