RB Budgeting: 10 Affordable Last Minute Gift Ideas


Last month I shared some budgeting tips to save you from going broke this holiday season … or at least to help you avoid doing so next year! For those who won’t be able to spend a lot this holiday season but want to give something meaningful to those on their ‘absolutely must give’ list — or for those people you’re completely at a loss on what to give them, here’s some last minute ideas (I mentioned a few of these last month, but felt like adding them here again for those that missed that post)…



1) Baked goods.

Is there something that you’re good at making that everyone loves? Spend an afternoon or evening making dozens of them. Hit up the dollar store for cheap festive holiday containers to deliver them in. (Here’s more recipes like the one pictured above)

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(source: soup jar mix; hot chocolate jar mix)

 2) Homemade mixes in a jar.

Not so great at baking/cooking? Buy a set of mason/canning jars + the dry ingredients for cookie mixes, soups, and more + a roll of ribbon + a set of cute but cheap recipe cards (Michaels usually has some in their dollar bins year-round). Hit up Pinterest & Google for mix recipes. Add ingredients to the jars, put the lid on, and, after you hole punch one corner of the recipe card, tie the card onto the jar.


3) Photo prints or items made with memorable items.

I’m writing this post up on Thanksgiving night when I’ve seen a lot of great deals pop up with photo printing companies, like Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, and Minted (all three of those are affiliate links btw). Follow them on Facebook and Instagram too; they post special offers that haven’t hit my inbox lately. For instance, Shutterfly had a free calendar promotion on Facebook that expired at 11:59 pm Black Friday — all you had to pay is shipping/handling and sales tax. Get on mailing lists too — sometimes you’ll get promo codes that make items free or almost free. Last year I got all of these goodies via email promos from Shutterfly for the cost of postage and sales tax! The desktop collage plaque above is $20 regular price … search for discount codes and make it cheaper! Recently I discovered that if you add the Snapfish app to your smartphone, you can get up to 100 free prints each month for FREE! I haven’t used it yet, but I assume you have to pay postage. Put together a mini album with free 4×6’s (or find a sale at a store like Walgreens or CVS) for your parents of photos from their childhood — borrow albums from your grandparents & scan them at the store kiosks if you don’t have a scanner at home.



4) Handmade Christmas Ornaments.

Crafty? Here’s some ideas via Pinterest on easy to make ornaments. I love these ideas on filling clear plastic ornaments as well.


5) Themed Gift Baskets.

Movie night — pack of popcorn, some movie boxes of candy, a couple 20 oz sodas, and a dvd from the discount bins or sale rack or gift certificate for Redbox. Pedicure set for that friend who could use a pick me up but can’t afford to splurge either on a trip to the nail salon. Gardening set — gloves, a few packs of seeds for flowers or vegetable plants + a cute pot or bucket. A thank you set — have someone who loves receiving/sending snail mail? Find some cute note cards or stationery (again, check out Michael’s dollar bins) + a few pens + a book of stamps. Car cleaning kit — bottle of car soap, a sponge, a brush, and wax kit (the sponge and brush you can sometimes find at a dollar store); use a bucket for the basket. Need more ideas? Pinterest to the rescue



6) Customized coffee mug (with a sharpie).

Here’s a tutorial on how to do it yourself! Add in a bag/can of their favorite coffee, tea, or hot chocolate mix!

7) Magazine subscription.

Check out Discount Mags for a deal … sometimes Amazon has sales on magazine subscriptions as well.

8) Put together a recipe box/book with family favorites.

Borrow your mom’s or grandma’s cookbook(s) and type up recipes to print out and put in page protectors in a notebook. Or, if you have great penmanship, buy a few sets of recipe cards at Michaels and write them out & find a nice recipe box to gift them in.

9) Have a family member or friend that’s not so tech savvy?

