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5 Cheap Christmas Gifts People Actually Like

Cheap Christmas presentsChristmas is getting closer every day, and perhaps there are a few people on your list that you still need to shop for. What if you find yourself running low on money? What’s a financially savvy minded person to do when it comes to buying Christmas gifts?

A)Put it on the credit card.

B)Find that fruitcake you got back in 2002.

C)Buy a cheap gift.

Well hopefully you picked C. Luckily, there are lots of cheap Christmas gifts that don’t suck and that people actually enjoy receiving. Here are my top 5.

1) Dollar Store Basket of Goodies-Yes, I admit that I love to shop at dollar stores. They are easier to get into and out of than Wal Mart, plus at the one in our town, everything costs $1. I love simple! Some of the stuff is crap, but if you look, there are numerous treasures awaiting.

I needed a gift for my neighbors, who are very hard to shop for. Enter the Dollar Tree. This past week I found two Christmas themed wine glasses (real glass, not plastic). I wrapped them in a red towel, got a red basket and plastic wrapping, and added an $11 bottle of wine. The result looks like I ordered it from a catalog, and the cost to me was $16. I know they will love it because it’s creative and useful for their tastes. You could do the same thing with coffee, hot chocolate, tea, etc.

2)Board Games-In this day and age, I know we are all about technology, but board games are fun. You could satisfy the intellectual with Scrabble, the mystery buff with Clue, the yoga enthusiast with Twister, or the money minded with Monopoly or Life. We play board games on Christmas day,and I always wonder why we don’t do it more often.

3)White Chocolate Covered Anything– I don’t love to bake, and most of my attempts that try to include pretty and cooking do not turn out so well, but you can’t screw up candy coating. I love white chocolate, but you could do milk chocolate as well. It comes in packages in the baking aisle. You heat it up in the microwave and dip in your favorite thing. You can coat pretzels, Oreos, Ritz crackers with peanut butter, raisins, berries, whatever your heart desires. I’ve never tried it, but I bet even ants might taste good coated in white chocolate.  Put it in a Christmas tin from the dollar store and you’re set.

4)Popcorn and Movies– You can actually get Redbox, Hulu Plus, or Netflix gift certificates. Add a box or bag of microwave or old fashioned popcorn to complete the gift. Even if the person already has Netflix, who wouldn’t like a free month or two? If someone doesn’t use these services, maybe your gift will impress them so much they will cancel their cable and save hundreds of dollars a year. Don’t you feel good about yourself already?

5)Grocery Store Gifts– Your local grocery store is also a treasure trove of Christmas goodness. If you go to the dollar store first and pick up a basket and wrappings, you can fill it up with things like fruits, veggies, chocolate, cheese, crackers, coffee, baking ingredients, bread, really anything. Everyone has to eat. We’ve done fruit baskets at Christmas several times and always get the comment that it was a nice change from candy or cookies.

Of course, you can always just buy a gift card, and you never have to buy gifts, especially if you are in debt. If you do want more of a personal touch and like people to have a gift to open that requires more than an envelope, these are my recommendations for 5 of the cheapest, but coolest gifts I’ve given or received over the years.

What is your best recommendation for a cheap, but wanted gift? Any of these five you wouldn’t like to receive?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Digitalart

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. White chocolate covered anything is pretty much the only thing that I ask for each Christmas. MMmmmm you have my hungry now! 🙂 These are all great gift ideas!

  2. Great list! Oh the many benefits of the dollar store!!

  3. I love those homemade “gift in a jar” ideas – cookie mixes, bean stews, homemade body scrubs, etc. I feel like these things take the commercialism out of Christmas and put some heart back into it. And I always use them 🙂

  4. Thanks for these tips! I am going to buy my daughter’s classmate for their Christmas party. I think I would choose boardgame aside from playing it’s an educational too.

  5. If you combine #’s 1 and 4, we have friends who have done this for us numerous times. A basket, mugs, hot chocolate, popcorn, and a couple of “classic” DVDs, and you’ve got a stay-at-home-Christmas-date-in-a-box!

