Holiday Gifts for Every Budget

With the passing of Thanksgiving, we can now fully step into Christmas mode. As much as the coming holiday is supposed to be about celebrating Christ, let’s be real – we’ve been programmed to associate Christmas with presents for as long as any of us can remember.

Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on Christmas gifts, with much of that money being charged to credit cards with crazy high interest rates. On top of that, because we are all so busy, gifts are often generic and lacking thought, or they are things we won’t ever actually need or use. In case you haven’t already noticed from my previous posts, I am all about making money stretch and using things to their fullest potential.

If the cost of gifts is stressing you out or if you just need a refreshed perspective on gifting options, I’ve got you covered. Here are a few gift ideas listed according to budget:


Gifts that cost $0:

  1. Letters – Ironically, my favorite Christmas as a gift-giver was a year when I literally had no money to use for presents. When you’re low on funds you’ve got to get creative, so I made a list of all the people I would have given a gift to had I had the money. Then, I sat down and wrote each of those people a letter about how much they truly meant to me. I reflected on old stories, jokes, and lessons they’ve taught me; I said the things I would say if I never got a chance to speak to them again. When Christmas rolled around, everyone cried – myself included. In a world saturated with material items, the things that are heartfelt are truly priceless.
  2. Acts of Service – If you don’t have the money to spend or choose not to spend money this year, can you spare some time? You’d be surprised how many of the people you care about could use a helping hand. Maybe you can offer to help a relative clean out their garage, or hand wash a friend’s car for them. Step back to observe who and where you can serve, and then do it.
  3. The Gift of Time – If no one has brought it to your attention lately, you can always find a way to make more money, but you will never have more than the 24 hours you are gifted each day. We are all so busy that often times we forget the power in clearing our schedules for a bit to just sit, talk, and be with our loved ones.
  4. City Freebies – Look for free things your city offers. In Los Angeles, many of the museums are free to attend as long as you get your tickets in advance. In LA, Orange County, and the Bay Area, having a library card gives you access to free tickets to different attractions; I’m sure this applies to cities all over the world. Take a few minutes to see what you can find in your city, snag some tickets, and plan an adventure.


Gifts that cost $30 or less:

  1. Groupon and Living Social– Don’t forget about these great websites that help you get more for your money, not just during the holidays, but all year long. You can find vouchers for anything in your area from restaurants to activities to services like haircuts and massages. Why pay $50 for something you could pay $30 for? If you’re gifting a voucher, simply purchase it, print it out, and wrap it up.
  2. Memory Books with FreePrints.comFree Prints is exactly what it sounds like – a website that will print physical copies of all the pictures you’ve been hoarding in your phone or on your computer. Make a photo book of all your favorite pictures with written captions to preserve the memories for a lifetime. A 5×7 photo book with 20 pages is free- just pay the shipping which is less than $10. Free Prints offers one free book a month. If you need more than one book or you don’t have time to wait for it to be shipped to you, Walgreens offers the same type of books that will still run you less than $30 and you can pick them up in stores.
  3. Passes & Subscriptions – Keep your eyes open for deals on gifts that will keep giving past December 25th. If you want to give a pricier gift but don’t want to dish out all the money at one time, look for a fee free way to make monthly payments. I gave an example of this in a past post where I talked about how $1 a day gives you the freedom to go to Disneyland almost any time you want. If you know a foodie, Graze has amazing snack boxes that contain 8 kinds of snacks, are delivered biweekly, and cost $13.99 a box. If you know someone who loves makeup, for $10 a month, Ipsy will send them five items to try from name brands that are trusted around the world.  Again, do your research and see what kind of monthly gifts could work for your recipient and your wallet.
  4. ZeroUV – This is a personal favorite. ZeroUV makes quality sunglasses for the most affordable prices. You can pick up any of their glasses for less than $15 a pair, worldwide shipping is free for orders of $20 of more, and they have hundreds of styles.  All of my and Julianna’s glasses are from ZeroUV, and if you’re looking for an inexpensive gift that looks and feels like it costs way more than it does, I would highly recommend them.

