Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the rest of 2020 honestly hasn’t been all that marvelous. We’re all in need of a little good cheer. Be that as it may, though, families should be careful not to overspend during the holidays or even go into debt in order to finance a lavish celebration.
It’s a good thing that there are plenty of ways to feed a crowd without breaking the bank and a number of inexpensive Christmas gift ideas for you to choose from. Some people did indeed get richer during the coronavirus pandemic, but most of us took a hammering. Businesses stumbled and floundered all over the place, especially small enterprises that account for about half of all non-government jobs. We’re all hoping for a recovery in the coming year, and one does seem likely, but nobody really knows what 2021 may hold for us.
It’s therefore wise to save money on Christmas this year. This is a time for togetherness rather than materialism, after all, and it’s certainly possible for you to enjoy yourselves on a budget. If things go well in the coming months, you can always invest your savings…and if things head south, you’ll be glad to have a little extra cash at your disposal.
Let’s take a look at some creative Christmas gift ideas that are easy on the wallet but will still bring a smile to the faces of those who receive them:
Table of Contents
- 1 Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas
- 2 Handcrafted Soap
- 3 A Custom Deck of Cards
- 4 Homemade Hair Conditioner
- 5 Message Capsules
- 6 A DIY Snowglobe
- 7 Christmas Gift Ideas for Under $25
- 8 Treasures from Second Hand Bookstores
- 9 A Censer and Incense
- 10 A Milk Frother
- 11 An Air Purifier for Your Fridge
- 12 A Personal Fan
- 13 Finding a Christmas Gift for Less than $50
- 14 Mini Waffle Maker
- 15 Portable Waterproof Speaker
- 16 Thing Locator
- 17 Mushroom Growing Kit
- 18 Classic Arcade Cabinet for Your iPad
- 19 Christmas Gift Baskets: Stocking Stuffers to Mix and Match
- 20 Santa Will Come Around Next Year, Too
Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas
Some of the best inexpensive Christmas gifts cost little more than some time and effort. The best part is that you can personalize many of them to your heart’s content – when you put a little love into something you created yourself, it really is the thought that counts.
Though it seems like it should be complicated, you really don’t need to be Walter White to make gentle, high-quality soap from scratch. The basic ingredients are just vegetable oil, lye, and essential oils to impart some fragrance. All the tools you need are probably already in your kitchen and, as long as you’re careful when handling the lye, very little can go wrong.
Detailed instructions are available here. Once you’re done, simply wrap each bar in your choice of paper and you have a gift that would cost $5 or more if you bought it at the store. Bonus points for spending a few bucks extra on soap molds for an extra special touch.
A Custom Deck of Cards
You probably have a ton of family photos saved on your phone or computer you barely even look at anymore. Don’t let these memories fade; instead, use them to create your own pack of playing cards!
Figuring out how to use graphic design software to get everything just the way you want it may take some time, but hey, learning is never wasted. After that, you have two options: either pay someone to do the actual printing, or buy some playing card stock and use your home printer. The former will give you better quality, while the latter is significantly cheaper. Since this is a Christmas gift, though, the idea is probably not so much to use them for everyday games, so you don’t need to spring for extra lamination or premium cardboard.
Homemade Hair Conditioner
Many people, concerned about what effects exotic chemicals may have on the human body, are now mixing their own detergents. By and large, these work just as well as those you can buy at the supermarket. What may still surprise you is that you can replace many of those fancy branded haircare products just as easily.
DIY hair conditioners are at least as effective as those with TV commercials, smell a lot better, and are often the cheaper option. Some, like those containing yogurt and eggs, need to be refrigerated, which is obviously less than ideal for a gift. Others, however, keep well for months and can be made from inexpensive ingredients. All you need to turn them into Christmas gifts are some fancy bottles and a few labels you can write out by hand.
There are probably people in your life you only see for a few days a year, around Christmas. There may not be much you can do about this situation, but at least you can let them know you care about them year-round with a bottle of these message capsules.
Sometimes, a person who’s feeling down just needs to read a one-line note like “I ♥ U” or “You can do the thing!”. You can write about 20 of these on the included slips of paper, package them in the capsules (each of which has a little emoji face), and give the bottle containing them to a loved one to open as needed. If you’d prefer not to spend any money at all, you can still take advantage of this Christmas gift idea: simply use any spare container you happen to have lying around and seal each rolled-up message with a drop of wax instead.
A DIY Snowglobe
Snowglobes may seem magical, but they’re actually pretty easy to construct yourself. All you need to buy may be a figurine: perhaps a charming building, an animal, a racecar – just think about what the person you’re planning to give it to enjoys. Then, follow these instructions to create a fantastic personalized ornament in under half an hour (though it will look like you spent a whole lot more than that).
Christmas Gift Ideas for Under $25
People understand that money is tight right now; no-one is expecting a new car or package holiday as a Christmas gift. Still, you may want to show your appreciation for them with a small physical token – no gift is too modest as long as it shows that you know and love the recipient. If none of the options below appeal to you, also check out this page for more inexpensive Christmas gift ideas.
Treasures from Second Hand Bookstores
Reading remains one of the cheapest ways to entertain yourself and expands the mind besides. It’s really a shame that it’s not a more popular pastime – perhaps this is just because people don’t realize that books are some of the best Christmas gift ideas.
They don’t have to be expensive, either, as long as you look farther afield than this week’s bestsellers list. If you know someone well enough to want to buy a present for them, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what interests them and what kind of fiction they’ll enjoy. Browsing through second-hand bookstores with a friend can make for a pretty fun afternoon, or you can search for underappreciated titles online if you don’t like the smell of old books.
A Censer and Incense
When a room smells nice, people feel nice. There are few more direct ways of making someone you care about happier than by giving them a selection of incense cones that emit soothing or energizing scents. This is one case in which it’s worth paying a little more for the organic option – the artificial fragrances used in some incense may give off harmful compounds when burned.
While you’re at it (and if your Christmas gift budget allows) you can also throw in an incense burner. Though inexpensive, some of these are amazingly pretty, creating a kind of ghostly waterfall effect with smoke.
A Milk Frother
If someone you know really deserves a cappuccino machine but you can’t afford one right now, take a look at this low-cost alternative. It doesn’t hold a candle to a real milk steamer, but you can still create some pretty tasty froth for lattes, hot chocolate, and other drinks.
An Air Purifier for Your Fridge
A good first step towards spending less on groceries is not to let your fruit and vegetables spoil. Buying less at a time, or resorting to canned or frozen produce, are both good ideas. Still, it seems like we’re really at the mercy of biology as far as wilting and rotting goes.
The thing is, though, that biology can be tricked. Many fruits and vegetables emit a gas called ethylene, which helps them ripen but also makes them rot more quickly. Simply placing one of these gadgets in your fridge halts this process, lowering your food bills and improving the quality of your nutrition. If you know anyone who’s trying to eat more healthily, this is the perfect low-cost Christmas gift for them.
A Personal Fan
We may be shivering right now, but sweltering summer is sure to come around in a couple of months. When this happens, don’t let your relatives get hot and bothered; give them one of these inexpensive fans instead.
Worn like a necklace, it blows cool air up against your face and neck. It runs for about 10 hours on one set of batteries and, though it won’t win any prizes for fashionability, it’s hard to beat in terms of the comfort it offers.
Finding a Christmas Gift for Less than $50
No matter how broke you are, there are certain people you really want to treat a little around Christmas time. You may think that spending only a few dollars extra doesn’t amount to much, but you’d be wrong: with a little careful shopping, you can score a delightful Christmas gift even if you’re short of cash.
