15 Fabulous Frugal Gift Ideas for the Holidays

(If you are shopping, check out our 5 top deals with Save.ca – lots of ideas and savings here!)

Meaningful gifts do not have to cost an arm and a leg.  Here are 15 great suggestions for fabulous gifts that keep the heart full and your wallet too.

1. Make an Edible Bouquet

Instead of buying a bouquet to take to your host, make an edible bouquet.  Look at this gorgeous one made by Paul Zammit of the Toronto Botanical Garden.  This one is made of kale, sage, rosemary, and African blue basil.


2. Upcycle Old Sweaters

You saw the dryer ball idea here last week.  There is so much you can do with a sweater that has outlived its usefulness as a decent garment.  Baby hats! Infinity scarves! Egg cups!

wool dryer ball DIY craft recycle sweater

3. Make Your Own Advent Calendar

Instead of buying an advent calendar, make one!  There are so many ways to craft your own.  Our family favourite is an advent calendar of Christmas books.  If you don’t have 24 of them, you can easily wrap up library books or supplement Christmas books with tried and true favourites.  We got the idea from here years ago, and it has become a fixed tradition.


4. Make Your Own Lip Balm

Lip balm makes a great stocking stuffer, teacher or coach gift.  We did this for Valentine’s favours, and loved it.  We’re still using it; it lasts for ever!  You can find the recipe and method here.


5. Visit the One of a Kind Show

There are hundreds of ideas for gifts for around $20.  The Show runs until December 6th at Exhibition Place.  I always find a bonanza of beautiful and reasonably-priced gifts, and I enjoy every minute of browsing and speaking to the artists and makers.

OOAK one of a kind craft show bitters

6. Give The Gift of Time

Taking someone’s children for the afternoon so they can indulge in some peace and quiet is priceless.  It’s the rare parent who wouldn’t be grateful for this simple but precious gift.

gift time child care babysit parent holiday frugal

7. Raid The Pantry

Did you jump-on the canning trend that is sweeping across kitchens around the country? Amy Bronee’s step-by-step book called The Canning Kitchen is ideal to wrap-up and giveaway now, or use to create your own delectable preserves to gift come next year’s holiday season. Nothing is more satisfying on a winter’s evening than the taste of summer atop a warm plate of pasta. Here’s how-to can your very own tomato sauce.

tomato sauce canning gift

8. Break a Sweat, Not the Bank

For the same cost as a movie ticket, consider treating a friend to a new workout class.  Fitness trends like arial yoga, Studio Lagree and paddle board fitness are just a few of the hottest classes in town. Beth-Anne tried paddling on land, and let’s just say it is a lot harder than it looks!

cross fit

9.  Layer Some Love in a Jar

There are so many ideas for great gifts in a jar on the net. One of our favourites is hot cocoa – it’s a crowd pleaser and seasonal and looks so pretty with the addition of crushed candy canes or mints. Thoughtful and do-able makes for a sweet package.

hot cocoa chocolate gift jar

10. Plant a Seed

Admittedly seeds are not tops on most people’s list but the amazing thing about them is that it’s a gift that keeps giving.  The experience of planting the seeds and watching them sprout and grow is just as magical as reaping the small harvest.  After learning about the importance of urban gardens for our eco-system and the integral role bees play in our environment, seeds don’t seem like such a silly gift.

seed plant garden

11. Transfer Photography on Wood

If you have access to a black and white laser printer and a jar of Mod Podge, you can make create lovely personalized gifts for next to nothing by transferring photographs onto wood. Head over to the Home Depot and you can get many blocks out of a single plank of wood, or be a little more enterprising and look for appropriately sized pieces in their bins of leftover wood for free.

photograph wood transfer mod podge craft

12. Make Natural Cold-Pressed Artisanal Soap

There’s still time! Most cold-pressed soaps – the beautiful kind that sell for $6-10 a bar at upscale stores and that everyone loves to receive – require about four weeks to cure (or include a note asking your recipient to wait a couple of weeks before using if needed). Consider it an intermediate recipe in the kitchen, and you’ll see that with care and attention, just about anyone can make these luxurious gifts for a small fraction of the retail price. Excellent beginner online tutorials abound on google, as do creative and frugal ideas for molds.

handmade cold-pressed natural artisanal soap

13. Make Chocolate With Your Own Hands

Hello, need I say more? Easy on the wallet, easier to make, and full of heart. Make them.

handmade homemade DIY scratch chocolate

14. Create Hand-Painted Glasses

These have been on the to do list ever since reading Beth-Anne’s tutorial on how to make them. An inexpensive set of glasses from Canadian Tire, IKEA or the dollar store could be transformed into functional works of art with the help of Q-tips and paint.  Practical never looked so pretty.

handpainted glass DIY craft gift project

15. Bring Cookies and Company

Slow time down by bringing cookies to someone you don’t see as often as you wish you did and eat them together. Baking the cookies yourself has a timeless charm, but buying them is great too – a good Oreo is hard to argue with, especially if it enables more time for the company component of the gift. What matters is that along with the sugar, you show up, smile, and stay.

homemade cookies holiday gift

2 thoughts

  1. Loving the new format… Pictures are amazing…. Content is as usual delivered with love and humour and caring… My three favourite.
    Thanks ladies for cheering me up on this gloomy, rainy day.
    Was Black Friday list making at the moment…. change in tact and going to do a few things on the list instead….. Hugs.

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