When you need to come up with a Christmas gift that doesn’t cost a lot, get creative. Think of different categories where you might find a present.
- Create a movie basket. Purchase a DVD for under $10 at the movie rental store. Add microwave popcorn, candy and a review of the movie printed from the Internet or clipped from the newspaper. Put it together in a popcorn box that you can get from the movie theater.
- Encourage reading. Head to your library book store and pick up themed hardbacks, paperbacks or magazines. Hardbacks are usually priced at $1, paperbacks at 50 cents and magazines are 25 cents. Bundle them together and include a memorable bookmark.
- A magazine subscription for a travel, news, sports or celebrity magazine is always appreciated. Many Internet sites offer two-for-one deals on magazines, or magazines subscriptions for under $10.
- Don’t forget gift cards, wrapped in creative ways.
- If you’re buying gifts for an elderly person, stimulate their mind with large-type crossword puzzle books, brain teaser books or playing cards. Offer to spend time playing with them.
Food and Liquor
- Pick up an unusual-shaped bottle of wine, liquor or liqueur. The seasonal beer brews are enjoyable.
- Don’t forget the baked goodies. Make your family favorites and pass them out for presents. If you make candy pecans, give those. A dozen chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies will be appreciated. Wrap desserts in plastic wrap, then wrap again in an inexpensive, new Christmas dish towel with ribbon.
- If you’re known for your lasagna, chili, carne asada or yellow chicken curry, cook a batch and divide it up for presents. Buy low-cost plastic containers and label the gift with its ingredients and tie a packet of spice on top.
- Select individual servings of dessert coffees or a collection of organic teas and wrap them in plastic and offer them in a Christmas mug.
- Check out the new, personalized M&M candy and write something fun on them.
Giving your Time
- Offer to help with the person’s Christmas home decorating. String lights on the outside wall, put ornaments on the tree or arrange an evergreen swag on their fireplace mantle.
- Print coupons on nice stationary that offers your time. Think about what your recipient needs. If you can babysit, wrap the coupon in a book of bedtime stories. If they have a pet, offer to watch it when they’re on vacation; stick the coupon in with a dog toy. If someone is elderly, give a coupon for hours of driving that can be cashed in one hour at a time, for a trip to the store, beauty salon or theater.
- Print up a collection of your favorite recipes, or homemade comfort food and if you can afford, put a few of the ingredients in a new, reusable shopping bag.
- Offer gardening services such as mowing the lawn, sweeping sidewalks or watering plants.
- Give cuttings off of your live plants for Christmas. Start them before the holidays and allow them to flower or fill out. Hunt for containers in thrift or 99 cent stores. Wrap with ribbon and instructions on taking care of the plant.
- Buy the new, reusable bags that are showing up everywhere. If your friend is a fashionista, buy a couple from different retailers. If the hostess loves food, buy different ones from the grocery stores.
- If the person you’re buying for has everything, donate in her name. There are non-profit organizations that promote green living, those that save endangered animals, and those that help reduce the carbon footprint. All accept gift donations.
Spread the Cheer
Small, inexpensive Christmas presents can be a fun way to celebrate the holidays. Make up some in advance and enjoy the festivities.