Mini Waffle Maker
Perfect for a younger person who’s just about to move out on their own, this little kitchen gadget has only one purpose: making delicious breakfasts or desserts for one. It’s extremely compact, easy to clean, and can produce a waffle in only 5 minutes, making it perfect for the single person who’s always on the run – just keep a jar of batter in the fridge and use as needed.
Portable Waterproof Speaker
If you could listen to music or podcasts in the shower, would you? If this kind of multitasking appeals to you, then so will this watertight Bluetooth speaker, which can be used in the bathroom, near (though not in) the pool, while camping and so on.
It can connect to devices up to 33 feet away and, at about 4” by 4” by 2”, is as small as you could possibly want. The battery life of 10 hours is nothing to sneeze at, nor does the sound quality disappoint.
No doubt, you know a couple of people who’re on the absent-minded side…and not all of them have gray hair. Anyone who’s constantly losing their stuff in the same room they’re in will appreciate the Tile – when you can’t find your car keys, simply use the app to make the keyring emit a sound. If you’ve managed to locate your keys but your phone is missing, just tap on the Tile to make it ring. It also works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
Mushroom Growing Kit
Most people have no idea how mushrooms are grown – did you know that you can do it in your own kitchen? While not totally foolproof, this pint-sized mushroom farm offers a high chance of success, even for multiple harvests.
All you need is water and some patience. This is a great gift for families with children, as they’ll be able to monitor the mushrooms’ growth day by day.
Classic Arcade Cabinet for Your iPad
Younger people probably haven’t had this experience, but most Millennials and Gen Xers dropped a lot of quarters for the privilege of playing games like Donkey Kong, Pacman, and Space Invaders. The graphics may be poor and the sound effects no more than beeps and boops, but this is just as much fun than the latest Xbox release.
If you already own an iPad, all you need to do is download the appropriate app, slot your device into this cabinet and fire her up. Old-style joystick controls and sturdy construction make this Christmas gift worth the money.
Christmas Gift Baskets: Stocking Stuffers to Mix and Match
Of all the homemade Christmas gift ideas, Christmas gift baskets are one of the most economical and satisfying. The idea is simple: instead of one large and probably expensive gift for each person, you buy a selection of small items and distribute them according to each recipient’s taste.
Here are a couple of ideas for small Christmas gifts to get you started:
- Food seasonings are often really cheap when you get them in bulk and can easily be re-packaged in small air-tight jars for an elegant foodie gift. Some items to keep in mind are spices, Himalayan pink salt, honey, and real vanilla pods.
- Liqueur samples generally aren’t enough for a party, but do enable your friend or family member to experience flavors they’d never buy for themselves. The two-ounce bottles you’ll see on airplanes are way overpriced if you can even find them, but you can also buy empty containers and fill them from a bottle. If the latter costs $30 (which presumably means that it’s top-shelf booze), each sample works out to about $3.50 including the vial.
- Nobody ever says no to candy. Unless you’re making Christmas gift baskets for kids, the idea is to choose varieties that look elegant but don’t cost a bundle. Individually wrapped chocolates, dried fruit, and nuts are all going to be huge hits. For children, of course, quantity is far more important than quality.
- Self-care items and cosmetics will make any woman smile. They don’t need to be from well-known brands, either. Look for quality products off the beaten track and round them out with items like manicure tools, scented candles, and washcloths made from premium fabrics.
- Toys aren’t necessarily just for children. These splat balls, for instance, are a great stress reliever as long as they last. Numerous other toys are sold in large sets that can be broken up and given to multiple people.
Santa Will Come Around Next Year, Too
Everybody wants to give their family the best, especially around Christmas when it seems like the whole world is pulling out all the stops. Don’t be tempted to push your credit cards too far, though.
Your bills and mortgage will still be there once the dust settles. A week of pleasure really isn’t much if it means months of pinching pennies afterward. In other words, enjoy your Christmas but look for cheaper ways of doing so: go caroling instead of to the mall, watch out for free entertainment like nativity plays, and of course select thoughtful, inexpensive Christmas gifts instead of heavily advertised products. You can make up for any corners you cut next year, especially if you plan ahead and put away some money specifically for holiday celebrations.
