Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 6 Creative Gift-Giving Ideas for a Limited Budget (Day 8)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story (or a link to your post on your blog) and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

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. Re-gift.

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 re-gift 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!

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!


  • Aleah Buck says:

    Something I just did today was to take inventory of the gifts we are giving and the gift wrapping supplies I already had. I was thinking I needed to buy a few more gift bags, but after I went through everything, I realized I had plenty of wrapping supplies left from last Christmas! No need to spend a penny, and it only took me a few minutes to figure it out 🙂 I think it feels easier to just go out and buy something new than to sift through what you have, but it’s worth it to take a minute and do inventory!

  • This year my frugal gift is to make Christmas mix CDs. I’m buying blank CDs from the dollar store and recycled CD sleeves from Office Depot. Load them with classic and modern Christmas songs and viola!

  • Jessica says:

    I crochet and sew. I get most of my supplies at estate and rummage sales, and occasionally at the craft store with those 40% and 50% off coupons.

    This year, I made felt pizzas, crocheted Oreos, crocheted sugar cookies, crocheted toaster pastries, crocheted scarves, crocheted pillowghans and two felt alphabet sets for the children in my family and my own kids. It can be time consuming, but I enjoy these as hobbies and so I would likely be crocheting *something*, so why not let it be a gift?!

    For example, the crocheted Oreos- I used a large skein of black yarn that I got for $2.50 after coupon and a smaller skein of white yarn that I got at a rummage sale for $.25. I was able to make 30 cookies with that yarn. I also needed 1 skein of black embroidery thread, which I already had on hand but you can get those for about $.30 or less when on sale or with a coupon.

  • Melissa N says:

    I just today bought a 75-cent composition notebook (not the spiral kind) at Target as a gift for a 6 year old girl. I glued pink scrapbook paper to the front and back ( I had pieces at home), hot glued a ribbon down the spine since the paper wouldn’t fold/glue right, then stuck 5 butterfly stickers in the top and bottom corners. I had some white posterboard chunks and cut five 3×5 pieces, added a thin strip of the same pink paper along the top of the card as decor, and got 5 envelopes. Then tied together the notebook, notecards, and envelopes with a pink pencil (had from a birthday party favor bag), tied with a ribbon, and had a “stationary writing gift set”. My own 6 year old thought it was fantastic and it cost me 75 cents, plus some paper I already had. I am totally filing this away for future gifts! Our budget was $50 a month for gifts and it has never been enough. I think any girl, or possibly boy, would like a stationary set – there’s something about matching “sets” that kids like. And encouraging writing is always a good thing!

    • Kimber says:

      Great idea! I do something similar – I buy school supplies at back-to-school time (crayons, colored pencils, glue sticks, pencil boxes, etc) when they’re at rock-bottom prices, and I grab stickers when I see a good deal (Michaels has pretty nice kids sticker sets for $1 with 500-ish stickers, and if I’m in the store and have a 40% off coupon I’m not going to use, I go ahead and grab a pack of stickers). Then I make “art supply kits”. But I like your idea – it’s great for an older child or even a teenager!

  • Kristy says:

    I just love what all the other commenters have added. Great points and ideas that I will keep in mind.

    The rule of thumb for specially handmade gifts is a good one. Actually, I knit gifts, and if I somehow messed up and made something that was the wrong size or a bad color for someone, I would be fine with them giving it to someone who would use it. However, there are handmade gifts that have taken hundreds of hours to create and some blood, sweat, and tears. It’s best to be careful what you do with special handmade items. 🙂

  • Deidre says:

    My brother and I save money by exchanging items we already have. I asked for a few dvds since we don’t have cable and since he already owns them I told him to wrap them up if he doesn’t mind parting with them. He loves the idea of getting rid of things he’s not using and saving money. In return I’ll wrap up puzzles we’ve already done because him and his girlfriend have been putting puzzles together lately.

    I also shop at thrift stores for vintage finds, milk glass, etc… my girlfriends always think I have a knack for finding the best things at thrift stores and love having something totally unique. If you have friends that enjoy thrift store finds this is a perfect way to save a little money.

  • Tori says:

    When Walgreens has their Christmas sacks on sale 8/$1 I use them as my fillers. Then I use them for my 3 kids’ little presents—the odd-shaped ones or just to make them look bigger. I crunch up newspaper and put it in the sack, hiding the present within. Then I fold it over and staple (my kids would peek in a gift bag, so this is perfect). They are super-easy to do for a busy mom, super cheap, no peeking, and very colorful. Also, my kids can’t compare present sizes this way!

    • Blessed Mama says:

      Those Walgreens bags are great! I just bought a bunch too for presents for friends- I made tea cup candles. These are super frugal and easy to make (even for the non-crafty person). You can find beautiful tea cups at the thrift store for around $1 for the cup and plate. Then at the craft store like Michaels you can use one of their 40% off coupons to buy a container of wax pieces. Then you just need some wicks and fragrance or natural fragrance (essential oils-the best deal on these is on Super easy to make and a pretty gift!

  • Nancy says:

    I am not very good at remembering who gave me what and I live in fear of the “re-gifting” nightmare of giving away something and hurting feelings so now I store the item in the original package with the card in it. That way I have a reminder of where it came from so that I never re-gift things where the original giver might see. I would never re-gift something handmade…what if the person asked how I did it? LOL. I teach a class though and get “teacher” gifts such as Starbucks gift cards (I don’t drink coffee) and notepads ( I have more than I’ll use in 3 lifetimes) that would bless somebody else. Another idea is to use some of that stuff in boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I may be very picky about my soap or lotion but it could be a great thing for those boxes.

  • We use pictures of our kids from throughout the year and do a collage on the computer. Then I print them at Walmart as an 8×10 and then use the large magnet sheets at hobby lobby that are sticky on one side and attach the picture. They are less than $3 and are displayed on grandparent and great grandparents fridges all year. We have requests every year and it isn’t more clutter.

  • Allison says:

    I sometimes use brown paper bags from the grocery store as wrapping paper. I cut the bag open so it’s flat, cut off the bottom and turn the logo to the inside. It looks nice with a piece of ribbon.

  • N Ellis says:

    I purchase resuable bags at a cheaper price for gift bags instead of purchasing the pretty” ones. If I recieve a gift bag I do reuse them but I like reusable bags because they hold more and are generally cheaper, even at TRU, and can be reused later for groceries or something.

  • Barb S. says:

    My husband brings home from work, and a friend gives us his, Coke Rewards. We’ve entered enough codes to get all our nieces and nephews magazine subscriptions this year at no cost to us! This has been an immense blessing in the currently tough economy.

  • Julie says:

    My mother used to wrap my sister’s and my Christmas presents from Santa in the Sunday comics, too. That was 30 something years ago! I do this now with my kids and they love it!

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *