6 Creative Gift-Giving Ideas for a Limited Budget

Guest post from Jennifer of When Pigs Fly

Recently my husband and I had the grueling task of revamping our budget. We had to make cuts across the board, due to an increase in one of our bills. As we went through the budget line by line, we began asking ourselves, “Do we really need this?”

One of the categories in question was our Gift Budget, which was taking $120 per month. We decided to drastically decrease this amount and implement creative ways to reduce spending for occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays, and various events.

We came to the conclusion that anyone can run to the store and pick up a quick gift and card. We wanted to show our recipients that we put extra effort into creating something unique and personal, especially for them, saving us money along the way!

1. Find your inner Betty Crocker!

Most people really enjoy receiving homemade treats. Get creative and bake up a small sample platter showcasing your favorite desserts, a simple batch of cookies, or homemade cake pops.

Baked goods make great gifts, especially when you have to give several gifts at one time. Give it that extra touch by purchasing an decorative platter or container at your local Dollar Store.

2. Recycle cards.

As you receive cards for all occasions throughout the year, place them aside. When a need arises, cut the fronts off with decorative scissors, leaving the back blank for a special note or make into a gift tag.

If you’re really creative, use sections of the cards to create a whole new card, using scrap-booking supplies you already have on hand. Plus, don’t forget to utilize the free card promo codes, often offered on online card sites!

3. Substitute gift wrappings.

Forget about buying wrapping paper and gift bags, I love to use my Sunday Comics as wrapping paper. Not only is it fun, it is free!

Forgo expensive gift bags and consider packaging your item in a basket, crate, mason jar, or bin, that you already have laying around the house. Also, save the ribbons and special embellishments from gifts you receive, and reuse them to decorate your gift.

4. Regift.

Okay, so I know this may be tacky to some, but don’t let a gift you received (and won’t use) go to waste. Place it aside for a future gift-giving occasion. Just make sure you remember who originally gave it to you!

A rule of thumb is not to regift anything that was especially handmade for you.

5. Give recycled gifts.

Your home is full of gift ideas, so before you throw items out, think of your possibilities! Turn an empty wine bottle into a elegant Tiki Torch, an old window shutter into a photo frame, or a small wooden crate into a beautiful planter.

6. Use those freebies.

Opportunities to receive free items are readily available these days — store promotions, giveaways and contests, requested samples, etc. When you get such items, set them aside. Use them later to create themed gift baskets for unexpected events such as baby showers, house warming, or get-well.

What are your favorite ways to give on a budget?

Jennifer Van Dahm is a stay-at-home mom, who knew there was more to life than laundry and dishes! Her motto, “Taking the ordinary out, of everyday living”, is shown throughout her website, When Pigs Fly. There, she highlights her passion for cooking and providing a healthy life style for her family, while saving money in the process. Her goal is to refresh families and help them get out of their rut– physically, mentally, and spiritually!

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Comments

  1. Sakura says

    During the summer months I like to make extra jams, jellies, pickles, mustards and salsas for gift giving. When it comes to kids my 8 yo still goes to bday parties, so I watch for toy clearance sales and pick up a couple of items. This past weekend I found a $39.00 Lego set for just $5. Last year I picked up a bunch of different kids card games for free. I wrapped these with a candy tied to the top with some ribbon and presto a very frugal but fun gift.

    • says

      I also shop clearance for gifts, but have learned to use my smart phone in the store to read toy reviews. Also, after putting it in my cart, I will try to think right there of a recipient. In the past, I have a lugged home a few clearance bargains that I couldn’t thoughtfully give to the right person! Also, some clearance items can be monogrammed, spray-painted, decoupaged, and the list goes on if you’re willing to get crafty!

  2. says

    I enjoyed the tips. :) Still, I’d have to actually buy a newspaper to wrap gifts in the Sunday comics. ;) And be careful on the homemade goodies–one of the most expensive gifts I ever gave was when I made a homemade fruitcake for my grandmother’s Christmas gift. It was a rockin’ fruitcake, and she loved it, but boy was it expensive! :-p

  3. Vikki says

    I haven’t bought a new gift bag in years. I keep all of mine in the largest gift bag along with the tissue paper. Both can be used multiple times. I buy wrapping paper at the dollar store.

