When living on a tight budget, sometimes the extra cost of birthday, wedding, holidays and other gifting occasions breaks the bank. We may have set a budget aside for presents for our immediate family, but not for distant family and friends.
That’s alright – there are a variety of gifts you can make for almost nothing and still be cherished by the recipient.
Here are over 15 Gift Ideas:
1. Gift Baskets
No matter what the occasion, you can put together a homemade gift basket to fit the celebration. These can be put together pretty inexpensively.
For example, your friends got their first new home, you can put together this basket:
- A large Popcorn/Salad Bowl – $1.75
- Set of Kitchen Towels – $2.25
- Set of Kitchen Dishcloths $2.15
- Decorative Bronze Tool Holder $3.25
- Decorative Bronze Paper Towel Holder $4.50
- Decorative Bronze Napkin Holder $3.50
- Roll of Cellophane wrap $1.00
These can be bought at the local Dollar store and the total cost is under $20! Arrange the items inside the popcorn bowl and wrap with cellophane and add a card (you printed off yourself) & a bow. Now the new couple has useful kitchen decorations plus dishtowels & cloths.
There are also great gift baskets already made on Amazon for a low price, such as a Movie Night Basket for only $16. If you’ve read my Amazon Savings Post, you could save even more.
2. Coupon Books
Instead of a gift, create a coupon book personalized just for the recipient. Create it online using Canva or PicMonkey, or your own creation program. These coupon books are filled with favors for the receiver that you will do for them and they can rip off one and hand it to you to complete.
You can do such favors as:
- Free night of babysitting (for the new parent)
- Yard chores are done (for a parent, or neighbor)
- A night of manicure and pedicures (for a best friend)
- A day of driving errands (for a homebound neighbor or friend).
- Free music lesson
- Free computer lesson
- And so on
Print several of each and staple a booklet together and give as a gift. This can be more meaningful than a store-bought gift. It doesn’t cost us anything but a little time.
3. Mason Jar Treat
There’s a large variety of gifts you can make using mason jars. Many ideas can be found on Pinterest.
Gifts such as:
- Hot Chocolate mix
- Muffin in a Jar mix
- Sugar Scrubs
- Shake & Pour Pancake Mix
- Variety of Teabags
- Photo Snow Globe
- And many other ideas
4. Handmade Gifts
If you have a hobby, why not create a gift from it? These are so much more personal and people appreciate handmade gifts more. Whether it’s a crocheted hat and mitts, a knitted sweater, a handmade quilt, woodworking project, or whatever craft project you create yourself.
Make it even sweeter and personalize it for the specific person in mind. Use their name, surname, something they love, or in their favorite color.
5. Homemade Food
If you’re good in the kitchen and enjoy making fresh goods. Why not gift these creations to people too? Make anything from fresh bread, cookies, marshmallow hearts, whole frozen meals and other great food ideas.
This is a great gift for the busy worker, the busy mom and those recovering from an illness. Many people appreciate not having to cook a meal, having a sweet treat, and who doesn’t love to eat anyway?
6. Handmade Signs / Paintings
This is similar to the handmade gifts but needs a bit more work. This involves looking around the neighborhood or commercial sites for free wood pallets.
You can either leave them whole or tear them for individual boards. These pallet wood can be painted or decorated for a great gift.
All it would cost is the paint and maybe some hanging hardware if you’re making a wall sign.
7. Door Wreaths
Door wreaths are a great couples’ and family gift to make and can also be personalized to fit a family’s style, favorite team, or can be generic for holidays and such.
Many wreaths can be made using a pool noodle duct taped into a circle, used wire hingers, or bought inexpensively at dollar stores. Decorations can be found cheaply at dollar stores as well, on Amazon, or even at garage sales and flea markets.
Make wreaths like:
- Seasons & Holidays
- Sport Teams
- Family Name or Monogram
- Movies & Book Theme
8. Paper Flowers
Following a similar theme as the wreaths, you can make paper flowers for people’s homes. Some of these materials you may already have around your home already, such as tissue paper (from previous gifts), crepe paper, and even coffee filters (not used ones though).
If buying fresh supplies for making paper flowers, they would only cost about $12 at a major craft outlet to make 12 flowers, with some material leftover to make more flowers later.
If you’re good at sewing, this is a great gift generator for family and friends. The best part is you pretty much have leftover material from other projects stashed away that can be turned into cool gifts, many with only a half a yard of material needed.
