“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it, saying, “Toys not included” Bernard Manning
First, you can draw a name from a hat and pick one name to buy for instead of buying for everyone.
You can also just buy gifts for the kids in the family.
Have a Gift exchange where you don’t spend money: white elephant, ugly sweater or ornament exchange for example. Include a potluck dinner or a movie with potluck snacks and treats.
Make ornaments for people each year. By the time kids or grandkids grow up, they will have a tree full of ornaments and memories.
Gifts that keep on giving: a museum pass, zoo pass, etc. The recipient can use it all year long.
Make gift opening last longer: Instead of putting a gift under the tree, get a long string or piece of yarn and tie it around the gift. Hide the gift somewhere in the house. If you have multiple kids, use different colored yarn.
Do a virtual Christmas where everyone sends pictures of things they would buy the person if money wasn’t an issue.
‘Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly Merry Christmas.” Peg Bracken
Give gift cards that you get for free through Ebates, Ibotta, Checkout 51, etc.
Give a night at a hotel for a gift if you have hotel reward points. It won’t cost you anything, but would be really fun for the recipient.
Make beautiful candles from old mismatched drinking glasses and used candles around the house. You can make layers of different colors as well.
Make Playdough for kids. Kids love spending hours playing with it, so why not find a recipe online and put it in a nice plastic container for a gift?
Make a Thought-ful gift by putting thoughts, notes etc. on pieces of paper and fold them up and put them inside. Decorate the jar as you wish. They can pull out a note or thought each day.
Make a family cookbook. Make copies of those valuable family recipes that are tried and true. A recipe is a treasure to pass down from generation to generation.
Service coupons: Coupons are great. They are a gift of time. They can last long after Christmas is over. They are easy to mail. You can give coupons for dinner, treats, back rubs, cleaning, movies, babysitting, breakfast in bed, taking out the trash, doing the dishes, a hike with dad, etc.
If you are on a tight budget, wrap your own nativity pieces for kids to open each day before Christmas.
Do the 12 days of Christmas where everyone gets to open a small, inexpensive or free gift each day.
Trade your outgrown or unwanted things in your home with friends and family. Everyone wins and has new things to give for Christmas.
Get free stuff on Craigslist or Freecycle. Sometimes people who have garage sales give all of their leftover stuff away free towards the end so they don’t have to haul it away.
Make birthday, thank you, sympathy and other greeting cards for people that they can send to others throughout the whole year.
Sell stuff you don’t want through Amazon and use the credit to buy things for others and have it sent directly to their homes.
Take unwanted things to a consignment store and use the credit or cash to get gifts for others.
If you have pets, try making homemade dog biscuits or cat treats. There are recipes online.
Buy things at summer garage sales. It is amazing how many new items are sold for a dollar or two. Garage sales can also be a source to find yarn, fabric and other craft items if you want to make handmade things.
Make cloth napkins from an old tablecloth, doll dresses from a child’s favorite outgrown dress, or a quilt for someone from some of their favorite clothes they can no longer wear because of stains.
Do a homemade Christmas where everything has to be homemade.
Make recordings of songs or stories on a CD for children to listen to.
Give young children milk carton blocks made from milk cartons that you save throughout the year or get from the school cafeteria.
Put together a themed basket from stuff you get free throughout the year by using CVS bucks and rolling them over again and again. You can do a personal care basket with shampoo, lotion, razors, etc. Try a movie basket with popcorn, soda, movie size boxes of candy, chips, etc., You can also do an Italian dinner basket or a Montana themed basket with homemade huckleberry or chokecherry jelly, boot or horse shaped cookies, moose munch (trail mix), candy river rocks (candy that can pass as rocks), bear droppings (malted milk balls), cowboy pancake or scone mix (basic homemade pancake or scone mix without the wet ingredients) put into a material bag that is red, a bandana, or other Montana/cowboy looking material, tied with twine and a Montana themed Christmas tree ornament hung on it.
Hope these ideas will help you to have a great Christmas on a frugal budget.