Gifts Ideas for When Money is Tight: A Lesson for Givers

When you’re a giver, being financially strapped or on the “b word”–budget–that you didn’t schedule gift giving into is like Willy Wonka telling Charlie he can live on site but can’t ever sample the product. It’s just kind of impossible to refrain. Today I’m going to share some ideas for giving when you have limited or no income. From past experience I know that some people prefer the types of gifts listed below.

I wouldn’t be me without first offering the caveat that if gift-giving isn’t in the budget or if money is tight, it is absolutely okay to NOT give gifts. Anyone who would want you to go into debt or have bill collectors coming for you over choosing to focus on getting your financial situation right and not giving them a gift probably isn’t the type of person you need in your life at this moment.

blur book stack books bookshelves
Photo by Janko Ferlic on

Books from A Specific Author

If you’ve heard your friend or family member mention a specific author, put feelers out to friends giving away books they’ve read. If you plan early enough, you can put ads on free sites like Freecycle, Craig’s List, and Facebook Local Resale Groups. Sometimes you can end up with entire series this way! We recently did this for my mother and ended up with almost every James Patterson and Sandra Brown book written. This is a great way to get a wonderful gift for someone who loves to read without spending a lot of money.

clear glass jar filled of coloring pens beside of white sketch pad
Photo by Jessica Lewis on

Pens and Paper

Most of us here are creatives who love to save money. That means we are buying things we need on sale. And what do most creatives need? PENS AND PAPER! Go raid your supply closet and you’ve got a perfect gift for your friends who are writers and who journal. Want to make it a bit more special? Check out Creative Gift Idea #4, Mixed Media Journal, to spruce up the notebook.

white and gray chevron print recipes book
Photo by Isaiah on

Recipe Book of Family Recipes

Does your friend or family member LOVE your cooking? Give them a handmade book of family recipes that you make the most so they can try their hand at making them.

An alternative of this would be to search the internet and put together a recipe book with a theme, such as Mexican Recipes, Comfort Food Recipes, or Best Essential Oil Recipes. Fill it with recipes you find that you would love to try and then make a date night each month to stay in and make the recipes you found.


Seasonal Lighted Lantern Box

For this beautiful, lighted craft, you collect some pine cones, branches, holly berries (or fake ones), and a string of fairy lights and put them into a lantern. We got this one for $5 on sale at a local arts and crafts retailer and created the entire gift for $7.50 in the seasonal clearance. It provides a great ambiance for the recipient and is very festive. Better even, they can change out the holiday elements for each holiday or remove them for the rest of the year and place a votive and votive holder within it for a decorative look all year round.

Another spin on this that I have seen and is very pretty is to use seashells, sand, a votive holder, and votive. Scatter the sand on the bottom of the lantern, add in votive holder with votive in the middle, and then place the seashells within it for a beautiful summery feel.

Creative gifts


Any of our Creative Gift Ideas

We have posted several creative gift ideas that are low to no cost, heartfelt, and fun to make. Not all of them are focused on holidays, and many can be shared outside of the holidays for a variety of fun reasons and events. Here are a few to start with:

Essential Oil DIYs 

If you’re using essential oils, and especially if you’re on the Essential Rewards program from Young Living, chances are you have some extra oils lying around that you can make some great DIYs with. Try some of these:

The key to gift-giving on a budget is to think from the heart. Also keep an eye out for sales, talk with friends who coupon to see where they find the best deals, and take advantage of store cards and second-hand stores.


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