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Creative Gift ideas on a Budget

Updated on May 24, 2011

Creative ideas for inexpensive and beautiful gifts.

There are many occasions where a gift is expected, but you're on a budget, so how do you do it? There are so many creative ideas for gifts out there, the hard part is finding them. Here, I've put together a collection of the best, easiest, and most creative gift-giving ideas to turn the event back into a happy occasion.

A Home-made Back to School Gift Basket

A Home-made Back to School Gift Basket
A Home-made Back to School Gift Basket

Make Easy, Fun, and Inexpensive Gift Baskets

The gift basket is a classic gift idea for the budget minded individual. The best way to do it is to make several at once to give to different family members. You can find many inexpensive baskets at yard sales, thrift stores, and even Wal-mart! Ribbons are also inexpensive, and you can make beautiful bows yourself. Throw in some wild flowers you've picked yourself, glitter-glue covered pine cones and some wild fern or greenery.

Fill the basket with candy, homemade goods, fruit, nuts, a small stuffed animal, coffee and tea packets, soaps and body care products, needlework materials, scrap-booking materials, toy cars, doll clothes and accessories.

You get the idea, right? If you look at the costs of gift baskets online, you'll be amazed at the price, but you can get some awesome ideas from them, and then make them yourself. Yours will be more personalized and will probably even look better!

The back to school basket was made by programwitch.

How to videos for Gift Baskets

Need help with your basket? Maybe some ideas, or tips? What about the bow? These video's may just be what you need!

Creative ways to use pine cones

Thank God for the pine cone! There are so many things you can do with a pine cone when it cones to decorating. They are everywhere, they are free, they keep their shape, and they last year after year!

Dust them with glitter, paint them, wrap bows around them, surround candles with them, make wreaths and center pieces with them, the list goes on and on! A beautifully decorated set of pine cones can compliment a creative and very inexpensive gift! They also make great centerpieces and decorative objects.

How to videos using pine cone!

Look at these helpful how to videos for some beautiful ideas on how to turn your back yard pine cone into a work of art!

Gifts in a Mug

You've seen these in the stores, haven't you? So do them yourself for a lot less. You'd be surprised at how many people collect mugs and coffee cups, and how many get broken and need replacing. This is a simple personal gift that can be easy and fun to make. You can get mugs at an incredible price, especially at thrift stores and yard sales. If you don't like the idea of giving used cups as gifts, there are always bargains at some of your local dollar stores and shopping centers, but since a mug is inexpensive by itself, you could really make an impression with a unique and unusual mug. These are gifts that are easy to do in bulk so you can give them out in pairs!

Fill them with candies, coffee packets, gift cards, assorted tea bags, soup mixes, trinkets like stickers, pencils and pens, wafers, cinnamon sticks, perhaps even jewelry (if it's in your budget) or small plush animal etc. Wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbon! Voila!

One great idea is to make chocolate coated coffee spoons. Just coat a plastic spoon or popsicle stick with melted chocolate, let it set, and include it with the mug to use as the stirrer. Yum!

Looking for a unique mug?

Here are some unique mugs from If they are within your price range, great! If not, you will at least get an idea of what's out there.

The Quote on the Black Mug reads: What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

The Child Proof Mug Reads: I child-proofed my house but they still get in.

The Frog Travel mug Reads: Eat a Bug Every Morning.... and nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day!

The fishing Mug Reads: A bad day fishing still beats a good day at work.

Baked Goods - Make a Gift of it

Baked Goods - Make a Gift of it
Baked Goods - Make a Gift of it

Baked Goods...Yum!

Who has time to bake anymore? Many people don't, and if you know any bachelors, they'll tell you they really miss the home-cooked meals. Of course, that's if their parents had the time to cook. That being said, freshly made breads and desserts make a surprising treat!

Bake in bulk so you can get it all done in a day or two. If you bake several different types of goods, pies, cakes, cookies, this you give you a chance to be extra creative with your gift giving. When giving baked goods, include the baking dish, pie plate, cookie cutters, etc. It's like giving two gifts in one!

Decorate! Don't just put cookies on a plate and say congratulations! Wrap in cellophane, top with a bow, write the recipe on a pretty card and include, tape wild flowers onto the cellophane, put stickers on the cellophane, tie some candy canes on it, you get the idea. A pretty-presentation makes a huge difference.

Cookies and brownies are easy to be creative with. You can include different types, and are not confined to a certain shape. You can put them in decorated shoe boxes, gift bags, baskets, cups, bowls, plates and so on. Once again, the key is the décor. You can make an ordinary plate of cookies look like a plate of gourmet goodness!

The way I see it, it's okay to slip in a few pretty store bought or bakery goods to save time...

Candies and Chocolates

If you can make home made candy great! Most of us can't so we buy them. These small bits of prettiness can be put in mugs, candy dishes, heck, you know the drill, and now is the time for that creativity of yours! Sometimes the packaging itself is quite pretty and can be implemented into your design.

How to make Gingerbread Houses

Supplies you may need

Here is a collection of supplies you may need to decorate your gifts.

Cookie Craft: From Baking to Luster Dust, Designs and Techniques for Creative Cookie Occasions
Cookie Craft: From Baking to Luster Dust, Designs and Techniques for Creative Cookie Occasions

An inspirational gallery of 150 colorful cookies guaranteed to start those creative juices flowing.

Equal parts baking and colorful decorating, cookie crafting is just the thing for crafters who love to bake and bakers inspired by the possibilities in a filled pastry bag. Here are all the clever tricks and insider's hints that will elevate your cookies to edible art.

