12 Ways of Christmas:: Ways of Frugal Gifting

by Mandy on October 25, 2011

I am so excited to participate in Jenn’s 12 Ways of Christmas today! If ever there were two things I adore completely, it’s frugality and gifting! I am a giver by nature ~ it’s a passion of mine.  However, I am also a slightly-obsessed penny pincher as well!  {Yes, I realize what a tremendous oxymoron that is! ;)}

Each year, when the Christmas season rolls around, I compose a list of all those people {neighbors, church workers, teachers, and more} whom our family would like to bless with a small gift or a token of appreciation.  These are the folks I wouldn’t necessarily go shopping for, but still really want them to know we are thinking of them. This list can easily end up with more than twenty names on it, however, which is not so frugal!

Here are some of my favorite ideas for easy, inexpensive, and thoughtful gifts:

::Homemade {Baked} Goodies Plates ~ Many years now, I have baked large batches of muffins, sausage balls, brownies, homemade candies, fudge and whatever else suits my mood at the time, and loaded up a variety of the goodies as teacher gifts, gifts for the bus drivers, and little treats for our neighbors. With just your everyday plastic wrap and some holiday-colored curling ribbon, you can create some pretty, yummy and thoughtful presents. {On a side note, this is a good opportunity to make memories with your kiddos too, if you let them help bake and assemble!}

::Handmade {Food or Beverage} Gifts ~ There are endless possibilities for low-cost handmade gifts {even if you are not a baker}! Using thrift store finds for jars or containers, you can quickly and inexpensively put together batches of “handmade or homemade” things like: hot cocoa mixes or fancier versions like Vanilla Chai Mix, or simple yummies like Cranberry-Caramel Chex Mix or DIY S’mores Kits.

::Handmade {Beauty or Personal Care} Gifts ~ If you are interested in non-food items, there are fabulous ideas like Homemade Bubble Bath, or Homemade Lemon-Mint Shower Gel, or Moisturizing Hand Scrub. Although I have yet to try any of these “recipes” personally yet, I hear they all get rave reviews and are very light on the budget!

::Handmade {Decor} Gifts ~ For folks you know fairly well, particularly neighbors or friends, there are super easy ways to personalize your frugal gifts by creating items that will blend with or complement their existing decor.  A $3 canvas can quickly become a work of art for someone’s home or classroom, or a spare picture frame or thrift store bargain can transform into a fun chalkboard or a unique earring organizer!

::Themed Gift Baskets ~ If you are not a crafter or a baker, and especially if you are a couponer like me, this idea should totally rock your world! Put together a fabulous collection of favorites from your stockpile for themed gift baskets for your recipients! You can assemble one with bath care products or snacks and goodies from your pantry.  Either way, I’m sure your gift-ee will be thrilled! For added pizzaz, you could be super creative with the container you use ~ like this idea for a baker friend!

::Restaurant or Store Gift Cards ~ This particular suggestion takes a bit more forethought, but you can always redeem your Swagbucks for store or restaurant gift cards to places like Starbucks, Target, or Barnes & Noble. {Just be sure to allow enough time for your prizes to be processed and sent out.} On the definite plus side of it though, Swagbucks is basically free money, so these gifts won’t hurt your budget one bit! Along the same frugal line, you can also purchase Restaurant.com gift certificates to local dining establishments or cafes for very little investment on your part. Either way, I’m sure your children’s teachers or your neighbors will be super happy for a dinner out!

Special Note:: Purchase some low-cost plates, baskets, or other containers for your handmade goodies at a local thrift store or Goodwill.  Remember ~ everything looks better with a coat of {spray} paint! If you find some plates or canisters that are the right size, but just not attractive to you, buy them anyway, and purchase a can of spray paint in a festive, holiday red. In just minutes, your thrift store find will be absolutely beautiful!

I am always on the look-out for frugal gift ideas. If you’d like to keep up with my latest finds, feel free to follow me on Pinterest! {Another thing I might be slightly addicted too!}  ;)


If the holiday season seems more stressful than joyous, if your budget seems too small to be generous, or if you are simply in search of inspiration, the 12 Ways of Christmas is written just for you! Click on each of the buttons below and join all 12 of us as we share crafts, decor, traditions, and more!

