The Best Cheap Christmas Gifts Everyone Will Love

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    Giving cheap Christmas gifts doesn’t mean buying ugly, junky presents. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing.)

    It just takes a bit of creativity to find cheap Christmas gifts under $10 that fit into your budget and the gift receiver will love. With some budgeting and planning, you can easily stick within your budget and still get that gift list checked off!

    Why You Should Focus Your Gift List Around Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

    Everyone’s had that New Year’s hangover – I’m not just talking too much food and drinks, but too much holiday spending as well. You get caught up in the spirit of the holidays, end up buying waaaaay more than you intended, and come January’s credit card bill, your bank account is officially “hungover” with a lot of extra cost.

    Then the buyer’s remorse and belt tightening settle in, making for a painful start to the new year, as well as taking a long time to pay it off.

    If you’re not convinced yet, here’s some gut-wrenching statistics out there on holiday overspending:

    1. 56% of Americans will take on new debt to pay for holiday gifts1
    2. 16% will take longer than 6 months to pay it off1
    3. 34% of parents will spend an average of $500 per child!1

    The worst statistic I’ve read? 25% of parents are taking extreme measures such as withdrawing from 401ks, using emergency funds, or using payday loans to buy holiday gifts1.

    When did it get like this? And how do we stop it?

    It’s pretty clear we need to stop it before it starts by trimming down our spending for the Christmas season (or before the holiday season even starts).

    Why not choose to start January off with financial peace rather than regret, worry and a HUGE credit card statement?

    It takes a bit of creativity to find cheap Christmas gifts that fit into your budget. With some planning you can easily find something they'll love! #christmas #gifts #frugal #budgeting

    How to be smart about what you spend on Christmas Gifts

    We all love to celebrate and show our appreciation for one another through gifts. It’s an tradition as old as the first caveman dragging home extra loin cloths made especially for his cave family, right?

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving Christmas gifts. However, it shouldn’t cause you panic or wrack up a huge amount of credit card debt that you pay a ton of interest on.

    Start by listing out everyone you need to buy for. Don’t forget non-family members, like teachers, coaches, neighbors, coworkers, and your boss, to name a few.

    Got your Christmas list? Great. Next, decide how much you want to spend on each person. Once you add that up, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed.

    See if you can either trim your list or group people on your list into subcategories. It’s a great way to create or buy gifts that apply to multiple people.

    For example, instead of buying individual gifts for coworkers, why not bring in one gift to share, like a dessert tray? Everyone’s covered, food is one of the best cheap gifts, and it’s less stress and work for you. Done and done!

    While the average American family spends approximately $1,000 on Christmas, there are a lot of great cheap Christmas gifts that you can give that can help keep you from burning a hole in your credit card.

    Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas Don’t have to Mean…Being Cheap

    Now it’s time to get creative. Just because you’re looking to trim your gift giving costs doesn’t mean you’re going to give everyone a stale fruitcake, weird flavored candy canes, or some plastic cheap Christmas stuff from the Dollar Store (though they do have cute things sometimes!).

    Think about what you’re good at, what you enjoy creating, and what you know your loved ones (or boss) will enjoy.

    The trick is to find something that you know they’ll appreciate and enjoy – whether it cost $1,000 or $10. So if you’re wondering what are good $10 gifts, read on to find out what the best (and most appreciated) ideas are.

    What are the best cheap Christmas gifts?

    Spoiler Alert! Anyone and everyone would rather spend time with you and your loved ones than to get yet another trinket. The gift of time is so much more precious than we realize. However, that being said, here are some other cheap gift ideas to consider as well if you still feel like you want to give a physical gift:

    Give the gift of a homemade meal.

    I know, food sounds too easy, but bear with me. The average American is so incredibly busy balancing work, kids and home duties that we all struggle to get a meal on the table. Especially a warm, yummy homemade one on a cold winter night, right?

    Give the gift of a family dinner. Prepare their favorite meal (or one of these dirt cheap meals) in a freezer safe dish with instructions on how to heat it, and add bread and a dessert to make it a meal.

    While you’re at it, double the recipe and throw one in the freezer for your family as well. It’s a total win-win for those crazy busy holiday nights when you don’t want to cook, right?

    Don’t forget that everyone loves to receive cookies, breads and cakes as well. If you love to bake, now’s your chance to give them something made with love in a beautiful container.

    Give the gift of free fun.

    Invite your neighbors or friends with kids to meet up at the best sledding hill in the city. Host a cookie exchange, or better yet, use your kitchen as cookie baking central and let all your friends’ kids work on frosting skills.

    My absolute favorite free holiday activity? Having a sleepover under the Christmas tree with my kids.

    While none of us get much sleep, it feels very magical to be surrounded by all the beautiful lights and the excitement of the tree. Every year, my daughter tells me it’s her favorite and asks if we can do it again!

    Give the gift of memories.

    One of my favorite money saving ideas for the holidays is to give experiences. Think back to when you were a kid during the holidays. What sticks out to you the most? Was it stuff? Or was it specific memories of times you spend with grandparents, parents, siblings and each extended family member?

