Friday, December 27, 2019

Frugal Holiday Gifts

Frugal Gifts

The holidays, especially Christmas, can be an expensive time of the year, with gift giving and celebrating.  It is very easy to spend a lot of money on gifts and it all adds up!  One way to keep the spending under control is to set up a holiday budget.

I set myself a holiday budget, every year.  It has varied from a low of $120 during leaner years of pay cuts and a high of $300 during better years of full pay.  This year, I settled for a budget of $240, setting aside $20 each month towards holiday gifts.  This budgeted amount does not include my daughter's gifts, however.  It is the amount I budget for everyone else on my gift list.  This year, I have 35 people on my gift list (married couples are counted as one person as I give them a joint gift).

This gives me an average of around $6.50 per gift, but, of course, it doesn't always work out that way.  Some gifts cost more (this year, three young ladies on my list received sweaters that cost around $20 each).   In order to accommodate the more expensive gifts, I try to be as frugal as I can with other gifts.

Making my own jam with fruit from my garden is one way I make frugal gifts.  This year, I made pineapple guava-ginger jam.  My only cost was for the jars ($8.99 for 12) and sugar ($.50/lb).  The guava and the lemon came from the garden and the little bit of preserved ginger I used came from a jar I had in the fridge.  I estimate that, at most, each jar of jam cost me about $1.  I decorated the top of the jars with a circle of holiday fabric that I had in my stash.

Other homemade gifts such as holiday table runners or cushion covers using fabric in my stash or fabric purchased on sale are also quite frugal.  The only thing is they take some time to make and require some planning ahead to have the gifts made on time!

Other frugal gifts are items that I purchase on sale, especially the after Christmas sales, when holiday themed items are on clearance for 50-75% off!  Last year, I bought several jar candles, that were regularly priced at $10 each when they went on sale for under $2!  This year, several of my gifts included one of those jar candles.

Pictured above is the gift I put together for one of my cousins.  A jar of my guava jam, a jar candle, and the set of snowman coasters, I made.  I had run out of Christmas gift bags, so, I took a plain brown paper gift bag and glued on the front of an old Christmas card to make it more Christmas-y.  Another cousin received a jar of jam, a jar candle, and a set of two kitchen towels.  I was able to put together those gifts for under $5 each.


Another low cost gift I gave to some of the young ladies on my gift list was a scarf.  My daughter found them at the dollar store, for $1.99 each.  The muted pink color of the scarves caught her eye as she loves that shade of pink and their softness won her over as she wants everything to be soft. She bought one for herself and texted me to ask if I want any to give as gifts.  I told her, "Yes" and she bought me several (and I reimbursed her).  They had a tag saying, "Topshop", which didn't mean anything to me, but, my daughter assured me that it was a good brand.  How or why the dollar store had them is a mystery, but, they made a good frugal gift that the recipients who recognized the label appreciated! 

Another frugal holiday gift my daughter was able to buy for her friends were these socks we found on clearance, for $.45/pair, when she came down earlier in November:

Kitty Socks

She bought five pairs for less than the cost of a single pair at regular price!

It really does pay to shop the sales!

I still have to get a few more gifts for New Year gifts.  But, so far, I have given 28 Christmas gifts that averaged to $6 each, so, I am keeping to my budgeted amounts.

Do you make a holiday gift budget?  If so, are you able to keep to your budget?  What are some of the frugal holiday gifts you've given?


  1. I couldn't imagine buying gifts for so many people, but you do a fantastic job of putting together such delightful gifts and on a budget.
    The most frugal gift I managed was some prosecco flavoured sweets for 10p, to use as a stocking filler. X

    1. I enjoy it. :) You got a good bargain on those sweets!

  2. I have a budget for birthdays and Christmas gifts which I easily stick to. I only buy for the under 18s in my family and Julie + her daughters, all of whom prefer to receive money or a voucher. My family reached this arrangement some years ago, to only buy for under 18s, and I had no real choice in the matter but don't really like it. It has somehow stopped being a reason to gift to someone you love and more of a financial obligation!

    1. My cousin who hosted this year's family Christmas gathering said to only bring a gift for the white elephant gift exchange (if participating in it - participation was voluntary) and, maybe, something for the two grandchildren who were visiting from New York. She mostly said this because another cousin is going through some hard financial times and we wanted to make things easier for her. But, I am someone who enjoys giving gifts, so I got gifts for everyone. I don't always give gifts at birthdays, so, Christmas/New Year's is when I give gifts. :)

  3. You did well with your gifts. It isn't the cost that is important but the suitability for the recipient, so even an expensive gift doesn't work if it isn't right for the person. I think we need to get back to hand made gifts if we have time. They say "I care"! This year I didn't have time but I did find some bargains that were just what I wanted to buy and even found one or two things on my travels that were a good deal. I do recycle bags and gift wrap and save ribbons and bows, and like you, I have sometimes improvised, perhaps taking a box and decorating it.

    1. You are right, Bushlady; the suitability of the gift is what is important. It shows that some thought went into selecting that gift. Every year, I try to make some handmade gifts, in addition to my homemade jam that everyone seems to like. :)

  4. I have budgets and save monthly for irregular things that aren't monthly bills (health things, car repairs, oil delivery, household repairs) and I save monthly for things that are billed quarterly (property taxes) and yearly (house insurance).
    But I've never saved money for Christmas. Lol
    It seems weird to me - I'm not sure why I've never set up a budget for it.
    Probably because I don't spend a lot & I shop all year for gifts.
    The things I buy closer to Christmas just comes out of extra I always have in my checking.

    1. I add up all my expenses for the year, divide by 12 and save that amount, each month, in various budget categories. Holiday gifts is one such budget category. Currently, it is simply an amount I feel comfortable with spending. I could go over it without much hardship, if I want to, but, I like the challenge of setting myself a spending amount and keeping to it. I began doing so after reading various articles about how much people usually spent on Christmas and so forth. I guess I wanted to prove to myself that you really don't have to spend a lot of money on gifts (unless you want to).

    2. I agree - and when I said "it seems weird to me" I meant it seems odd that I've never had a separate budget for Christmas because, being a retired bookkeeper, I am such a budgeter. I do the same as you - take the previous yearly expenses and divide by 12 to come up with what I need to put away to meet the expense.

      I have all my receipts and just added up what I spent so now a new budget item has been created.
      I will have two budgets - one for food and wine, etc and one for gifts.

      Thanks for this post as it made me think about why I never did this when I do it for so many other categories.


    3. LOL, glad I inspired you to add more categories to your budget! I didn't know you were a retired bookkeeper! I took a course in bookkeeping as part of a secretarial course I did, back in Sri Lanka, while I was waiting for my high school exit test results ("O" Levels, as it used to be called). It came in handy when I worked as an accounts receivable clerk, for a couple of years, and, again, when I administered a $20 million dollar public fund. I made sure those accounts balanced to the penny when I did them! :D


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