Ten Frugal Gift Ideas

Need some simple and frugal gift ideas? Check out these great suggestions from members of the Mothering community. 


Now through Dec 19th, share your own homemade gift ideas in our 2012 Homemade Gifts Contest for a chance to win a $100 gift card from Nature’s Fabrics!!


Also check out the article It’s a Gift for more great, frugal suggestions. 



Frugal Wrap by cyrusmama

recycled wrapping paper“We went to our local newspaper office and asked if they had any of their roll ends left. They usually charge the general public for them, but not educators. We are homeschoolers so they gave it to us for free. It had paper at least six inches thick left on the roll. We are going to be decorating it with potato stamps and markers and wrapping our gifts with it this year. Also, instead of buying bows, I am using yarn and strips of fabric to decorate the packages with too”


Grandma’s Raisin Bread by Mandy Gail

hands baking bread“Every year on Christmas eve, I make my grandmother’s recpie for rasin bread – about 12 loaves &; give one to everyone in the family. My grandmother passed away over 15 years ago so this is such a special treat – plus its a fun tradition knowing that we will be baking with the family every christmas eve! Another idea: I have made cloth gift wrap bags with drawstrings – they can be used year after year and are such a time saver, no tape or waste. Plus the festive holiday prints look so pretty under the tree!”


Handmade Coloring Book by wilson

child coloring“I’m drawing a coloring book for my daughter. It is full of pictures of things we find on our nature walks, and little bits of information about them. I do have some fancy software for putting it all together and printing, but you certainly don’t have to. To make a half page size book, you simply draw pictures on half a sheet of paper. Then trace over them with a permanent marker and erase the pencil marks. You can cut and rearrange them if you need to, then take it all to your local library or copy place to photocopy and print front and back. Stack and assemble with a stapler.  If you don’t draw, you can go to etsy and search for coloring books. Printable versions are cheaper, and you can download and print them almost immediately, plus it supports handmade artists.”


Homemade Spice by gardenmom

jars of herbs“For my friends and family who like to cook, I am making up jars of dried organic herbs from our garden such as parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage and even dried hot peppers. Even in cold climates you may still be able to do this now in time for the holidays, since many perennial herbs stay green year-round. I simply cut bouquets of herbs, wash them gently, and hang them to dry in a warm, dark place. When they are fully dry, I will crumble them up over a large container, pick out any sticks or stems, and fill up small spice jars. I have been and washing jars all year to re-purpose for this project. As a finishing touch I’ll print decorative labels on the computer for each one.”


Make a CD by A&A


“Make a CD of your child(ren) singing Christmas songs (or playing them on a piano or guitar, if they take music lessons.) This can be given to extended family and will become even more precious as the years go by! We did this one year and even included a picture of dd (wearing a Santa hat) that we included as a CD cover.”


Brownie Pops by olliepop

“I’m making brownie pops for neighbors, teachers, and friends. One batch of brownies yields 44 pops. All you need are sticks, bags, and silver twist ties, white chocolate, and brownies, of course. Bake fudge brownies, roll into balls, insert sticks, dip into melted white chocolate, sprinkle with jimmies or sanding sugar. They are very rich so I usually don’t give more than six. You can tie a bundle of pops together with a really pretty bow and gift card.”


A Gift of Time by emelsea

elderly woman and younger woman“My Grandmother passed away last spring, but when she was alive, she had two of everything, and never wanted her children or grandchildren to buy her anything, and most of the family bought her gift cards or certificates for restaurants. Many years ago, I was broke and couldn’t afford to buy gifts, so I made a very pretty card for Grandma, and inside I promised her that one weekend a month I would come over to her house and do the chores that she didn’t like to do, or couldn’t do herself. I changed light bulbs, raked leaves, defrosted her freezer – whatever she needed. I “gave” her the same gift every year after that and after the first year, her gift to me became to make me dinner once a month, on the day I came to do her chores.

“I think this makes a great gift for an elderly relative, neighbor or friend. Or for anyone on your list – maybe your Mom hates to weed her flower beds, or your sister never finds time to wash her windows or your best friend wants help organizing her attic. You don’t have to promise to do something every month, you could pledge to do something seasonally or even just once. It’s free, can be eco-friendly and gives you the opportunity to spend time with someone special.”


Crafting Sessions by GemmaL

child doing crafts“We are having several crafting sessions where my children and their friends can make a number of different projects (i.e., repurposed felted sweaters made into coasters with hand embroidery; scented play clay; knitting kits with yarn, dowels made into knitting needles, stitch markers; gardening kits with seeds we have harvested from the garden, various ornaments including pinecone gnomes, etc.) They can then set up a “shop” where their younger siblings can select from the items they have made/put together to give as gifts for the holidays.

“For my grownup friends I am taking vintage/flea market linen towels and fashioning them into bread keeping bags. I will include a something along with the recipe.”


Dishtowel Wrapping by SarahsMom08

“Rather than using paper, try wrapping your gifts in a dish towel tied with a ribbon. A bright yellow dish towel tied with a bright red ribbon looks cute, festive, and unique! You can buy a 5-pack of dishtowels for only slightly more than a roll of wrapping paper. Best of all, the towel becomes part of the gift, which is much more practical and environmentally friendly than wrapping paper doomed for the trash can. Some frugal ideas to place inside the towel are: homemade jam, a photobook filled with your favorite handwritten recipes, a mixed assortment of herbal teas, or other homemade goodies.”


Handcrafted Letter by dancebaraka

handwritten letter“Exploring the history of our holidays, we find that the emphasis on consumerism is a modern phenomenon, often imposed by powerful large corporations. This holiday season, I will take some wisdom from our foremothers and sit quietly to hand write letters and greetings to loved ones. It feels refreshingly connecting to receive a thoughtful note in this age of fast-paced communication and digital technology. So many of us have too much of everything, but find ourselves hungry for appreciation and acknowledgment. The simple and frugal act of crafting the perfect, heart-felt letter to a beloved friend or family member might yield one of the most prized gifts of the season!”


Find more inspiration in Mothering’s Frugality and Finances forum. 


Want to spread joy to a family in need this holiday season? Become a holiday helper by donating your gently used items! More info about our Holiday Helper program can be found here. If you own a business and would like to donate contact melaniem@mothering.com to find out how to get some free promotion in exchange for donating goods!


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