Christmas on a Budget: Part 3- Gifts

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Hi there Frugal Friends! I hope this post encourages you as we sail through this holiday season!

Part 1: Decorations

Part 2: Holiday Festivities

Presents! Who doesn’t love getting something hand picked just for you! I know I do! As a kid, I absolutely loved it! Now, being a[n] adult bigger kid, I love giving presents just as much as receiving them! As with anything though, I want for it to be an encouragement (Christ at the Center), filled with love, and preferably in my budget. I’d love to walk into a store and pick out something for the 20 or so people we buy gifts for without a second glance, but it’s just not realistic. Guess what? That is okay! As long as the gift is meaningful, well-thought out, and you truly think about that person, you don’t have to spend a lot of money! Let’s jump right in, shall we?


Making a Plan/Budget


We have certain “rules” when it comes to Christmas presents. Especially when its for our children. We found the idea of 4 things a couple of years ago and have worked with that ever since! Something they WANT, NEED, TO WEAR, and TO READ. Not only does this make it so much easier to plan out the gifts, but it truly keeps Christ as our reason. Instead of sulking we didn’t receive X amount of presents, we can truly be grateful for the gifts we do receive. Expectations and routine are what children thrive on, afterall. Tip: If you do Santa, I have seen people do these 4 gifts and one from Ole Saint Nick.


My husband and I rarely get each other Christmas gifts. If we do, we hardly ever spend a significant amount of money and its usually on things we really want or need. This year, I was really wanting a new pair of Ugg boots. My last pair lasted me a good 8 years, but the tread was wearing. I didn’t want to spend the $200+ for a brand new pair, so I went to ebay and found a barely used pair, in the color I wanted, for around $60. These will last me another good 5+ years or so! My husband is a mega gamer. He works hard, is a great husband and father, and helps around the house. In his “me time”, he enjoys video games. He has been using his PS3 for almost 10 years. The PS4 has been out for a couple of years now and I know he really wanted it. So, I shopped around, used some coupons and gift cards, sold most of his PS3 games and got him a PS4 for a Birthday and Christmas present. & You know what? He will play it for another good 10 years before he gets a different one! ;) The point is, we both waited several years for something we really wanted and when we had the means, we were so happy to be able to provide it to one another for the holidays!

Extended Family:

For our extended family, we usually spend around $10-25 per person/family. It all just depends. For instance, my family generally always asks for house appliances that can be purchased on Black Friday. Most of these items are around $10-20 and it’s something they really need. For my husband’s family, they are usually content with homemade gifts or experiences. So we kind of pick and choose. It usually always rounds out to $25 per family.


For our parents and grandparents, we usually always do something from Peanut Boy. & It is usually always a calendar or other photo gift. They look forward to it each year!


Saving on Gifts

Sales & Promotions:

As I mentioned above, we usually always are able to purchase the gifts we want during Black Friday. Whether it be appliances, clothes, movies, etc. However, there are tons of sales between then and Christmas. That’s why having a plan and budget is so important! You can know exactly what you want and how much you can spend. Then, when you find it on sale, it’s even better!

For instance, remember those calendars I mentioned? I make them ahead of time. Then from about October to December, I check back on Shutterfly.Com or my emails and see when they have their free calendar promotion. Their calendars are normally around $30+shipping. I pay solely for shipping. So these calendars cost me about $8 each. My mom adores getting her new “Liam Calendar” every year. I can customize the events inside, add pictures, cute quotes, etc. & it costs me a mere $8! If I can’t get all my calendars for free, I can usually stack coupons and sales on Shutterfly and still pay a relatively low price that is within my budget!

Free Gifts with Gift Cards:

This is my new favorite way to purchase Christmas gifts! If you start early and work hard enough, you might just be able to get all your Christmas gifts for free! How you ask? Reward programs! My personal favorite is swagbucks. You can do as little or as much as you want! I have my search bar defaulted, so that’s how I get a majority of my points. You can also do surveys, polls, watch videos, etc. Again, it depends how much time you invest into it. But just by doing searches and a survey or two a week, I was able to get a $15 Amazon card to purchase my Nana’s present. I know several people who spend a lot of time per day, and are able to get about 1 $25 gift card a week! Just have to be willing to put in the effort!  My husband’s favorite is louder. You literally just click on ads. He can get a $5 gift card every 4 days just by getting on the app in his down time (like bedtime or bathroom time). It’s that simple! This is how we purchased a gift for my dad!  Also, you can use swagbucks or other sites like ebates to get money back just by shopping online! It adds up!


Homemade Gifts


You can always go homemade with gifts as well! Do you have a special talent or hobby? Maybe you’re great at sewing or crafting! This year, we decided to make ornaments as a secondary gift for the grandparents, siblings, and we made some for our tree as well! They turned out amazingly adorable! All in all, I think they cost me about $10 total and I was able to make each person 2 or 3. Check out my video tutorial below:


My brother wanted some house stuff. He is a huge sport nut, so I decided to make him a couple of front door wreaths for his apartment door with his favorite teams. Although I am not crazy talented, I think it turned out well! Even though it was super inexpensive, I feel a lot better making him something specific to his interests, something he wanted, and something heartfelt than an appliance or a store bought decoration.


For our neighbors and service workers (mailman, etc), Peanut Boy and I decided to make some Puppy Chow! Li and I made a lasting memory, our neighbors loved it, and it was good and inexpensive!

For our co-workers, we gave out our Christmas cards with some candy canes! Boxes of candy canes are inexpensive and they are quick and easy to put together and great to give to multiple people! :) I did a quick pinterest search for a free card template, added my pictures from our maternity shoot, and used shutterfly’s 100 free 4×6 prints promotions to pay just $5 for shipping! So it’s technically a photo and not a card, but this way I paid much less and they are just as cute!


Gift Ideas

I am a total practical gift giver. I’d rather get grocery store gift cards than something fun. Not everyone is like me, though. I really wanted to get fun, different gifts that were within my budget. These are a few of my favorites:


Memberships or admission tickets (zoos, museums)

Movie Theatre Gift Card (pair with some Candy from the Dollar Tree to take as a treat)

Concert Tickets

Bowling, Skating, Laser Tag, Mini Golf, Etc Gift Cards

Family Fun:

Board Game & A Tin or Box of Popcorn

Mugs and Hot Chocolate Paired with a Christmas Movie

Mugs and Root Beer w/Vanilla Ice for Root Beer Floats

Tin or Box of Popcorn, Movie, and 2-Liter of Soda

Most of these are pretty inexpensive, thoughtful, and encourage lasting memories! Some of the experiences may be a tad more expensive, but maybe you could go half & half with another family member and give the gift together!

What do you think? Did this post encourage you and help you think outside the box? Can you think of any other gift ideas that may be inexpensive, but heartfelt? Let us know in the comments!

Part 1: Decorations

Part 2: Holiday Festivities



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