    While I can remember some of our gifts, I mostly remember very specific outings with family members. Now that some of those family members are gone, those times are truly cherished memories.

    This year, we’re treating my in-laws to a train ride instead of giving gifts. My father-in-law is a huge train buff, so I know they’ll love it. There’s an awesome Chinese lantern festival here in Columbus that we’re taking my parents to. We’ll also be able to take them to see the holiday lights at the zoo for free with our zoo pass.

    It’s a win-win because we’re able to give these experiences as their affordable gifts, and they’re also getting time with their grandkids.

    Check out local websites to see what free or cheap holiday activities are available in your area and plan around them.

    Some frugal outing ideas include:

    • Driving through neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights
    • Caroling
    • Snowball fights
    • Sledding
    • Cookie Crawls (where businesses hand out cookies in an certain area, and you visit each one)
    • Take advantage of free activities at school, like visiting Santa
    • Look into your memberships for discounted activities, like seeing the Zoo Lights

    Give them the gift of time.

    We can all use a helping hand, but some of us are better at asking than others. Think about what your loved ones need most and make them an offer they cannot refuse!

    Here’s the perfect great idea: offer to do something they hate, so you can free up their time. Clean their gutters, help them with opening the pool next summer, or even babysit for free for date night. Trust me, they’ll love you for it!

    Heck, even go so far as to make those funny coupons that they can cash in to make it official. Some other services to offer gift certificates for are:

    • Wash and detail their car
    • Pet sitting
    • Yardwork
    • Handyman services
    • Oil change
    • Run an errand for them that they hate to do

    Give the gift of creativity and fun.

    For all you DIY junkies who are itching to make something, this is a fun way to make unique gifts for cheap! DIY items are the perfect cheap christmas gifts for teenage girl, mom, or girlfriend, and even men. Everyone loves something handmade and personalized.

    Scented bath salts, lotions and bath bombs are amazingly easy to make. Whip up a big batch, buy some beautiful reusable containers, and hand them out everyone on your list. Finding something that you can buy and produce in bulk can help save money as well as time.

    Use your artistic talents (or whatever talents you may have) to make something you enjoy creating and they enjoy receiving. You can even get your kids in on the action by having them help create keepsake gifts such as ornaments. There are a ton of cute and creative ideas out on Pinterest using kid’s handprints.

    Other great thoughtful christmas gifts include:

    • Family photos in beautiful frames
    • Personalized mugs with coffee samples
    • Hand painted ornaments or home decor
    • Holiday cookies, cakes, or breads in pretty, reusable packaging like a mason jar
    • Hair bows, jewelry or keychains
    • Re-pot plant clippings from your garden
    • Sew clothes, towels, pot holders, an oven mitt, or bags
    • Make bath items like bath bombs, body scrub, or soap
    • Create keepsakes with supplies and craft machines that you already have

    Maybe you’re not that creative? Etsy has some cute and fun thank you printables for teachers, coaches, babysitters, and anyone else you can think of! They have cute little sayings that match up with a gift, like lip balm or a Hershey’s bar.

    Once you make the purchase on Etsy, you’ll receive a PDF to download. Just add some nice stock paper to the printer, print it, cut it out, and attach to the gift. Easy Christmas gifts that are beautiful and creative!

    Also, don’t forget to check out Pinterest for homemade awesome gift ideas. Also, why not turn you love of crafting into a side hustle while you’re at it? Here are the 13 best things to sell on Etsy (since you’re making stuff anyway, right?).

    Give the gift of a night with friends.

    If you’re wondering what are cheap best friend gifts, look no further! Host a holiday potluck and movie night with everyone in their best ugly Christmas sweaters. Make it BYOB and play your favorite fun Christmas movies. The best part is, a great party for friends or family doesn’t have to be expensive and everyone can contribute.

    Some other great frugal fun Christmas party ideas include:

    • Hallmark Movie night (Everyone loves those, right?)
    • Potluck
    • Cookie Exchange (or bake cookies together)
    • Decorate gingerbread houses
    • White elephant gift exchange
    • Spend time together while wrapping presents
    • Host a Christmas scavenger hunt through your neighborhood
    • Play “Minute to Win It” style games that are holiday themed
    • Decorate ornaments together
    • Do Christmas crafts or make presents
    • Play board games

    Give the gift of cash (kind of!).

    If you must give a gift card (that hopefully won’t be returned), go to to purchase discounted gift cards for up to 20% off! They’re 100% guaranteed for a year with purchase protection and refunds, so you don’t have to worry about anything weird with the cards after purchase. Buy these discounted cards for stores you know you’ll shop at for the holidays to save money as well!

    Another idea is to cash in those credit card points for gift cards. We use ours for gift cards to gas stations for so we can travel to see family. I’ve also cashed out those points to get gift cards for family members to their favorite restaurants.

