I must admit to being a pinch of Grinch with a dash of Scrooge when it comes to holiday gifts. I’m not a huge fan of spending big bucks on Christmas presents or dishing out dollars on holiday decorations. I just don’t think busting the bank for one day makes much financial sense, especially in this economy.

I do love celebrating the holidays simply though. There’s no better gift to give a friend, loved one, or neighbor than something creative, homemade, or thoughtful. To help celebrate the holidays, I’ve put together some frugal holiday finds for everyone on your list. Some gift ideas cost a dash of dough, but most are inexpensive or homemade presents.

1. Homemade Food in Jars

Preserved food in jars makes an awesome homemade holiday gift. You don’t need a farm to make jams or jellies. I love to place colorful beans for soup in a jar.


  • Bean Soups. I’m a huge fan of layering pretty beans in jars as soup mixes. Just create an instruction label, add a flavor cube, and top with a bow. For a helpful little book, see Gifts in a Jar: Soups.

2. Knit Mittens

I remember years ago when my grandmother knit me woolly mittens for Christmas. This photo pictures a pair she knit at least 15 years ago. I’ve keep this pair safe all these years in memory of her.


Knitting Homemade Mittens:

Knitting a pair of homemade mittens takes a little bit of work. But since knitting has experienced a recent surge in popularity, here are some patterns and frugal book finds when knitting mittens for your little kittens.


Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook


Knitting Without Tears: Basic Techniques and Easy-to-Follow Directions for Garments to Fit All Sizes


Folk Mittens: Techniques and Patterns for Handknitted Mittens

Buying Mittens:

No time for knitting? No problem. Here are some fun mittens in multiple colors!

3. Striped Candy Cane Socks (and Kid’s Books)

Socks are fun. Who doesn’t like warm winterized feet? Every Christmas my “better half” gives me a pair of footsies for my tootsises. For a dash of class, find some sockies with a touch of cashmere. The pairs pictured here were frugally found for $2 a pair. Check the department store bins to save some Bigfoot bucks.


If you’re getting some socks for your little ones, why not pair them with a night time story? I remember bundling up at night wearing my warm Christmas socks while my parents read me a children’s book. Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks is a cute read. Snicker. Another popular book is one from the Harry Potter canon, J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

4. Cookbooks with Homemade Gift Baskets

Cookbooks are a fun and frugal way to treat the chef in the family. Get creative by pairing a cookbook with a homemade themed gift basket. If the book is about raw food recipes, then create a gift basket containing raw foods! If the book features Italian cooking, then build a basket with pastas and Italian spices!


Creating gift baskets to complement a cookbook is a very thoughtful way to spice up an otherwise common gift. Here are some of my favorite cookbooks.


Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook (Hardcover)

Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen


The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals


How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food


Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition Hardcover


Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients Hardcover

5. Hat, Glove, and Scarf Set

Pretty, frugal, and very useful. Who doesn’t want to keep warm when the weather outside is frightful? I always give my neighbors and loved ones winter wear to keep their noggins warm.


Like all gifts on this list, you can purchase this winter wear anywhere. For the budget minded, here’s a Chenille Hat, Glove, and Scarf Set.

6. Pashmina Shawl or Wrap

Wrap your sister, daughter, mother, or friends in a pretty scarf or shawl this holiday. Pashmina shawls can be worn out to special events like holiday parties, weddings, or worn to just keep warm on a cold winter’s night. I’ve had my silk shawl for years and wear it on most special occasions.


Wraps, scarves, and shawls can be found anywhere. Here’s a pretty Pashmina and Silk Paisley Shawl.

7. Reusable Shopping Bags

Do you have a green person on your list? Looking for an inexpensive way to help friends or family reduce the number of plastic bags when grocery shopping? Then take a peek at this insanely popular article: 50 Reasons to Go Green with Reusable Shopping Bags to see how simple it is to save money and help the environment.


Most grocery stores sell branded versions of reusable shopping bags. Amazon sells a bunch too, but here’s a very frugal Reusable Grocery Tote Bag 6 Combo Pack in multiple colors. If you’re very frugal, split the pack and you’ve got 6 gifts to give.

8. The Diva Cup

I get lots of email, from very happy women, singing the praises of The Diva Cup. I am amazed at how an otherwise blush-worthy topic can bring such personal rave reviews! I raved my own review in 10 Reasons the Diva Cup Can Change Your Life. This article is my most popular read. Who would have thunk it?


I love the Diva Cup. It saves me mega moolah, it saves me mega sanity, and it saves the environment. If you have daughters, or female friends, or you’re looking for a new solution to “feminine hygiene” products, then do give the Diva a try. Families of females can save a bundle of bucks. Don’t be shy.

9. Japanese Tea Set

My mom gave me a pretty Japanese Tea Set years ago. This set has served me well. Whether I’m having tea by myself or with the company of others, my tea set has served many delicious beverages and has been a fun conversation piece. Many shops sell unique sets with one-of-a-kind details at various price points. If you’re giving a gift to a tea lover, be sure to include some inspirational teas with this gift.

tea set.jpg

There are as many tea set varieties as there are tea aficionados. Here’s a very delicate-looking and pretty Japanese Tea Set in Ceramic Ocean Blue.

10. Beginner Digital Camera

Cameras are very useful and generous gifts. The prices of digital cameras have fallen in the last few years. A quality digital camera can now be had for under $100.


Some affordable beginner camera options:

  • Basic Budget Camera: If in need of a camera for your kids or are a beginner on a tight budget, this camera may be for you: Canon A470.
  • Intermediate Beginner Camera: At a higher price-point, intermediate beginner cameras have more features and often come with a smaller, sleeker body: Canon SD1100 Digital ELPH.
  • Luxury Beginner Camera: These cameras have all the newest technology. If you’re looking for a camera to handle both family snapshots and provide a launch-pad for more serious photography, try: Nikon Coolpix P80.

I hope you find these frugal holiday gift ideas helpful. From my experience, it’s been the gifts that cost the least amount of money that mean the most to me.

Got any frugal gift tips and ideas to share? Already find something for mom, dad, a friend, or the kids? What treasured gifts would you keep if your house was burning down?