Today I wanted to give you 31 practical ideas for Christmas gifts that are both frugal and meaningful. Sometimes frugal is equated with “cheap” but I don’t believe that is the true intent behind low-cost gift-giving.

Some of the best gifts our family has received and given over the years are those that do not cost much money.


Due to our internet being down for five days, I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d like. This is the final post in our series “How to Create a Memorable Christmas on a Small Budget“! I hope you’ve enjoyed walking along with me on renewing our minds and refocusing this season.


As a family, we are trying to move away from getting dead-end gifts: those that will be used for a short time and then forgotten about and discarded.

Instead, we are trying to remain frugal at Christmas (so we can remain debt-free) while also giving our children gifts that will bring us together, not just toys that split us apart into our own little corners. :)

It’s helped me to come up with a Christmas budget and stick to it, writing things down as I buy them so I don’t forget what I’ve purchased or buy too much. 

If having a frugal holiday is a good idea for your family, you can use our free Christmas budget planner to prepare for wise shopping this season.

With that in mind, here is the gift guide of my 31 best ideas for frugal and meaningful Christmas presents you can give this holiday season that will last longer than Christmas morning. 

This list of frugal Christmas gift ideas includes suggestions for practical gifts as well as creative ways to share appreciation during this wonderful time of the year. 

These are great ideas for any family member who could benefit from gift-giving a little differently this year!

frugal Christmas gifts that are meaningful

31 Frugal Christmas Gifts with Lasting Meaning

This gift list should give you some inspiration and ideas that you can use to bless the special people in your life this season in a frugal way.

Not all of them are “bare bones” ideas, but they are all suggestions that will actually be used and enjoyed for a long time–which is a great way to make the most of your budget!

There are some links to different products or tutorials that go along with the ideas. Have a very Merry Christmas!

1) Experience Gifts

This could be anything from purchasing a yearly zoo membership to taking a frugal trip to a local attraction. You can make up little cards to put in the kids’ stockings that tell them about and get them excited about their experience gift for the year.

Our children’s grandparents have given them money for t-ball or swim lessons (along with gifts they can open because grandparents like to do that too) ;)

Above is a photo of our family enjoying Silver Dollar City in Branson in late 2020, thanks to a Christmas gift from grandparents.

Be sure to check Groupon or your local attraction’s social media pages, as they may offer deals on memberships during the Thanksgiving or Christmas season.

2) Repurpose an old picture frame and make a memory board or jewelry holder.

picture frames with wire strung across and tiny clothes pins:

3) DIY Lego Table or Tray

Here’s a Lego tray you can make for as little as $5!

You can find another great Lego tray idea at The Handyman’s Daughter.

4) DIY Letter Artwork 

The photo below is from my friend Tiffany. She used some old buttons they found at her grandmother’s house to make these for her children and nieces/nephews!

tiffany

This would also be a gift that kids can make for grandparents or other friends and family. Find an easy letter art tutorial at Day2Day Joys!

5) Easy No-Sew Fleece Blanket

We have several of these, and our favorites are the ones made for my older two children by a church group after a school bus accident at their elementary school several years ago.

A fleece blanket is such a thoughtful gift for a child, maybe to make for children in your community who do not normally receive gifts for Christmas!

Find a tutorial at Adventures of a DIY Mom OR purchase your own kit on Amazon.

6) DIY iPad Display and Chalkboard

I made one for myself using scrap wood and stain I already had and use it constantly! Find the tutorial HERE.

DIY iPad Stand

7) Homemade Spice Rubs for Cooking

Homemade gifts are gifts I consider to have lasting meaning when they are truly useful and thoughtful! These homemade spice rubs are great for guys and girls who love to cook and grill. Find instructions HERE.

IMG_5465ed

8) Homemade Hot Cocoa 

This dairy-free hot cocoa recipe contains just three ingredients: cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. It’s a great base recipe that can be added to as you wish.

Find the three-ingredient homemade hot cocoa recipe HERE.

9) DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice Sugar Scrubs

I love making sugar scrubs because they are enjoyed by just about everyone on my list. Making your own scrubs saves so much money and it adds a personal touch to gift giving.  

DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice Sugar Scrub

10) Homemade Bubble Bath

Find the homemade bubble bath recipe HERE. In this post, she recommends using essential oils in the soap.

We love using essential oils for calming and softening skin in the bath, but I would recommend that you avoid peppermint oil with very small children as it can be irritating.

Choose an option like lavender or orange and vanilla instead. We like Plant Therapy brand.

Gift your bubble bath in a glass jar and add a cute label to the front!

Combine with a couple of fun bath toys for your littlest ones!

11) Age-Appropriate Bible

There are many nice Bibles that can be found for a reasonable price, from children’s Bibles to adult Bibles that have great commentaries. This is definitely a gift with lasting meaning!

If you’re looking for a Children’s Storybook Bible, I’ve highlighted four kids’ story Bibles in this post that we feel are worth purchasing. These are nice to use as a “collective” gift for everyone to enjoy.

12) Books!

They’re the perfect gift that lasts and they don’t have to be expensive! There are often holiday deals on Amazon or other online bookstores that you can make use of. Look for book orders through your child’s school and purchase paperback versions of the books advertised to keep it even more budget-friendly.

I have lots of ideas for great books for families over on my Purposeful Mom Amazon store page! You can shop through my Amazon store page for any kind of book, like one of our favorite toddler books pictured below.

Most children and adults would love receiving a new book. My 10-year-old daughter recommends adding a fun treat, like a Dollar Tree box of candy, alongside the book :)

Check out some of our favorite books for toddlers and early preschoolers.

13) Open-Ended and Collective toys

A large set of classic Legos, building blocks or Lincoln Logs can be a great way to encourage creativity and learn to work together with their siblings!

One year we found several boxes of Hot Wheels cars at a garage sale for a cheap price and our kids were thrilled! You don’t always have to buy new, it’s perfectly fine to buy toys that are “new to you” :)

14) Family Class

One of the best ways to encourage family relationships is to do an activity that everyone can enjoy. Why not enroll your family in a fun class that you can all do together? Pottery, painting, and ice skating are just the start of ideas!

15) Cooking Class for Kids

Gift a cooking class to your budding chef! Check out the Kids Cook Real Food classes HERE!

You can do these online cooking classes together to help your child build safe skills in the kitchen.

The Kids’ Baking Challenge is only $19, and this gift also helps you in spending time and creating memories with your kids.

16) Heirloom Cookbooks 

This is a great DIY project to preserve all the beautiful recipes from your mom, grandma or other loved ones!

You can order one for as little as $19.99 on the Create My Cookbook website or you can also make your own heirloom cookbook using ideas found in this blog post and this blog post.

17) Family and Friends Photo Book for Babies

My mom made one of these for each of my babies! You can make a very simple DIY version or you can order a pre-made book through Shutterfly or Snapfish. Now that there are lots of holiday sales going on on photo albums/photo books, this is a very frugal and meaningful idea.

18) Christmas Tea Towel

I love this Christmas themed Tea Towel that can be personalized with family names.

You can also get a custom tea towel with a favorite family recipe printed on it.

If you’re giving to someone who could use some biblical encouragement, check out these Scripture tea towels from Christian Book Online! (Click on ‘shop all towels’ to see the Christmas-themed towels).

19) Audiobooks and/or Audible Membership

  • Gift an Audible membership! See more details HERE, there are several options.

20) Art supplies or craft supplies

Easy to purchase with coupons at stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Sometimes Amazon has great deals as well.

Combine it with a crafting book for a creative gift.

21) Water Painting Mat for Clean Fun for Kids

When my kids were really little, they loved playing with this water painting mat at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. A gift like this is great for young children when you want them to have non-messy fun! I couldn’t find the exact one they had, but there are some similar options on Amazon.

22) Pajamas

Quite often you can find pajamas on sale around Christmas time, we purchased a set of pajamas for each of our kids for $7.99 each. Something they love to find in a package or their stocking that keeps them cozy for many months (at least where we live the cold weather lasts six months!).

