Super-Frugal Holiday Gifts

Welcome to part 3 of a series on non-consumer holiday gift ideas. Today I’ll talk about super-frugal gifts, or gifts under $10. I’m trying to stick to non-consumer items, which can include food and other things which are “Compact-friendly.” Thrifty Threads is suspended for this week, and I still need more photos!

If you have a lot of gifts to buy, for extended family, and coworkers, neighbors, teachers, and the person who delivers your mail, you probably need some ideas for gifts that are thoughtful but inexpensive. But not cheap. So here goes…

1. Tea. I think tea is a great gift because it’s encouraging the recipient to take a break, to stop and smell the roses. I’ve only started appreciating tea in the last few years, but a good cup of tea really is relaxing. It can also be rejuvenating. There are so many different types and flavors. One of my favorite brands is Republic of Tea, and they have a large variety of choices. They also come in little mini travel tins.

2. Imported beer. A great choice for a beer lover, especially if they’ve cut their budget and haven’t tasted anything other than Budweiser for awhile.

3. Wine. You can usually get a pretty good bottle of wine for under $10, especially if you live in California or another wine-producing region. I love getting a nice bottle of wine- it tastes great and it doesn’t clutter up the house. In fact, I would love wine clutter. That’s clutter I can live with.

4. Soap. Almost nobody splurges on $5 bars of soap for themselves, but almost everybody loves delicious-smelling soap that makes your skin as soft as a baby’s bottom. One of my favorites is a nearby shop that uses a lot of olive oil and natural scents like lemon, lavender, and coconut.

5. Chocolate. Ten dollars can buy you some delicious chocolate. I always get my husband a box of See’s, with a custom picked selection of all his favorites. You can also get several bars of dark chocolate for less than $10. Who doesn’t like chocolate?

6. Candles. You can make these yourself if you want to make the gift more personal.

7. Good hand lotion. This is one of my favorite gifts. For some reason, I never splurge on lotion, soap, or bubble bath for myself, but I love receiving all of those things.

8. Really cozy wool socks. My favorites are sold at REI.

9. Food. Any of the homemade baked goods from yesterday’s post would work as frugal gifts as well. And if you’re pressed for time, you can put together a great gift bag or basket of food goodies from places like Trader Joe’s or World Market.

Most of the handmade gifts I talked about yesterday are also frugal. And secondhand can work for gifts, so check Goodwill, Craigslist, eBay and Freecycle. Last weekend I just missed some never-used photo albums that went up on Freecycle. That would have been a great gift for my photographer brother. And things like picture frames, boxes, and household items can be found secondhand. I always see breadmakers at our Goodwill.

Which brings me to a taboo subject: regifting. Don’t be afraid of it. Obviously if you’re getting rid of a gift because no one would want it, regifting isn’t cool. But there are a lot of times regifting can work, especially if it’s a nice item that you either already own or just isn’t your thing. Examples: jewelry, books, a fondue pot, glassware, scarves or hats, toys, and games. So I think you should rethink the whole regifting thing. It’s been labelled as socially unacceptable, tacky, and totally uncool, but is it better to let whatever it is sit in a closet unused?

One of the gifts I’m giving our niece and nephew are old coins that I’ve saved over the years from different countries. They both collect them, and a friend made some really cool drawstring bags for each of them to stash the coins. I think it’s a great gift because I know they love coins, plus it’s used and frugal.

A coworker gift that was a big success one year was mini-bottles of liquor, like they serve on airplanes. People were sick of getting candy and cookies, and were glad for the change. Of course you have to know that people drink, and it’s best if you know what they like. The janitor especially appreciated this gift and never stopped thanking me for it. I had a spotless work area the following year.

For more frugal gift ideas, check out this post at Budget Confessions and this one at Moneyfunk. They’re not entirely non-consumer, but they’ve got some great suggestions for shopping on a budget.

What are your favorite inexpensive gift ideas? Please share them in the Comments section.


  1. hiptobeme says

    I was at a loss as to what to give a friend one year. I had no idea what she liked/needed/wanted. My mum suggested I give her a handmade set of cannisters (they were ceramic victorian houses and the roofs were the lids, neat) that she had complimented on her last visit. They were not getting any use from me so I boxed them up and gave them to her. She liked them! Regifting isn't always such a bad thing.

  2. Cate says

    I love the tea idea. My best friend once mailed me a box with something like 8 boxes of tea in it for my birthday. I liked it so much, she gave my husband and I a similar wedding gift. It was really thoughtful, and we didn't have to worry about where to put it so as not to hurt her feelings or anything like that.

    Also, thanks for linking!

  3. This Thrifted Life says

    I also love giving tea, and you can find lots of nice options on a budget at places like Tuesday Morning and even Big Lots.

  4. JanKnitz says

    I used to steer away from the Republic of Teas because they seemed so expensive. Those cannisters can cost between $8.99 and $12.99 and you can buy a box of most other brands under $5.

    But what I didn't realize is that they will have 50 or 60 teabags in one of those cannisters! That's a lot of tea. When you price it out per cup, it's really less expensive than many other brands. The cans are so nice they are almost a gift themselves.

    I make a lot of bread as gifts, but usually I buy a basket and a colorful kitchen towel at the dollar store to put the bread in. It's a nice presentation and the recipient has something useful when the bread is gone.

  5. Angela says

    hiptobeme- Oh, that's a great idea. I think it's fine to give gifts that are used when someone loves them. In fact, I had a friend who would give people something they admired, as a gift. he said it was a way to not get too attached to things, to sort of pass them on when it's time. I think it's a lovely philosophy. I think I'll try to get better at that in fact.

    Cate- yes, tea is such a nice but simple gift. For one thing, you can share a particular favorite type of tea. Another gift I have loved is a beautiful ceramic one-cup teapot. I loved it so much that I wanted to use it, so I started drinking tea more often.

    This Thrifted Life- thanks for the tip, I generally buy tea at World Market, but it's not really cheap.

    Thanks Jennifer- those are so sweet- I have always loved photos as ornaments… we have ornaments that are photos of ghandi and MLK on our tree! My husband made them and hung them up one year and I kept them.

    JanKnitz- It's true about the Republic of Tea! They last a really long time, and I love the canisters. I love to give bread too, that's a great idea for the presentation.

    Thanks everyone for your ideas and for commenting!

  6. Money Funk says

    Thanks for the link love!

    The pic you have, I ended up paying $11 for my can. Must of been shopping at the wrong place! But I love their tea and it takes a long time to finish a can. Cinnamon plum? Haven't tried that one. Sounds yummy.

    I really think I may put a Trader Joe's gift basket for a couple of people; like my coworker for the secret santa. I think a basket of chocolate goodies will do well to be received.

    Bath & Body Works is a great place to find deals on lotions & soaps. Smell so pretty, too!

  7. Christmas Gift Ideas says

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  8. Sunny says

    Just happened across your blog.
    I am a major Grinch at Christmas.
    I used to feel pressured into giving gifts that I could not afford to people who don't want or need anything.
    I must agree with your sentiments.
    In addition to staying within your budget it is most important to give someone something they will actually use and want.
    My 70 year old friend living on a fixed income in Florida doesn't need another ceramic cat. But a nice gift card for Home Depot, Subway or Cracker Barrel would make her day.
    It may not be the most personal item but it will certainly go to good use.
    Good, thoughtful post.

  9. RobbieKay says

    I have made a note on my gift ideas list re. the wool socks from REI. About five years ago I found some neat wool socks at Whole Foods (I think it was Wild Oats then) that I gave for Christmas and my mother still wears them and raves about them.

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