Being generous always feels nice, but during the holidays it can be hard to pull off without going way over your monthly budget. Plus, according to economists, holiday gifts are a waste of resources.
When you're being careful about your spending, you don't want any money to be wasted. But you also don't want to be the Scrooge that doesn't get anybody anything. The answer: seek out inexpensive Christmas gifts (and Hanukkah gifts, or presents for any other gift-giving holiday you celebrate) that still feel personal and meaningful.
You want to pick something that suits the personality of the recipient; so some of these may not be a good fit for the people in your life. Think outside the department store box and research DIY options. You can keep your Christmas gifts affordable without seeming like a cheapskate.
Holiday gifts for mom
1) A picture frame
With pictures of family in it, of course. Dig up an image of a memorable moment you know was important to both of you and give it to your mom in a form that’s ready to display. Peruse some DIY (do-it-yourself) ideas for picture frames if you want to save a little more money and make it extra personal.
This is an especially good gift if you live far away, especially if you plan to write home more (bonus points for sending letters on matching stationery). There's lots of lovely stationery out there to choose from, and this is another idea where you can take the DIY route.
3) DIY spa treatments
Who doesn't love a spa day? Give your mom the relaxation and joy of a day at the spa without the cost. Many of these fifteen spa-themed homemade Christmas gifts can fit within that $10 budget with change to spare.
Holiday gifts for dad
4) Personalized mug
Does your dad like coffee or tea? If he drinks anything out of a mug, a personalized one can make a great holiday gift that he'll see every day. Many of the same DIY mug ideas we suggested for Mother's Day can be applied to making a mug for your dad – although the glitter mug might not be his cup of tea.
5) Book of "dad" jokes
Be warned: this is one gift that will keep on giving, and not necessarily in a way you'll enjoy. If your dad's full of puns and cheesy one-liners, this may be just the gift for him. Most of these books of dad jokes go for a tad over $10 in print, but their e-book versions can be bought for less.
6) Electronics accessories
Is your dad a techie? There's a whole swath of options for under $10 that could fit the bill, from themed USB flash drives to a 3-D sketchpad.
7) Homemade jewelry (for her)
Don't listen to all those obnoxious diamond commercials that equate expensive jewelry with love. A piece that’s homemade and from the heart can count just as much to a significant other. Take the time to think about her personal style before crafting a piece of jewelry. What colors does she often wear? Any prints she tends toward? Then browse some of the DIY jewelry suggestions online for ideas.
8) A homemade wallet (for him)
To be fair, this doesn't have to just be "for him," since most people use wallets. The ideas we shared for creating homemade wallets for Father's Day can work just as well for Christmas gifts and are mostly pretty affordable and simple.
9) Homemade sweets
There are those people who prize salty or savory treats above all. For the rest of us, you can't go wrong with some tasty sweets. Make your significant other their favorite kind of cookie, pie, cake, or other sweet concoction. Or go with something a little more unique and fancy. AllRecipes has a collection of gourmet dessert recipes that can help with ideas.
10) Mini bread loaves
Here’s one of those holiday gifts you can really sink your teeth into. If there's a popular bread recipe in your family, make mini versions of it to share at the family Christmas and give out to friends. If not, there are plenty of recipes online to choose from. You can experiment with a few and pick the one to make into your personal holiday tradition.
11) Magazine subscription
This is a holiday gift you only purchase once, but your recipient will get the gift anew over and over again throughout the year. A lot of magazines are offering 2-for-1 specials for the holidays. You can get two subscriptions of Wired, and Readers Digest for less than $10 a piece if you order soon.
12) Bottle of wine and snacks to share
Some friends and family members are going to prefer your company to any gifts they can take home with them. A bottle of wine (or a 6-pack of beer) and some tasty snacks can make for a pleasant visit together. On the off chance that the weather is cooperative, you can make a picnic out of it.
Most paperback books for kids come in at under $10, so you've got a huge pool of potential gift ideas right there. Some of the classics even cost far less – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is available for $3, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is just $4, and Where the Wild Things Are is only $6. Try to remember your favorite children’s books and look them up to see if they fit in your budget.
14) Build your own science toy
Most of the science kits out there go over $10 (although some not by much), but this make-it-yourself solar toy is affordable enough for you to buy two without going over your goal. Kids can build it into six different models and learn about solar energy in the process.
15) Homemade stuffed monster
This one requires some sewing chops, but the results are pretty darned cute. There are several different patterns to choose from over at It's Always Autumn, so if you have multiple kids to please you can make them each something unique.
Holiday gifts too often become stressful rather than rewarding. Really, they’re an opportunity to do something meaningful for the people you love. Thinking within a budget makes it easier to set aside the stress and focus on making your gifts more personal.