15 Thrifty Gifts Under $15

>> 11.24.2009

***See my 2010 Gift Guide here.***


The holidays are here!!! Yep, I’m three-exclamations-excited. I love being around family, stuffing myself with sweets, walking down streets lined with twinkle lights, and taking a little time off of work. If there’s one thing I won’t let get me down at this time of year, it’s money. I might be tight on cash after working on my new house, but that’s not going to stop me from making every penny I spend count!

It seems like most of the “low cost” gift ideas in magazines or on talk shows bottom out at $30-50, but I don’t think those type of prices are realistic for buying a long list of gifts. That’s why I decided to brainstorm my own list of gifts for under $15. For my 15 under $15, I went for gifts that offer the most bang for my buck plus allow me to shop locally or through a small business (example images are taken off of Etsy).

1. Calendar- Desk, laundry room, refrigerator, family room… Everyone needs at least one this time of the year. This is a can’t miss!


Right in budget, I'd love to have this $12 calendar hanging above my desk. Find it here.


2. Picture with frame- Many might suggest buying a frame as a gift, but I think that like most décor, this is too personal of a gift. I believe it would be more thoughtful to carefully chose a photograph then print and frame it (in a classic white or black frame) for the recipient. Think about images other than the standard group shot (maybe use an image of the sunset on a vacation you took with the recipient). Really make this gift standout by printing a 8x10 photograph rather than the standard 5x7 (thrifty tip- you can find great quality prints at the lowest prices by going through a photography store).

3. Plant- Go for an evergreen that can last all year or a houseplant that’s hard to kill. If your climate permits, give some seedlings that plant in January.


This $9 terrarium would a perfect Secret Santa gift for the coworker stuck in the cubicle next to me. Find it here.


4. Lesson or class pass- Private lesson prices are way out of the $15 budget, but jump in with a group and save big time. Think: yoga, dance, art, etc. This would be a great gift for an adventurous friend or a newlywed’s date night.

5. Charitable contribution- This is the perfect gift for the person who has everything! After realizing that my dad always went out and bought things when he really wanted or needed them, I began making donations to an organization that provides running shoes to disadvantaged youth in my dad’s honor instead (he’s a runner). The gift was a big hit and I've tried to surprise him by upping the donation each year since. *Remember, charities are taking an especially hard hit with this economy.
6. Food- Instead of wine, bring something equally enjoyable as a holiday hostess gift like expensive cheese or oil (expensive meaning more than they would normally spend). Add a serving piece or dish with the gift and the result will be a real treat.
Find it here.
The perfect hostess gift- a unique melted wine bottle platter for $13. Find it here.

7. Family game- Not only are board games and puzzles affordable for those on a tight budget, but can end up being great entertainment if opened at a family event. I always look forward to struggling through the 1000 piece puzzle that my sister receives each year :).

8. Jewelry- Like clothing, jewelry can be a really personal gift, but by choosing classic elements like silver and pearls you’ll please just about anyone. Go for earrings to really get the most bang for your buck.
These earrings are a steal at $8! Find them here.

9. Ornament- I love decorating Christmas trees, especially when I get to ornaments that have special meaning or history. Who wouldn’t love a carefully selected and symbolic gift?
Nate and I are starting a new (thrifty) tradition by exchanging ornaments this year and I think this $7 cycling themed gift would be perfect for him! Find it here.

10. Event tickets- Sure, front row tickets to see Britney will demand big bucks, but planning an event for your friends or loved one doesn’t have to cost a lot. Think: live music at a local club, tickets to a documentary at a film festival, admission to a bridal showcase… what’s going on in your community?

11. Artistic print- This print would be the perfect reminder of home for my younger sister who just graduated and moved out of state:
Find it here.

12. Book- buy new or go with a gently used copy that looks like it hasn’t been touched. Look out for book signings in your area. Not only are they fun to go to, but really make the gifts that much more special!

