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Inexpensive Gift Ideas and Tips - Cheap gifts

** Cheap Gift Ideas from our Readers **

Last year I made a "budding brownie baker" (15 years old and loves brownies) a brownie cookbook. I went through my numerous cookbooks (I collect them) and gathered 25 different brownie recipes, typed them all neatly, put then into a binder. I put that together with a couple of boxes of what I consider to be "good" mixes, and a pan. I knew she wouldn't jump right into a recipe! She was thrilled. She had a couple of parties where she and her girlfriends all made brownies in an evening. I would recommend a "themed" recipe collection for anyone who has a special interest. Someone who likes pumpkin, might like pumpkin muffins, pumpkin apple casserole, etc. It can be as personal as you want it to be, maybe adding little stories here and there, who knows. Norma

I have six daughters and we now shop only the clearance aisles for shower, wedding and Christmas gifts. All the large chains have at least 50 percent off the day after the holiday. In September I gave newlyweds a Christmas CD ($2.79), a 4pk of film ($6.99) and a cooler that I got for $4.95. I got a beautiful thank you for the creative gift I had sent. They were thrilled to get Christmas music! Kathy from Wisconsin

A really fast way to make a great looking gift in a jar, is to cheat! Buy pancake mix, copy the instructions, print it out on some nice cardstock, and measure out however much mix into your jar. This idea can be used with cake, muffin, and bread mixes. And it looks just as nice. For a layered brownie jar...use brownie mix and layer it with alternating marshmallows, walnuts, and chocolate chips or chunks. It looks like you spent tons of time on it and you know it will taste great.
Also I found some great recipes for cookies and candies (that each make 4 dozen). I am making big batches and seperating them out for an assortment of yummy sweets in each individual gift basket. It is a great time saver. Merry Christmas. Beth

Annual magazine subscriptions that you purchase online make great gifts, and since many websites are promoting very low prices for subscriptions, it is an inexpensive gift too. Sites like BestDeal Magazines have great prices! There are hundreds of topics, so there is something for everyone. And you don't even have to leave your house! Lynn

With fall here, I collected colorful leaves on a walk around the neighborhood, placed them in between pages in an old telephone book to dry for 3 weeks. (They will be fragile when they are dry). When they were ready, I purchased many used picture frames from Goodwill (cheap), and some sheets of gold paper (49 cents a sheet)
Gift Cards
from Michael's. Cut the paper or card to fit the frame, and glue on the leaves in various patterns, as you like. These are very cheap and colorful gifts for Christmas, and are fun to make. Just use your imagination. The leaves will keep their color once dried. Make sure you put something heavy on the telephone book to flatten the leaves. Have fun! Jenny

If you shop at the mall during the holidays, stores give out free gift boxes with your purchases. All you need to do is ask. Sometimes the boxes can be used all year around depending on the design. One year at the Disney Store I bought alot of items on sale and when it was time to check out, i asked if they gave out gift boxes. They were happy to give me as many as I needed. (as long as they see your buying there items&depending on how many boxes they have in stock) I hope this tip helps! Luci from California

Make Your Own Cosmetics
I have an inexpensive gift that takes a lot of time (waiting for Freebies in the mail) and effort, but well worth it. What I am doing is making Christmas baskets this year. I bought some baskets from Wal-Mart (3.95 each) that had some green and red in it. That way they can use the basket for other things too. I went to several Freebie sites and got some Cool freebies. I got some Olay freebies; they are going in my Mother-in-law’s Pamper me Basket. I also have a neighbor that does Avon. They have several things in their catalogs and online that is really cheap. I got several 99˘ lotions, lip gloss, nail files, etc. all in Christmas themes. Plus they were all 99˘, what a bargain! I also got some sample size packets of stuff from Wal-Mart such as foot lotion, bath salts, etc. They were all cheap too, they were all under 3.00. I also got some travel sized products for my baskets. The St. Ives Lotions was perfect for my friend. Here is an example of what I mean by cheap Christmas baskets - this is my Mother-in-law's basket contents: basket with green and red on it from Wal-Mart (3.95), lotion with candy canes on the front (99˘) , gingerbread man nail file (99˘), Olay and other samples from some freebie sites (Free), perfume samples from my Avon Rep. (Free), candy cane lip gloss (99˘), goat's milk soap bar (1.58 for two bars), bottle of nail polish in festive Cherry Jubilee (99˘), foot/leg gel for tired and sore feet/legs (1.25), and some assorted Loofah (Prices Vary). See what I mean? All cheap items that are great to go in a basket. I like the sample sized products idea, in case the person doesn’t like a certain product sample. No worries, it was just a sample. If it was a full size product, they wouldn’t use it or they would give it away. Another basket I am doing is a coffee basket for my mother. They have small packages of gourmet coffee at my grocery store for under $1.50. I am going to place several of these plus some chocolate covered coffee beans and some flavored coffee spoons in the basket for her. These are my ideas for a cheap Christmas gift. I hope this was helpful to you. Have fun. Jennifer

