I was single and broke for 11 years before I met my husband, Christmas was always hard.
I worked two full time jobs and had my own tutoring job as a side gig those 11 years....and still I struggled financially. At this time in my life, I had 62 people to buy Christmas presents for when combining both sides of my family.
Plus, coworker parties! Talk about stressful times. I had to start thinking about Christmas starting in July just to be able to get through the holidays (now that ought to tell you how very far Western Culture and its traditions has strayed from the true meaning of Christmas). Christmas was never meant to be an overwhelming barrage of choices such as “Keep my heat up and stay toasty but nix a few people from the list or freeze some and buy more”.
Well yes it was BUT I made it through and along the years I found ways to be able to give and still pay all the bills without relying on credit cards or losing control of my finances. Let me show you in case you find yourself in a similar situation.
*Note: Before you start this you MUST come to terms with your thoughts behind the gifts and not the reaction of those expecting lofty and overpriced gifts. If they are not grateful for your thought towards them then that is their issue to wrestle with; not yours. Do not trap yourself within the greed, immaturity or lack of gratitude of other people, you simply take this process in a creative manner and do the best you can to give well with what you have! Also, NO affiliate links are given in this article, any sites mentioned are ones I have used myself.
14 Inexpensive Gifts to give!
For when your wallet is thin but your spirit of giving is not....
Coupons. Search out your public library, they often have either free printing or very cheap printing....then get to work on either their computers or your own. Try using a free editing site like Canva.com to make coupons for your loved ones. Tailor the coupons to things you know they need that you can provide. Offer things like babysitting, lawn care, house cleaning, making them a meal, washing their car, walking their dog or even washing their dog or even a movie night in where you come watch a movie with them. Design them, print them and place them inside of Christmas Cards. If times are really tough and you are struggling to even buy cards them use the same online software and make your own! Your local library generally has crafting areas or even crafting supplies such as tape and staplers to make sure you can complete all of this. Your loved ones will appreciate the thoughtful gesture!
Baked Goods: If you can spare the supplies do a google search on easy baked breads or cookies to make and get to baking! If you do not have the supplies local food pantries are always willing to help you and generally keep a few of the staple supplies for baking on hand such as flour and eggs. Snag some holiday themed snack bags at the Dollar Tree and bag them up along with your Christmas Card. Baked Goods are always a hit because you know it's hard to turn down a good Christmas Cookie😊
$4 Shower/Bath Sets. For this one you are going to hit up the Dollar Tree’s Bath and Body aisle. Get a small gift bag, a bath pouf and a shower gel for under $4! Super easy gift that everyone can use. Feeling a little like a big spender? Throw in one of their colognes or perfumes as well and you have a wonderful gift at a wallet friendly price.
Gift Cards. If you enjoy giving gift cards but cannot afford higher amounts, no worry. Borrow a friend’s membership card to Sam’s Club (or go with them if your area Sam’s Club is very particular in who uses the card) and buy the gift card packs that are up to half off! That's right you can generally find 4 packs ($100 in $25 amounts) of gift cards for sometimes as low as $37 at Sam’s! It's one of their many under advertised perks. And no one needs to know how much you truly paid for their $25, and really why would they care because you just gifted them $25 to an awesome restaurant or store! It’s a great gift
Home Décor. Everyone loves cute signs, even guys if the designs are done right! Start by hitting up Hobby Lobby and grabbing some canvas packs. You can get the 5x7 ones for around $10 a 5 pack (bigger sizes available for slightly). Get a bottle of Modge Podge Glue (cheapest at Walmart), it's around $5. Then head back to your library and get back on Canva.com. Start making your designs! Look on Pinterest for fun ideas and once you have your design ready print them out and cut them to size for your canvas. Start by applying a generous amount of modge podge to the canvas then carefully placing the design on top. Use a soft towel to gently push any air bubble out. Allow to dry completely then coat with another layer of modge podge. Once dry you will have a super cute home décor piece anyone will love for well under $3 a piece!
