Low Cost Holiday Gifts

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Low Cost Holiday Gifts

gift giving without going broke
Low cost holiday gifts on your mind?

In a difficult economy, most moms are looking for inexpensive gift ideas for kids and husbands.

This list of cheap holiday gift ideas is perfect for the budgeting family.

Find your cheap unique gift ideas here.

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Inexpensive Gift Ideas for Kids

Surviving the holiday season without going broke, even with children, is possible. It might, however, mean a change in your perspective. Cheap holiday gift ideas come with another price tag: thinking outside the box.

One Gift Per Child
Probably the best way to obtain low cost holiday gifts for your children is to limit the amount of gifts you give them. Try implementing a one-gift-per-child rule this holiday season. This may seem harsh, but really, with extended family sending your kids multiple presents, you really will not be depriving them. If this method of inexpensive gift ideas for kids is just too constraining for you, then try three-gifts-per-child.

I know that some of you stay at home moms reading this right now are horrified by this suggestion, because some believe that it is un-American to gift your children with so little. Some might think this is cruel, or that your children will doubt your family's finances, or worse, Santa! Some mothers might feel that with only one-gift-per-child that other kids will make fun of your kids after Christmas break.

But honestly, limiting the amounts of gifts you give your children each holiday will actually make them better people.

Have you ever heard of the Gimmes?

extra christmas cash My kids have had them a time or two in the past. I'm sure yours have as well.

The Gimmes are a horrible illness that plagues school-aged and teenaged children across the United States. (It rarely migrates beyond the boarders of the USA, though it has been known to happen.) This illness causes nice children, from nice families, to become disgusting, self-absorbed brats whose sole thought is: "What's in it for me?"

When visiting their aging grandmother in the hospital, instead of asking how she is doing, they ask, "What did you get me, Grandma?" At the grocery store check-out line, they suddenly gasp, get wide-eyed and exclaim, "Mommy, I didn't get to pick out an ice cream today!" When you come home from the department store with new tidy-whities to replace the underwear your son has cut holes in, your daughter starts crying, "Why didn't I get new underwear today?!"

While at a Home Show, your son starts complaining about the booth that only had green promotional pencils left, instead of the blue ones he saw some other kid holding. Do you get the idea? The Gimmes are alive and kicking in America today. A whole generation has them. And there is only one cure. Less. Yep, that's right. The only cure is to give your children less.

I found out about this interesting cure a few years ago, when I decided to "clean" my children's room. They had way too many toys. Everything from the Toy of the Year to cheap Happy Meal toys. They had blocks, and Legos, and pretend food items and dollhouses and knights and baby dolls and Barbies and hundreds and hundreds of items accumulated over the years. I was sick of the mess. No matter how much I tried, I could not get them to keep it clean.

So I purged 90% of it. Threw it away if it was junk, Freecycled the rest of it. They were left with a box of Legos, a box of blocks and a handful of educational toys. Then something amazing happened: they actually played with their toys. Before the Great Purge, they mostly wanted to watch a video, and when they did play with their toys, everything had to come out of the boxes before anything was played with, and by that time, the room was a mess and they were bored. But after the Great Purge, they enjoyed quiet time playing with their toys. Things became fun again.

That was the first year we decided to go with the one-gift-per-child rule for low cost holiday gifts. Every birthday and Christmas, we use these inexpensive gift ideas for kids and get one main gift for each child, and then spend maybe $5-10 on other low cost holiday gifts like stickers, pencils, soap, bubble bath, and the like. (My mom used to call the trinkets stocking stuffers.)

I've tried to convince the grandparents to just send the kids cash for their savings account, or an article of clothing, but it’s been hard convincing them that less is more. So the kids do end up with several presents each holiday. But, they do not end up with too many presents, and do not become over stimulated with the process.

And the Gimmes have virtually vanished. They no longer are so greedy. (Though I will admit that a mild case does rear its ugly head at one of their grandparents' houses still, as grandma and grandpa insist on giving them things every single time we visit.)

Set a Budget
little boy sitting among low cost holiday gifts If limiting the number of items per child is still too difficult of a concept to move past, then I would suggest setting up a budget per child for low cost holiday gifts.

