Frugal Living

A Guide To Buying Christmas Presents on a Budget

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Christmas can be a stressful time of year, especially if you have a lot of people to buy for and not a lot of money. This guide will give you ideas, whether you need to buy a gift for one of your closest family members or a few distant friends. You should be able to enjoy Christmas without much financial stress, so here are 14 different gift ideas to help you find the perfect one! 

Adopt An Animal

For your friends that are environmentally conscious, there is no better gift than adopting them an animal. You can choose from so many different species and WWF offers animal adoption for £3 a month, including a cuddly toy and plenty of information about the animal. You could offer to pay 6 months or a year for them (depending on your budget) and if they wish to carry on afterwards, they can. 

This is a thoughtful and cost effective gift for any animal lovers in your life. The best bit, you can spread the cost over a few months to avoid overwhelming financial pressure in December!

Personalised Gifts

If you want to buy something personal but don’t have much money, then head to places like Etsy where plenty of independent sellers offer great deals on personalised gifts. From jewellery to socks and glassware to doormats, you will definitely find the perfect gift with so much choice. 

You can get personalised gin, wine or beer glasses for around £5 or engraved slate signs for £7. Independent retailers often provide much better value, so you will be saving yourself some money whilst also helping out small businesses. 

Homemade Jam

Homemade jam is a great option for people who you might not spend much money on usually, or an additional gift for closer family to show you have invested some time in their gift. Buy some mason jars that can be tightly fastened and follow a simple jam recipe

The ingredients for one jar will probably cost you about £3 depending on the fruit you use, but the price will decrease when you buy in bulk and make big batches! Everyone loves jam, making this the perfect gift if you’re not sure what to get someone. 

Cookie Jars

For people with a sweet tooth, another good homemade gift would be jars filled with different layers of cookie ingredients. Buy a jar big enough for your usual cookie ingredients and layer all of the dry ingredients neatly. Then, write a small recipe card saying what else they need to add themselves (maybe butter or eggs) and how to cook their cookies. You can then attach the recipe to the jar using pretty ribbons for a lovely gift. It looks beautiful and all people need to do is tip out the ingredients into a bowl and add a couple of ingredients. 

Homemade Hot Chocolate Stirrers

For a smaller and cheaper homemade gift, you could make hot chocolate stirrers. All you need to do is melt white, milk or dark chocolate and pour it into a lightly greased ice cube tray. You could add a few drops of mint, caramel or orange flavouring to the chocolate for some more flavour. Carefully place a wooden lolly pop stick or wooden spoon into the chocolate and top with a few treats of your choice. These could be marshmallows, fudge pieces, crumbled mint chocolate or sprinkles. 

Once they have set fully in the fridge (it’s best to leave them overnight), you can take them out of their moulds, wrap them in cellophane wrap and seal with ribbon. They will easily last for about a month like this, so can be made in advance. Write a small tag telling them to add 200ml of hot milk and stir in the chocolate. 

Simple Clothing

If you want to buy clothes for someone, but don’t know where to start or you don’t have much of a budget, just try to keep it simple. Find out their size and opt for something that’s good quality and simple, like a cosy plain tracksuit or a thick knitted jumper. This is a good option if you’re wanting to spend slightly more on someone but want to buy something they will definitely make use of. 

You don’t want to waste your money buying something really bright or garish unless you know their personal style well, so going for something simple is your best option to ensure your money isn’t wasted. 

Waffle or Toastie Maker

For something fun and practical, you could buy a waffle or toastie maker. You can get them for around £15 and although they aren’t the most innovative versions on the market, they work perfectly well and make amazing food! 

There’s so many different things you can do with them as well, so the person you’re buying for will definitely use it. You could write them a little guide filled with different toastie flavour ideas or waffle toppings to add a personal touch.

Homemade Recipe Box

When buying for a food lover, perhaps you have bought them cook books or something related for the last few years. So, a unique and more personal idea would be to make them a personalised recipe box. Buy a cheap wooden box wherever you can find one and insert dividers. Perhaps you want to separate the recipes by meal, so having breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts sections. Or, you could divide them by cuisine with Chinese, Italian, British, Indian, Mexican or Caribbean areas.

Write a few recipes on colourful cards and sort them into the dividers. Then, include quite a few spare cards for them to add their favourite recipes to. Whilst this may take you a few hours to make, it will cost you next to nothing and will definitely impress whoever you are gifting it to! 

Visit A Thrift Shop

For someone with a more unique sense of style, you can’t beat a visit to the thrift shop. If you feel confident buying for them, go yourself and you will find some amazing clothes at a really decent price. 

Or, you could send your giftee a homemade voucher for an afternoon in the thrift shop to buy up to £30 worth of clothes, for example. This will make sure they select something they really love as well as giving you the opportunity to enjoy the experience with your friend or family member. You might also get a better sense of their style in time to buy for them again next Christmas! 


When you know the genres that someone likes, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to books. Rather than ordering books through major retailers online, go to your local book shops or charity shops to find them. You will be able to get them much cheaper and you will find books that are much more unique and characterful. Also, you will be supporting charities and local shops who will be far more grateful for your custom. 

Frame Your Favourite Photo

For another cost effective and personal gift, buy a frame and print off your favorite photo that you have with the person you are giving the gift to. Not only is this really cheap but it will also be meaningful as the person will think of you everytime they look at it. Choose a frame that goes with their interior design style to make sure it fits into their home perfectly. 

Board Game

If you’re completely stuck for ideas, you can’t go wrong with a board game. People love to play board games over the festive period, but they will also make use of it for years to come. You will find something fun no matter what your budget is and you know that the game will bring joy to multiple people, not just the person you’re buying for. 

Independent Jewellery Shops

Another good way to save money and help out small businesses is to look for independent jewellery shops, either near you or online. More often than not you will find beautiful jewellery that is completely unique and homemade. You will end up paying about the same as you would on the highstreet but you will be buying a much more interesting gift and you will be helping independent retailers through these difficult times! 

Homemade Cooking Oils

If you’re buying a gift for someone who likes to experiment in the kitchen, why not try making your own infused cooking oils? It’s really simple and no one will know it’s been made on a budget! Save good quality glass oil bottles throughout the year and you will have a collection ready to fill in time for christmas. 

For a chilli oil, add 3 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes, a tablespoon of whole peppercorns and a dried chilli into your bottle. Simply fill to the top with olive oil and make sure it is sealed well. Try making this around November time to give the flavours time to infuse. If you’re in a rush, you could heat the oil with the ingredients for 5 minutes and then leave to cool fully before bottling to speed up the infusion process. 

For a rosemary and garlic oil, fill your bottle with oil so you know how much you need and then pour it into a saucepan. Add 5 garlic cloves to the oil and cook for a few minutes. Then, add the rosemary to the oil and take it off the heat. Leave it to cool completely and then take out the garlic, but you can leave in the rosemary. Add the oil back into the bottle and it’s ready!

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Daisy Moss is a freelance writer specializing in business, investment, and real estate. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her reading a good novel!

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