Pictures! Are you good with your phone camera? If so then offer to take pictures for your gift recipients ahead of time so you’ll have time to prepare. Use a free editing software like Fotor.com to edit your photos to perfection then print them at an online service like Snapfish.com for cheap. You can print an 8x10 for $2.99, snag a cute 8x10 frame at the Dollar Tree and have a beautiful gift to give for less than $5! Print the rest of them free (in the 4x6 size) by using an app called Free Prints.
Pillows! Do you have a lot of married folks in your family? Make them decorative pillows for way less than it would be to have them made. Start by buying a cheap $3 bed pillow, a pack of letter stencils ($3-4), a tube or two of acrylic paint ($1-2) and two yards of white fabric for each pillow (price varies but cheap clearance fabric can be as low as $1 a yard). You will also need either a hot glue gun or sewing supplies depending on how you want to make the pillow. Begin folding the fabric inside out around the pillow to measure it. If you have a hot glue gun then just go ahead and glue the sides together with the pillow inside to ensure a good fit, allow one open side so that you can remove the pillow and turn the fabric right side out before placing the pillow back inside and finishing the last seam. This gives it a folded and professional appearance. You can do the same with your sewing supplies. Once you have your pillow completely enclosed get to your decorating! Use the stencils to carefully write their last name and year they got together to use as a decorative pillow for their bed or living room. For example : “ The Smiths, Est. 2014”. Or anything you want! The important thing is at this point you must take your time. Using a kitchen sponge for the painting in the stencils is my recommendation so that you can control the paint better. Go slow, take your time and in the end you will have very polished pillows for around $7 each! Your gift recipients will love them! This idea also works well for any individual, married or not, just find something that truly speaks to them to decorate onto the pillow.
Thrift Stores: Don’t overlook a thrift store when it's time to gift! Often times you can find name brand clothes in amazing condition, beautiful quilts and other home furnishing for very low prices. Take your time and look carefully until you find items that your gift recipient will absolutely adore. Take them home, wash and/or polish them up and wrap them neatly in a box or gift bag with love! It's not about how much you paid, it's how much you considered the other person!
Popcorn! People adore flavored popcorn, make your own and gift it! Start by popping a bag of popcorn, preferably with butter to enhance the taste. Set it aside. Next melt some chocolate chips, set them aside. Scatter the popcorn on a lightly sprayed baking sheet so the popcorn does not stick, but go light on the spray so it doesn’t make the popcorn soggy. Now drizzle the chocolate easily over the popcorn using a fork. Spread it so that each popcorn kernel gets some. Now, before the chocolate harden drop on some m&ms, sprinkles or coconut. Whatever your recipient might like. Allow the chocolate to fully harden then gently break up the popcorn and place in gallon size freezer bag or the cute but smaller decorative bags they have in the Christmas aisle. Finish with a cute label designed by you and printed again at your local library😊 A sweet and thoughtful gift for just a few dollars! The varieties you can create with this gift are endless!
Mug Gifts. Hit up the Dollar Tree again and find some really cute Coffee Mugs. Depending on what your recipients like fill the mugs with packets of hot chocolate with a holiday themed candy or some instant coffee packets and some packaged biscotti When you are finished slide your gift inside of the cute little plastic Christmas gift bags ( usually 10 to a pack) and finish with a bow and a cute card! All can be found at the Dollar Tree and you’ll bring together a really cute gift for less than $5.
Fudge! Easy Peasy and Wallet Friendly! All you need is a jar of peanut butter ( or sunflower butter for nut allergies) and a can of either white or chocolate frosting. Melt one jar of nut butter and 1 jar of frosting together in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Melt 30 more seconds and stir. Repeat this process until the mix is smoothly mixed. Pour into a glass or silicone container and place in the fridge. While its warm mix in your favorite toppings if desired (crumbled oreos, m&m, crushed candy canes etc.). Cut up and bag in your favorite decorative bags! You can even pour the fudge directly in a festive metal cannister (often found at the Dollar tree) to add to your presentation. Now you have a festive and tasty gift for under $5!
