Frugal Redditors Share Their Favorite 'Cheap Gift' Ideas

Wrapping Presents


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Wrapping Presents

Presents For Penny Pinchers

Persistent inflation is changing the way Americans think about holiday shopping, according to a recent Bankrate survey. But belt-tightening doesn’t mean you have to give up on gifts altogether. Ahead of the holiday season, Reddit’s thriftiest members shared how they save money on presents in a popular thread on r/frugal. So whether you’ve always been a penny pincher, are feeling squeezed by inflation, or both, here are some of Reddit’s best cheap gift ideas — for Christmas and beyond.

Related: 100 Christmas Gifts for $25 or Less

Homemade Holiday Peanut Brittle

Homemade Treats

Rather than buying “junk” that no one wants, a Redditor suggests making a few treats at home, such as homemade vanilla extract, biscotti, or peanut brittle. Baked goods shouldn't cost more than a few dollars per person.

Related: Ideas for Filling a Gift Basket on a Budget

Picture of a beautiful happy family on a frame at home

Framed Photos

Need a heartfelt gift that won’t break the bank? Redditors say a framed photo is a cost-effective gift that shouldn’t be more than a few dollars. And if you don’t have pictures of your loved ones handy, you can mine their social media presence for snapshots, one Redditor notes.

Related: 50 Gifts for $50 or Less

cropped image of designer cutting paper for scrapbooking greeting postcards

Handmade Holiday Cards

Skip Hallmark and make handmade cards for your friends and family for an affordable holiday gift. Pair the card with a sincere note, and you’re sure to warm someone’s heart — even if it isn’t an extravagant, expensive gift. 

Piles of old books
Studio Light and Shade/istockphoto

Book Safes

If you like arts and crafts, consider making a book safe. “Buy books at thrift stores, cut out compartments inside, glue pages together, line compartments with felt, (and) add magnets to keep the book closed,” a Redditor writes.

Woman using digital tablet at home

Holiday Emails

Strapped for time and money? Write a thoughtful holiday email, which won’t cost you a penny. Just be sure to include the “traditional bad family photo,” a commenter suggests.

Lottery Montage

Lottery Tickets

While we can't be sure this is a serious idea, buying everyone lottery tickets is better than nothing, especially if you know someone who enjoys playing the odds.

Pilea Peperomioides plant make a packaging

House Plant Cuttings

Plant moms and dads can propagate their own plants and place them in small pots for a cheap and long-lasting gift. While you won’t have to spend money on new plant(s), you may have to invest in rooting hormone powder, soil, and pots.

Christmas gift basket
Irina Shilnikova/istockphoto

Gift Baskets

Fill your own gift baskets with handmade crafts and baked goods. “I did family gift baskets one year and it was a huge success,” a Redditor writes, adding that their baskets have included sweet treats, snacks, magnets, and photographs.

Handmade natural beeswax candles

Handmade Candles

Scented candles don’t have to be expensive … if you make them yourself. “I’m a candle maker and here’s my biggest secret: candles are very cheap to make!” a Redditor shares. The biggest expense is often the jars, but 50 small candles should cost just $100. You can purchase candle supplies from companies like CandleScience, including fragrances, jars, wicks, and wax.