  4. says

    One year my parents were between jobs and we were always on a tight budget. So for Christmas we predetermined to all shop our own homes.

    I still treasure the gorgeous wreath my mother gave me from her own home that year!

  5. NaDell says

    I decided that for our adult siblings birthdays this year I’d do something other than the gift cards we’ve been doing for years. With 4 married siblings on my husband’s side and four married siblings on my side and one unmarried, it sure added up fast to buy each of them a gift card! We still buy a little something for nieces and nephews and friend birthday parties and our parents, but saving the money from 17 gift cards really adds up!
    Instead of that I decided to be a little more homemade. The boys each get a homemade treat from me (cookies, bread, etc) and the girls are each getting a jean quilt this year made with old, recycled jeans (and love). They all seem to like it so far!

  6. Heather says

    Service type gifts usually cost little to nothing. You can make up coupons for lawn-mowing, free babysitting, window washing, flower planting, errand running, etc. These kinds of things are great for someone who doesn’t need anymore clutter or material things, someone who may be moving soon, or worse, someone who is terminally ill.

  7. Heather says

    We don’t do sibling or niece/nephew gifts for birthdays. I have nine siblings and my husband has four. Fortunately, everyone is on board with this, so that no one feels awkward. It would be crazy expensive, otherwise. Some of us do give gifts at Christmas though, but it’s generally around $5.

    I’ve noticed that sometimes hand-made gifts cost quite a bit by the time you factor in all of the materials and supplies. Which is fine, if that’s what you want to do, and enjoy doing it. But I think some people kid themselves into thinking that they are saving money by making or refurbishing something.

  8. Katherine says

    I loved my bridal shower gifts that came in a basket instead of gift bag or a box. It was like getting an extra gift ;) One of my husband’s aunts gave us a home-made throw blanket inside a nice, leather-covered box. Another aunt gave us a set of towels in a reed basket. And I made sure to keep any bags or ribbon that were still in good condition – I just tried to make a mental note of who gave me the gift bag so I don’t give it back to them! One of my favorite wraping papers for small to medium gifts is a brown bag from the grocery store. You can stamp and draw all over it, plus, if you pair it with simple string and a cardstock tag (easily printed from home!), you’ll get that vintage parcel look that’s all the rage :p

  9. Jessica says

    I stock up on school supplies during the back to school sales. For Christmad I draw the child’s name on a pencil box with glitter glue, and inside I put crayons, markers, erasers and post it notes that I got super cheap. I add in a notebook and I am done, usually for under $3 a gift. Every kid loves art stuff, and I like to give items that are consumable vs stuff that will take up room. With three kids here, we are overflowing with toys even though I constantly weed through them.

    • Karen says

      My mother does this too. She doesn’t live near any stores, but I do so I watch for items to go clearance and pick them up for her. She makes up each kids a gift bag of art supplies and the littlest ones get coloring books and crayons. The kids all love it AND it keeps them busy while the adults visit with each other at Christmas.

  10. Darcy says

    Great ideas!! I’m planning to use pages from all the free Bridal Guide magazines I’ve received to actually wrap my best friend’s bridal shower gift next month. I would imagine the theme could extend to work for whatever magazines you have lying around!

    And last Christmas I used all the freebies/cheap items I received/bought to make emergency girly bags for friends and family. I custom made the bags on Artscow.com and just put items like deodorant, eyeshadow, chapstick, a pen, nail file, Tide To Go pen, etc and intended them to be kept at work, in the car, at a friend’s house, etc — wherever you might have an unexpected emergency!

  11. Emily says

    Over the last few years we’ve gotten downright disgusted with the commercialization of every holiday. This year, my parents and my own family are having a Handmade Christmas. Nothing commercial! Of course, there’s no procrastinating in this so we’re already exchanging ideas – my kids will be building birdhouses and painting them for their grandparents’ backyard gardens, I will be sewing, baking and crocheting, we’ll all dabble in a little woodworking. I’m extremely excited to experience this with my parents, my children, and to have fun doing all the little hands-on projects throughout the year!

