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Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

Updated on May 11, 2010

C'mon-make those gifts! Handmade gifts and more

Here I'm sharing my secrets for inexpensive Christmas gifts. Most cost only pennies or nothing at all. You'll find ideas such as how to make Personalized Bookmarks, Pasta Angels, Pen Caddies, Envelopes, Puzzles and lots more.

Speaking for myself, sometimes Christmas coincides with low budget or no budget! That's when creativity and resourcefulness kick in - those are the keys to making it through the Christmas season while on a tight budget.

Let your creativity take over.

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"Rings and other jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.''

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not that I don't like a nice pair of earrings every now and then.

A personalized touch

The most important thing

Have you ever heard of MTGTTP? Well, probably not since I coined the phrase just moments ago. It represents Match The Gift To The Person. It's really important to do this when you are making gifts for people. You're trading expense for personalization that comes from homemade items. It is the part of homemade gifts that make them extra special and it will give your gift that memorable heart-felt spark that no other gift can give.

Here's a picture of a pillow where I used MTGTTP to it's fullest extent. I tell more about this personalized gift later in this article.

Another example: when you scroll down you'll find an idea for making envelopes. Not terribly exciting on the surface, but what if you make pink ballerina printed envelopes for a foo foo ballerina? Or use faux antique paper to make envelopes for your grandmother? By using scrapbooking paper, it is easy to MTGTTP when making envelopes.

And what if you added someone's name to an ordinary gift? If you make bookmarks for example (bookmark article will be added here shortly) add the recipient's name to the bookmark. Or better yet, instead of adding the name "Sarah" to a bookmark, add the name "Aunt Sarah". These little touches will move people's hearts.

~ Craft ideas ~

The best way to use the craft ideas listed here is to choose one idea per year (for Christmas for example) and make multiples for all of your friends and extended families. That's what we do in our family and I'm going to post pictures of those past projects throughout this article. Enjoy!

Make Pasta Angels

Make Pasta Angels
Make Pasta Angels

Make Handmade Puzzles

Make Handmade Puzzles
Make Handmade Puzzles

Make Envelopes as Gifts

Make Envelopes as Gifts
Make Envelopes as Gifts

Make Personalized Bookmarks

Make Personalized Bookmarks
Make Personalized Bookmarks

Make Pen Holder Cans

Make Pen Holder Cans
Make Pen Holder Cans

Make Homemade personalized pillows

Make Homemade personalized pillows
Make Homemade personalized pillows

A very special pillow (pictured above)

I wanted to make this gift as special as possible for my grandmother. I got the idea to use the word Grandmother as a sort of acronym. I thought of all sorts of words, but I really wanted specialized words that were words that described her personally. I thought about all the things she enjoyed and used those words on the pillow.

Let me tell you, this pillow now sits in a place of honor in my grandmother's home. She shows it to everyone who visits her house! Relatives tell me, "Grandma showed me that pillow you made for her."

Two awesome books to spark your creativity for gift making

Homespun Gifts from the Heart: More Than 200 Creative Ideas, 250 Gift Tags, & Easy Directions
Homespun Gifts from the Heart: More Than 200 Creative Ideas, 250 Gift Tags, & Easy Directions

More than 200 homemade gift ideas. This book has a solid 100% 5 star rating. The great thing about craft books is that they usually give you a starting point for crafts. You take it from there and make it your own.

American Folk Toys: Easy-to-Build Toys for Kids of All Ages
American Folk Toys: Easy-to-Build Toys for Kids of All Ages

I love this book! If you are interested in expanding your homemade gifts - include wooden toys! You don't have to be a woodworker extraordinaire to make these toys.


~ Other resourceful ideas ~

Book Trading

This idea is a gem - don't miss it!

I only discovered book trading three years ago. If you have no money to spend AT ALL book trading can be a perfect solution. Gather up books you no longer read or need and trade them for other books at a used book store. Usually you can even trade for new books! Some folks hit yard sales etc. and buy books for pennies and then trade them. If you plan ahead this could be a super idea toward saving up a large credit for the holidays.

Check off a couple of names on your Christmas list this way. I did. I filled a carboard box with all sorts of books and took them to the best used bookstore in the world (more on that in a minute). The bookstore issued me a credit on my account and I was able to use it to purchase another stack of books as Christmas gifts. I also MTGTTP by purchasing books on a very particular subject for a special person.

Bragging on my favorite bookstore: Chamblin Book Mine in Jacksonville, Florida is the most wonderful, gigantic, overflowing, books from floor-to-ceiling, miles of used books, monstrosity of a used book store ever! People even make it part of their vacations to stop by this used bookstore because it is so huge and organized.

This book photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr

Cash in the coin jar!