Again, these can be personalized to fit the gift recipient, colors, favorite animal, décor and so on. This would cost nothing but time since you’ve already have the materials on hand, otherwise many materials can be purchased cheaply in the craft store’s bargain bin for under $5.
10. Bread Dough Art
This is a simple craft to make using only flour and salt that you already have in your pantry (or about $3 at your local grocery store) and your oven.
Even if you’re not artistically inclined these are so simple to create and most craft books on this subject have patterns and instructions to follow. You can create easy wreaths, ornaments, baskets, animals, decorations and a lot more.
11. Garage Sales & Auctions
If you already have a side hustle of searching flea markets, auctions, and craigslist for stuff to resell, why not use an item or two to clean up and gift?
There are many things that are pretty “new-ish” that can be gifted – appliances, décor, books, and a lot more. You don’t need to tell them where you got it – unless they know what you do for a living. Then I’d suggest buying something new instead.
Make a batch of handmade soap for gifts. The recipes are pretty easy and some can be made in a slow cooker. Again these can be personalized for a favorite smell, seasonal smell (gingerbread for Christmas), and more varieties.
Many recipes don’t even need Lye for us nervous about abrasive chemicals.
The cost for making homemade “melt and pour” soap is about $7 for the soap base and around $5 and up for the reusable silicone mold (which is reusable) and whatever aromas and scents you have – spices from your cupboard, essential oils, and such.
Any batch you make after the initial purchase would only cost $7 for a set of 6 soaps. The great thing is you can buy silicone mats in a variety of shapes – hearts, bars, Star Wars, flowers, etc.
Another savings tip – collect all those hotel soaps on your trips and melt the similar scents down and pour into the molds.
If you love taking photographs, why not enlarge one, have it printed on canvas and gift that to someone? It doesn’t even have to be a family or event shoot. It can be a landscape, a sunset, or a subject the person is fond of.
Drug Stores and Discount sellers offer this service in their photography section. One popular store offers to create mounted photos – $12 for an 8×10, canvas – $20 for an 8×10, a poster – $8 for a 12×12 among other products.
Another option is to get a nice frame at a dollar store for under $5 and print the photo yourself on photo paper (some comes included with printers).
14. Tile Coasters
These would make great housewarming gifts. Tiles be purchased cheaply at a major hardware store – a 6×6 white tile is only .50¢ each. These can be painted on, modge-podged a design or photo, or marbleized for a cool effect.
A set of 6 coasters would cost about $4. ($3 for the tiles and .70¢ on felt for the bottoms).
15. Snack Mixes
If you have someone who loves snacks (don’t we all?) give them a large party mix gift. A variety of flavors and treats can be made, bought, and mixed together for a unique treat.
Get one of those large popcorn bowls I mentioned in #1 Gift Baskets that only costs $1.75 and fill it with a variety of flavor mixes and wrap it up in the cellophane wrap and it’s ready to give.
Flavor mixes such as:
- Puppy Chow
- Popcorn mix
- Chex mix
- Muddy Buddies
- Tortilla flavored mix
16. Fort Kit
This is a fun gift for young kids (and old). Who remembers making forts as kids? Why not make a “fort kit” for kids?
Blankets and sheets can be found inexpensively in many places – garage sales, dollar store, discount warehouses and more. Wrap them up and tie with a ribbon, add a package of clothespins, and rope for a unique gift!
17. String Art
Have any wood left over from the wood sign projects? Put a few together, hammer a pattern of nails in and create string art. Many things can be created – geometric designs, state map, words, favorite animal or subjects and more.
This gift would only need the cost of nails and string – pretty much under $5 and a little time and work. This book has several patterns and instructions if you can’t think of any to create. More ideas can be found on Pinterest as well.
18. Framed Maps
Do you need a gift for the Newlyweds? An avid traveler? Why not make framed maps as a gift? For the newlyweds (especially those who were long distance relationships) find a map of each of their hometown and where they live now and frame those.
Frames can be bought at Dollar stores, found at garage sales and other places and many maps can be obtained for free at roadside tourist centers.
19. Gift Cards
Lastly, a good gift to give is a gift card. If you’ve been filling out surveys or using other ways to earn free gift cards, then giving a gift card wouldn’t cost you anything at all.
If you haven’t started then check out all these survey sites for ways to earn free gift cards in the future.
As you can see, finding inexpensive gifts for your family and friends isn’t that hard and I think they’re more meaningful than something you grabbed off a store shelf. No one needs to know how much they actually cost and many don’t “scream” cheap either.