Frugal Living 

Frugal Gift Ideas for Anybody

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I am not a craftsy person.  I don’t paint or draw well at all unless stick figures count.  I also have never taken up knitting or crochet.  In short, when I want to give thoughtful gifts that stay within our gift budget, I have to look elsewhere for ideas.  I’ve started thinking outside the box.  Here are some frugal gift ideas I have found work for almost anybody.

Credit Card Rewards

I know that some people in the world of personal finance see credit cards as the work of the devil, but I love them.  Specifically, rewards credit cards help keep my world sane and give me a little extra to boot.  My husband and I use the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Visa for gas to get the 5% cash back and the Discover More credit card for almost everything else.  Discover gives us cash back that can be exchanged for cash or gift certificates to places we go anyway.

I use some of that cash back each year to buy a few gift cards and certificates that can be used for general gifts.  For example, $20 can buy a $25 gift card to Kohl’s, Bath and Body Works, or 2 movie tickets and small popcorns to AMC.  $45 can buy a $50 gift card to Starbucks, Dillard’s, or even Best Buy.  Any of those cards or certificates makes a great present for most of our friends and family.

Customized Gift Baskets

My best received gift baskets are usually the simplest.  I have bought a $5 DVD from Wal-Mart that I knew a friend of mine would like and put it together with a $2 wicker basket, $5 of movie candies, and a $3 12 pack of their favorite soda.  They loved it.  I have also created crafts baskets of cool fabrics or yarn for the friends I have that enjoy those activities.  In short, set aside $10-$15 and figure out what sort of gift basket will work best for the person you have in mind.

Photo Gifts

Everyone loves great memories.  Everyone also is pretty accustomed to receiving framed photos, so try thinking out-of-the-box.  I have made mini-photo albums for family members that included copies of photos from their childhoods that I borrowed from their parents.  It made my husband’s aunt cry.  I have also bought $10 digital photo-album key chains and loaded them up with my favorite photos for whoever I had in mind.  Those usually get some smiles and I always see it in the person’s purse a year later. 

The best photo gifts I have given were probably the $15 coaster sets I made for my husband’s grandparents that I ordered off of Ebay using the engagement photos my husband and I taken the week before.  Both sets of grandparents loved them and have even used them over the last 6 years.

In short, gift giving does not need to break a budget and you don’t have to be artistic to make something special.  If a non-craftsy person like me can cause tears of happiness, anyone can.

What other frugal gift ideas do you have that could work for anyone?

{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “Frugal Gift Ideas for Anybody”

  1. Great ideas. I use my credit card rewards for gift cards because of the bonuses.

  2. Shirley says:

    I like all three of these ideas. As kids we often included a handmade ‘coupon’ with the card. The coupon would be good for a chore of the receiver’s choice to be redeemed at will. For adults, that could be something like an offer to babysit, run an errand, help with a gathering, or any other thing that you feel the receiver would be glad to have.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Another great source for getting free gifts (including gift cards) is You accumulate points for using their search function to search the web, answering surveys, etc. and you can redeem the points for “stuff”! It doesn’t cost you a dime, and the points add up surprisingly quickly!

  4. Green Leaf says:

    Great article. I would add, given the number of couponers who take advantage of these types of deals, to consider gift baskets with items that they earn through couponing. Our young son loves that we bring him a two month supply of Old Spice Hawaii scent deodorant, shampoo and body wash. The great thing is we only paid cents on the dollar for the items due to couponing.


  5. cougar says:

    I collect reward points all year round and I buy my christmas gifts with them, it doesn’t cost me anything at christmas.

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