The Budgeter's Holiday Gift Guide


The Budgeter's Holiday Gift Guide

Earlier this week I posted a guide of tips to managing holiday spending. Today I want to follow up with suggestions for reasonably priced gifts for the people on your list. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

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1)      Coupon Book

Make a series of coupons that can be redeemed for different activities that you know the recipient will like. When I’ve made this in the past, I’ve added coupons offering a favorite homemade dinner, a back massage, and a turn to skip housecleaning. The cost of the activities can add up if you pick more expensive things like going to a concert or fancy dinner together, so try to pick low-cost activities.

2)      Photo gifts

Photo gifts such as coffee mugs, pillows, and photo books are great gifts for family. These products are offered in many places from your local drugstore photo department to online shops such as Shutterfly. All you have to do is provide a photo and within a few clicks, your order is set. Many retailers run frequent promotions offering discounts on these items. As of this writing, Walgreens is offering 40% off photo gifts and cards.

3)      Memory journals

A similar gift is a memory journal or scrapbook. These are books filled with pages of hand-decorated detail, often with pictures of loved ones. While they might sound expensive to fill and decorate, consider making one with a binder you already have and using items from around the house (e.g., colored paper, ribbons, extra photos) to decorate it.

4)      Gift certificates from deal websites

If you know your recipient has a favorite restaurant or is interested in picking up a new hobby, check out sites such as Groupon and Living Social to see what deals he or she might enjoy.

5)       Coffee or tea set

A box of coffee samplings or tea samplings is a great gift for those who constantly have a cup in hand. With some research and price comparison, you can locate reasonably priced prepackaged gift sets. Even better is to purchase packets of coffee, tea, or chocolates in bulk. Then divide them and wrap them up into smaller gift sets.



Seniors can be difficult to shop for because they often have everything they need and don’t want anything more. In addition to the above gifts, here are some practical gifts that are likely to get some use.

1)      Stationery and stamps

Many older adults still enjoy handwriting letters and cards or paying for bills by snail mail. A set of stationary, mailing envelopes, or forever postage stamps can cost less than $15.

2)      Set of toiletries

Everyone uses soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and other toiletries. Find out what brands your recipient likes to use and make a gift pack with some of those items. They will be guaranteed to get some use.

3)      Slippers and socks

Socks and slippers wear out quickly with wash and wear. If your senior likes wearing slippers, the ones with rubber soles or grips on the bottom are inexpensive and make a great gift. Slippers and socks like these ones and these ones are my favorite because the slippers have a back to them (less chance of slipping out of them and falling) and the socks have grips on them.

4)      Wall calendar

Seniors may enjoy having a paper versus electronic calendar to keep track of their appointments. A wall calendar with beautiful pictures is both handy and enjoyable to view. Here is a desk pad calendar and a beautiful scenic National Parks calendar.

5)      Bill or grocery payment

Many older adults are on limited incomes. A gift card or offer to pay for the week’s groceries is practical and likely to be appreciated.

6)      House cleaning service

Similarly, many older adults may not have the energy or inclination to maintain a house. If your recipient is willing to allow workers in the house, consider purchasing a session of house cleaning for him/her. Many companies provide introductory offers for their services at discounted prices. Amazon offers Home Services that include house cleaning, furniture assembly, and more.

7)      Magazine or newspaper subscription

Older adults who like to read may enjoy a subscription to their favorite magazine or newspaper. If possible, use your air miles or credit card points to purchase them.



While children may want the latest video game and electronic, many inexpensive toys provide just as much fun and entertainment. Don’t forget to check out shops such as Amazon, Target, Marshalls, and similar places for deals and discounted items.

1)      Play-Doh

Play-Doh provides hours of fun for younger and older children. Play-Doh also offers children the chance to use their imagination and improve their hand strength and skills. Just be sure to play over an area that’s easy to clean up. The Play-Doh Fun Tub and 10 pack are favorites. 

2)      Bubbles

Young children love bubbles! A large container of bubble solution with a wand or a bubble set with big wands can be found for less than $15. One of my favorite gifts for the little ones I know is this Gazillion Incredibubble Multiple Bubble Wand.

3)      American Girl items

American Girl makes wholesome and education items ranging from dolls and books to clothing and games. If a girl on your gift list likes American Girl, the company has books and craft sets that are less than $20. A one-year magazine subscription is a year-round gift.

4)      Sports team t-shirt or jersey

A basic t-shirt of a favorite team or player can be a great gift for the sports-loving child. Jerseys tend to be more costly but are a sure hit. My nephew received a Warriors jersey last year and was in 7th heaven about his favorite gift.


Let me know your thoughts on these suggestions and if you have any of your own. I’m always on the lookout for the perfect gift. Enjoy your holiday shopping!

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