Whether they’ll admit it or not, everyone loves getting presents, and during the holidays, we love GIVING them too.
Unfortunately, you can really break the budget with gifts. Here are a few ideas that may help you tap into your inner Frugalite. Putting inexpensive items into baskets or other containers, and presenting them festively are great ways to ramp up a budget-friendly present. (Get more fun and frugal holiday ideas with our free 78-page book, Have Yourself a Thrifty Little Christmas.)
The dollar store, the thrift store, and your own basement storage area are your friends when it comes to assembling these gifts on a budget. If you shop carefully, most of these baskets can be assembled for $10 or less. Don’t stop at frugal living. You should also practice frugal giving.
How to make a gift basket
It’s pretty easy to make a gift basket and your container doesn’t have to be an actual basket. I like to make the container part of the gift whenever possible. The container you use depends on the theme of your gift.
You can often pick up containers are the dollar store or a thrift store for a great price. Think about:
- Serving bowls
- Organizational containers
- Tote bags
- Laundry baskets
- Gift boxes
Grab your decorative supplies at your local dollar store. You’ll want cellophane, ribbon, and a festive bow. For filling the bottom of your basket, you can crumple tissue paper or use your shredder to make your own filling out of junk mail or colorful paper. For children, I like to individually wrap each item before putting it in the basket. I keep random ornaments that have lost their hangers to tie on or pop into baskets.
Don’t forget to add a handwritten note and pretty card!
What to put in a gift basket
We like giving “kits” as presents. If they’re presented festively, an inexpensive kit can be a welcome gift. Here are some ideas we have used over the years.
- Pasta Dinner Kit: Layer a thrift shop or dollar store colander with festive shredded paper. Arrange spaghetti noodles, a jar of nice-quality (or better yet, homemade) marinara sauce, a triangle of fresh parmesan with a mini grater, some crushed chili peppers, Italian seasoning, and a pasta spoon.
- Bath Kit: Use a basket as the base – I pick up baskets for a quarter at the local thrift store. Add in homemade or store-bought bath products, one of those microfiber hair wraps (available at the dollar store), some folded washcloths or a loofah, some votive candles, and a handful of seashells (also available at the dollar store.) Top it off with a back scrubber.
- Game Night: Head to the dollar store and pick up an assortment of brainteaser games, ala Cracker Barrel. Look for those triangle peg games, Rubik’s cubes, Chinese Checkers, and a wooden tic-tac-toe set. Pop them into a sturdy tote bag tied with a festive bow.
- Ice Cream Sundae Kit: Find a cute basket and fill it with everything but the ice cream – waffle cone cups, toppings, sprinkles, and jars of caramel and fudge sauce.
- Movies: Put everything in a large popcorn bowl. Fill it with bags of popcorn kernels (you can fill goodie bags and tie them with twine), popcorn seasoning, 3D glasses (available at the dollar store), a can of soda for each family member, and an assortment of candy.
- Outdoor Play: If the kids in your life live someplace without a foot of snow on the ground, grab sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, batons, balls, bubbles, and a lemon twist or similar toy. Pop these into a colorful bucket.
- Coffee Basket: Go someplace like Homegoods or TJ Maxx and grab a package of fancy coffee for just a few dollars. Pick up some mugs at your favorite thrift store. Add a recipe for a homemade creamer, some spoons dipped in chocolate or caramel for stirring, and a package of biscotti.
- Tea Basket: Find a beautiful china teacup and place it in a basket with various types of tea, an old-fashioned tea ball, a little jar of honey, and some cookies.
- Baking Basket: (Kids really like this one) Make a jar of cookie mix, and write down the instructions on festive paper. Add in some cookie cutters, a whisk, a cute apron from the dollar or thrift store, a big wooden spoon, and put it all in a colorful mixing bowl.
- Traveler’s Basket: Use a large cosmetic bag for your container. (I’m always able to find these at the thrift store.) Pop in a sleep mask, some tea bags, a few packets of dry soup, some airplane-friendly snacks, empty containers that can be filled with carry-on sized toiletries, some travel-sized items like toothpaste, a toothbrush cover, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and body wash. If you know where the traveler is headed, include a map of or book about their destination.
- Garden basket: Use a bucket or a clay pot for your container. Pop in some seeds, gardening gloves, one of those foam things to kneel on, and some of those cute little markers to identify what is planted. (You can even make those.)
- Crafting basket: This one is good for kids OR adults. Grab a variety of craft supplies that are age-appropriate. Think about yarn, embroidery floss, cross-stitching fabric, craft kits, coloring pencils, age-appropriate coloring books, crayons, markers, paint pens, and glitter. Pop everything into a basket or plastic box from the dollar store.
- Color-themed basket: Get a little basket in your recipient’s favorite color and then fill it with odds and ends in that color. Notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, hair accessories, little toys for children, candy, bath scrubbers…you get the idea!
- Household Items: This is a great basket for a person just starting out in their own home. Get a small laundry hamper and fill it with things like dishtowels, dryer balls, spray bottles, kitchen sponges, and anything else that catches your eye in the dollar store.
- Road Trip: Get a small cooler that will hold a six-pack of drinks. Add an atlas or map of the area, one of those travel neck pillows for sleepy passengers, some puzzle books and coloring pencils to keep the kids occupied, and a blanket for cozy napping. Don’t forget some road snacks like chips, candy, or peanuts.
These are just a few ideas. Think about your loved ones’ interests and you’ll be able to put together all sorts of wonderful kits to brighten their holiday without breaking your budget. Be creative and consider the kinds of things the recipient likes. You can’t go wrong with something from the heart.
What kind of gift baskets have you made?
Do you make gift baskets or kits? What are some of your more creative ideas? Share them in the comments!