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Good Cheap Christmas Gifts: Inexpensive Ideas for Holiday Presents for Everyone

Updated on March 23, 2012
Chris Telden profile image

For Chris, choosing gifts is like writing a story: By matching the character to the gift, you learn more about people and what they value.

Christmas gifts are a major part of the Christmas tradition. A Christmas without gifts would lack a certain spark. Nobody wants to impart the appalling news "Sorry, no gifts this year!" during the winter holidays. Yet the holiday celebrations can put a serious financial damper on many families' fun during an economic recession or depression. Luckily, low-budget Christmas shopping is possible if you're thrifty and creative. Learn how to keep your Christmas gift choices cheap and not strain your budget too badly--while still keeping to the spirit of the holidays.

You can spend less on Christmas gifts in hard times by going natural, being green, buying cheap, and being careful with your holiday budget.
You can spend less on Christmas gifts in hard times by going natural, being green, buying cheap, and being careful with your holiday budget.

Inexpensive Holiday Gift Ideas Under $30

Broadway Basketeers Thinking of You Gift Set
Broadway Basketeers Thinking of You Gift Set

The Golden Delights Chocolate Gift Basket is perfect for anybody celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or just a love of chocolate during the holiday season.


Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas

Twenties Girl
Twenties Girl

Romance novel lovers will enjoy Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, author of the bestselling Shopaholic series. This lighthearted "chick lit" hardcover book is perfect fun for the holidays.


Tips for Getting Budget Christmas Gifts

  1. It's the old stand-by, but it works: Buy in bulk and divvy up. Christmas gifts are cheaper if you buy large quantities of gourmet foods, teas, or other gift items at a warehouse club (like Sam's Club or Costco) or discount store (such as WalMart or Target) or even your local grocery store. Open the packages and separate out gifts into individual boxes for giving to friends and relatives.
  2. Save money on Christmas presents by giving away something you already have that's been relegated to the attic or storage. A beautiful old ornament, an unused appliance, a piece of art you have no room to display...Christmas in an economic downturn is not the time to keep hoarding the stuff you don't actively use.
  3. Regift. Recycle a gift you received previously but will never use by giving it away to someone who will appreciate it. Gifts that lie around unused are a waste and anything but green. And yes, you can regift in a classy way without being tacky.
  4. Get rid of the idea that Christmas gifts need to be shiny and unused. Not every gift item needs to be new to be special. Buy a used Christmas gift in secondhand stores, online off of Craigslist or on eBay. A hard-to-find book, a nice photo album, or a little-used gadget, for example, are great used gifts to give at Christmas.
  5. Give a potted plant for Christmas to a friend or family member--and you don't have to limit yourself to a hydrangea. A plant is a warm, live, personal, beautiful and cheap Christmas gift that many people are truly happy to receive. And if you're a gardener yourself, you can "make" a zero-cost Christmas present by cleaning up an old pot and potting something from your garden.
  6. Make your own homemade Christmas gifts. If you're not the crafty sort, bake some Christmas cookies and deliver them along with a handmade Christmas card. Or if you're creative with words or music, write your own personalized story for the recipient, or record your own personalized song.
  7. Forego buying holiday gift wrap this year. If you don't still have last year's gift wrap, wrap your gifts in festive tissue paper and ribbons, used gift bags, or simply decorated with a bow instead of gift wrap.
  8. Or focus on creative presentation instead of the gift. A humble gift with a beautiful, personalized presentation can cost far less than an expensive luxury gift--but still be loved just as much. There are lots of things you can do to make gift wrapping personal. Make your own gift wrap out of copies of personal photos printed out on your printer. Get your kids, if you have them, in on the wrapping act by having them create drawings on light-colored non-glossy wrapping paper. If you're feeling silly, you can even humorously place bows in a smiley face shape on the gift. Be creative and make it look festive--years later, they may forget the gift, but they'll remember the wrapping!
  9. Give partial gifts instead of whole. Instead of getting a full set or series--of music, movies, books, sporting equipment, or whatever--get the first in the series, or the smallest as a "starter." It's not as showy, but it's still thoughtful and personal.
  10. Buy a discontinued, imperfect, or early version of a product as a gift. You may even find them in new condition. Consider an antiquarian or used edition of a book, an older, earlier version of software, a discontinued color in a favorite shoe model, an imperfect pack of socks or a discontinued piece of electronics equipment.
  11. Buy handcrafted works of jewelry, needlework, and other crafts off the Internet directly from the artisan on sites such as,, and, of course, By bypassing the retailer, you can often get surprising deals on handmade artisan jewelry and crafts.
  12. Scale down and give smaller gifts. Can't afford that fully decked-out DVD player you wanted to get for your son? Give him a mini-DVD player. The fancy speakers can come another time.
  13. Aim to get, not a particular gift for a particular person, but a "general gift anyone would love." The cheapest way to give such easy Christmas gifts is to browse the promotional displays at discount and department stores for specials. Find a great sale on plush socks? Get twenty pairs and give them amongst your relatives.
  14. Forego the big gifts and give extra-stuffed Christmas stockings this year, filled with numerous small gifts, including treats.
  15. Do a White Elephant gift exchange with your family and friends instead of traditional gifting. This "free" Christmas gift giving practice can turn holiday gift exchanges into an exciting, fun and entertaining activity rather than simply the transfer of presents. If you provide a small "consolation prize" for everyone at the end, your family will barely notice the lack of new gifts.
  16. Try a Secret Santa gift exchange this year. Used in work environments to keep Christmas gift costs cheap, the Secret Santa system of gift exchange is perfectly suitable for your family, as well. Each person gives only one gift at Christmas, spending no more than a set amount--giving their present anonymously to the person whose name they draw.
  17. Create a "Convenience Gift Certificate" off of a template. Offer your services and time--to do a chore, watch the kids, go on an errand, etc.--instead of a present that requires cash.
  18. Create a "Repair Service Gift Certificate." Offer to get the recipient's worn shoes resoled, electronics supplied with batteries, or kitchen or other light equipment repaired. This personal and practical gift of your time can be a low-cost, if unconventional, way to "give" during the holiday season.
  19. Give memories as a gift for your mom, dad, grandmother or grandfather or even an elderly aunt or uncle--they're cheap but worth a priceless amount. Organize digital video or photo documents into a gift and bring personal delight to the recipient.
  20. Finally, remember that the Magi, the three wise men who gifted the baby Jesus and started the whole thing rolling, didn't get their gold, frankincense, and myrrh in department stores or on the shopping channel. The point of Christmas giving is the symbolism of the gifts, not how much you spend. So forget about trying to compete money-wise when you launch on your spree of Christmas giving. Don't attempt to match the gifts you anticipate getting, dollar for dollar. Change your thinking: give from the heart, not the pocketbook, and your present will be received in the spirit of affection and love with which it was given.

Place your order for these gorgeous, yummy treats and have them sent to a gift recipient for Christmas. Old world chocolate with a new world twist...!


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