Offer the gift of your time to help them get their new device set up and explain how it works. Has your friend wanted to start a blog but doesn’t know where to begin? Make an evening out of it — invite her (or him) over, have some snacks and beverages, and pull out the laptops.

10) Make or take them out for dinner.

Share a favorite meal and share how your year has gone and plans for the new year ahead.

Have affordable/low-cost ideas you’d add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!

**links in #3 for Shutterfly, Tinyprints, and Minted are all affiliate links. The rest of the links in this post are not affiliate links.

  • Kelsey - December 12, 2014 - 9:45 am

    GENIUS!! Thanks for this. Love the “print out pictures from Instagram” idea.

    : ) Kelsey | kelsapoodle.comReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 19, 2014 - 10:16 pm

      Thanks Kelsey 🙂 and thanks for sharing on your blog too!ReplyCancel

  • chelsea jacobs - December 12, 2014 - 8:04 pm

    You can’t go wrong with baking something for a gift!ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 19, 2014 - 10:15 pm

      True Chelsea … Unless you aren’t aware of a food allergy, at least!ReplyCancel

  • Diane - December 13, 2014 - 2:21 am

    These are all excellent suggestions. I especially love the baked goods idea. So many recipes are inexpensive and easy to make and look really great when packaged up nicely. In France, red velvet and fudge aren’t really things so I can make American treats that seem extra impressive to the French. 😉 Happy holidays to you!ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 19, 2014 - 10:12 pm

      Thanks Diane and Happy Holidays to you too 🙂 When baking in bulk, it makes it so much more affordable to do. The French are missing out on the whole red velvet phenomenon and how can fudge not be a thing there?!?!ReplyCancel

  • Jordan Beck Wagner - December 13, 2014 - 5:52 am

    I love receiving the homemade mixing jars…those are the best! These are some great ideas 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 19, 2014 - 10:10 pm

      Thanks Jordan … I’m thinking homemade jar mixes will be my coworker gifts next year 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - December 17, 2014 - 8:38 am

    These are great ideas! Our family gifts are easy this year – photo gifts, like you said, since we just had a baby! 😉 And the help setting up a device idea – genius! Especially since they’ll probably get new devices anyway.ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 19, 2014 - 10:02 pm

      Thanks Jenn 🙂 you can’t go wrong with photo gifts of a baby, what family member wouldn’t like or want that??? And we all know at least one person that lacks tech savviness!ReplyCancel

  • Camila - December 19, 2014 - 2:16 pm

    Amazing ideas, Christina! I’ve had a few years of low budget and definitely did a few scrapbooks, DIY shirts, etc. for gifts. But I love the mix of the ideas you’ve given here! Especially that homemade mix jar!ReplyCancel

    • Christina - December 19, 2014 - 9:43 pm

      Thanks Camila … Its been a few years since I’ve done a lot of these but I think I might make a point of doing something more personal for 2015 gifts.ReplyCancel

  • 2014 Year in Review » Route Bliss - January 6, 2015 - 10:21 am

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  • Friday Faves: Gift Edition - Kelsapoodle - November 3, 2015 - 7:23 pm

    […] Buuut between working 40 hours a week and wanting to save money for Italy…gift giving is a little more of a struggle this year. SO I have gathered from the far corners of the Internets…the ultimate guide to gift giving. I’m finding all of these guides oh-so-helpful and might actually break out my inner DIY-er this Christmas. Hope this helps you find what you’re looking for! 30 gifts for your cat loving friend. I know at least five people in my life this would apply to. Slash myself. Gifts for the adventurer. A giant inflatable zebra? I like the way they think Gifts for the travel bug. This includes a map of all the National Parks in the US….wouldn’t that be nice to have, parents, hint hint ; ) ; ) A crafty DIY post on how to make ornaments from souvenirs….wish I had read this about six months ago My go-to post for ideas on DIY gifts–infused tequila? GENIUS And, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s going to need this, 10 affordable last minute gift ideas. […]ReplyCancel