Gifts that cost $50 or less:

  1. Themed Gift Baskets – Use your creativity to put together a personalized gift basket. Load up on snacks and cheap movies to create a Movie Night at Home basket or pick up a mini crock pot from Target or Wal-Mart and fill it with nonperishable ingredients, recipe cards, and cooking utensils. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Swell Bottles – A couple of years ago, I receieved a Swell bottle as a Christmas gift, and I have been in love with the bottles ever since. Swell bottles keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for 12 hours. They have so many different collections and designs, and this beautiful ombre speckle bottle reminds me of the night sky. The bottles range in size from 9-25oz and in price, with the largest bottles coming in under $50.
  3. If you’re in Southern California, GLO Nail Bar is my favorite place to get a pedicure. While they have a huge menu of amazing services, my favorite is the Bubbly Champagne and Rose pedicure- they literally wash your feet in champagne. This pedicure costs $50 at the Costa Mesa location ($60 for the Newport Beach/Corona Del Mar Location), but you can get an equally refreshing classic pedicure for only $30. All of their services include complimentary beverages (they have wine and champagne!) and candy from their candy bar. If you feel like giving the gift of pampering, Glo Nail Bar won’t disappoint.

Gifts that cost $100 or less:

  1. Interactive Scrapbooks – This gift takes a little bit of planning and time, but the final product is worth it. Grab a blank scrapbook from a craft store and put your creativity to work. I did this one year and used the theme “For when you’re feeling.” Each page featured a gift for a specific mood. For example, one page read “For when you’re feeling mysterious” and contained an envelope with tickets to a murder mystery dinner. Another featured a certificate to learn to fly a plane and was titled “for when you’re feeling adventurous.” Another featured five $1 lottery scratchers with the words “for when you’re feeling lucky.” You can make this gift fit your budget by deciding how many pages you want in your scrapbook and how much you want to spend for each page/activity.
  2. Photo Blankets – Use Shutterfly to customize your very own photo blanket. These blankets come in different sizes, materials, and can fit up to 8 different pictures of your choice (for fleece blankets). Shutterfly also has tons of other photo gifts and almost always has some kind of sale or promotion going on.
  3. Give the Gift of Ancestry – Do you know someone who’s always wondered about the origins of their ancestors? has at home kits for under $100 that tell you about your ethnicity and potential relatives. Give the gift of connecting the past to the present and the present to the future.
  4. A Clutch that is also a Reminder – Gift a clutch that also serves as an inspiring reminder for your loved one. India Hicks makes a black and gold Flat Stanley Pouch that reads “The Future is So Bright,” ($68) and I am obsessed with it.

If you feeling like splurging…

  1. Encourage an Adventure – The gift of an experiences lasts so much longer than any tangible item. If you’re able to splurge this year, gift a set of plane tickets, book a private tour, or even plan a staycation. Again, utilize internet resources and look online for available experiences. One of my favorite gifted experiences was a helicopter tour around San Francisco, which included flying over and under the Golden Gate Bridge. I purchased the tickets through Viator, and each ticket cost roughly $250. There are plenty of companies that offer once in a lifetime experiences all over the world. This gift can truthfully fit under any of the previous categories, as adventures can range in price starting at free and up.  For the sake of this category, go big.
  2. Invest in their business Do you know an aspiring entrepreneur? Do they need an investor? Do they have a website yet? Is there a seminar they should attend that will propel them forward with their career goals? Websites like WIX, Shopify, and Weebly amongst others offer custom websites and domain names for a yearly price. Websites like National Seminars Training allows you to search for upcoming seminars by state and provides you with topic information, and seminar dates and prices. Give the gift of  an investment in their business and help them grow in an area they will appreciate the most.
  3. If you’re in Southern California – This is a splurge that is currently still on my list, as it is a true splurge. The Ritz-Carlton Spa in Los Angeles hosts a helipad yoga class where groups of up to 10 guests can participate in a 90 minute yoga class, and a 50 minute spa treatment for a total of $3,500. What an unforgettable gift for 10 of your friends (or for 9 of your friends and yourself)!


No matter what your budget looks like, there is an amazing gift you can give this holiday season.

Let me know if you’ve decided to gift any of the listed ideas!

Happy Holidays and Happy Gifting, xo.

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