9 Thrifty Tips and Gift Ideas to Survive the Holidays on a Budget

Woman wearing red sweater at table holding a credit card and her phone with a laptop in front of her.

The holiday commercials and catalogs are in our face 24/7 these days. But instead of instilling joy and hope, does the thought of spending money you probably don’t have at the holidays make you feel the opposite? You’re not alone.

Shopping can be a source of stress for many during the holidays, especially if you’re on a fixed or lower income. With inflation, everything seems more expensive than ever but fear not! We’ve got some tips to ease your mind and your wallet, giving you some smart choices and cool ideas to get you through.

Check out our nine tips below to make your holidays extra joyful because they won’t add a large financial burden to your life.

Want to save money on your heating costs this winter? Check out our blog 10 Tips and Hacks for Saving on Your Heating Bill This Winter

  1. Instead of a Wrapped Gift, Offer the Gift of Time: With “spend, spend, spend!” thrown in our faces during the holidays sometimes the best gift of all is time with the person you want to buy for. If that’s a grandchild, think of things they love to do. Children especially love one on one attention from grandparents so come up with an idea that doesn’t cost much but might be fun like an afternoon at the library, park or museum followed by a special treat like a donut or ice cream. Many libraries have reduced or free museum passes. For other friends or family, offer what might be helpful or meaningful to them. Offer to buy them coffee and spend a couple of hours getting caught up. Get creative!
  2. Homemade Can Be Beautiful and Meaningful: Don’t worry if you’re not a crafter or someone who enjoys DIY projects. Below are a few ideas to get your creative ideas flowing that are easy on the wallet but look great and show how much you know and care about the person you’re gifting!
  3. DIY Gift Basket: Consider going to the local dollar store to get a small box or basket and fill it with the receiver’s favorite but inexpensive items like tea bags, candy, snacks, small beauty items, etc. Get some tissue paper and tie with even a simple piece of twine and you’ve got a lovely gift for any age that won’t cost a lot.
  4. Frame a Special Photo: Another dollar store item are picture frames. They are inexpensive but look great. Find a photo on your phone and have it printed at your local pharmacy chain that has photo services…many Walmart stores have a photo department and they can help walk you through the process in store. This is a gift that won’t cost much but will give the gift of memories to the receiver which is priceless.
  5. For the Cook: If the person you want to buy for likes to cook, buy a colorful dish towel and wrap some wooden spoons or inexpensive kitchen gadgets inside.
  6. Houseplants: Giving a houseplant is another idea to help cheer up the receiver’s space during the winter doldrums.
  7. Baked Goods: Here’s a way to hit a number of people on your gift list with minimal cost. Cookies or simple breads wrapped in colorful foil and a tag are always enjoyable!
  8. Second-Hand Books: For the bookworms on your list, check out your local thrift or second-hand bookstore or even your local library to see if they have a regular book swap or sale. If you’re gifting kids or teens, find books that are age-appropriate and in good condition and maybe include a box of hot chocolate and a bookmark for cozy nights reading. For adults, you can often find like-new coffee table books or others on topics like travel or fashion.
  9. Write a List and Plan Your Shopping Trips Carefully
    Before heading out to your favorite stores or thrift shops, take a moment to plan your shopping trip. Start by making a list of the items you need or want to purchase and stick to it! Impulse buying can be a real issue. This will help you stay focused, keep you on track and within budget.

Want more? 5 Tips to Save Money on Groceries & Household Essentials

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