  6. Kim, LOVE these ideas!!! I’ve been thinking lots the last couple of days about cheap but nice gifts I can give to our closest neighbors. Thanks for the awesome ideas!

  7. Great ideas Kim! We like to play board games as well, but don’t seem to do it that often anymore. I don’t know how cheap it may be, but batteries make a good practical gift. We always seem to be needing them for something so they come in very useful.

  8. We do the popcorn and movies idea for folks that are hard to buy for – we usually grab one of the cheap fleece throw blankets from Target, popcorn, movie candy (they sell the same boxes of candy at Kroger for $1/box that they do at the movies for $5/box!) and a gift card to Redbox.. everything you need for a movie night! It’s usually a big hit 🙂

  9. I love popcorn! For some reason I love the tins of popcorn that come subdivided into three flavors – butter, cheesy and caramel. And when I’m done eating, I have a storage tin to use for something else.

  10. The wonderful part of many of these gifts is that they are consumable. They don’t add clutter to your house and they are useful (and yummy)!

  11. Uh-oh. I picked B. I guess nobody wants me to regift a 10 year old fruitcake. 😉 You definitely don’t need to break the piggy bank to find nice gifts. Love your ideas and I often wonder why we don’t play board games more often too. Have you dipped nutter butters in whit chocolate? So good! And you can easily decorate them as snowmen too.

    • We had some neighbors who gave us a fruitcake every year when I was growing up. My Dad eats anything, but drew the line at the fruitcake. No idea who actually eats those.

  12. After a snowy weekend last week with my kids, we played a ton of board games. Mono ply, clue, Sorry, etc…I was then telling my wife that we should buy some more for the kids for Christmas. Went on Amazon and they are so cheap, like $10-$15 each. Turn off the TV and video games and have a family game night!

  13. I posted a FREE printable nursery wall art on my site today. When placed in an inexpensive frame, I think it would be a nice present for moms with young kids.
    I would love to get everything you listed but my family would probably enjoy the Popcorn and Movies the most. Hmmm, come to think about it, this is probably perfect for our retired neighbor.

  14. A couple free months of Netflix or Hulu would be great! Sure, it’s cheap, but it is thoughtful and every penny counts 🙂

    I love edible gifts, so white-chocolate covered anything and food baskets sound great to me! Cheap wine and good beer is also an awesome frugal gift to give (and get!).

    Okay, I’m hungry now…lunchtime!

  15. I think these are all awesome gift options! I would love to get a Redbox, Hulu Plus, or Netflix gift certificate. I think you saw my post a week back about practical “stocking stuffers” (really more gifts than stocking stuffers now that I read the post again) but I think a Contigo mug would be an awesome relatively inexpensive gift that people would really like.

    • I just found out that you can buy a one year subscription to Netflix or Hulu on EBay for half price. We bought a year for $50. If it continues to work, I’ll have to post about that one.

  16. I love any kind of gift card, especially to say Target and Starbucks. It’s just nice to have.

  17. In Guatemala you give your employees a basket with basic household items, flour, beans… maybe a couple of things they don’t eat every day. I thought it was weird at first but they appreciate the savings instead of getting something they won’t use.
    For my family I used to make personalized calendars with pictures of everyone. Less than $10 per couple and everyone seemed to like them, especially grandparents.

    • I actually think that’s a great idea and probably similar to employers giving employees a ham at Christmas here. If you got flour and beans in the US, they would say that was cheap, but we certainly more spoiled than workers in Guatemala.

  18. I try to think of little indulgences. For me, that would be coffee from a coffee shop or kind granola bars. The little things here and there that are under $5 but are still a treat.

  19. Love the popcorn/movies idea! So clever.

    What do board games cost in the States? I loooove board games but hardly ever get to play them (and I’m pretty sure they start at $30/40 here, so not really a cheap gift)

    • You can get most of the classic ones like Scrabble and Monopoly for $10=$15. Sometimes they go on sale for under $10 if you watch closely enough. Bummer they are so expensive there.

  20. A dollar store gift basket is incredibly underestimated! You’d be surprised at all the cool toys you can get for cheap there!

  21. Homemade cookies is really cheap and thoughful christmas gift.

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