37 Homemade Frugal Gift Ideas Under $20

Posted by Madison on December 16, 2008

Want to make a homemade gift to give this holiday season? Looking for ideas? You’ve come to the right place!

Readers shared their best frugal gift ideas in the Holiday Giveaway. The ideas are terrific, and I’ve highlighted many of them below to give you some inspiration.

If homemade isn’t what you are looking for, you can check out more reader ideas in 10 Amazing Frugal Gift Ideas.

Thank you for sharing all your amazing frugal gift ideas! I’m inspired…

Frugal Homemade Gift Ideas

  1. Cookies. Cooookieees, of course. With lots of ginger and mace and other yummy spices. – gS
  2. Homemade DVD. Earlier this year my family went on a trip to Disney World. I plan to take the hundreds of photos and video clips we collected and turn them into a DVD production that we will watch year after year. – Joshua
  3. Family Memory Game. A few years ago my aunt had everyone answer several questions about Christmas like “What was your favorite present?” and “What was your most memorable Christmas?” and compiled the answers into a small book at a copy shop that she gave to each family. She left off everyone’s name from their answers, so we got to spend a long time all together on Christmas Day guessing whose memory was whose, which turned out to be a whole lot of fun! – Stephanie F
  4. Beer Basket. The local liquor store sells individual bottles. I can choose an interesting selection of beers they have probably never tried and wrap it up in a basket (from a yard sale of course) for about $10. -Adrienne
  5. Old Fashioned Photo. Put on some costumes, make a nice picture, retouch it on your computer to black and white or sepia, print it and frame it. I’ve made a picture dressed up as a cowboy, 1920s style with my fiance, put it in a frame with old wood to match the old style of the picture. – Marcel
  6. Book Covers for Embarrassing Books. I love to read romance novels, run a blog on them in fact, and I have many friends that read them too. The plain fact is that several of the covers are a bit – embarrassing to be caught reading – whether it is the title of the book or the models groping on the cover. So I decided to make crochet book covers. The yarn cost $5 a skein, and for that price I can make 1.5-2 covers per skein depending on if I make a trade paperback or mass paperback size cover. – Keira
  7. Homemade Jams, Jellies and Salsa. We always do some home canning in the fall, and it’s amazing how much people love getting a jar of homemade jam or jelly. We may also throw in a jar of homemade salsa. – Richard
  8. Tsumami Kanzashi. I learned to make tsumami kanzashi (hair accessories that resemble flowers, made from folded scraps of silk or other fabric this summer and as I already owned most of the materials, the cost is negligible. And I can mount them on pin backs instead of barrettes for my female relatives who don’t wear things in their hair.
  9. Memory Tree. This year the grandchildren (were all in our 20 -30’s) are giving our grandparents a Memory Tree. Allow me explain: We purchased a small decorative Christmas tree (about 1 foot tall). From there each grandchild is requested to hand make a miniature ornament with one of our favorite memory of our grandparents either tucked inside or on the ornament itself. Whether it is the smell of fresh baked homemade cookies, the high energy game nights or our favorite holiday memories, the sky is the limit.

    The great part is that each grandchild takes a heart felt part in creating the gift. All the ornaments are collected and placed on the Memory Tree and presented to our grandparents on Christmas morning. It will be exciting to watch their reactions as they look at each ornament and read out loud the favorite memory. My hope is that the Memory Tree will be a gift that will stay with them for many years to come.
    – Nate

