26 Cheap (or Free!) Gift Ideas for the Holidays

As we all know by now, I’m all about the DIY craze.  It’s fun, budget-friendly, and guarantees originality!  This year I’m really trying to watch my spending…so I’ve created this list of great DIY gift ideas that are either free or super cheap to buy/make.  Hope one or two of these ideas work out for you this year!

DIY Christmas

A.  Adopt an Animal:  Defenders of Wildlife, as well as many other animal charities, have programs where you can adopt an animal in someone’s name.  I did this last year for my brother and he was so touched.  For about $25.00, you can get a certificate for the receiver indicating the type of animal they’ve “adopted”, a picture of said animal, and a stuffed animal…all wrapped up in a little gift bag!  This is a great idea for animal lovers or those one or two people on your list who are insanely hard to buy for.  You can find out more about Defenders of Wildlife here.

B.  Baked Goods:  Who doesn’t love homemade cookies and cupcakes?  This is a guaranteed win as a gift, especially since the receiver knows that a lot of work was put into it.  If you feel like your baked goods need a little something extra, try pairing biscotti with two coffee mugs, or homemade cookies with a handmade recipe book.

C.  Coupons:  Everyone is clipping coupons these days…so create some coupons for days out, lunches in, foot massages, or shopping adventures.  These are great to give to parents or neighbors.

D.  Dough Roll:  Forget those cookies in a jar!  Now you can make the cookie dough ahead of time, wrap it up in wax paper, and let the receiver slice and bake it (or just eat the dough from the log!).  Here’s an idea of how to decorate it.

E.  Entertainment:  Instead of handing out gifts to friends and family, why not share YOUR gift and have a family talent show?  Sing a song, do a magic trick, or act out a scene.  This is a great idea for a large family or a work party.

F.  Family Cookbook:  Gather recipes from grandmas, aunts, moms, sisters, and your own personal collection and create a family cookbook for everyone.  Add personal stories and photos to make ti even more personal.  This is an easy and meaningful book that everyone is sure to love.

G.  Greeting Cards:  Scrapbook or illustrate a collection of holiday greeting cards for friends and family.  Place 6 cards in a box with colorful pens and a book of stamps.

H.  Handmade Trivia Game:  I LOVE this idea!  Create a trivia game about people in your family and play it when you’re together for the holidays.  This encourages family conversation and bonding…and who knows, you might even learn something new about these people you’ve known forever!

I.  iCozy:  Knit, crochet, or sew a little cozy for iPods, iPhones, iPads, and all those other little electronic gizmos that people are crazy over.

J.  Jarred Candles:  Have half burned candles all over the house?  Don’t toss them!  Heat up the wax and layer it into a clean jar to make your own layered candles!  Try to use scents that work well together, otherwise I suggest layering unscented wax between scented layers.

K.  Knitted Crafts:  When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing better than a hat, scarf, gloves, and slippers…and they’re even better when they’re homemade!  Knitting scarves is a great project for beginners and will definitely be appreciated as the winter turns nasty!

L.  Letters:  Words pack a lot of weight, so why not tell people how much you love them by, well, telling them?  My good friend wrote hand-written letters many years ago and that letter meant more to me than any gift she could have purchased.

M.  Magnets:  Reuse old milk lid bottles, bottle caps, and much more to create magnet sets.  Create a set for The 12 Days of Christmas, favorite characters from holiday movies, or recipes for Christmas cookies.

N.  Necklace:  Make paper beads out of leftover Christmas wrapping paper and make necklaces for your friends.  Or make a larger string and create beautiful tree garland.  Learn more about making paper beads here.

O.  Offer Something:  Offer to help paint the house, clean the bathroom, go grocery shopping for elderly family or neighbors, or help at a soup kitchen.

P.  Personalized Calendars:  I love making these!  Create a calendar for a friend or family member by finding various photos, clippings, etc. and “scrapbooking” a blank calendar (you can find these at many craft stores).  Write in fun holidays and throw in some cute stickers!

Q.  Quilt of Photos:  Here’s a super fun idea.  Print various family photos on fabric transfer paper or iron on paper and then iron on the photos to scraps of fabric.  Quilt the pieces together and you’ve got one heck of a family album!

R.  Road Trip:  Instead of buying gifts, pool money together and take a family vacation!

S.  Silhouette Picture: Get a photo of whoever you’d like to feature and cut out the shape of the head.  Use that pattern to cut out a silhouette on black construction paper.  Frame it and you’ve got an elegant and striking art piece.

T.  Teach Someone:  Teach someone something you love to do.  Not only might you find a new hobby buddy, but chances are it will be great time spent together.  Likewise you could take a class together and both learn something new at the same time!  Pasta making, anyone?

U.  Give the Gift of U:  Visit relatives you hardly ever see, spend time at a nursing home, or take your parents or grandparents out for dinner.

V.  Video Montage:  Create a video of everyone’s favorite Christmas traditions, or what they love about the holiday.

W.  Write a Story:  One year my cousin wrote unique stories for everyone in the family…we were all so touched!  All the characters were family members and all the stories interwove with each other.  It was a really cute and creative gift…and I was totally bummed I didn’t think of it first!

X.  X-treme Adventures:  Ever been sky diving?  Rock climbing?  Taken a cooking class?  Why not explore one of these crazy adventures with a friend as a gift?  With awesome sites like Groupon offering deals all the time, this would be a fun and meaningful gift for both of you!

Y.  Yankee Swap:  Also known as white elephant, nasty Christmas, or bring your junk to exchange for other junk!  This is one of our family traditions that’s so fun and easy…and best of all, free!  The idea is that you bring something you already own, but no longer want.  Everyone puts their gifts in a pile and picks a number.  Number 1 gets to pick the first gift.  Then number 2 can pick a new gift or steal the gift person number 1 picked.  This is a great tradition that anyone could adopt…and it takes all the pressure off buying the “perfect Christmas gift”.

Z.  ZZZ’s:  After all that shopping, wrapping, and traveling, sometimes all we really want is a good night’s sleep.  Create little lavender packets from dried flowers and card envelopes.  Lavender helps sooth and relax the body, so tell everyone to slip these little packets under their pillows for a relaxing night’s sleep.  All you need to do is slip dried lavender into an envelope, seal it closed, and use a needle to prick holes in the front.  You could even make creative designs if you wish.

So there you go…a slew of free (or cheap) gift ideas for everyone!  Have more to add?  Feel free to comment below!

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.


Filed under christmas

2 responses to “26 Cheap (or Free!) Gift Ideas for the Holidays

  1. Rose

    Love these ideas! Another one is filling a journal of handwritten letters for someone. I am currently creating one for my older sister who is a missionary in Africa. She’s coming home this year for Christmas and so I am creating a gift basket of items she can easily transport back overseas. (Teas, notecards, a blank journal, pens, and little air fresheners for her shoes).


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