    • Oralia R. says

      Emily, that sounds like a great idea! Its not an expensive gift but whats best is that its from the heart! =)

  12. says

    I get a lot of mileage by keeping tabs on Groupon and Living Social deals. I’ve been able to give much nicer gifts than what I could otherwise afford through their services.

  13. says

    I’ve seen some great ideas on Pinterest for frames and scrap book paper turned into dry erase boards. These are often used for menu planners. I was doing this for myself, but these could make good gifts too.

    At Christmas time, Crystal posted inexpensive gift wrapping ideas and one was using maps. Now when I’m traveling and stop at rest areas and visitors centers, I grab a map. These are unusually free.

  14. Sarah says

    I don’t recieve the newspaper.. so having to buy one to wrap presents doesn’t really work for me.

    Each year after the christmas holidays are over I do stock up on clearenced wrapping paper. I can always find something that doesn’t look to christmas-y. Different ribbons help change the look too. I have a bunch of ribbon I’m still trying to use up – bought it years ago for 0.10 at a christmas clearance sale.

    Bags, I re-use the ones I was gifted.. or store bags. Trader Joes has a nice bag.. I’ve gifted those out numerous times. Same with clothing stores, etc.

  15. says

    One really inexpensive gift that we have done over and over again is a movie night gift bowl. We buy a very inexpensive plastic bowl usually $1.00 at walmart or target. We put a bag of microwave popcorn in with whatever candy I could find on sale and whatever size soda. We purchase a blockbuster gift card good for 1 free movie rental or we have spent up to $5 or when Redbox has a groupon out for free rentals. We put everything in the bowl and tie it up with a bow of whatever ribbon, tulle, or tissue paper I have on hand. Total cost is usually $5-$8 everyone loves them.

    • Marla says

      If you’re doing a movie night bowl, a great place to get the bowl is a thrift store or garage sale.The last time I did one,I got a ceramic bowl that said “Popcorn” for 50 cents.I got all my candy/treats after Halloween on clearance.

  16. Jessica says

    I love knitting, crocheting or sewing gifts.

    I make everything from felt bookmarks to queen sized afghans. I also make toy foods, organic cotton dishcloths, hats, scarves, stuffed toys (amigurumi), baby blankets, etc. I use my scraps to make squares for charity.

  17. Sarah says

    A great and cheap gift idea for adults:

    $1 Lotto scratcher ticket. Make a card.. or use one of the numerous free cards we get around here. Total is $1. And EVERYONE loves scratchers. I usually toss a penny in with it – just to be cute. :)

    I also save various packages that food has come in – tin boxes from tea, etc. And put the lotto ticket in there (with a penny) and wrap it up for under the tree. I’ve always loved unwrapping something.. so I like to create the same experience for the reciepient of my gift. :)

    • Karen says

      My mother did that one year. But she made photo albums for the adult grand children, nothing fancy just a an album from the dollar store and some pics of them as kids. I think they all thought she had “lost” it, until one grandchild noticed a scratch off ticket falling out from behind a picture. It was a hit and everyone got a good laugh out of it too!

  18. says

    I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for my son to take to his friend’s birthday last year. All of the adults were drooling over them. His mother said, “Mmm. . .they are still warm!”

    That was not the cheapest homemade gift I’ve given; in fact it was one of the more expensive ones. However, it was a great gift for a child for whom I didn’t know what to get.

    I love your “Find your inner Betty Crocker!” comment; that is SO funny!

    I make gifts and I buy used items for gifts. A used book is just as good as new!

    Also, cut back on gifts. Most of us could do with less.

  19. Tracy says

    One thing I do around every christmas is redeem points I have earned from Mypoints.com, which I get just from clicking there ads, using there search engine and sometimes taking quizes. I usually pick a gift card to Barnes & Nobles were I can pick up some books that my son and cousins have been wanting. The best part it ends up costing me nothing but a bit of my time.

  20. Brittany says

    I think it is very important to keep the recipient in mind when doing cheap gifts, though. I would never give a bunch of freebies bc no one I know needs them, and everyone knows I coupon and would know I would be just giving away something I got for free. its the thought that counts, and that, to me, is not very thoughtful.