  10. Homemade Baked Good Recipes. Include the dry ingredients in a nice mason jar, attach the recipe to the jar, add some nice ribbon and you now have a cheap gift. The recipient just has to add the wet ingredients. – John
  11. Christmas Cards. My wife always makes her own greeting cards and that includes Christmas cards. We shop the clearance bins at Joann Fabrics to stock up on materials at great prices so these cost significantly less than store-bought cards. – M.B.
  12. Scrapbook. A scrapbook for a very close friend. It takes a lot of effort but almost no money at all! – Jason
  13. Ornaments. Homemade Christmas ornaments made by the kids. – Chris
  14. Knitted Scarf. Knitting a scarf as a handmade gift, which is a perfect money saver as well as treasured gift! – Linda
  15. Photo Shirt. A t-shirt for my Father with profile pictures of all his grandchildren on it. – Marie
  16. Framed Photos. My wife got a nice family picture of us done for cheap. Our photo package includes enough pictures for everyone in our family. Combine this with inexpensive but elegant looking frames and you have a nice, personal gift that can be a present on its own or combined with other small gifts. All for just a few dollars a picture. – Mark
  17. Photo Calendars. For several family friends we purchased 2009 frame calendars where you can insert photos for each month. Then, for the people we were giving them to we inserted pictures of us and them during that particular month or season. A fun and frugal holiday gift! – Pete
  18. Thank You Letters. Write thank you letters to people who have been important in your life (family members, friends, teachers, coworkers, etc.) to let them know how much you appreciate them. It is helpful to share a memory/experience with the person, how it affected you, what their presence in your life meant to you, etc. It definitely takes more time and thought than purchasing a gift, but I have been amazed by the responses received. One person summed it up nicely: she has received many thank you notes for gifts given but had never received a thank you note for just being herself! – Rapuccini
  19. Photo of the Month. You know those really expensive “fruit of the month club” from Harry and David? Well I have the cheap personal knockoff! This year I have copied that but yet personalized it with “Photo of the month” from our family. I purchased a frame from a craft store and carved on it “PHOTO OF THE MONTH.” They are to be given as gifts this year. Every month on the 16th, I will send a favorite photo!! This gift is personalized, thoughtful, and keeps on giving throughout the year. – Kris
  20. Coupon Books. I make coupon books good for back rubs, a home cooked meal and other stuff that fits the person I give it to. – mistress meeyee
  21. Fleece Hats. I found instructions for customizable fleece animal hats/roman helmet hats on Instructables.com. I’m going to make a personalized animal hat for each friend and family member. I got Fleece on Sale for $4 a yard this weekend, and from my first hat I made on Sunday (A Squid), it takes about 1/3 to 1/2 yard per hat. They are very cute, very frugal, and I can personalize the gift for each family member! (My friend had a party on Sunday, and all his friends loved the hat I made – so I think they’ll be a hit!) – Mark
  22. Painted Stained Glass. I picked up a fairly cheap ($10) wine glass set and some Pebeo glass paint from the craft store ($4.49 for a jar of color, $4.49 for outliner). Once painted on, it looks just like stained glass! Using just the outliner and just a single color, I’ve made some pretty cool abstract designs on the glasses. And the best part is that once you bake the glassware in the oven, the paints become dishwasher and microwave safe! A useful, unique present with a homemade touch! – JBP
  23. Fruit Baskets. I make fruit baskets. They are cheaper than when you buy at the store and they are a healthy gift. – Ala
  24. Magnets. Homemade magnets made from fabric and glass beads. – Lesley
  25. Memory Pillows. I have been hanging on to my grandmother’s old bedspread that was going to be thrown away after she passed. It has a few rips and tears from so many years of use. Everyone else saw it as trash, but I saw endless possibilities for that old spread. This Christmas, I will be making throw pillows for my mother using the ‘good’ parts of the bedspread. Every time my mother passes by those pillows, she will think of her mother. Tip: Try to look at things not only for what they are, but also what they could become. – Jenn
  26. Decorative Bottles. My wife likes to give out decorative bottles filled with olive oil infused with fresh herbs. – Mark
  27. Craft Kits for Kids. My apartment building is doing a toy drive for Children’s Aid Society, and most people are just putting scary cheap plastic stuff under the lobby tree. I’m making little bundles of craft supplies – markers, glitter, scissors, clay, crayons, glue, craftsticks, etc – that work out to be $3.50 per kit. I think it’s more fun than an “educational toy”, and more enduring than a flimsy plastic fake barbie doll. – MoneyMateKate
  28. Picture Montage. I’ll be putting a picture montage of the kids together for my wife with the help of my daughter. The cost will only be the materials for the photo paper (purchased a while ago) and any other items we use which we already have. – FFB
  29. Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. All the ingredients came to $10 and can be used for other things. Bought saran wrap, ribbon, and Christmas tins at a dollar store. Took me an hour to make the entire mix. Will take about the same to package everything. With a total 30 minutes of shopping. – leslie
  30. Oreo Truffles. They are so easy and taste so good. The only ingredients needed are crushed oreos, cream cheese and chocolate chips to melt! – Roxanne
  31. Clocks. I made clocks this year that I will be giving to family members. The total cost of each clock is around $5-6. – Penny G
  32. No Sew Fleece Throws. This season I made no-sew fleece throws for everyone to enjoy snuggling up in. Definitely way under 20 bucks!! – Sara Amos
  33. Homemade Dinner Coupon. For my hard to buy for grandparents we always give them a “Dinner at our house” coupon. We invite both sets of grandparents and my parents and usually plan the dinner sometime after the holiday craziness. I have fun planning the meal and my grandparents seem to really enjoy the time spent with family. – Kristia
  34. Babysitting and Handyman Work Coupons. My favorite frugal gift received was from my mom, step dad, and daughter. It was personalized coupons for babysitting (from mom), handyman work (I’m a single mom), and extra chores and hugs without whining (from daughter). I love these because I cannot buy them. – Laura DenHaan
  35. Poem. I’m planning to write my loved ones a poem that is unique to that person. It just goes to show that sometimes the best things in life really are free. – Shaun A
  36. Cheese Cutting Boards. I plan on giving some home made cheese cutting boards that I will make out of oak. Inexpensive, thoughtful, and fun to make. – Chris
  37. Jar Mixes. I love to make “jar” gifts. This year it is jars of dried bean soup mix with a jalapeno cornbread mix in a big soup bowl. I have made 12 jars so far. Everyone seems to like this and it hasn’t broken the bank yet. – Gail

More Inexpensive Holiday Gift Ideas

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Comments to 37 Homemade Frugal Gift Ideas Under $20

  1. Great list of ideas!


  2. Great list! Thanks for including my idea.


  3. Thanks for the great list, I’m grateful to be part of it.


  4. Best ones were 1, 4, 7, 23, 29, and 30 … I like to eat!

    Great collection!


  5. Awesome!!!


  6. great ideas! ornaments are always great gifts

    Alicia K

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