What about matching pajamas for your whole family?

23) Gift cards

Another idea is a gift card to a favorite coffee shop or store. Buying a gift card to a grocery store is a great option for the college student in your life who is on a tight budget. Though this gift is not as “lasting” as others in this list, it doesn’t take up space and is incredibly useful, especially if you’re concerned about buying food for someone with allergies. 

Many stores will have deals on gift cards during the holiday season, such as buying a certain amount and getting an additional amount as a bonus.

24) Board games 

Giving a board game is one of the best ways to encourage family time. Check Black Friday deals for the best sales.

As a starter, you can find our list of the best Disney-themed board games HERE

25) Themed Gift Baskets

A themed gift basket can be put together in a frugal way! Visit the dollar store and mix and match little gifts in a cute bucket or basket. These are perfect for children and adults!

26) Subscription for Streaming Service

My fifteen-year-old daughter tells me that it would be a lot of fun to receive a subscription to Spotify or Amazon Music for Christmas. This is a great gift for young adults because it doesn’t create clutter but gives them something they love: music and podcasts. 

Subscriptions can add up, so depending on your budget, you may choose to gift a three-month subscription instead of a full year. Or make it a gift for a whole family by purchasing a family subscription.

Another suggestion is to gift a Prime membership to a college student. They can use it to access Amazon Prime Music, Prime Video, and free two-day shipping as well as other benefits.

A monthly membership is $7.49 and an annual is $69 but they can try it for free for six months. Click the link below for more information.

Prime Student 6-month Trial

27) Subscription to Adventures in Odyssey

An option for Christian families is an Adventures in Odyssey audio adventures streaming subscription, offering all the episodes of this fan-favorite radio program as well as videos, devotions, and lots of other great things Odyssey-related, all on the streaming service that you can access online or on the AIO Club app.

28) Homemade Treats

Making your own holiday food gifts for friends and family is one of the most effective ways to stick to your holiday budget. Christmas treats make great frugal gifts that are perfect for giving to teachers, neighbors, school bus drivers, and more. 

One of my friends bakes several varieties of Christmas cookies and bars and then packages an assortment in inexpensive round containers from Walmart (here’s another idea from Amazon) for friends and neighbors. I have been the recipient of these treats and they are delicious!

You can make:

29) Coupon Book for Parents or Grandparents

If your kids need an idea for homemade Christmas gifts, have them create a coupon book for a parent or grandparent. Your child can cut out printable cards and add in coupons for things like “good for one baking session”, “good for one lawn mowed” or “good for a big hug”.

The possibilities are endless! Click here for some additional ideas and printable cards. 

30) Photo Collage

Make an inexpensive photo collage at Walgreens or Walmart using favorite photos of the gift-giver and gift-receiver. For many years, we would make one for my husband’s aunt who never married or had children, so our kids were like grandkids to her. She loved framing the collages over the years and treasured them until she passed away last year.

31) Purchase a reusable tote or bag and add in some homemade treats.

Find Christian tote bags HERE.

Find cute seasonal tote bags HERE.

Find treat boxes HERE.

BONUS FRUGAL GIFT IDEAS FOR THOSE WHO ARE HARD TO BUY FOR!

BONUS #1 – Swedish dishcloths are my favorite gift for teachers, aunts, and friends who already seem to have everything! They are reusable, compostable cloths that can be used to clean in replacement of paper towels and plastic sponges. A Swedish dishcloth can wipe up to 15 times its weight in water. I love using them in my kitchen and to clean up spills around the house.

You can find them on Amazon or you can support a small business and buy some from Scandinavian North in Stillwater, MN!

BONUS #2 – MadeOn Hard Lotion bars, lip balms, and other body care products! Just three ingredients in these lotion bars that are perfect for the winter season and for those who do a lot of airplane travel (they are lotion and shampoo bars so no worries about liquids!).

Click HERE or the photo below to see all their products–my favorite is the Peppermint Lip Balm, I keep several on hand for gifting throughout the year!

What are your best ideas for frugal Christmas gifts that have lasting meaning?

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