Depending on your family's circumstances, this budget could be as low as $20 per child, or as high as $100. (Yes, I know that many families budget much more, some upwards of $500-1000 per child for holidays, but this is so anti-savings to me that I cannot bear to promote it.)

Stick to your budget and plan ahead for inexpensive gift ideas for kids. You might even create an annual budget for your child's gift needs. This way, if you spend a little more on his birthday, you can make up for it at Christmas.

Gifts do not have to be a physical item. Some of the best cheap holiday gift ideas can be entertainment and activities related.

  • Annual Passes
  • An annual pass to the Science Center, Zoo, or Children's Museum can be a wonderful gift a child will treasure for the entire year.

  • Dance Lessons
  • If you are having trouble affording dance, karate, or music lessons for your child, why not suggest that Grandma gift your child with this type of item as a present? This way, they get the wonderful experiences of the lessons, and grandma doesn't buy another loud, battery-powered, dust-collecting hunk of plastic.

  • Pen Pals
  • A great gift that keeps on giving all year long is to gift your child with the opportunity to develop a friendship with a pen pal. In this computer age, when a child receives something special and personal in the real mailbox from another child his age, it means so much more than an email or a text message. If this is something you'd be interested in, I highly recommend a pen pal service that puts safety first:


  • Coupons
  • A very nice gift from the inexpensive gift ideas for kids list can be a coupon book, made by you. In it you have 12 certificates, one for each month. On each certificate is a promise of a specific outing, anything from going ice skating to going out for ice cream. The activities can cost money or be free, its up to you. The most important thing is that the child understands that you will be giving your time to them.

    This can work especially well in a large family, where the parent promises the child a one-on-one outing. Also, this low cost holiday gifts concept can be adapted as a "Get Out of Chores Free" coupon book, where the child can use his coupons to avoid a particularly despised chore.

    Give to Charity
    Low cost holiday gifts can come in the form of a life lesson as well. An important gift you can give your children this holiday season is the opportunity to give to charity. Whether they take some of their old toys down to GoodWill, spend some of their money on a charity, pick out a toy at the store for Toys for Tots, or even give of their time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, involving our children personally in our giving efforts will help them to grow into giving adults.

    Low Cost Holiday Gifts for Hubby

    So we've come up with some great inexpensive gift ideas for kids, now it’s time to find cheap unique gift ideas for your husband. Again, less is more. Most spouses don't judge love by the amount of gifts that are given.

    Go No-Gifts
    Probably the easiest thing to do if you are trying to come up with cheap holiday gift ideas when it comes to your spouse is to not gift at all, or to gift on birthdays or anniversaries but not on Christmas.

    This is something that needs to be discussed in advance, and both parties need to be in complete agreement. If you think you would become sad, or angry if you do not receive a present, then this is not the best way to utilize low cost holiday gifts. Instead, set a low cost holiday gifts budget.

    fun family christmas photo Gift the House
    Another of the cheap unique gift ideas is to give the house a present. This can be a wonderful way to buy a larger item that is useful to the whole family (or just mom and dad).

    Each holiday season, you set aside a designated amount of money, and purchase something together that will benefit your home. This could be a new vacuum cleaner, a new bedding set for your bed, a new washer, or a new set of dishes. It could even be a TV, or video gaming system. Whatever it is, it should be decided upon together.

    Other couples pool their gift money together to take a vacation, or do a special activity with the family, instead of purchasing low cost holiday gifts.

    Remember, 50 years from now, when your children have grandchildren of their own, they won't remember the Easy Bake Oven you gave them for their 7th birthday, but I'll bet they'll be telling those grandkids about swimming with dolphins in Florida one Christmas.

    Low cost holiday gifts are possible for those willing to alter the way they think about gift giving. Don't buy presents for the sake of buying presents, or so the kids will have lots of stuff to open. Think about it. What usually happens to all that junk? You're cleaning it up and throwing it away, usually broken, in January. Instead, change your thought process and gift giving methods and make this holiday season the best ever.

    What tips do you have for saving money on holiday gifts?

    tell us what you think

    Sneak Peak at Next Week

    Like this section on low cost holiday gifts? Next week we'll be talking about how to create frugal holiday celebrations.

    Related Pages
  • Your Gift Closet
  • Holiday Gifts for the Extended Family
  • Holiday Gifts for Friends and Neighbors
  • Holiday Gift Planning Guide
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