    • Kay says

      I think it depends on how you gift it. One year, I created a “pamper” basket for my mom, sister and sister-in-law. It included free lotions, nail polish, scented candles, soaps, and chocolates. I also bought on sale bubble bath. It was personalized – for example, my SIL received a charm, and scented oils instead of the candles, my mom received raspberry shower gel, back massager and coffee, my sister hot chocolate, and I bought books on sale/from a going out of business bookstore, which were tailored to each of their interests.

      While they know I coupon, they appreciated the effort that went it collecting it all year long (not to mention the value of the items I gave greatly exceeded what I would have otherwise given). If I had given a basket of basket of standard bath items – free toothpaste or floss for example, they wouldn’t have appreciated it, but this was creative and personalized. That said, it did require the purchase of a few items to tie the “theme” together.

      My SIL in particular loved it and passed along the message that she would happily receive another basket anytime. I’ve since turned her onto couponing (because of this basket) and she’s deliriously happy to get her own deals. I may have lost a gift idea, but I am delighted to have someone to share deals with and teach others about the joys of couponing.

  21. Amy says

    I’m not totally above regifting gift cards if they are appropriate for the situation. Pinterest has a million ideas for handmade gift card holders.

    I made my whole immediate family cloth gift bags one year for Christmas. We all use them at our family get together each year and it really cuts down on the trash. I mostly upcycled flannel Christmas sheets found at the thrift store. The “easiest” way to make them is to fold a twin sheet in half (right sides together), cut it into 5 roughly equal chunks, and sew up the cut edges. Turn the bags right side out and sew a piece of ribbon about 4 inches from the top hem at the center of the ribbon. Done. Ribbon can be tied in a bow at the top of the bag. I upcycle old Christmas cards into gift tags and punch a hole in the corner of the tag and run it through the ribbon.

    After Christmas, I always try to pick up one roll of plain colored wrapping paper for year-round use. Like red. I’ve saved every ribbon ever given to me. Even if the gift inside isn’t that great, people tend to notice when you take the time to wrap something with actual paper and ribbons.

    Another thing the kids like to do is draw pictures on plain brown paper or on the inside of a paper sack and then wrap the gift in that.

    Handmade gifts aren’t always cheaper, certainly. But they can be so fun to give!

    • Penny T. says

      I LOVE your cloth gift bags idea because they can be used for reusable bags at the grocery store and easily washed. Love it! I may have to dust off my sewing machine and try it for myself. I think I’d try to make regular handles, though. Maybe even add monograms on the front.

    • Lisa says

      If you make the bags the size of a pillowcase in fun fabrics it is duel purpose. I change my kids pillowcases everyday when they are sick and snotty (not necessarily the whole bed) and they love the cute cotton ones that my aunt made for them. Just don’t sew the ribbon on-tie around the top. Seriously can’t get much more green/frugal than that. I love a gift that keeps giving! Plus I don’t have to do laundry instantly when my kids are sick/pukey and I am stressed and tired too.

  22. says

    I have eight nearby nieces and nephews (ages 16 to 1) and my husband has seven siblings who also live nearby (ages 19 to 4) so we have to be creative to do something special for all them without spending a ton.

    Before I got married I often took my nieces and nephews out to lunch and maybe window shopping somewhere for their birthdays. After getting married we morphed the idea of spending time with them as a gift to things that my husband and I could both do with them and would be a bit cheaper. Some of the things we’ve done this year:

    –I took my sixteen year old niece on a trip to the mall. I bought coffee drinks for both of us beforehand at a local coffee place, and then we window shopped several clothes and accessories stores, doing the whole ‘girly’ thing and each buying a few (cheap) things we fell in love with.
    –My twelve year old niece got a similar trip, but she requested Hobby Lobby for the window shopping part of the trip.
    –My five year old niece frequently reminds me about the tea party I did with her for her birthday last year (just the two of us, with a nicely set tea table and some marshmallows, dried fruit, etc I had in the cupboard) and says she’s really like to do something like that again for her birthday this year.
    –Each of my nephews got invited over for a special birthday game night including supper (which I tried to make something nice, but that we would have eaten anyway-it’s not hard to make cheap meals that teen and preteen boys gobble up) and then they got to pick the games we played.
    –For two of my husbands younger siblings that had birthdays close together, he took the afternoon off and we took them both ice skating. The rink was mostly empty other than us at that time of day, and we all had a blast. (We even took turns timing each other to skate all the way around the rink as fast as we could–I think both the kids beat me.)
    –For my husband’s thirteen year old sister who loves cooking and baking, we had her over for the afternoon and baked a fancy cake together. (My husband took off a couple hours early that afternoon so he could help lick out the bowls. ;-) ) She stayed for dinner and then we ate the cake. :-)
    –For the little ones who wouldn’t really enjoy time away from their mamas we look for sales and deals on Melissa and Doug toys, really fun used picture books, and such. Recently my husband made a boffer sword (google if you don’t know what that is) complete with a sword belt made out of old belts for his little brother.

    It helps a lot that we’re related to kids who don’t expect glitzy and expensive presents, but they have always been *thrilled* to get presents that involve time hanging out with us.

  23. says

    If I know I need to give a gift down the road for a certain occasion, I’ll shop ahead. Like, WAY ahead. We’d taken to buying graduation gifts for June on Black Friday in November. My husband was the youth minister at church, so I’d buy leather study bibles on Black Friday for a great price to be given from the church to the graduates. Made it affordable for the youth budget. We typically bought the boys Maglites from us, and those are always on sale at Home Depot and Lowe’s on Black Friday. The girls get jewelry. I have a couple of great websites where I can buy inexpensive, but nice sterling silver jewelry. I use that for my nieces sometimes, as well.

    My husband is now working for a Christian ministry and has a lot of young coworkers who will likely be starting their families soon. I’ll need to give baby gifts, but I need to do it inexpensively. My husband took a huge paycut when we moved here, so I’ve had to revamp our budget pretty drastically. I’ve made burp cloths in the past, but I’ve found with my own baby that I like diapers as burp cloths best, so I think I’ll start adding ribbon to diapers for a pretty, but practical gift. I’ve also doctored up plain onesies with fabric initials in cute fabric. Soft toys are easily made, too. I made some super-cute animals to attach to pacifiers with fabric I had leftover from another project. All simple to do, but inexpensive to implement. Just have to find the time!

    My budget buster is my nieces. They live in another country, so I have to shop carefully for things that aren’t too big to mail, and I have to deal with the high cost of postage. I usually spend $50 each Christmas just sending their presents. There’s no real way to cut that cost down, as it’s set by the USPS.

    • Kay says

      Can you enlist their parents to shop for you in that country? Sending them a check is much cheaper than paying for shipping.

  24. Penny T. says

    When my kids were young, one of my friends showed me her trick for giving awesome birthday gifts from her child to another child. She’d go to used bookstores and find new or almost new looking books and buy those as gifts. No one could ever tell they were not new and they were a gift that made the parent happy, too. We all were happy with our kids receiving less toys on their birthdays. She usually found books that were either something the child already liked or learning books like “how to draw” books, Klutz books, science books, etc. Everyone always thought she’d spent lots of money on the gift but she never spent over $5 and usually much less. I love all of the ideas that everyone is posting!

  25. Courtney says

    I think most of these are good tips, but I find cutting the fronts of cards and re-giving them very tacky. It’s one thing to take a portion of the card for embellishment purposes, but there are enough freebies for cards that you shouldn’t have to do this. I hand make almost all my cards….it costs very little to make a lot that way.
    If it comes down to dollars and cents just don’t give a card!

    • says

      I’ve seen some very beautifully done re-made cards — but those were typically done by people who have a lot more craft talent and knack than someone like me! :)

  26. says

    The gift wrapping substitution is a great one! Many times people see it and smile right away. Def. a great savings tip if you have newspapers sitting around.

