If you didn’t take advantage of Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday sales, there is still plenty of time to find gifts that fit within your holiday budget. This list of cheap homemade gifts will help round out your shopping list, especially if you’re buying for children or their teachers, daycare providers, or your mail delivery person.
The holidays can put people on a budget in an awkward position. You want to show your appreciation for the wonderful people in your life. At the same time, you still want to follow your path to financial freedom, which means no overspending. Maybe you didn’t save all year for gift-giving, or you couldn’t save a lot.
Whatever the reason for your small budget, gift-giving is an important part of our society. You deserve to participate in this ritual if you choose to. A smaller gift budget just means you have to be more creative when looking for cheap homemade gift ideas. Focus on buying or making frugal gifts and conveying your affection through less-expensive means.
Go the minimalist route
Minimalism makes giving gifts to your children cheaper and easier than ever. You might have to lay some groundwork, to help them adjust to the new traditions you’re starting. Luckily, most kids are adaptable and really just want to quality spend time with their family.
Minimalist Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids from Ginger Homemaking has tons of minimal gifts, as well as some cheap homemade gifts. She suggests redefining Christmas for your family and focusing on the true meaning of the holiday.
Changing the way you think about a consumer-driven holiday is a game-changer for your wallet and your happiness. It’s so powerful to turn your back on buying more and redirect your traditions in a more family-oriented direction.
My Journey to Green has a great list of eco-friendly gifts, but there’s a great minimalist one at the end: herbs.
Not dried herbs or fresh herbs, but plants. Your recipient will be able to cook with fresh herbs for free (which is saying a lot – they’re expensive to buy from the grocery store!) and get some cute decor for the kitchen too.
For some reason, plants are cheaper than or about the same price as fresh herbs. Even better, helping home cooks grow their own will save them so much.
I am the least crafty or artistic person ever, but these cheap homemade gift ideas are legit options, even for the untalented like me. Making something is a great way to keep your Christmas frugal too.
Make a baking box
My favorite cheap homemade gift idea from Ginger Homemaking is making a baking box for kids. This would be a great gift for a teacher, therapist, or daycare provider too, with a few modifications.
Basically, you gather kitchen basics and a baking book for kids and present it all as one of a limited number of gifts (read the full details here).
Jamie said it best: “The beauty of this gift is that everything is either consumed or kept in the kitchen, and you are adding built in quality time into this gift!”
Make a potpourri light jar
I’m really tempted to make some of these jars for my oldest’s therapists and my youngest’s daycare providers. They’re super cute and pretty affordable, especially if you can buy supplies in bulk. Better yet, they require very little in craft abilities.
How to Make the Potpourri Light Jar from Linen and Wildflowers lays out exactly how to make the jars. The nice thing about this project is that you can customize the colors and scents if you know the recipient’s home decor. Alternatively, you can choose neutral colors and lightly scented potpourri to fit in anyone’s home.
To be safe, remind your gift recipients to not leave the jar lit and unattended.
Make beauty products
I would only make beauty products as cheap homemade gifts if you know the recipient well. They could have allergies or intolerances to ingredients or scents.
Once you have the all-clear though, DIY beauty products are pretty frugal, easy, and thoughtful gifts to give. There are SO many different products, different ingredients, and different scents that you can easily make the perfect product for your gift recipient.
Five Beautiful Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas from My Journey to Green has five different recipes to get you started. There are also 5 natural personal care product recommendations too if you have money to spend.
Make an iced coffee gift box
I asked a friend who works as a pediatric speech-language pathologist what kind of gifts she’d like to receive from her clients… and her answer was “caffeine.”
Although The Cheapest Homemade Iced Coffee Recipe from Harbor Home isn’t laid out as a cheap homemade gift, it can be converted easily.
All you need to do is buy instant coffee, a small container of cinnamon, and print out this recipe card. If you can find individual-serving-size maple syrup, even better. You could also add an inexpensive mug or stirring spoon to round out the gift, but those aren’t necessarily required.
Remember that baked goods are no longer a safe bet – so many people are gluten-free, dairy-free, have allergies, or are eating low-carb. Buuuut if you know the recipient can eat the goodies you’re preparing, baked goods are such a good cheap homemade gift to give.
If you don’t have traditional family recipes to bake, try one of these:
German Lebkuchen: similar to gingerbread, this recipe is easy to make.
Orange cranberry cornbread cookies: this recipe convert to gluten-free easily, plus they sound delicious.
Gluten-free ginger molasses cookies: yes they’re gluten-free, but you could probably use regular flour too. Ginger cookies are my favorites during the winter!
Christmas puppy chow: although this recipe doesn’t technically involve baking, it sounds too good to pass up – it’s a combination of regular puppy chow and salty vanilla pretzels.
Honestly, the most meaningful and cheap homemade gift you can give is a written note expressing your appreciation for the recipient or detailing how much they mean to you.
I’m a big believer in telling people what they mean to you, while you can. Saying those things face-to-face can be a little awkward, but a written reminder is pretty special.
After birthdays, I save cards my kids have received if they have personal notes. I throw out the ones that just say “love so and so,” but anything with a special note is saved. I would absolutely save a similar card received during the holidays.
The ultimate cheap homemade gift: a handwritten note
For mere pennies, you can give a gift that really makes an impact. Write a meaningful note on a holiday card, and maybe include a $5 coffee gift card, to give a special teacher gift.
With dozens of students every year, I’m sure teachers get overwhelmed with little trinkets. Instead, tell the teacher how much they mean to your child & your family and give a consumable or monetary gift to reduce the amount of junk in their life.
If you don’t have the time or nice handwriting, use a service like Handwrytten. It’s not free, but prices are reasonable for a few cards. You upload addresses & messages, then this service mails beautifully written cards with your words.
No matter which cheap homemade gift you choose to give, the fact that you thought of the recipient and cared enough to try will go a long way in their eyes. The holidays are so commercialized now, but genuine gifts are always the best option. The exact gift is much less important than the sentiment behind it, so don’t agonize over what to buy or make for too long.