5 Gift Ideas that are Frugal AF

I’ll be honest–I’m coming down to the wire with this one. Better late than never, right?? Fortunately, these ideas can also double as last-minute gift ideas…

My family has really chilled out in the gift-giving department since we became adults, which I think is a huge relief. My family (Stuart included) are also people who despise clutter. As people who are constantly recycling, donating to Goodwill, and minimizing, the last thing we want to give or receive is something that takes up space or just sits somewhere collecting dust.

As I’ve said before, there is way more to being frugal than being a cheapskate. Being frugal also means being a smart spender and finding ways to make your dollar go further.

So how does this apply to Christmas shopping?

While I was planning/dreading my own Christmas list, it occurred to me that gifts don’t need to be fancy items you only buy to try to impress people. Because, let’s be real, you’ll probably end up failing anyway. And, seriously, it really depends on what your definition of fancy is. And, as is the case with my family, we usually save enough so that we can just buy whatever we want (we’re not extravagant people, so this isn’t hard to do). So why break the bank just so you have a gift to wrap?

Gone are the days of fulfilling some arbitrary dollar requirement just so you can feel like you’ve purchased enough junk for someone, which will likely end up at the local Goodwill anyway. So here it is–the answer to your gift-giving agony. Enjoy!

1) Donate money to a good cause

Nothing says Christmas more than giving to a worthy cause. This month we made sizable contributions to the International Rescue Committee and Doctors Without Borders, and it was the most valuable and satisfying gift we could give. It will likely become a tradition in our family to give to worthy causes rather than buy material items for one another.

Everyone is passionate about something. Make your Christmas gift mean something by donating to an organization you believe in. Even better–find out what organizations your friends and family are involved in or care about and make a donation in their name.


Anyone who says they don’t appreciate homemade food for Christmas is a Scrooge-tastic Grinch and doesn’t deserve Christmas gifts anyway. There are limitless ideas for baked goods, snacks, and meals as gifts. People come together over food and drink, so why should the holidays be any different? Find out what treats (or drinks) your people love and get to work in the kitchen!

3) Gift Cards

I’ve never understood people who frown upon gift cards. There seems to be this irrational belief that gift cards are meaningless and the “gift of the lazy”.


What’s better–giving me some material item that you have no idea whether I’ll like or not (or erroneously think I’ll like), or giving me a gift card to one of my favorite stores, websites, or restaurants? I’ll take the gift card ANY DAY! If you’re unsure about what to give someone, a gift card is ALWAYS appropriate and will ALWAYS be appreciated (regardless of what your crotchity Aunt Viola says).

Seriously, who gets mad about receiving cash for Christmas?

4) Ideas are hiding in plain sight!

You know what I got Stuart for Christmas (granted, he bought himself his own big ticket item a couple of weeks ago)? Fun socks and a new pair of slippers. I totally FELT like crotchity Aunt Viola who gives underwear for Christmas rather than toys. But even though these gifts seem small and mundane, they are things he uses and also really needed more of. Sometimes, the best gifts are in the details and are the items someone will use every day of their life.

5) Experiences are more valuable than things

Is there a place someone wants to go or an event they want to attend? Why not give the gift of an entire experience rather than stressing over buying an object? This gift can be in the form of a local trip, a vacation, a concert, or any other activity you can think of. And what’s better–you can reveal the surprise on Christmas for an event that takes place in the future, thus, stretching out Christmas even longer. Hells yeah.

Merry Christmas, frugal friends!

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