Holiday gift ideas that won’t break the bank

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  • Giving handmade or homemade gifts can be very affordable and even more special than a store-bought gift.
  • Donating to a charity in a person’s name or creating an “experience” are other thoughtful gift options.
  • An online Secret Santa program can be a lot of fun and save you money since you only have to buy one gift. 

‘Tis the season for gift giving. But celebrating the season may be different this year for many. If you’re looking for that special gift, but have a tight budget this year, here are some gift ideas that are sure to delight without spending too much. 

Handmade and Homemade Gifts

There’s something extra special when you give a homemade gift. It shows that you put extra time and effort to give something from the heart, something unique. In addition, a homemade or handmade gift can also be more budget-friendly than a store-bought gift. 

If you have an artistic talent, such as painting, knitting or carving, you can create a one-of-a-kind gift that will surely be loved. If you write poetry, write a unique poem for that special someone and have it framed. Do you have photos from a vacation with your significant other? If so, design a custom calendar or photo book. 

You can also make personalized tree ornaments, homemade candles, and baked goods. Or share your secret recipes for the first time in a homemade book. Need more ideas? Here are nearly 100 homemade and handmade gift ideas for those special people in your life.                                                         

Secret Santa

If you have a big family and a large network of friends, why not organize a digital   Secret Santa? This can bring your long shopping list down to just one gift, which can help save money for everyone involved. Oftentimes, Secret Santa exchanges come with a cost limit, so this can also help keep spending in check. 

Since we may not be able to gather to draw names out a hat this year, there are online resources like Elfster that can help organize a Secret Santa for you. 

Donate to a Charity

Charities are being hit hard by the pandemic. Donations are decreasing as many people who usually give have lost their job or are concerned that they may lose their job. According to an article in USA Today, Charities Aid Foundation of America, expects “donations to fall by at least 20% in the next 12 

months.”  Making a donation to a nonprofit organization in a friend or family member’s name is a wonderful gesture and a very thoughtful gift. 

If you want to find out more about a specific charity, Charity Navigator is an excellent resource. Most of the charities are rated and they show you what percentage of a donation goes into programs versus administration and operating costs. 

Give the Gift of Experiences

Giving an “experience” as a gift is another unique present idea, and one that can help create lasting memories.

We’re not talking about jet-setting to another country. You can create your own affordable experiences to give as gifts, such as cooking a special meal together, going on a hike together, going on a picnic, wine tasting at a local winery, spending the day at a zoo, aquarium, or museum, etc. Another idea is to let the person you are giving the experience to decide what he/she would like to do. 

What makes the experience special is that you are experiencing it together.


Whatever you decide this holiday season, there are many ways you can celebrate without breaking the bank still give special gifts to those you care about.

Do you have other ideas for budget-friendly gifts? We’d love to hear them in the comments! 



This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as financial advice.

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