Peppermint Bark! Another Christmas class that is easy to make and fun to give PLUS its extremely cheap to make. First start by buying a bottle of peppermint extract in the baking aisle (around $2)plus either a bag of chocolate chips or a package of Chocolate Almond bark. Then pick up a bag of white chocolate chips or Vanilla Almond Bark and 1 package of candy canes. Start by melting a bag of chocolate chips or Chocolate Almond Bark in a microwave safe bowl until melted smoothly. Add in 1 tsp of peppermint extract to the melted mix and stir. While warm spread onto a baking lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Spread across until even, it does not have to be perfect unless you desire, you are going to break up the bark at the end. While it is cooling unwrap the candy canes and place them in a ziploc bag. Crunch them up with a rolling pin or a something else hard. Set aside. Now melt the white chocolate chips or Vanilla Almond Bark in a microwave safe bowl until smooth, DO NOT add Peppermint Extract to this one. Smooth over the chocolate later and if the chocolate layer is still warm you can swirl them together with a fork. While warm top the white layer with the crushed candy canes then set aside to cool completely. When cool break them up into large chunks and bag in a treat bag (you can usually get the in a 10 pack for $1) and add a Christmas Card. Voila! You have a beautiful and festive gift for just a few dollars.
Body Scrub! Man or woman, this scrub is able to make a wonderful gift! If you start early in the year and save back your sauce jars, this makes the gift even cheaper. Start by buying a large bag of brown sugar (around $3), 6 cartons of salt (around $3) and two different essential oils in the health and beauty aisle that are therapeutic or even food grade. ($5 each). Do not buy the ones from the home décor department as they are not true oils but chemicals with fragrance. Choose what you believe to be a manly scent (think sandalwood, patchouli or frankincense) and a more feminine scent (think rose, lemon or lavender) or go unisex with peppermint or eucalyptus. If essential oils are too costly or you want to simply go a different route you can also use the extracts from the baking aisle. They run about the same price and always safe given they are governed by the FDA. If you have not saved any jars, you can find plastic jars with lids at the Dollar Tree. When you are ready mix all the sugar and salt together in a large bowl by hand until you can feel a good consistency. Determine how man of each scent you want to do then separate them into individual bowls. Add the scents into each bowl, this time mixing with a spoon to avoid transferring the scents from bowl to bowl. When each bowl is finished transfer them to their jars and don’t forget to create some custom labels using Canva.com and your local library! This makes such a beautiful and practical gift plus you can reassure your recipients that there are no chemicals used in creating it!
Heating and cooling pads! These are so easy to make and so useful. To make either one you are going to need some fabric. Walmart sells what are called “Fat Quarters” in the fabric department. They are simply precut quarter of a yard fabric pieces. They come in all sorts of styles are generally around a dollar. You need one for each pad. For the heating pad you need a bag of rice (don’t open it) and for the cooling pad you a bag of beans (don’t open it). You will also need a black sharpie. Now to make the pad simply wrap the fabric inside out around each bag and either sew or hot glue the sides of the fabric together while leaving one side open. Pull the bags out, flip the fabric right side out and reinsert the bags to make a professional looking little rice or bean filled pillow then seal up the last side! Now using your sharpie write the word “Cool” or “Cold” or whatever creative phrase you want to indicate the bean bag is mean to be placed in the freezer before using and “Hot” or “Warm me up” on the rice bag to indicate the rice needs to microwaved. Be sure to write “Do NOT overheat, microwave for 30 seconds” on the rice bag to ensure your recipient does not burn themselves. Place in a gift bag with a Christmas Card and you have a great and very useful gift that cost less than $5!
I hope all these ideas help you find ease in this gifting season! And when all else fails, simply be present because “presents” aren’t what Christmas is actually about anyway. It's about the Love our Savior brought us that first Christmas Night, spread that Love this Season along with all the gifts around the tree. 😊