How To Gift Without Going Broke: Inexpensive holiday gifts that are thoughtful yet thrifty

 Food, kitchen gadgets, and bath and beauty products are great gift to give on a budget. (Silvia Sala/The Daily Campus)

Food, kitchen gadgets, and bath and beauty products are great gift to give on a budget. (Silvia Sala/The Daily Campus)

It’s the most stressful time of the year, at least when it comes to figuring out how to give great gifts on a budget. Though it may seem impossible, you can master the art of gift-giving simply by thinking about your recipient’s likes and lifestyle, as well as nice gifts you have received before.

For example, get your friend who just moved into an apartment some unique (and totally necessary) kitchen gadgets, like nesting doll measuring cups and spoons from Fred or a microwave popcorn popper from Uncommon Goods. Or, you could add to their collection of mugs by gifting them a cute mug that has a ceramic creature at the bottom (you can find these on Amazon or Etsy).

Another easy gift to pull together for any girl friend is a collection of bath and beauty products. Simply choose three to five items and wrap them up nicely in a cellophane bag tied with a bow. You can’t go wrong with face masks, nail polish, bath bombs, chapstick, fuzzy socks, scrunchies, hand sanitizer, hand lotion or shower gel.

Another great gift is food. (Who doesn’t love food?) If your best friend loves your recipe for gingerbread cookies, make and decorate an entire batch just for her. If you’re stuck on what kind of food someone would like, you could always get your friends and family members food you know they love: Several packages of your dad’s favorite coffee pods, some of your mom’s favoritechocolate truffles or a giant pack of your sister’s preferred chewing gum.

Cute gifts you can make with food include cookie or brownie mixes in a Mason jar. Alternatively, you can put hot cocoa mix, mini marshmallows and a candy cane or two into a cellophane bag and put them in a mug as a gift. Additionally, if you google “snowman popcorn gift,” you can also find gift ideas that use a bag of microwave popcorn, a pair of gloves and a printable snowman wrapper (for the bag of popcorn) to create a cute, inexpensive gift.

From-the-heart gifts are always fun to make and a joy to receive. An easier project is a no-sew fleece blanket. All you need is fleece fabric, cut it and then tie the edges. If you are a more experienced knitter or crocheter and have the time and motivation to make them, mittens and scarves are also nice presents to give. “Semi-homemade” gifts, like photo albums (you took the pictures but someone else is making the book), are also sweet presents to receive. Photo books are great gifts for a best friend or significant other and can be made cheaply at places like CVS. Or you can print photos yourself and fill the sleeves of a photo album that you can buy at Michaels or Walmart.

If you’re still struggling to find a great gift idea, just follow this last tip: an easy way to find a gift for someone is to give them their own version of a product that changed your life. If the Wet Brush made detangling your hair painless and quick, gift one to a friend with some hair ties and headbands. If you found the most comfortable pair of boot socks in some obscure shop, return to that store and buy a few pairs for your friends. Maybe you have the perfect travel mug to keep your morning coffee piping hot—gift one to a friend!

There’s endless possibilities when it comes to gift-giving, but no matter what you give your loved ones, it’s truly the thought that counts.


Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.santillo@uconn.edu.