The holidays come at the same time every year, and every time they do, we act like it was a huge surprise. It feels like all of a sudden, we’re scrambling to find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list, and sometimes, caution goes to the wind when it comes to sticking with our holiday shopping budget. But the holiday season doesn’t have to break the bank, contrary to popular belief. You can check off everyone on your list with cheap Christmas gifts (or Hanukkah, or whatever you celebrate).
And let’s get this out of the way – cheap doesn’t mean poor quality, tacky, or just plain bad. You can shop frugally while still getting super thoughtful presents for the people you love. Presents don’t have to be expensive in order to be meaningful. One of the best ways to find great gifts on the cheap is to buy them secondhand.
Wait… is it tacky to give gifts from a thrift store?
No. Well, usually no. It depends on how you approach it.
If you go to the thrift store and buy a bunch of tattered crap that you wouldn’t use yourself, then yes. That is tacky. And no one is going to appreciate or use those items. But so much of the stuff you can find in a thrift store is of amazing quality, gently or not at all used, and has a lot of life left. Look for these gems in the store, and leave behind anything that has too much visible wear.
Another way to avoid awkwardness around secondhand gift-giving is to not pretend that the gifts are brand new. Use this as a chance to educate your family and friends about the benefits of shopping secondhand, and brag on your mad thrifting skills! Time is money, too. Thrifting a gift will show the recipient how much you truly care, because of the time you spent hunting for just the right thing.
Without further ado, here are our best cheap Christmas gift ideas. Some of these are secondhand inspiration to guide your next thrift trip, and others are things you can get on the cheap from retailers like Amazon and Etsy. No matter which route you choose, remember this: most people will appreciate the thought you put into giving them something special more than the price tag! Unless it’s a Tiffany bracelet. In that case, let the price tag speak for itself.
10 Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List
1. A Book You Love
Your favorite book would make a great gift for any reader in your life. Think about a book that inspired you, made you think differently, or that you can’t stop recommending. It could be a self-help book, your favorite fiction, a cookbook or a memoir. The best part? You can get all of these on Amazon for between $8 and $26. Here are some of our recommendations:
- For any adultescent in your life: The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now, by Meg Jay.
- For your favorite political junkie: A Promised Land by Barack Obama.
- For a fiction fan: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
- For the one who’s always in the kitchen: Cravings: Recipes for all the Food You Want to Eat: A Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen.
- For the friend who needs financial advice: Get Good with Money by Tiffany Aliche.
2. Pre-Loved Games
Sometimes, games can be expensive (who knew a collector’s edition of Monopoly could cost upwards of $200?!). However, thrift stores are full of amazing cheap Christmas gifts for everyone on your list, and one thing many thrift stores have in droves are pre-loved games, including video games and boardgames. Look for the ones that are in excellent condition, and leave the falling-apart boxes behind. Secondhand gifts are fine, but gifts that look like they came from the dumpster are not.
Note: if you do go this route, make sure you check that the game has all of its pieces. And, you legally have to offer to play a round. In the spirit of giving, you can have the blue piece.
3. Re-Gift Something
Do you have something in your home that you never use, but you know someone else would adore it?
Maybe it’s that set of hedgehog-shaped salt and pepper shakers that your college roommate gave you as a gift years ago and you never used because you’re more of an anteater gal. It could be a book on your shelf you never got into (or read, loved, and are ready to re-home), or a pair of shoes you never used or that don’t fit. Give these items a new life by gifting them to someone who will actually use them. And free up space for your brand new air fryer!
4. A Journal
Give the gift of mindfulness this holiday season. Shopping small isn’t usually the most economic way to go, but it is a great way to spread holiday cheer and feel good about your purchases. And in some instances, you can find great deals on sites like Etsy while supporting small businesses all at the same time.
5. Handmade Christmas Cookies
Has anyone ever said, ‘actually, I don’t like free food’? Not that we know of, and if they did, we probably wouldn’t be friends with them anyway. A batch of homemade Christmas cookies are a great way to show your friends you love them, and you can do it for less than $10 in materials.
Take it a step further and channel your inner Great British Baking Show to decorate your cookies and make them look all fancy! You’ll have fun, and even if they end up looking more like they came from an episode of Nailed It!, we bet they’ll still taste great. Just don’t forget the baking soda this time. And maybe add more icing?
6. A Box of Chocolates
Other food-related cheap Christmas gifts are boxes of chocolates. And to be clear, we’re not talking about the super fancy kind you can get at Vosges for $60 a box. No, we’re talking about a run-of-the-mill box of Ghirardelli’s that you can get at Target for $10. We’re not saying that expensive chocolates usually taste bad anyway, but… well, you get the picture. Don’t @ us.
7. Bottle of Wine
Hop on over to your local liquor shop and pick up a bottle of wine for under $20. The key here is choosing one that you either have tried before and liked, did research on and know it’s good, or has a really pretty bottle. As huge advocates of choosing wine based on their covers, we’d recommend the last route. The same rule doesn’t apply for books, of course.
Alcohol is a great gift for anyone in your life, because it’s affordable and you know it’ll go to good use. Even if someone isn’t a big drinker, most folks like to have a bottle or two on hand in case of unexpected company or a rough day at work. This gift becomes even more thoughtful if you use this as an opportunity to get your loved one to try your favorite bottle.
8. Vintage Jewelry
It’s not used, it’s vintage. Don’t get it twisted. Check out your local antique stores, buy-sell-trade stores, pawn shops, or even raid your Grandma’s closet (with her permission, duh) to look for unique, funky pieces of vintage jewelry. If you have a friend or family remember with a super cool style, these pieces make for great cheap Christmas gifts!
Vintage jewelry can get pricey, but sometimes thrift stores will undervalue great pieces because they simply don’t know better. Scour all the thrift stores within thirty miles, and you’re bound to find an amazing deal on an awesome piece.
We don’t know about you, but our moms love antiques. And every mom we’ve ever met does, too. In a similar vein to vintage jewelry, note that antiques can get expensive, but a lot of times, they aren’t. If you know the recipient’s style, or the colorway and patterns of their dishes, for instance, you can shop for them and try to find matching or complementary pieces. This is such a thoughtful gift idea, and watching them open it and be surprised by your attention to detail will be a blast!
10. Refurbish Something
While thrifting for the perfect gift for mom, you might find something that would be even cooler with some TLC. For example, maybe you find a bunch of cool vintage tees and craft them into a quilt, or thrift some yarn and knit a funky hat with it.
Get creative when it comes to giving gifts! The people in your life will be so excited to show off something that you took the time to create, rather than a generic item you bought from Amazon and gave little thought to. Plus, this could be the budding inspiration for your new Etsy business. Don’t forget our 10% cut!
Final Thoughts on Cheap Christmas Gifts
We hope this article gave you some inspiration to go forth, save money, and still feel like Santa Claus. Just remember: gifts don’t have to be expensive to be valued. Some of the best gifts are the ones you spent time and put real thought or labor of love into.