  27. Lisa says

    You can use store re-useable shopping bags as gift bags-last year our grocery had them for $1 (less than a gift bag) and in Norman Rockwell designs, it could then be used all year for groceries and is very sturdy for heavy gifts. I have made caramel sauce as gifts for father’s day along with some apples (easy, cheap-Aldi ingredients, delicious!). This year I am making hooded towels for all the younger kids. I got some super thick and nice towels at costco, along with hand towels and wash cloths ($6 per set/kid). You just sew the hand towel on for the hood (no cutting) and make a loofah/washcloth pocket for soap out of the washcloth (also no cutting). People love these because they are super thick and last way longer than the novelty ones at kohls etc. Then if I have a coupon I get fun bath wash or lotion to go with it. You just have to be creative when there is less to go around-you don’t actually have to spend a lot to give just as much or something more heartfelt.

  28. laura says

    Every summer my 2 zucchini plants produce so much zucchini we eat it until we are completely sick of it. I’m talking, sauteed, zuch fritters, soup, zuch fries, baked stuffed zuch boats, in stir-fry, all baked goods get a dose of zuch, even pasta sauce. Yes, it is amazing how much 2 plants produce. Anywho, I bake a TON of zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini bread, then pop them in the freezer. Whenever I need a hostess gift or teachers gifts I take out the zucchini bread, wrap it in plain white butchers wrap with a cute gingham ribbon and viola, instant homemade present that is already done! Lots of times people don’t even realize there is zucchini in the chocolate zucchini bread beacause honestly it takes like a big chocolate brownie that’s in the shape of a loaf. My kids beg for it and everyone that receives it has loved it so far…well I think they have?! I just baked 6 loaves on Sunday and I’m a busy person and it wasn’t that bad. Just had to make sure you are around for the day so that when the buzzer goes off you don’t burn it:)

    • says

      Caution: Some people are actually allergic to zucchini, so hidden ingredients in a gift may be a concern.

  29. laura says

    If you are not a homemade person, then also I usually have a few gifts on hand that are good for all ages of kids that were purchased inexpensively. I have beach towels, goggles, a few board games like connect 4 (there are lots of versions!), battleship and operation. Because if you play battleship and someone blows you up you may need Operation! Also I have little card games that go on sale for a $1 that I add to the top of a gift, usually it is Pictureka or Fruit Ninja or Uno or something like that. Bubbles, jump rope, chalk, snow fort builder stuff, etc. I always have a gift box that I put gifts in that we can choose from when we get invited to a bday party. My kids always are excited to choose from the gift box and wish they could choose their gifts from there too, well you know what, sometimes they do get to have a toy or two when I have a few stockpiled:)

  30. kat rippey says

    I’ve been wrapping all gifts except Christmas with comics for many years now. I also make my bow from the comics by curling strips of comic paper, layering the curls, and then staple and tape them to the gift. It’s really cute! It’s my signature gift wrap.

  31. Kay says

    One year my sister-in-law and my brother made us all a variety of christmas treats – fudge to cookies, and gave us the recipes. What made it particularly special is that these were her family traditions she shared with us.

    I took this idea and made a variety of chocolates (e.g. peanut butter cups, rice crispy treats) for my (now) brother-in-law and his fiance. They loved it and requested it again.

  32. Anne says

    I like to do yarn projects (crochet mostly), but for the nice yarns they can be really expensive. Last year for Christmas I checked out our local thrift stores in the fall for other handmade projects (I found some scarves), and they were made out of the Homespun yarn and some other fringe/fancy yarns. Because they were previously handmade projects they were easy to unravel and out of that yarn I made some cute hats and a hand bag for our nieces and nephews (6 of them). I made the hats first then washed them before giving them. Yes, a lot of time, but great for fairly simple (2-4 hours per one for me) and cheap.

    For other gifts (Birthdays and Christmas) we also check out our local Dollar Tree for cheap gifts, but if you look you can still find “nice” things. I found a couple Christian garden hanging plaques and embelished by adding some gold acrylic paint I had on hand for more detail. Nice soaps (kitchen or bathroom) and a hand towel are great and you have a usable gift for around $2.

