Cheap, Easy Gifts To Hand Out

Nothing can slaughter a budget like a long list of friends and family members who expect gifts from you at the end of the year. It’s tough enough to handle the logistics and man hours it takes to get your holiday shopping done, but you have to be much more creative when funds are tight and you have to think of ways to stretch your meager resources.

Peter at Bible Money Matters has got your back, cranking out dozens of ideas for cheap presents.

Here are some of the more impressive ideas on his list:

*Baked goods — Cookie and brownie mixes are dirt cheap. Even if you’re not a good cook, you can probably follow the instructions on the back of the packages and put together an impressive-looking – if not tasting – batch of goodies.

*Take someone out to meal — You have to eat, so parlay your sunk cost into a checkmark off your gift list by making a lunch or dinner date. If you can dig up a two-for-one coupon at the establishment of your choice, all the better.

*The old-fashioned mix CD — Subject a victim to your musical tastes. If some of the songs catch the gift-ee’s fancy as much as they did yours, you’ve given them something lasting. Bonus: You can run off several copies of the CD for pennies for infinite recipients on your list.

What are your favorite low cost go-to gifts?

The Great Big List Of 75 Frugal Gifts You Can Give This Christmas [Bible Money Matters]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dragonfire81 says:

    “*The old-fashioned mix CD — Subject a victim to your musical tastes. If some of the songs catch the gift-ee’s fancy as much as they did yours, you’ve given them something lasting. Bonus: You can run off several copies of the CD for pennies for infinite recipients on your list.”

    Is this not illegal piracy?

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Nothing says “I care” like trafficking illegal content! :D

      • mac-phisto says:

        i agree. nothing says love like a mix CD comprised of $256,000 worth of music (in RIAA dollars, of course).

    • Devil505 says:

      Indeed and from Bible Money Matters to boot.

    • slim150 says:

      it is NOT illegal! I wish people would stop using that word with downloading music.

      • rdclark says:

        It’s not the downloading, or the copying. It’s the distribution. It doesn’t matter if you give it away for free. If you were a musician I could rob you of your living by making thousands of copies of your CDs and giving them away for free. Nobody’s going to blink if you give a mix disc to your girlfriend, but making dozens or hundreds of copies to give to your friends or wedding guests or whatever is a whole other thing.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I made my dad two mix CDs a couple of years ago when I ran out of Christmas money, all with music I legally purchased. He enjoyed them. I thought we settled this issue back when people were still using tape cassettes!

      • Devil505 says:

        Fair use does not include distribution.

      • LandruBek says:

        We did with the 1992 AHRA, which makes analog mixtapes legal, but to my knowledge you can’t make a legal mix CD without doing something crazy like re-recording the music in an analog format first.

    • daemonaquila says:

      Your point is…?

    • LatinoGeek says:

      It’s Piracy if you’re trying to profit from it’s distribution. Giving it as a gift is not piracy (or Theft,) as the RIAA would want the weak-minded to believe.

    • Leksi Wit says:

      Technically, it is illegal to “distribute” music to which you do not own the copyrights, as has been pointed out many a time in Consumerist forums. You could legally lend the person your music or gift them the original CD (if you own it), but to copy the CD – then gift the copy – is a crime. If you think about it, it makes sense. Instead of having the person pay for their music, you’ve just given it away for free on behalf of the musician and the companies that distributes his music without said consent. I know that getting something for free is great, so people naturally hate the anti-piracy movement, but it doesn’t change that piracy, even in a gifting scenario, is theft.

    • moneymatters says:

      I wrote the post, and yes i know the ideas aren’t for everyone. It’s more of a brainstorm that people can take or leave. It’s more to get the creative juices flowing.

      I wasn’t saying that you should pirate music, but that you could make someone a mix (if you know their musical tastes) by buying songs from itunes/amazon -and putting them on a thumb drive. I don’t think that’s illegal? If it is, it’s news to me.

  2. Brie says:

    >Baked goods: I don’t know any guy who wouldn’t love to get a box full of cookies, banana bread and pastries!

    Peter, meet my friend Larry. Years ago I was at his apartment in June and found the batch of cookies I’d made him for Christmas gathering dust atop the fridge.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      So, how’d they taste?

      • joycecarolgoats says:

        Sounds like they left out the salt and/or vanilla extract. Very important to tasty chocoloate chip cookies.

    • CrankyOwl says:

      My neighbor gave me some homemade cookies last Christmas. They were awful. I didn’t think it was possible to make completely tasteless chocolate chip cookies — you’d think the chocolate alone would make them tasty. But no. The tin sat around for months until I finally tossed them.

    • moneymatters says:

      I would’ve eaten them. I love baked goods. :)

  3. FatLynn says:

    Homemade vodka infusions!

  4. hills says:

    Stocked up on lip balm at the Gap for 40% off, + mini soaps from a local shop = nice little stocking stuffer (for chicks)

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      I like to get the Victoria’s Secret lotions a whole bunch at a time. Got 8 for $35 this weekend. Comes out to about $4.30 a pop. I get smells I like just incase, but since I have so many, I can use them for gifts if I need to.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It’s one thing to be frugal and offer gifts that show appreciation, while not costing very much, and an entirely different thing to just be cheap and stingy.

    I think it’s a little classless to take someone to a restaurant just because you have a coupon. Or similarly, share the appetizer/entree combo at Applebee’s. If you take someone out for a meal, let them pick. If you’re on such close terms as to treat that person to lunch or dinner, he or she should be aware of the unspoken stipulations of your offer (for example, he or she should know that you hate Thai food or are on a really tight budget). When I took my friend out for her birthday, she actually offered to pay for half the dinner because she picked a more expensive restaurant she wanted to try. It wasn’t beyond my budget, but it was a nice thing for her to offer.