For a little girl - put lots of gaudy clothes, jewelry, hats, etc. (found super cheap at yard sales and thrift shops, or even clean out your own closets. The more stuff that you find with sequins, glitter, and anything else that sparkles, the better) in a box, to make a "dress-up" box. Don't forget gloves. This is also a gift that can be added to, so throughout the year, at a birthday, if you've found something extra special (like a dress that can double as a "wedding gown" and a veil) you can give it to her by itself to add to her box. You may also want to include cheap (or fake) makeup and a mirror.
Give a child a gardening set and an apron. They never get enough of helping mom in the garden, or planting their own in pots. Include in the set, little shovels, a package of seeds, a pot, and gardening gloves. Lindsey

Here's an idea from my Mom: She took lots of my baby pictures, put them into a nice photo album, and gave it to my husband. This was a very thoughtful gift that he enjoyed very much. Sandy

One thing that I receive every year from my youngest daughter and her husband is what we call "The Care Package". It contains laundry detergent, softener, paper towels, napkins, spices, toilet paper, shampoo, bath soap, dish soap, batteries for all of my clocks, new flashlight, and then one "something special" gift, a blouse or piece of jewelry etc. It saves me a lot of money and I am stocked up for most of the winter. It's a great treat. For their grandmother, they pick a Saturday and all of the kids and mates come over. They bring all of the food and refreshments that they will need while they "fall clean" her home. Windows, curtains, oven, carpet, etc all get cleaned. They spend the time with Gram, her house gets cleaned spotless and everyone enjoys being together. These are two of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them! Brenda

Hi, Here is a gift idea for college students. It is a taste of home. Make some homemade bread and combine it in a basket with some homemade jelly from the summer and a jar of peanut butter. Donna

I have a very easy Christmas Craft Idea. I did a few years ago and gave them out at a Christmas party. Everyone liked them. You need:
Cheap jigsaw puzzles (Dollar Store, Thrift Store)
Glue gun and glue sticks
Green spray paint
Little decorations to go on a small wreath - use your imagination
Ribbon (should be thin) or ready-made bows

Glue puzzle pieces together one overlapping another to make a circle. I used a large glass to trace a circle on paper and use that as a pattern. Spray the wreath, let dry. Glue on decorations, and tie on a ribbon. Add glitter if you want. Add a bow. Give as gift, use as package decorations or hang on your tree. And most important have Fun! Raroan

I got off really cheaply one Christmas by doing the following: My relatives LOVE to cook ~ on the grill when weather permits, in the broiler for those who know how and otherwise in a kitchen indoors. What to get them? Well, I found out they love fresh herbs and the great flavor of whole spices.
I didn't think one gift for everyone would work, but it did. Here's what I found that worked for everyone:
I bought a gallon container of rainbow peppercorns from Spices Etc. ( (they are in Charlottesville VA so the shipping was minimal) and had it shipped to my house in NC. Found some very interesting bottles with cork stoppers at Big Lots and thrift stores and stuffed them with the peppercorns, corked the tops and tied a raffia bow on each container. Nestled the bottles in recycled tissue paper and recycled Christmas wrapping paper, and shipped them off. Boy did I get rave reviews on this gift item from everyone! The largest cost of these gifts were the shipping and since I sent them early and parcel post, that cost was reduced as well. :) If one really wanted to make a more personalized gift, include a recipe using the spice being sent that suits the recipient. B & B in NC

Hi there! Don't forget homemade Christmas ornaments! Make ones with cinnamon or dough using cookie cutters. The best and most inexpenisve ornament I've ever received was one year when friend of mine gathered up lots of twigs and got a hot glue gun. She assembled the twigs into doxens of tiny churches and put strings on them. They were fragil, but beautiful.

** A note on Jenny's picture frame and leaf idea. If you soak the leaves in 1 part glycerin (found in drugstores) and 2 parts water overnight they will retain their bright colors and remain soft and pliable. LAP

My daughter makes most of her children's clothes, I have gotten in the habit of using a length of fabric, appropriate to the gift receiver for wrapping instead of paper. This way the package looks pretty and then they get to have Mom sew something for them to wear. Fabric comes in all prints from flowers to Barbie to race car the choices available are unlimited. The grandchildren think this is great. Gail

Our large family is aging with neices/nephews starting their own families/buying first homes/paying on college loans. Since we all love garage sales, we will be having lots of fun this Christmas using the 'rules' to the following
gift exchange game...Click Here

The best way I've found to save money on gift wrapping is to use kraft paper or regular paper and marker stamps to make fun patterns. It's fun and you could get the whole family to join in! Luci

For wrapping paper, why not use the comics section out of the Sunday paper? We always do. Claire

Several years ago I got this idea from a magazine. Buy a potholder (one with a loop to hang), sew it together crosswise and put in a pair of scissors. I gave this to both my sisters. They loved this idea because they could hang it in the kitchen and always know where their scissors were at and it's very decorative. Total cost was about $2.00. Anna in Ohio

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