    I also get a lot of picture frames there and fill them with art we have done (drawings, paintings, or family photos). For Father Day this year I made hand and foot prints of our son who was 9 months (acrylic paint, and a basin of water and paper towels ready at hand to minimize the mess), had a free code for an 8×10 picture of our family, put the picture and prints in a 11×14 frame and wrote a Bible verse in sharpie on the glass.

    Antique beads can be found at thrift stores that may be a little on the “over the top” side in that necklace, but can be unstrung and then used for earrings or a simpler necklace. Check Hobby Lobby for sales on jewelry making supplies that can be paired with their 40% off coupons through email.

    The internet can be a great tool to get more ideas. Crafts don’t have to be expensive or complicated, but can make gift giving personal.

  33. Lisa S says

    I love all of these ideas! We have tried to cut back on lots of different areas in our budget. My kids love going to birthday parties, but of course the gifts can really add up. I love taking pictures so if I have a picture of the birthday boy/girl I just print it out at home, have my kids sign it with a Sharpie and tie a ribbon on like a gift tag. And we typically give “time” gifts. I type up a cute little note on my computer and print it out saying what activity we want to invite the birthday child to do with us – a minor league baseball game (tickets are $5 here), a trip to the splashpad with a picnic, a free museum outing with sno cones, a visit to the local children’s theater play (again, tickets are $5). I would do things like this anyway with my kids, and it’s a lot of fun for them to bring a friend along to celebrate their birthday. It’s also a win-win for the parents because it’s one less toy to have to find a home for, and they make a fun memory.

  34. Melani says

    Another cute/cheap gift wrap option for smaller items is to stuff them in an empty Kleenex box, then ruffle a single sheet of tissue paper in the hole like, well, a Kleenex.

    • twinmommy says

      As far as the baked goods, I don’t think everyone appreciates that. My dear and well meaning MIL made us a basket full of baked goods for Christmas, and we don’t eat a ton of sweets. We couldn’t finish all of it and ended up throwing most of it away because it got stale before we ate it. It’s a waste of time and money if the recipient doesn’t end up eating it.

      • twinmommy says

        Whoops! Melani, that wasn’t meant to be a reply to you…just a new comment! lol :)

      • Sarah says

        I use to think like this too. Then I discovered putting the items in the freezer in very tiny amounts now I take them out over the year and we sprinkle them out , I made pudding a week ago when I had guest and layered in some of the home baked treats. Then the next day I made smoothies for snack and layered in some of the homebaked goods. It stretched the puddings and the smoothies and everyone enjoyed the added treat flavors. I did not have to throw out the baked goods and I found a way to use them up.

  35. Amie says

    I am not very crafty. I use swagbucks.com, mypoints.com, and superpoints.com and cash in for gift cards. Last year, I paid less than $200 for our Christmas and the rest was purchased with gift cards. Much of the $200 was used as cash gifts for relatives. I take advantage of free and cheap photo deals and use them to make special gifts like photo mugs, photo calendars, etc. I am a couponer and did try the beauty baskets, but they didn’t go over well with the in-laws so now I do pretty standard gifts. For the adults, I give a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, and a cute ornament and the kids get candy and cash.

  36. Katina says

    I like to use Freecycle and Earthcycle to try to find craft supplies for my homemade gifts. I was able to make quilts for everyone on my Christmas list last year using materials I received from people on Freecycle and Earthcycle. I’ve also made gifts-in-a-jar but I posted on Freecycle and Earthcycle looking for mason jars (because I didn’t have any on hand) instead of just going out and buying some.

  37. hollie n says

    for wrapping paper, ornaments and tags, i shop after christmas or in the summer when it’s all 75-90% off. this is how i got my really nice (fake) tree for $15.
    i taught myself how to crochet via youtube and i have been making things for the kids like cute hats, play food and dolls..they really love it..my sister told me my nices screamed for 5 minutes straight when they opened the dolls i made them..haha:D i crochet for people only when i really know their style and can make them something i know they’d love.
    i also keep a stockpile of my random freebies i get throughout the year. last year i gave my sisters and sil these beautiful $60 pearl bracelets i won from a giveaway…of course my SO slipped up big time and told them i got them for free!! totally cheapened my gift. i told him if he does that again this year, he’s getting a swift kick for christmas haha.