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Money-Saving Christmas Gift Ideas

Updated on October 21, 2015

Some people love to be extravagant at Christmastime. But for others, Christmas is a stressful, money-scrimping time in order to get everyone gifts who expects them. There are several ways to make Christmas special without spending your hard-earned savings.

Give Multiples of the Same Item

If you are like us, you have quite a few family members to buy for and coming up with a special gift idea for each one is overwhelming. One year, my sister bought all of us the starter kit of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Not only was it a cool and meaningful gift, but more than likely, because she bought so many, she got a discount. Many companies or sellers will offer you a discount if you are making a large purchase rather than just buying one of multiple different things. If you can't think of a good idea to get everyone, here a few:

1) Donate to a Charity In Their Name. Say you have 20 people that you buy for. Normally you spend about $25 on each of them. That adds up to $500. Say you donate $15 to a charity per person. That adds up to about $300. And most charities give you some kind of gift for donating that you can wrap up and give to them. Some of them will give you a certificate of donation in that person's name, which would really be special. Try to pick charities you know would be meaningful to that person.

2) A Subscription to Netflix or Hulu. If your family members are big on T.V. and movies, these would be perfect for them. Netflix is an online database of movies that you order online and receive in the mail. Hulu is a live streaming database of T.V. shows that can be watched through the computer or phone.

3) Essential Oil Starter Kit. The women in your family would love this. There are several companies you can purchase from, but I personally like doTerra. You can purchase a starter kit on Amazon for $22.

Coupons and Gift Baskets

This idea takes some planning ahead. Even if you are not an extreme couponer, throughout the year, gather supplies for gift baskets using whatever great deals are available in the Sunday papers. If you sign up for, they will tell you where the best deals are and which paper has the coupons. You can even print coupons from online if you didn't buy the paper.

All year you can stock up on things like hygiene items (shampoo, body wash, nail polish, makeup, cosmetic tools, etc.), Candy/chocolate that's on sale, coffee, tea...basically whatever theme you are going to use for your baskets. If it's too late for that, you can always go the homemade route. One year, my husband and I actually baked and cooked treats like banana or pumpkin bread, white chocolate chex mix, divinity, fudge and cookies, then added in a small, homemade item like soap, candles, crochet dishcloths, or a craft item your kids make. We made about eight baskets, all of the same stuff and saved tons of money that year. You can find baskets at resale shops or yard sales. Don't ever buy a basket new unless you really want to. You can almost always find them at yard sales and stores like Goodwill always have an abundant supply.

Below is my favorite recipe for Pumpkin Bread, always a wonderful addition to a gift basket - the recipe or the bread!

Betty Crockers Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of two 8x4 inch loaf pans or one 9x5 inch loaf pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, stir pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide batter evenly between 8-inch pans or pour into 9-inch pan.
  3. Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack.
  4. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.
Cast your vote for Betty Crocker's Pumpkin Bread

Use Newspaper For Wrapping Paper

Some of the coolest gifts I've ever seen have been wrapped in newspaper neatly with a handmade bow on top. Not only are you saving money on wrapping paper, but you're helping recycle and saving the planet! Plenty of people would be willing to give you their leftover newspapers so they don't have to find a way to get rid of them.

Consolidate Your Travel Plans

Traveling adds fuel costs on top of gift costs. Look for ways you can travel less during the holiday season. Our December paycheck does not stretch very far to accommodate gifts and gas. It may be a hard conversation, but suggest celebrating Christmas with family either in November or February. Maybe it's time to just have Christmas at your own home. Then whenever you were already planning to visit family later or earlier in the year, you can give your gifts then. Skype makes it easy to visit with family members on Christmas Day without any travelling involved. Have the kids sing a few Christmas songs over Skype to grandparents or relatives who aren't too thrilled about you not coming in person.

Make A Special Recording

For each extended family member, instead of a purchased gift, give them something more meaningful. Make a recording or video of you saying everything you like about that person, or a special memory you have of the person you're giving it to. You can also have each of your kids say their own things. That way, the person has a special video or disc that brings a smile to their face anytime they want to watch it. If you want, you can add some songs you know they enjoy so they can have a longer listening experience!

My mother-in-law was thrilled to receive a recording of one of her sons playing the piano. She says she loves to listen to it and remember when he lived at home and would play around on the piano.

Christmas shouldn't be the stressful and money-draining time that it is for so many people. These are just a few ways you can cut down on costs but still keep the meaning in your gifts.


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