Christmas is Coming: Frugal Gift Ideas

Christmas shopping does not have to send you to the poor house. Here are a few tips to saving some cash this holiday season.

1. Shop Online is one of our favorite places to shop. We purchase quite a lot of books on Amazon, but they carry just about anything else you can imagine. The prices are usually better than in the store and I can shop when it’s convenient. Best of all I can shop in my pajamas. 🙂  They also offer free shipping on their products on orders over $25. We have found that Amazon is easy to work with and has very fast shipping. Monergism Books is also a good site for ordering books. Their prices are very competitive with Amazon and the also offer free shipping on orders over $25. is a super place to purchase restaurant gift certificates for those on your list that love to eat out. They sell $25 certificates for $10 regularly, but often have far better sales than that. A few months ago we bought some $25 certificates for $2.50 each. There are a few stipulations, so be sure to read the fine print before ordering. This can be a great way to save money while giving a nice gift to someone.

2. Cash Back Sites

If you do any shopping online, be sure to register with one or more cash back sites like or When you shop online, go through these sites and you can earn a percentage of your purchase back in cash for many stores. For example, a few months ago when we purchased gift certificates from I shopped through I payed $2.50 for each certificate, but received 25% back from Shopathome. So we actually spent less than $2.oo per certificate. This is a great way to save on purchases you make online. Some of these sites also offer coupons and discount codes, so be sure to check those out before shopping!

3. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a internet search engine. It is free to join and you can earn “swagbucks” while searching. You don’t have to do anything extra, just search as you normally do and you will randomly be awarded with these swagbucks. You can use these to “purchase” gifts from the swagbucks store. I always purchase gift cards.  It’s not a way to get rich or pay your bills, but every little bit helps. And you could use your swagbucks to purchase Christmas gifts!

4. Photo Sites

I find it rather hard to shop for my grandparents. They never want anything and always say they have everything they need. So I have gone to sentimental type gifts for our grandparents, usually something with pictures. And so far each year they have loved them. Last year each of our grandparents received a photo book.  The original prices on these photo sites can be a bit high, but if you wait for the promotions you can snag some fabulous deals. I was able to buy three photo books last year for FREE! I just had to pay shipping, around $8, for each book.

My favorite photo sites are Shutterfly and Snapfish. A few other good sites are ArtsCow, Vista Print and SeeHere. If you create an account with these sites sometimes they will send you special promotional codes just for you. It is also helpful to follow MoneySavingMom who often posts promotions being offered by these companies. When a really stellar deal comes up I usually try to post it on here as well.

And, of course, don’t forget to shop through a cash back site when ordering to sweeten the deals even more!

5. Paperbackswap

I posted a few months ago about my love of paperbackswapPaperbackswap is a free site where you can exchange used books for just the cost of shipping. While I probably wouldn’t give used books as a gift to many on my Christmas list, we certainly don’t mind them here in our house. This year we are ordering several books for Isaac and Hudson through paperbackswap. They will love them and won’t even notice that they are not brand new. Besides, after a reading them a few times they would look used anyway! 🙂 Plus it is saving us quite a bit of money!

6. Gift Baskets

If you coupon and shop the drug stores then you most likely have a stockpile of personal care items. You can use these to put together a very nice and useful gift basket for someone on your Christmas list. I found some  clearance baby items at Walgreens the other day. I plan to use those, along with a few things I already have on hand, to put together a small gift basket for my new nephew or niece due to be born shortly after the new year. (Jenn, sorry to spoil the surprise!) These items are worth much more than I paid for them, so the receiver will be happy and I will be saving money!

7. Homemade Items

If you talented and crafty, then you could even make some gifts. I’m not a gifted sewer, but in years past I have made aprons and dinner napkins as gifts. I have also made handmade cards and baked breads and special treats. There are so many possibilities. And homemade gifts are usually appreciated and loved even more than something store-bought.

These are just a few ideas that can help you in your quest for that perfect gift without spending a fortune. If you have any helpful ideas please be sure to share them in the comments!



  1. Sarah said,

    August 13, 2010 at 7:39 am

    April – I’m in Christmas mode right now too. There are several “craft” type sites that are sharing Christmas craft ideas — that seriously, anyone can do. I’ve been watching tip junkie ( very closely, as she often provides several links to sites that have tutorials. Lots of really cute, high-end looking crafts, that are both easy and crazy-inexpensive to make.

  2. August 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    […] you missed the first three posts in this series you can read them here, here, and here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Christmas is Coming: Have a PlanA Great […]

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