There are thousands of great cheap and homemade Christmas gift ideas out there; this article can barely scratch the surface. If you have a personal favorite, please jot it down in the comments – somebody is sure to read and use it to make their own holidays a little more cheerful.
41 thoughts on “Elegant But Not Extravagant: Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas”
We all need some inexpensive gifts. This year we are all struggling with money
Sometimes making your own gifts means more money considering the time you will spend to do them then to buy in the store
You gave me a perfect idea for a gift – a thing locator. My father will adore it, he never knows where are his car keys.
I like Christmas and wandering through shops to find some perfect gifts for the loved ones
Cosmetics and soaps are always perfect gifts
I like to prepare special gifts for my friends and family. Always unique. I will use some tips for this year, thanks
I don’t think that spending too much money on Christmas gifts is important. The thought is what matters
I like decorating my home and preparing gifts for my family. It’s the most joyful time of the year.
I always try to prepare some handmade items as gifts. They are cheaper and special.
My opinion is that this year we can skip preparing gifts, only for our families. The atmosphere is like that these days
Except presents for the kids, this year I will skip all the other presents as huge gatherings are not allowed
The upcoming holidays are the perfect time to hang out with family and friends. The gifts are not important but are part of the tradition
I like all the traditions and making and buying gifts for all the people that mean something to me
Inexpensive gifts are always good option. We all like not to overspend during the holidays
I would like to prepare my own gifts but I neither have the talent nor the patience. But if something is easy probably I should try
I tried couple of years ago to make my own soaps. It was a disaster. So I would rather buy some inexpensive gifts
I like when presents are packed well and interesting. It means that the person giving paid attention to every detail
I used to prepare presents myself. Now I don’t have time to do it and I buy some presents
Creations are something for the people who have talent. Not my cup of cake
I always do the shopping the last minute. I think that I overpay them but this is one of my bad habits to do everything at the last minute
I can spend hours and days visiting the shops couple of times to find the perfect gifts.
Preparing Christmas gifts is my favorite part of the holidays. I enjoy doing it, I can spend the whole day playing with it
I have a big family and lot of kids in my closer family. So I am buying sets of presents and divide them because other way I will have to spend a fortune for presents
I made myself some snowglobes for presents and even for selling them. The people like things like souvenirs and stuff like that for presents
I like to buy books for presents. I think that even you know the person and select the right book it is a gift that can remind him of you for many years
I like getting presents for Christmas
I like to avoid the crowds in the stores so I buy presents throughout the year and during the sales. So when the season comes I am ready with the presents and it costs me less
I like to prepare personalized gifts even for birthdays. I don’t think that expensive gifts are important, knowing the person and what to buy him or her is what matters
I like these holidays. It is all in giving and sharing
I always go to my home town for holidays. I think that Christmas at home with the family is the most perfect time ever spend
My family is always very generous with the presents for Christmas. I like the atmosphere for Christmas. I don’t have anything against spending hours in the stores. I enjoy the crowds
My house is decorated for Christmas already. And the gifts are ready
I like to make my own gifts. I will use some of these ideas
I will go over the next days to buy some gifts. You have nice ideas, maybe I will buy some materials to prepare them myself
I always buy some beauty care products. It is the easiest way to get some inexpensive products.
Christmas decorations are nice gifts too. I always buy presents related to Christmas
Christmas and New Year are the most beautiful time of the year. I enjoy it. I buy Christmas decorations and gifts for everyone
I like the articles. Saving money on whatever is very important this year even when it is to Christmas gifts.
My gift decorations are unique. I like thoughtful gifts not only to give.
Enjoying the holidays mean enjoying the Christmas decorations, lights and gifts and the whole atmosphere around it
I like stories about Santa and to find presents under the Christmas tree. I enjoy all the traditions connected to Christmas