12Ways_wrappingWays of ReadingWays of Table DecorWays of Planning for the HolidaysWays of CardsWays of CookingWays of Decorating TreesWays of WreathsWays of OutreachWays of Family TraditionsWays of Mantle DecorWays of Frugal Gifting

Be sure to visit the rest of the lovelies sharing in today’s 12 Ways of Christmas series of posts! Enjoy the {early} holiday fun!!

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By Word of Mouth Musings October 25, 2011 at 8:49 AM

Love your idea for smores .. .we may have to copy that for little party favors! And the kitchen in the mitt, perfect for a girlfriend … thank you!
Lovely to be a part of the 12 ways with you … btw my blog is pulling my blogging side rather than my homeschooling side, so here is the link!
By Word of Mouth Musings´s last blog post ..Howlerific Halloween – Molly Campbell

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 10:05 PM

The s’mores kits are so fun and EASY! Search on Pinterest too ~ many different s’more ideas, including a DIY S’mores bar for parties! :)

Latoya @The Scotts Crib October 25, 2011 at 10:07 AM

These are some great ideas…never thought about sprucing up GW plates for gifts. Thanks for sharing!

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 10:04 PM

My favorite motto ~ frugality can often force creativity! ;) What’s more frugal than trinkets found at Goodwill? And what’s more creative than spray painting them? Have fun!

Jamie @ See Jamie Blog October 25, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Great ideas. I love the s’more kits, and that cooking mitt one would be great not only for Christmas but as a housewarming or bridal shower gift as well!
Jamie @ See Jamie Blog´s last blog post ..12 Ways of Christmas: Greeting Cards!

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 10:01 PM

I thought the same thing, Jamie! So many possibilities!!

Netta October 25, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Oh NO! I love ALL these ideas!
But, my first step is making the list of people. So I’ve scheduled time THIS week to put that list in writing (cuz it’s been floatin in my head for a few weeks) & start planning so I have goals to work towards!
THANK YOU. Love your blog.
Praying for you always!
Netta´s last blog post ..Talk to Myself Tuesday

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 10:01 PM

Yes, start with the list! ;) Glad these ideas will help you, but doing ALL of them might not be so frugal! ha :) Prayers and hugs to you, sweet friend!!

Successful Woman's Resource Center October 25, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Loved the earring organizer very cute! My daughter had a ton of earrings so we bought a wire mesh paper tray (silver) from the office store, turned it on it’s side, standing up, and she hangs her earrings on it. Perfect, but not as pretty as your option!
Successful Woman’s Resource Center´s last blog post ..10 reasons to start your own business

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 9:59 PM

Your idea is great too, Bernice! I’ve seen so many uses for those same mesh trays!

Denise In Bloom October 25, 2011 at 11:56 AM


Thanks for getting my creative juices going! I love making handmade and frugal gifts, so this post is right up my alley! You are so talented. Love you friend. See ya soon! : )
Denise In Bloom´s last blog post ..12 Ways Of Christmas Mantle Decorating Ideas

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Glad to return the favor! You always get my creative wheels turning! :) See you SOON!!

Heather October 25, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Awesome ideas! Found you through Women Living Well – thank you! I was wondering about the painting of the plates… Can you put food directly on them or should you put wax paper or something in between?
Heather´s last blog post ..Thrive90 – Final Results

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 9:55 PM

Welcome, Heather! :) I love to use the paper doilies as “extra” detail on the spray painted plates. I also use Modge Podge spray sealer sometimes, to help seal the paint and to add a little extra gloss. Hope that helps!

Stef Layton October 25, 2011 at 5:03 PM

s’more kits – heck yea !!! We’re neighbors … right ?! =)
Stef Layton´s last blog post ..12 Ways of Outreach

Mandy October 25, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Oh I wish! I’d bring you s’mores every day! ;)

Jenny October 26, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Great ideas, Mandy, and very personal too! I love the way the DIY smore kit is put together.
Jenny´s last blog post ..Tutorial: Craft Stick Mummies.

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