How to Give Holiday Gifts on a Budget


The holidays are here. You have a tradition of gift giving with your friends and family but this year you have less money to spend on presents. If you have very little cash, you can use your creativity to give your friends and family gifts for the holidays. Read this article for ideas on how to give gifts this holiday season when on a tight budget.

Things You'll Need

  • A little bit of money
  • Pen
  • Creativity
  • Paper
  • Give an IOU. To give an I-O-U, first select someone to give the I-O-U to. Figure out something you could do for that person. For example, you could give your spouse an I-O-U for two hours of back massages redeemable at any time. For a friend, you could write "I-O-U three home-cooked meals." The I-O-U has two parts. First, write what you are giving the person. Second, write when that person can redeem the gift. For a close family member or friend, write "redeemable at any time."

  • Surprise friends and family with frequent flier miles. You have no cash, but do you have frequent flier miles you can give a family member? Do you have a granddaughter wishing for a visit? Do your parents want you to visit? If you have extra frequent flier miles, you can buy someone you love a plane ticket. Being able to travel and see friends and family over Christmas is a great present for anyone.

  • Offer extra privileges. If you do not have enough money to buy gifts for the kids, you can give them extra privileges instead. For example, you could give kids a later bedtime, extra playtime or a raise in their allowance. To make this gift very meaningful think about what your kids want and value.

  • Give the gift of pictures. Pictures make great gifts because they are very personal. Find a picture of you and your friend or find a picture of your whole group of friends. Present the picture in a creative way such as in a decorated frame or colorful collage.

  • Bake something. Make your friend or family member a cake or some cookies as a holiday present. Baked goods make great presents because the recipient of your gift will know that you spent a lot of time and effort making the present.

  • Be a chauffer for one night. Offer to drive your friend around for an entire night. This would be a spectacular gift for a couple that enjoys going out. To give this gift, get a card from the local store and write "you and your spouse have been given an entire night of chauffer service, free! Your chauffer for the night will be [insert your name here]." When you do actually chauffer your friend around, try to recreate a real limousine experience. Try to find a suit and white gloves to wear. Have both passengers ride in the back. Always get out and open the door for them. Most importantly, be sure to thoroughly clean your car.

  • Knit your friend a hat, scarf or some socks for the holidays. If you can knit, this is a really great gift for the holidays.

  • Fix something. If you have any mechanical knowledge, then offer to do a minor home or car repair for Christmas. To give this present, get a card and write a note inside. You could write something like "For Christmas this year I am going to fix the tiles in your bathroom." When you offer to repair something, be sure that your friend has previously mentioned his intention to get that certain thing repaired. Who doesn't have an ongoing home improvement project? Be sure to be reasonable with your offer. Choose a small project that will last one day or less.

  • Burn your friend a CD for Christmas. If you have a computer, a CD burner and some CDs, then spend a few dollars on blank CDs and create a personalized mix for your friend. Write a personal message on the CD or CD cover.

  • Offer to baby-sit your friend's children for a night or two. This present can be especially meaningful because good babysitters are frequently hard to find.

  • Do some chores. This is a great gift for a spouse or close friend. Is there something your spouse or housemates have been bothering you to do? Is there a chore in your house that everyone hates doing? Then make a written offer to do that particular chore for a designated amount of time. For example, if everyone in your house hates taking out the trash, then offer to take out the trash for a month. Make this gift meaningful by writing down your offer in a hand-written note or card.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always include a cute card with your gift.

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