Super-Frugal Holiday Gifts

The following is a reprint of a previously published post, and finishes up my 3-part series on Compact-y gifts for the holidays. I’m working on some new posts about holiday gift giving ideas to share with you next week.

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.”

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. says

    Love this! I’m making as much as I can for gifts this year, including food & baby toys.

    I’m also a regifter. If I receive something that I can’t or don’t want to use, and I know someone who would like it, I’ll regift. When I receive things I don’t need, if I’m unable to return or exchange them, I just put them away in a cabinet and don’t open the packaging. I try to do regift gracefully, and I actually had someone ask me once how I found something I gave them (regifted) and I panicked for a second and then said “I received one as a gift!”

    • Angela says

      I’m making a lot of food as well, and I find those gifts are usually really appreciated. My new favorite is egg nog- I’ll have to post the recipe on the blog- it’s so easy, and it’s delicious. I also love to bake pumpkin bread, cookies, and granola is a big hit. A really easy one people love is homemade trail mix.

      I have no problem with regifting nice items. I love to receive those food baskets people get in offices, and wine is probably my favorite gift of all. Last year my niece’s favorite gift was a knitted cap my friend made for me but it was too small.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. says

    For those “girly” friends: Ulta is a great place to find nail polishes, lip balms, eye shadows, bath and grooming tools for under $5! I just created a gift with nail file, 2 polishes, lip balm and a fun glittery shadow – each item cost $1!

  3. says

    Angela, Thank you for the mention! I agree with wine and imported beer. Trader Joes, Cost Plus, and Fresh & Easy have a great selection of affordable wines & beer.

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