Frugal gifts for every occasion

With a little bit of planning and thinking outside the box, you can give thoughtful, frugal gifts while saving time and money.

Gift giving should be joyful, but all too often it feels like a burden. When the holidays are looming and you have a long list of family members, co-workers, clients, children's teachers, and casual acquaintances to provide gifts for, it is easy to understand why!

Consider these tips for frugal gifts, homemade food gifts , homemade gift basket ideas and homemade Christmas gift ideas and let your imagination be sparked to come up with some ideas of your own!

Just remember to put some thought into the recipient's needs and tastes when choosing a gift, no matter what the cost. A gift that is useful is a better gift than one that is expensive but that has no use or value to the recipient. I believe this is what is meant by 'it's the thought that counts'.

Homemade Presents

Homemade gifts are so much more special than something you buy in a rush - especially when you are on a budget and don't have a lot to spend. Giving homemade presents can save you a lot of money, give you the satisfaction that being creative gives, and tells your friends and loved ones that you put some time and thought into your selections!

See how my sister and brother-in-law made a homemade cardboard play house for their two sons last Christmas.

More frugal Gift Ideas

  • The gift of music - Compile a play list of the person's favorite songs or a new CD by a favorite artist and put it on an inexpensive USB key chain drive (some cost less than $10) and he or she will have a handy tool to keep after transferring the music onto their MP3 player or computer.

  • A handmade nursing necklace - These simple and sturdy necklaces make great gifts for a baby shower or other occasion, and most are under $20. They are suitable for any woman, whether she is a mom or not!
    frugal gifts
  • Restore the past - Have a precious old picture restored and enlarged; put it in a nice frame.

  • Socks When you are a kid, there is nothing less exciting to get as a gift than socks! But don't dismiss socks as a frugal gift for the older people (anyone over 20, say). What can I say, socks are fun. And you can get a "lot of sock" for a relatively little money, compared to other clothing gifts. For example, cashmere is luxurious and expensive. You cannot afford to buy a cashmere sweater for Uncle Jack (maybe not even for your true love in the current economy!) but you can probably spring for a pair of cashmere socks! I guess the idea here is that it is better to give a fabulous version of something very small than a cheap version of something big. Less is more.

  • Dress up inexpensive items - A set of pretty but inexpensive wine glasses or coffee cups can be transformed into glamorous and expensive-looking frugal gifts if packaged properly. Take them out of their original packaging, wrap each one separately in colored tissue paper, and put in a pretty box.

  • Buy sets and break them up - Buy a set of eight glasses or dessert plates and split them into sets of two for four total frugal gifts. Wrap each item in tissue paper and add some homemade cookies or homemade hot cocoa mix to personalize the gifts.

  • A nice coffee mug and a bag of gourmet coffee

  • A box of good quality stationary and some gel pens

  • A bottle of exotic bath oil or lotion

  • Gourmet popcorn

  • A plant - If you have house plants, you can probably plant an offshoot of one that you have in your home rather than buying one. Just buy a small ceramic pot to plant it in and tie a ribbon around it.

  • An address book or calendar or a nice journal

  • A pretty glass jar or vase filled with colorful wrapped candy

  • A box of good tea and a teacup or a box of imported cookies

  • A pepper mill and fresh peppercorns

  • A scented candle

  • Use spare change - If you have a jar (or other container) that you keep change in, cash it in for gifts. Coinstar machines sort and count coins but normally charge a percentage of the total as a service fee. You can now choose to put the amount on a gift card for selected merchants (, Starbucks, iTunes, etc.) and Coinstar will waive the service fee. Coinstar estimates that the average 32 ounce container filled with a typical mix of coins holds more than $56! Plenty for a couple of gift cards!

  • For unique gifts of a more romantic nature, take a look at these unique Valentine gift ideas

  • Creative gift wrapping ideas can be both frugal and fun! Your gifts will not look boring!


Regifting can be a smart way to give frugal gifts, or it can be in very poor taste - it all depends on how you do it!

Follow these guidelines if you are thinking of regifting.

Only regift items that:

  • Are new and never opened
  • Are something you would have chosen for the person anyway
  • The original giver and the new recipient don't know each other
  • You re-wrap it

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