13. Gift card- Sometimes gift cards can be the thriftiest gifts of all! You’re allowing the recipient to choose something they will actually use and give them the ability to take advantage of post-holiday deals. For under $15, my favorite gift cards are to coffee shops, iTunes, movie theaters, and nail salons- all places where $15 goes far!

14. Magazine subscription- It’s one of those gifts that keeps on giving! Why not prevent another magazine death by ordering a subscription for a friend? Elle Décor or Glamour anyone?

15. Sweets- My holiday motto is: You can't go wrong with sugar. Still, chances are that your recipient will receive many sugary gifts this season, so instead of gifting an entire plate of cookies, put the extra effort into adding embellished packaging or decoration.
For $12, this Etsy seller will do all of the decorating for you. Just bake cupcakes and add these fun Santa fondant toppers.

Have more than $15 to spend? I think it would be fun to grab a few off of the above list rather than buying a more expensive item. I mean, isn’t ripping open the present the best part?

Don’t have any money to spend? Never underestimate the value of
time expensive gifts! I cannot tell you how much I would appreciate one of my friends to step in and help with the painting or hang up Christmas lights with me.

What are your favorite thrifty gifts?


I'm linking this post up with the 10th Penny Pinching Party over at The Thrifty Home.
Head over to join in with the fun!

11 comments:

ConsciouslyFrugal November 24, 2009 at 11:34 AM  

Yo Kasey! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm so glad I found you, 'cuz you have some excellent ideas here. As a non-profit grunt, I'd like to thank you for giving a shout out to charitable giving. Just imagine if everyone gave $15 over the holidays? Ohhhh, the problems we could solve.

I hadn't thought about the lessons/classes before. What a great idea!

Sarah Michelle Gass November 24, 2009 at 11:48 AM  

i love love love the melted bottle cheese plate! it's adorable. the calendar and tiny terrarium are also cute ideas.

gifts.com also has gift guides for any occasion and any recipient and you can narrow down results based on price. i like their host/hostess gift guide and they have some nice stuff for under $20. it's definitely worth checking. if anyone's interested, here's the link http://www.gifts.com/occasions/host-hostess/25ohraic1p197n?mode=72

Kate November 24, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

That terrarium is super cute - I think it might makes its way into a couple stockings this year. Even though I haven't started my holiday shopping yet, I've been keeping an eye out for good deals. I need to start buying soon though!

Heather November 24, 2009 at 2:44 PM  

I LOVE these ideas!!! I recently saw the "melted bottle" plate in Savannah - there is a website where you can send your own meaningful bottles to be turned into a plate/spoon rest. I wish I could find that business card I took!

Also - I adore your new website design!

Meg November 24, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

I really love the charity idea! My Aunt always gives out cards where an endangered animal has been adopted in our name. It's a good feeling and so thoughtful!

That Santa cupcake is really cute!

bluehydrangea November 24, 2009 at 4:43 PM  

Great gift ideas. I also love to give magazine subscriptions...what could be better than getting a fabulous magazine 12 times a year?

The Sale Rack November 25, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

#6 and #7 are such good ideas. i went to a housewarming party once and someone brought a nice bottle of olive oil from a local restaurant.

Lauren November 25, 2009 at 8:55 PM  

Love the ideas!! One thing I did one year for my co-workers was get a mason jar and put in all the ingredients to make cookies and then I tied the recipe on the jar. It was a big hit! Thanks for the great ideas!!

Mel November 27, 2009 at 1:07 PM  

Great ideas! Magazine subscriptions are the best!

Jen December 8, 2009 at 11:33 PM  

Thanks for all of the great gift ideas. I have done the magazine one before and it is always a hit. Is it bad that I want to buy all of these gifts for myself???

Sylvia November 16, 2010 at 3:03 PM  

I also think that you can get a pretty decorative piece for someone's house at like Marshall's or Ross. They have pretty decorative plates and even mosaic type vases. You can't go wrong with one of those!

-Sylvia
Antique Jewelry

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