    IMO, baked goods are fantastic, but only kids can get away with presenting a box of baked goods that have the hardness and consistency of hockey pucks drenched in mud. If you’re a bad cook, please don’t attempt homemade foods. If you do, make a test batch first.

    • FatLynn says:

      Yes, a lot of the suggestions on this list are laughable…#71: put on a concert?

      Seriously, if you are in a budget crunch, your family understands. Don’t insult them with terrible gifts and make them pretend to be grateful.

  6. Grungo says:

    Cigarette packs make great stocking stuffers.

  7. hotdogsunrise says:

    Oh, and I totally do the personalized calendars. I have learned, however, not everyone in my family appreciates it. So I still give it to the few that do. Shutterfly is great for this and the turn around is really fast.

  8. Zydia says:

    I’ve found people are usually happy enough getting a nice journal – it either makes them want to write stuff or makes them happy getting a decent re-gifting item.

  9. Slave For Turtles says:

    My favorite low-cost gift is to make cat toys out of scraps of cloth and the catnip that grows wild (and organic) in my backyard. I pick the nip, wash it, hang it to dry, and use it in gifts. Then again, a wadded up ball of foil or those rings from jugs of milk seem to just as appreciated by the felines, but their owners are less impressed.

    • whitecat says:

      Try putting catnip in infant socks and tying off the top. No sewing involved and the tiny socks are cheap at discount stores such as Big Lots and Family dollar.

  10. JulesNoctambule says:

    Baked goods from a boxed mix? I’d rather get nothing than that crap.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Agreed. I only bake from scratch not just for taste but for health. Preservatives? No thanks!

  11. Kate says:

    The page requires me to input my email address and sign up for their newsletter to see it. I see no exit or way to go around that.

    How lame .

  12. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    baked goods: i’d make sure to only do that for people i know really well.
    as someone with a whole collection of food allergies and dietary restrictions, i’m all too aware of the risks of giving someone a food gift that they didn’t specifically ask for. if my dad asks for oatmeal cookies, yes, i’ll gladly make him oatmeal cookies. but it’d be just my luck to give someone with a gluten or nut allergy a baked good that they can’t eat.

    • jaya9581 says:

      If you know someone well, that shouldn’t be an issue.

      If you don’t, they shouldn’t be offended by your gift, even if they can’t eat it. It’s the thought that counts, and you were being thoughtful. If they can’t eat it I’m sure they know someone else who can.

  13. wjimi says:

    My gift this year in this category is taking some 20 year old vcr tapes of family vacations/birthdays, etc. of the family when they were kids, and transferring it to DVDs.

    This is pretty time consuming since I am editing some stuff out, and labeling etc., but I hope it will be appreciated.

    • I just blue myself says:

      That is a great idea! Maybe I’ll suggest that to my cousins as a group gift for my grandparents.

  14. Outrun1986 says:

    The mix CD is seriously getting old

    I am pretty sure no one wants to display a huge, old laptop with a horrible screen as a picture frame…

    Baked goods don’t work for everyone, but if someone you know likes cookies, go ahead, but it probably wouldn’t work for someone you totally don’t know at all.

    I’d be pretty miffed if someone gave me an outdoors gift pack or a sports gift pack, as I don’t like those things in the least.

    The best gift is one tailored to someone’s specific interests, but sometimes you don’t have time for that. In that case a gift card to a grocery store, walmart or target (everyone needs groceries and can probably find something they want at one of the 2 stores listed) or just money, would be better.

    • moneymatters says:

      The ideas are meant to be just that – ideas – that hopefully will spur people to be creative and tailor gifts for people that they know. If people you know don’t like baked goods, you’ll most likely be able to come up with something that they will like. Of course gift cards are always nice – although i know other people who think gift cards are a cop out, and don’t appreciate them as much. Can’t please everyone I suppose.

    • ben gardners boat says:

  15. Mudilo says:

    our neighbor is a very old church going lady, who blasts religious music while flying down our road at a high speed and I can totally see her giving some of those items as presents. nobody else though, especially if this to reciprocate a gift that money was spent on…the most laughable is the CD. Although some older people that are not good with computer may appreciate it, this is by no means a universal present!

  16. Darkneuro says:

    Nevermind cookie MIXES… Get the tube of sugar cookie dough and mix in dried fruit, nuts, chips… You can make macadamia-cranberry-white choco chip cookies just by mixing in just those things. EASY PEASY.
    I also tend to look (for kids/stocking stuffers) in the party aisles. You can get multi-packs of 4 or 5 things like cars, erasers, play jewelry, etc and fill stockings full for a crowd.

  17. qwill says:

    Some cute mittens/glove always seem to be appreciated. You can get some cute/inexpernsive ones at the drug store, sports related ones for guy, classy black ones, princess or superhero ones for the kiddos. For teachers I use them as a gift card holder.

  18. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I hate homemade gifts. I have never received a good homemade gift–ever. I’d rather have a gift card for one coffee drink , or a gift card for a cookie and drink at the mall than something homemade. Honestly, I’d rather a person be honest and tell me they can’t afford to buy a gift, or just give me a card (I’d get the idea.) Hell, even a cute little ornament that fits my style is WAY better than any homemade gift I’ve gotten.

    Don’t delude yourself into thinking people like your homemade gift unless there is something you are REALLY and TRULY known for like your homemade strawberry jelly or peanut brittle. Crappy experimental gifts really are worse than nothing.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      BTW, some of the ideas are good, I’d love to get movie tickets, puzzles, board games, etc… I’d even be okay with something regifted if it was something I would like. I was specifically commenting about homemade gifts like ornaments, jewelry, food etc… I say go with the other ideas.

  19. maggiebr67 says:

    I had a friend that every year for my birthday and christmas he would detail my car. Best present I ever got.