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Christmas Gifts on a Budget – Get Creative and Personalize

November 14, 2014

Many are facing a tighter holiday budget than ever before. With planning ahead, some thought and planning and targeting your gift choices you can still give great gifts that don’t seem on a budget.

Be creative! Personalize your choices! What does your recipient like? A gift that fits a recipient’s interests or needs is always welcome! Another thing to remember is there are many people struggling this year.

Are you good at making things? Homemade gifts that people can use are a bonus! For the person with many appliances in their kitchen perhaps an appliance garage which keeps them accessible but out of sight would be welcome. Check out creative sites like for hundreds of ideas of literally making something from almost nothing! Don’t overlook youtube for videos also – many think of it as just music, tv clips and bloopers but there are many educational clips there also.

Don’t overlook barter! Check free sites like Freecycle which have groups in many areas. Craigslist, although littered with spam, is another way to find free or inexpensive items if you ignore the negative there.

Check out thrift stores – some have name brand clothing with tags still attached. If you get a $20 item for $2 it’s worth looking! This is also a place to find toys that may need cleaned up but are still useful.

With these things in mind here’s some other ideas to get you thinking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1.Wall hangings. These can be personalized to the tastes so you can get one group of craft products and create tailored gifts for five different interests. Item 1 is a backdrop – use scrap pieces of wood, plywood of a small enough size to handle or even real tree pieces, cut and sanded. Item 2 needed is mod podge, found in many craft departments. Item 3 needed is a clean paint brush. Item 4 is a picture. You can use a cutout from a greeting card, a photo, a darkened silhouette or even old calendar or magazine photos. Do use caution with very thin paper which sometimes doesn’t work well to ‘hold’ the picture.”

Put a light layer of mod podge on the wood, which works to seal the wood. Let this soak in and add a slightly heavier layer then, while wet, carefully place the picture over it, carefully working quickly to smooth out bubbles from under the paper or cardboard. I’ve found it helps somewhat once this is done to put a small amount of mod podge over onto the picture around the edges to help seal it down. Let this dry several hours, overnight preferred. You’re then going to put a top coat down, ‘painting’ over the entire front of the piece. A light to moderate amount is good here – it will look opaque but once it dries will be clear. Put it up where it can dry thoroughly which may take several days. From here you can leave any brush strokes as ‘artistic’ or can use very fine sandpaper to gently smooth it and apply another coat.

  1. For kids clothing be sure of sizes and hit the thrift stores! Kids grow so fast there is often little wear to clothing in many of the bins and racks. Why pay $25-30 for something you can et for $1-2? While you’re here look for blankets and quilts for the family member conserving heating costs, or other household items. A breadmaker or steamer might not be affordable new but clean, working ones for $3-5 are much less expensive!
  2. Bath baskets can be individualized on a budget! Make some homemade bath salts (very inexpensive and easy!), add some $1-2 sample sized lotions from the store, a couple bars of homemade soaps and a pretty scented candle – under $10 for a busy mom or career woman. Throw in once a week watching the kids for an hour until it’s gone so she can use it!
  3. Avid book reader on your list? Check out used book stores as well as which is accessible from anywhere you’re reading this. Many books tailored to their interest can be found for pennies on the dollar, with new or like new books and other items available and they can be sent directly to your gift recipient at no additional cost! Simply fill out the “ship to”. I usually drop a note to the seller requesting that payment slips not be included as it’s a gift and have never had a problem. Also give the recipient a nod that something is coming so they can watch for it and, if it doesn’t arrive in a timely manner, you can follow up. Again I haven’t had a problem but things happen. Most are thrilled with the books and other items they’ve received and I love the savings and ease of shopping.
  4. For the person struggling with basics the best gift is the basics. Take $20-30 and budget shop – bulk rice, pasta and other items. Collect recipes to use them and for not much money you’ve given a gift they can use that is truly the spirit of giving for the season. If they have a wood stove but no wood look for trees downed by storms, which may have sat long enough to naturally dry down, ask permission to remove it and deliver. There are many people who really don’t need knickknacks or fancy things, and many elderly who would find it a relief to have several weeks to a month’s worth of groceries to stretch their even smaller budget.

A budget doesn’t make gift giving impossible. Be creative. Personalized. Make it a Christmas to remember!

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