Christmas can be a really expensive time of year. Mainly because of the gifts. Unlike on birthdays where you only have to get one person a gift per birthday, Christmas means we have to get everyone a gift... all at once. And because this adds up quickly, it can be financially challenging.
But many of us, after the year we’ve had, are feeling anxious to keep costs low. So I’ve put together a list of 16 inexpensive Christmas gifts to help you spend less this year. (Several of them are actually free, and one even makes you money. Read on to find out more.)
16 cheap Christmas gift ideas to help you spend less this year
1. Personalised photo mug, cushion, tshirt, coasters, keyring, teatowel snowglobe...
A really cute and cheap Christmas gift idea is to get a nice photo printed on an item of homeware. This is easy to do online, and makes for a great gift. I speak from experience. I have a cushion with a photo of my dog on it on my sofa that my cat loves cuddling up to. And that’s a photo opportunity in itself. It’s a gift that just keeps giving.
2. Babysitting, dogwalking or other personal favour vouchers
A free gift that will only cost you your time. If you have friends or family with a young child you could give them some babysitting vouchers that they’re able to redeem with you on an evening in the future of their choosing freeing them up to have a night off and go out. Or if they have a dog you could offer to walk it for them. I personally hate most forms of household chores, especially cleaning, so would gladly take a voucher for this in lieu of perfume, new jeans or most other traditional gifts.
Depending on your skills you might be able (and willing) to give other gifts too. For instance if you’re a hairdresser you could give a free haircut, or a web designer might help their friend with building a new website, or a car mechanic might help fix their friend’s car. We all have a bunch of skills that are definitely gift material. When it comes to how you’ll present it, you can get really creative by designing your own voucher on a nice piece of card and popping it in an envelope.
This year our homes have become more important to us than ever before. And when it’s challenging to get outdoors due to Covid-19 restrictions, there’s always the option to bring the outdoors indoors. There are lots of lovely plant delivery services available online to make this an easy gift to organise too.
4. Christmas biscuits, and other edibles
Baking has boomed this year in kitchens across the country. If you’ve been dabbling with baking during lockdown, why not put your new skills to the test by baking Christmas gifts? Here’s a list of Christmas baking ideas to explore, and there are lots of pretty ways to package it up too (here are a couple). You can find lots more on Pinterest.
A couple of years ago my family and I went to one of those pottery painting cafes together as something to do when we were on holiday in Snowdonia in the Autumn. This is a cafe where you choose a piece of pottery, and paint it, and you pay for the item you’ve painted plus a charge for using their paints. Those places can be painfully expensive if you choose the ‘wrong’ item to paint. (Always check the sticker.) But we had a toddler with us who we needed to entertain for the afternoon and so went ahead with it. The perfect solution to getting through the experience unscathed financially, while still getting our fill of painting, came in the form of baubles. We each painted one, and now they come out every Christmas onto our Christmas tree. It’s a really lovely memory too.
Now if you’re not crafty you absolutely do not need to paint your own baubles. Across the internet are a plethora of amazing ones you can choose from, and those to suit every interest too. For instance this Star Wars one (I actually bought this for someone last year and they loved it), or these personalised ones on Etsy. There are even gin ones available, though these are much more expensive.
6. Charity donations
Instead of giving a gift this year, you could make a charitable donation. Last year almost a third of us were considering this. You could support a homelessness charity like Crisis or Shelter, or one that raises money for a health issue like Macmillan, British Heart Foundation or Alzheimer’s Society. Whatever you’re passionate about supporting, be it animals, or international aid, giving a gift to the charity of your or the recipient’s choosing can make a difference.
This year Christmas will be very different. Gone are the Christmas and new year parties, the celebrations down the pubs, and the days out. Or if not gone entirely, drastically reduced. That’s why we all need more things to help keep us and our families entertained around the home at Christmas time. Think board games and packs of cards for a cheap Christmas present that will go a long way.
8. A good book
Reading is such a joy. Whether it’s a non-fiction travel book that you enables you to explore the world from your sofa while travel is restricted, or a novel that allows you to get totally lost in a whole new world — it’s great escapism. And perfect for this time of year when the weather is a bit naff.
9. A journal or notepad...and a pen
You can inspire creativity by giving the gift of a clean new notepad or journal, and a pen. The empty pages are ready for the recipient to fill, but how will they use them? Diary, doodles, to do lists, brainstorming, recipes… or maybe they’ll finally start working on that novel they always said they were going to write. Give them the tools to do it.
10. Gift card to their favourite shop
Gift cards are a great way to keep costs down, whilst giving them something they’ll use. You can decide the amount you want to give, and they can put it towards whatever they want. Just be sure to choose a retailer they actually like or it’ll probably go unused in a drawer.
11. A list of compliments
Christmas is the time of year to show your love and that you care for the people closest to you in your life. If you’re after a cheap Christmas gift that has a big impact and makes everyone feel good, what about a list of handwritten compliments? Then if they’re having a rough day they can have a flick through it for a little pick me up. You can be their cheerleader even when you’re not there.
12. A poster
Order a poster of their favourite musician, film or artwork — and grab yourself a cheap frame from Ikea. Hey presto, a fantastic gift on a small budget.
13. Crafts kits
As a result of lockdowns, and quieter social lives, this year has been the year of getting into new hobbies, and rekindling old ones. In August it was reported by The Guardian that Hobbycraft (a retailer of crafting goods) had received a 200% boom in online sales since the start of the pandemic. And this shows no sign of slowing down. Something fun to make and do also serves as a fun activity in the Christmas period. It doesn’t have to be Christmas themed, but it could be.
14. Cosy socks
Whilst some of us might laugh or roll our eyes at the cliche of getting socks for Christmas, it is my experience that the one year that you don’t receive them is utterly devastating. Because then I have to go and spend money on buying socks myself, and I’m not very excited about that. Sometimes imaginative gifts are overrated, and something that you know the recipient is definitely going to use will be much more gratefully received.
Seriously. In 2018 Martin Lewis called on the public to stop giving each other unnecessary gifts at Christmas. (You can watch the video here.) He said ‘many people feel obliged to buy gifts for others that they know they won’t use, with money they don’t have, and cause themselves stress they don’t need.’ He suggests that perhaps the best gift to give someone is to release them from the obligation of getting you a gift in return. Something to think about.*
*Warning: This is unlikely to go down well with your partner and we don’t want to cause arguments at Christmas — so best to keep this one for consideration when gifting the extended family and acquaintances that you rarely see.
16. The gift of better credit
If you’re looking for something empowering to give as a gift for Christmas, that helps improve your friend’s lives, why not give the gift of better credit? As a Loqbox customer you can help your friends build their credit scores by inviting them to open their own Loqbox. For every friend you invite who signs up we’ll give you £5 and a spot in our weekly £50 Amazon voucher prize draw for you and each friend that signs up. You know what this means? It means that this is a gift you can give that actually earns you money rather than costing you! Awesome. Find out more here.
We hope that you found some helpful ideas here for cheap Christmas gifts to help you spend less. Over November and December we’ll be publishing lots of top tips on our blog to help you manage your money over Christmas.