Need Affordable Gift Ideas?
You Have Excellent Options!

Affordable gift ideas needn't mean
inferior gifts. Many an inexpensive gift idea
will please your recipient AND your wallet!

If your gift budget is very limited (or non-existent), don't despair! With a little creative thinking, you can uncover inexpensive gift ideas that you can afford, that your recipient will truly appreciate. Such as…

Make-It-Yourself Gifts

You don't have to be a skilled craftsperson to make gifts that are truly meaningful to your recipients. Make-It-Yourself Gifts has four types of affordable gifts that aren't difficult to make.

Perform a Service

A Chore Box illustrates to kids that the best gift is to give of yourself. Dads often help the children make Mom a chore box for Mother’s Day, with coupons redeemable for various help around the house – empty the dishwasher, vacuum the floor, make breakfast.

On the adult level, help your recipient with a major project. Offer to make a day or weekend of it – be as flexible as you can about scheduling. Bring what your budget allows - snacks, drinks, music, tools and/or materials. Your services might make the difference, for your recipient, between achieving a significant goal and putting it off indefinitely.

If you listen during the year, your recipient will reveal the idea:

  • reorganize the workshop, crafts closet, or garage
  • paint the garage, house, or an interior room
  • build a deck or patio, stone wall or pathway
  • prepare and plant a garden, flower bed, or ornamental tree
  • reupholster a sofa, or strip and refinish a desk
  • build a tree house for the kids
  • organize and run a yard sale (and the cleanup afterwards!)

Such projects may be too huge for your recipient alone, but your services are affordable gift ideas for you, and your help will be hugely appreciated. Offer to spend some planning time together, learning the techniques if necessary, so you can be as helpful as possible and not just get in the way! Oh, and bring your camera!

Here's another welcome service:

Every caregiver will profoundly appreciate
an opportunity to be off-duty for a day or evening. Caregivers need a change of pace and time for themselves: to go shopping, or to dinner and a show, or just to be alone in the house for awhile with their own thoughts.

Arrange to provide a day, evening, or overnight of babysitting or grannysitting. Or take Junior or Grandpa for an outing, or a weekend visit in your home. Breaks like those, from the stress of a caregiver's 24-7-365 way of life, are wonderful affordable gift ideas.

A Gift of Your Time

Focus groups reveal that what many people want most of all these days is more quality time with family and friends - in other words, time with you! A Gift of Your Time is among the best of affordable gift ideas.

Make a Modest Gift Better

With a little ingenuity, affordable gift ideas can be made more special. One way is to accessorize – that is, include an extra, modestly-priced item that is related to the gift. Examples:

  • Pair of coffee mugs: fill with packets of fancy tea, coffee or cocoa mix.
  • Certificate for car wash: add a roll of quarters for parking or tolls.
  • Homemade goodies: find a pretty serving dish at a consignment shop.
  • Box of stationery: enclose a nice pen or a book of postage stamps.
  • CD or DVD/video (for a teen): add a wall poster of the artist.

Make an affordable gift better by presenting it in a container that can be reused for decoration, or to hold something else. Attractive baskets and tins are quite inexpensive and make great servers for chips, grapes, cookies or hot dinner rolls. A small, shallow basket makes a good bureau catchall; a bigger one looks nice just mounted on the wall.

Many affordable gift ideas can be dressed up with a touch of trim, or personalized with a monogram or a bit of decoration reflecting your recipient's interests. If her favorite flowers are daisies, for example, select a solid color gift and affix a sprig of silk daisies, or apply decals, stamped or stencilled daisies, or paint them freehand, or embroider them... whatever is appropriate for the gift.

Look for affordable gift ideas that lend themselves to some spiffing up, and they will become anything but ordinary!

Group or Combined Gifts

Giving AS a group, or giving TO a group, makes nicer gifts affordable for everyone! Group Gifts looks at the advantages (and the pitfalls) of both types of group giving and offers some suggestions, too.

Present Your Gift Creatively

Increase the impact of your affordable gift ideas by presenting them in creative ways. Please browse our Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas for inspiration and illustrated instructions for gifts of all shapes and sizes, along with some entertaining alternatives to wrapping your gift.

A Note About the Budget

Are you are all too often strapped for cash at gift giving time? I know the experience, but we can help (no, we're not passing out $50 bills)! We've tried lots of money-stretching tricks and thought up a few ourselves - some not-so-effective, others great. Our Top 3 Gift Budget Strategies can help you control your gift budget. And if you don't have a gift budget, you'll find a couple of tried-and-true methods for creating one.

Price need not – and should not – be the yardstick
for a well-chosen gift. It really is the thought that counts.
Affordable gift ideas, well suited to your recipient,
show that you care. That’s always appreciated!

Top of Affordable Gift Ideas
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Photo credits: Logo, basket - Jane M. Sawyer; garden path - D Kull
grandfather - "chilombiano," all courtesy of