    You can also earn gift cards through sites like Swagbucks. Fill out surveys, watch videos, and do small tasks to earn points towards great gift cards (or cash!). It’s easy enough to do while you’re watching TV to earn some cash every evening.

    Give the gift of charity.

    While this isn’t necessarily a gift to family or friends, we often find that the holidays are a great reminder to give to those who are less fortunate. However, sometimes we find ourselves struggling to donate the money we’d like to.

    There’s more than one easy way you can still give without breaking the bank. It’s a perfect time of year to go through your clothes, toys and other household items to see what can be donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Winter items that kids have out grown but are still of good use would make a kid in need so happy, not to mention gently used toys as well.

    Charities need people to physically help as well. Sign up to ring a bell in front of a store or serve up hot meals to the homeless. A coworker of mine would take his kids every Thanksgiving to work at a soup kitchen. I was awed at not only his devotion to helping others, but his ability to teach his kids what’s truly important during the holidays.

    Additional Ways to Save on The Perfect Gift

    Let’s say you’re not crafty or don’t have the time to bust our your art supplies and you need a last-minute gift. You can still find the perfect way to cut costs when shopping for unique Christmas gifts.

    Just remember to use these guidelines when holiday shopping to help you from overspending:

    1. Consider shopping with cash or a pre-paid card to stop yourself from overspending.
    2. Stack your savings by:
    3. Purchasing items on sale
    4. Using coupons or Ibotta for rebates
    5. Paying for purchased with discounted gift cards
    6. If shopping online, go through through Ebates or
    7. Keep the ads for anything you purchase. If you see it cheaper elsewhere, take the ad back in with your receipt and get a price match.

    Learn more couponing tips and tricks here to get the best deal possible!

    Use these unique and cheap Christmas gifts from Amazon to make your holidays better this year. You don’t have to be a painful financial statistic or go overboard in gift giving to show you care. Truly, what anyone really wants is time with you and your family. And maybe a pony. But we’ll settle for time together instead.

    Have other easy cheap christmas gifts that you love to give, or better ideas for what is a good $5 gift? Share them below, I’d love to hear them!


    Check out these frugal and fun gift guides for more cheap Christmas gifts!

    The 15 best farmhouse decor gift ideas for fixer upper fans
    The 15 best frugal gifts for coffee lovers
    The 15 best frugal gift ideas for woodworkers
    10 literary gifts for book lovers under $25
    10 frugal gift ideas for plant lovers
    The best financial gifts for college students
    The best frugal and fun gifts for your favorite teacher
    The 10 best frugal gifts for massage therapists

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    A forty-ish web designer/developer by day, a budget & financial fanatic by night. I’m a mom, wife, avid reader, and DIY enthusiast who’s tracking our journey to debt freedom. Read More

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    1. Gem on September 19, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      LOVE this post! I (sometimes) gently suggest that my childrens’s grandparents gift experiences rather than ‘stuff’. My kids enjoy the outings so much more and they will remember the memories they make together, not the long-forgotten toys! Thanks for the reminder!

      • Tana on September 19, 2017 at 2:02 pm

        Gem, same here! Half the time when I buy them “stuff”, it’s because it’s something I’d like and will be forgotten in a week anyway. Funny how that works, huh? 😉 I’m hoping to plan more experiences for the kids next year when we’re debt free.

    2. DJT @ Thinking Thrifty on December 1, 2017 at 12:32 am

      I love these ideas. I would much prefer someone give me their time over their money, it means so much more!

    3. Rachel on December 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Love these ideas! All so achievable and probably a lot more memorable.

    4. Bri on December 1, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      I love all of these!! The Holidays should always be more about fun, memories and giving. I try to teach my daughter that it isn’t about getting presents.

    5. tiffany bailey on December 1, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      Some really lovely ideas here, that is absolutely shocking such a high percentage of people spend $500 per child it’s crazy! I’m a big fan of home-made gifts and each year I try to make something for people, I think it’s so much more thoughtful and usually quite cheap to do!

    6. Paul Albert on December 1, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      I just can’t believe what state some people get themselves into. $500 a child, that’s insane. I grew up with very little but appreciate the value of everything. Our children have never had anything really extravagant and hopefully they’ll be the same. Quality time together making memories is always the best present.

    7. Tonia on December 2, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      You are so right about your spoiler alert. Anyone would rather have the gift of your time. The holidays can be a wild time of over indulging

    8. Alyx Kjorven on December 3, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      these are all great alternatives to gift giving. another personal favorite of mine though is of course the white elephant gift exchange. nothing like getting rid of something you never use to someone who might actually use it.

    9. Brooklyn Johnson on February 28, 2019 at 6:34 pm

      I like how you said that there’s nothing wrong with giving Christmas presents, but it shouldn’t stress you out and rack up a huge amount of credit card debt. I had no idea that the average American family spends approximately $1,000 on Christmas! I always struggle about what to give my friends and family for Christmas since I don’t have a big budget. I will definitely keep your tips in mind for next Christmas when looking for gifts.

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