7 Inexpensive (or Free) Christmas Gifts for The Holiday Season

by Jamie Simmerman · 12 comments

Christmas cookies

If you’re like me, you dread Christmas shopping.

Will they like it? Is it within my budget? Is it a quality product? Do they already own one?

These nagging questions often cause me to walk out of stores empty-handed during the holiday season. Instead of busting your budget to get gifts that may not be loved, why not try one of these 7 inexpensive (or free) holiday gifts?

7 Inexpensive (or Free) Holiday Gifts to Buy This Year

1. Gas cards

Check into the rewards program at your favorite gas station to see if you can redeem your rewards points for gift cards over the holidays. By frequenting our local Speedway station, we’re able to trade in our points at the end of the year for free gas cards. We give these away as gifts, which makes everyone happy.

2. Baked goods

If you don’t have a lot of room in your holiday gift-giving budget and are handy in the kitchen, consider investing in some baking supplies and giving away shirt boxes full of yummy goodies. (Don’t forget a festive ribbon!) With today’s busy lifestyles, many people don’t have time to bake, making homemade treats MUCH appreciated.

3. Framed pictures

Instead of giving your family and friends a useless gadget that will end up collecting dust on a closet shelf, why not give them a framed photo? The photo could be of you together, or one that you’ve taken of their family. Everybody loves to display photos of loved ones, especially during the holidays.

4. Write a letter

One of my favorite gifts to give is a heartfelt letter. Let the important people in your life know how you feel about them, and be sure to bring up cherished memories. It will likely become one of their favorite possessions — something that they’ll read for years to come.

5. Small gestures

If you know your best friend eats TicTacs like a fiend, or that your mom is obsessed with hand sanitizer, USE it. Take advantage of the intimate details you know about those closest to you, and turn their quirks into intimate gifts. Bundle a bunch of TicTacs with a cute card, or fill a bag with hand sanitizer samples in different scents. These funny, yet useful, gifts will make them think of you every day.

6. Knowledge

If you have someone on your holiday list that loves to learn, compile information on a topic that you think they would enjoy. There are apps available that turn your favorite websites into eBooks; or you can put together a scrapbook of interesting information and resources, complete with photos and personal details.

7. Odds-N-Ends

If you have to buy a gift for someone you don’t know very well, try putting together a small gift basket filled with useful items. Razors, hand soaps, gloves, lip balm, gum or mints, warm socks, Christmas music CDs, tissues, or a first aid kit are all universal items that could be used as winter holiday gifts.

What inexpensive or free gifts are you giving this year?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Kate says:

    If you don’t want to give people Christmas presents, but you feel guilty because you’d rather spend your money on yourself, just admit it and don’t buy gifts. I’d rather get nothing than something you begrudge me.

  • Mike says:

    You are so right about the baked goods. I have watched the gift of homemade goodies win huge points time after time, particularly in the office, church, and peer groups like the chamber of commerce. Also, if you are exceptionally good at baking, consider selling the cookies and goodies.

    There are even more people eager to pay you for homemade baked goods (especially cookie trays and platters for parties). I watched a lady in a call center make an extra $300 a week from Thanksgiving to Christmas by selling the various cookies she baked. (Yes, I was a customer, I admit!!)

  • Shane says:

    I think the idea of a gas card is great, most people have cars, and gas does get expensive.

  • Mary Kaplan says:

    Last year I made the cutest cloth napkins and gave those in packs of 8 to my close girlfriends. I tried to pick fabrics that went with their motifs. It was a big hit and a quick little project for me. When I am making something by hand, I think about the recipient when I’m making it and it gives me such a good feeling.

  • Louise says:

    I am totally in favor of personalized handmade gifts for Christmas. Now days people is so much into crazy consumption of things that they don’t need or will not look at it twice. People forgot about the real thing behind christmas. Sharing love and care. The perfect way to show that is to give to the people you love the time to make them something…write them something. Nice list!

  • Jonathan says:

    What an excellent list of ideas for Christmas gifts. I especially like the idea of a “Christmas Letter” It’s so true that thoughtful ideas like that are often the ones that are treasured the most. I’ve decided that I’m gonna create piantings for friends and family this year and give them away as gifts. I love painting and it’s an inexpensive but creative gift. Thanks for some truly inspirational ideas 🙂

    • Kate says:

      Most of the Christmas Letters I have received in recent years have been stuffed with unmitigated braggadocio, some of them with pictures attached. I can’t help thinking of Richard Corey.

  • Carol says:

    We challenge family members to give gifts for under $20.00, preferably hand made, home made OR second hand. Wrapping paper is from magazine pages, old Xmas cards are cut into gift tags….. I avoid ‘real’ stores, and if I have to buy, I buy local.

  • Kate says:

    Browse the reduced for quick sale table at your local bookstore, and you may find some treasures for very low prices. Last year I found a beautiful book of tropical birds for $5 (I have a sister who raises them) and a book the size of a tombstone all about Historic Canadian Cemeteries for my geneology mad sister, for 10% of its cover price. Carefully peel off the sticker and they’ll think you spent $60 for their gift! Fill a Christmas Stocking with funny and useful things from the Dollar Store.

  • Mickey@EuroAmerican Home says:

    How about a homemade coupon book for different activities? I would love to get massage vouchers from my fiance. So every time I want a massage from him (or for him to bake something or make the popcorn on movie night) I can whip out a voucher that he made for me.

  • Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom says:

    I bake cookies with the kids and then we give a plate to each of our neighbors. It’s a great family activity,and the kids get a chance to learn the joy of gift giving.

  • Derek @ Freeat33 says:

    We have a gift exchange where you have to give some useless crap from your basement. It’s a riot!

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