The Good Cents Savings Frugal Gift Guide

By -

Last month we brought you a great list of free (or almost free) holiday gift ideas – but what about when you do want to purchase a gift but are on a tight budget? We all have those people on our list, maybe it’s extended relatives, children’s teachers, or close friends who you’d love to give something they’d enjoy wrapped up with a shiny bow – but without breaking the bank. Here is a list of gift ideas that can be put together for just a few dollars each:

Gift Guide 2011

Cookbook & Utensil

A lot of my ideas center around making the gift more special by pairing a few items together. Browse the clearance table at a bookstore, super discount store*, or big box store for cookbooks with recipes that sound good costing just a few dollars. Tie a wooden spoon, spatula, measuring spoons, or a cookie cutter (whatever goes well with the type of recipes in the book – you can probably find any of the items mentioned for $1 or less – check the Dollar Store or super discount store) on top of the package and you have a really nice gift for someone who loves to cook or wants to learn.

Stuffed Animal & Treat

There’s no need to spend a lot on the “hot toy” or electronic gadgets for the kids on your list other than your own, and maybe nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Most little kids love a new soft toy to snuggle with, and you can often find them for $5 and under. Look at toy stores, the childrens section of Ikea, and Kohl’s (their “KohlsCares” merchandise is generally found at the front of the store and includes cute stuffed animals for $5, with the added bonus that the retailer donates all the profits from those items to charitable causes.) After wrapping slide a sweet treat such as a brightly colored lollipop, pack of candy, or holiday cookie wrapped in cellophane. The addition of this treat you can probably find for 50 cents or less will make your gifts the first the little ones want to open. And while the parents might not be thrilled about the extra sugar the kids will LOVE you for it!

Glasses & Drink

Whether it’s wine, beer,  liquor, coffee, hot chocolate, or even some fancy sparkling lemonade pairing a drink with a few glasses to drink it from elevates a thoughtful gift to something special. You can find inexpensive wine, rocks, martini, margarita, or pint glasses, mugs, or plastic tumblers for a little as a dollar or two each at lots of stores – try Walmart, Target, Pier One, Ikea, World Market, or the super discount stores. To keep the gift to just a few dollars give airplane bottles of alcohol or a “bomber” (22 oz) of a nice beer.

Game Night Gift Basket

Include a pack of cards, note pad, and pen for adults who like Bridge, Rummy, or Spades, or a classic board game for a family (big box stores tend to offer some of the favorites such as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Memory for just a few dollars each around the holidays.) Add a box of cookie or brownie mix, snack mix, or other treat the recipients can enjoy together during game night.

Movie Night Gift Basket

Pair a bag of popcorn and movie theater sized box of candy with a gift certificate for a movie rental from Redbox or a local store. (I was pretty excited to see that Redbox is now offering gift certificates.) This could be a cute little gift for $5! (Estimating $2 – popcorn, $1.50 candy, $1.50 movie rental.)

*Not sure what to call these, but by “super discount store” I mean the large warehouse type stores with a little of everything. Near me we have Old Time Pottery and Big Lots – I think Ollie’s is a similar store found in other parts of the country.

Anna Platz is an Editor at, a leading mortgage rate research website, as well as the Lead Contributor to, a blog about budgeting and personal finance. Anna is immersed in the world of real estate, mortgage, and home financing and is here to provide valuable resources for homeowners and soon-to-be-homeowners on buying and selling real estate, researching a mortgage broker or lender, and securing a home loan. Check back often for news, updates, and remember that you can find today's current mortgage rates at My Google Profile+

Comments are closed.