Kaiser Bakeware Patisserie Fall Cookie Cutter Rings, Set of 9 Plus Storage Ring
Kaiser Bakeware Patisserie Fall Cookie Cutter Rings, Set of 9 Plus Storage Ring

Ghost, Cat, Pumpkin, Bat, Crescent, Moon, Apple, Maple Leaf, Oak Leaf and Acorn, Kaiser quality provides exceptional value at an affordable price.


Little collectibles are appreciated more than you think

What do you collect? I bet you have an answer, because most people collect something. Whether it's penguins, lighthouses, crystal, or Hot Wheels, most people have a collection of knick-knacks of some sort. Me? I collect coffee cups from different countries, and Barbara Cartland books. These are very low cost items, but I LOVE receiving them. The thing about collectibles is that duplicates are a bonus. I have 7 of the same book, and I'm happy about all the "back-ups" I have.

So what does the gift recipient collect? If you don't know and can't find out from others, just ask them. They will look forward to seeing what you find for them. This is where the thrift stores and bazaar's really come in handy. It is almost expected to get a used collector's item. E-Bay is awesome for this purpose! Just make sure the feedback is good before you buy.


There are many of you who have a gift for needlework. You are a goldmine of gifts. People are so busy these days trying to make a living, that they just don't have the time or patience it takes to make something of their own. That's where you come in. Have you seen the price of throw pillows lately? Ridiculous! Many people love throw pillows, my teenage daughter included. If you have a sewing machine and some stuffing, voila! A gift.

What about some framed cross-stitch? Cross stitching is rather tedious for many, but a hobby for some. Turn that hobby into gifts. Knitting and crocheting is another "lost art" that would make a great gift, especially for the new baby or baby's first Christmas.

I knew a lady that made macramé hanging planters and sold them for $300 dollars! These were rather intricate, but the concept is the same. Macramé is another way to make a great gift.

A Quick Macramé Tutorial

Magazine subscriptions, a gift all year long!

This is pretty self explanatory. Magazines in the store are expensive, but buy the subscription and wow, what a savings! These make a great gift all year long. First, make sure the recipient doesn't already subscribe, and secondly, buy the magazine to have something to give, and include a card letting them know that they will be able to enjoy a new magazine every month (or whatever the magazine terms are).

Kids and your Budget

When it comes down to it, adults understand a budget crises, kids on the other hand, is a different story. At about 5 years of age, kids anticipate holiday occasions with excitement. Even your teen-agers look forward to the holidays.

The young kids won't understand a budget, an older kid will, but it still hurts. You can tell them "it's the thought that counts", but admit it, it's painful for you too. Everyone wants to be able to give a decent gift for those special occasions.

You already know the answer...start early! You will be surprised at what you find at the thrift stores.

For those teens and tweens, what are they into? Need ideas?

Retro is IN, and the thrift store and bazaars are great for those items. Start now, because the longer you wait, the harder it is to find the good stuff. You can also get some good used furniture that needs just a bit of paint to look new. What about buying a dresser or chair, and include a selection of paints. Tell them to be creative and paint the furniture in whatever design they want. Talk about bragging rights!

Manga/anime is huge! You can get some awesome deals since there are so many items to choose from.

Are they always drawing? Art supplies are inexpensive.

Are they into video games? Buy used ones at your local video store, or get a gift card for video game rentals.

Jewelry? An Italian charm bracelet is a gift that can be added to over time.

This is where a magazine subscription comes in handy.

School supplies are great, but the super cool ones, not the generic boring ones. Believe me, you feel much better when you have some unique supplies.

The younger kids are easier to buy for. You can find many things for a decent price, and they don't care where you get them, just as long as they have a lot of gifts to open!

Once again, start early, a few bargains found here and there really add up over time.

There's nothing like a beautifully wrapped gift.

There's nothing like a beautifully wrapped gift.
There's nothing like a beautifully wrapped gift.

Wrapping Paper Ideas

Sometimes, wrapping the gift costs more than the gift itself! Here is a quick collection of pictures of homemade wrapping paper to give you some ideas. Threadbanger also has a great video on wrapping paper ideas.

This is a great project for the kids!

Wrap your gifts with recycled materials!

Do you have any cool ideas to add?

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    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 3 years ago from Canada

      You have lots of great Christmas gift ideas for those on a budget. I enjoy putting together interesting gift wrapping for that special person.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

      Creative gifts mean a lot because so much thought goes into them. I especially like the idea of gifts in a mug.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      Wow! These are some great ideas. I love getting creative with gifts. Tissue wrap, ribbons, mugs... the whole nine yards. I was especially thrilled by your instructive videos. I am very much a visual person. If I can watch something done... several times, I can usually imitate it. Monkey see, monkey do, as it were. LOL. I really enjoy the idea of many things, but having the visual is a big help for people like me. Thank you for the visuals an' for so many really great ideas. I love it!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      Great ideas. Perfect gifts do not have to cost a fortune.

    • SugarPirate profile image

      SugarPirate 8 years ago

      Great lens, and nice ideas! Not only are homemade gifts easier on the wallet, they also show that you've thought about the person and are willing to put in a little effort. The mugs would be great for co-workers.

    • dlcummings profile image

      dlcummings 8 years ago

      Wow what a fun lens, I watched the how to make a bow video pretty cool!

    • juniperberry lm profile image

      juniperberry lm 8 years ago

      Some great ideas! I had just started panicking that Christmas is approaching at a great pace... and the money is not. Thanks, you have inspired me!

    • MSBeltran1 profile image

      MSBeltran1 8 years ago

      Great ideas, nice job-- I am lensrolling this one to my HOlidays On A Shoestring lens.

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 9 years ago

      What a fun and yummy lens! I never thought of a back to school gift basket. What a great idea! Especially for us homeschoolers. How about sewing items wrapped in fabric for a seamstress!