It's about time

Cashing in your pennies and other change at Christmas is one more resource for Christmastime cash. Have you ever used a Coinstar Machine? They are big green machines in grocery stores and other places that look a little like an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine). I avoided them for a long time because I just wasn't sure how they worked, meanwhile continuing to fill jars with coins. I always kept the pennies separate for some reason and it was time to cash them in.

I pushed our buggy full of jars into the store and right to the Coinstar Machine. Let me say that kids LOVE the Coinstar Machine - my daughter was about to bust with excitement to help me dump the pennies into the hopper. Our resulting cash from the pennies? $60.00! That's SIX THOUSAND pennies. After it was all counted it spit out a receipt for $60!

If you're wondering how it works - it's a simple as can be. The screen prompts you for every action. Coinstar charges a fee of 8.9 percent. For me, it was worth it with the pennies. I don't usually dump my quarters in there. I use them up before they make it to the coin jar. Here's their newest promotion: "Coinstar® coin counting is FREE when you turn your coins into a card or eCertificate. Choose from®, Starbucks®, JCPenney®, iTunes, Lowes®, and many others!" Read more about Coinstar

This work is Copyrighted by Paige Graves.

Please let me know you stopped by!

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice to find a website that offers alternatives. Thank you

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image


      7 years ago from McLaughlin

      Love the book trading idea--I love books.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very special and heartwarming lens! I'm especially interested in making envelopes myself! Faving it, and lensrolling to my christmas invitations lens! Happy Holidays~!

    • blujeanmomma profile image


      8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Some very nice ideas for today's economy. I love the personal bookmarks.

      Btw, Coinstar is now free at many grocery stores for the holiday season and you don't have to turn the cash into a gift card. Our local Coinstar's just put up a holiday sign a few days ago.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      I like the coinstar idea, though I usually bring them into my bank because they have a coin sorting machine for free. It adds up! Great ideas, Squid Angel blessed.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 

      8 years ago

      So many good ideas! I really like the used book idea.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      I adore this page of resources, I can see myself and my daughter coming back a LOT, I have put it into my lens, for A Box With Love. Thankyou

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      9 years ago from USA

      congratulations New Giant!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      9 years ago from UK

      Now I know we think alike... my latest lens was 'Inexpensive Valentines Gifts' and now I find you did one for Christmas! :-) I love the fact that your gift ideas are all home made with a great deal of thought, and hope you will go ahead and do something similar for Valentines.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Wonderful and Very Creative. You have a sweet grandmother. Happy Holidays!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      I *love love love* this Christmas gift ideas lens - it will make a wonderful addition to my Classic Christmas and Crafty Christmas lenses, so it's getting lensrolls and a features there. Happy Christmas!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Paige ~ you are so creative! I can't wait to read other lenses from you!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      You have some wonderful creative ideas here. I love the way you tied all your lenses together! 5*

    • SpellOutloud profile image


      9 years ago

      Great ideas! I'm lensrolling this w/ my I Spy bottles.

    • missbat profile image


      9 years ago

      Some very cute and clever ideas! Great lens!

    • puzzlerpaige profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks for visiting seashell2. I am working on a pillowcase lens to add here! Pillowcases are a very special gift and can be MTGTTP'd very very easily.

      [in reply to seashell2]

    • seashell2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens... your envelopes are very pretty! The best homemade gift I can recall was from my mom ( she's very crafty and can sew amazingly) was probably a beautiful table runner with tassles on the ends and silk pillowcases she made one year. Lots of other great stuff too, but too many to recall!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm making several gifts this year, and the rest will be purchased on a budget. Now days that's the only option.

      Thanks for sharing


    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      You know I love you pasta angels but I have never heard of book trading. Thanks for sharing that wonderful tidbit of information!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love your MTGTTP and firmly believe that personalized gifts are the best. You have given me some great ideas and I love how you have featured your other lenses here. Great work!

    • Momtothezoo profile image

      Eugenia S. Hunt 

      9 years ago

      Some great ideas! thanks!

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      9 years ago from Washington KS

      I don't have a crafty creative bone in my body. Mom and my sisters had that ability but not me. Interesting ideas here.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Nice work!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      You are so creative! Lensrolling to my Christmas gift lenses, too!

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      Great ideas. I especially like your Grandmother pillow.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Some great idea here. I love your presentation and especially the paragraph on MTGTTP.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      My family loves hand crafted gifts. I think my favorites are the quilts my Mother made me...and the animals she crocheted for me. I still have them all except for the ones I gave my children. I enjoyed all these lenses, this one and the linked ones! Great job.5*

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 

      9 years ago

      Nice lens I love christmas

    • JanieceTobey profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the ideas! Wow, I have books on my shelf that I've never read and don't plan to read (but couldn't bring myself to throw away!). Now I know the solution! Trade for books I do want!

    • strayspay profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice Lens - Can I be in your family?


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