A Short List of Frugal Holiday Gifts

Nov 05, 2013Reading Time: 4 min

How do you show someone you care, without spending a lot of money? One doesn’t necessarily have to have a Swiss bank account to wow someone with a gift. A little creativity can go a long way.

Successful gifting is an art. It takes forethought and time. Here are a few gift ideas that are frugal, creative, and show appreciation.

1. Magazine Subscription

Already extensively cataloged, magazine subscriptions are extremely affordable and nearly universally welcomed gifts. According to Magazine Price Search, the largest amount of best priced magazine subscriptions currently comes from,, and Don’t think you can snag an excellent magazine that your teenage son or daughter would enjoy? Think again. is selling 26 issues of Rolling Stone for less than $20, a 28-issue to Sports Illustrated for $26, and a 27-issue subscription to Time Magazine for $16. These are merely examples. The other websites listed offer similar titles and competitive prices.

2. DIY Photo Coasters

Everyone loves beer. What people love even more is their name and face underneath a beer. How does one create homemade coasters? Four things: square ceramic tiles (which you can order at Home Depot for less than $1), Mod Podge, and Clear Acrylic High Gloss Sealer. Of course, you’ll also need a few pictures.

First, place the photo onto the ceramic tile. Then apply Mod Podge to the back of the photo and stick it onto the tile. Allow sufficient time for photo to stick. After it’s dried, apply layers of Mod Podge onto the top of the photo. Once again, let dry. Apply two more layers of Mod Podge onto the top of the photo and allow each layer to dry completely. To seal the deal, spray the Acrylic High Gloss Sealer onto the coaster to ensure it is waterproof. The finished product will look a little something like this:

3. Book Safe

Andy Dufresne would be impressed. Apply puzzle glue to the pages on the outside of the book with a brush. After drying, cut out the inside of a book—preferably an older, more dignified tome—with a box cutter. Then, apply glue to the inside of the pages to provide a more stable environment for its contents.

This gives you the opportunity to pick a book that suits the recipient’s personality. You can do this with old tools and supplies lying around the house for absolutely free. If your friend has valuables he needs to stow away, it’s the perfect hidden compartment.

4. Photo Book

Don’t think the word frugal and the words photo book go together? You can create custom photo books at CVS Photo for as little as $3.50. Their book builder allows you to apply your pictures, choose backgrounds, and select layouts for each page. Yes—$3.50 for 2x3 mini books, $8 for 5x7 photo books, and $13 for 8x11. Free shipping is included. An important relationship chronicled into a photo book is the perfect gift for any—even one for less than $4.

5. A Journal, A Framed Picture, Bath Oils

These gifts are small and simple, but speak volumes. A journal says you think there’s an ocean of activity in the head of the recipient just begging to be let out. A framed picture says you care immensely about the person and you care about the memories you’ve shared. Bath oils, well, bath oils mean you want that person to lie back in a warm tub and enjoy a soothing session of relaxation.

Beautiful journals can be found at Barnes & Noble. Gorgeous picture frames can be found at stores like Pfaltzgraff, Café Press and Ali Express. And bath oils, well, bath oils can be found at practically every beauty store.

Frugal holiday gifts are desired by many. Help yourself to some of these ideas to avoid breaking the bank.