No matter the time of year, the frugal (and smart) crowd is always on the lookout for good deals. Gifts, presents, and more – all of which are thoughtful, but that also come with an added round of savings. Better yet, those that are free. Rather than racking your brain in order to find these deals, or come up with a creative idea all on your own, check out this comprehensive list. We’ve taken the best of the best, gotten rid of those that aren’t worth giving, and compiled them all into one easy-to-use format.
Whether you’re looking for some free gifts for others, or need a stockpile for the future, check out this list of items that are actually worth having.
From the Kitchen:
1. Breads – banana, zucchini, etc. can all be given as gifts. Spring for colorful plastic wrap to make it festive, or place a bow on top to add Christmas spirit.
2. Baked goods in a jar – Let folks enjoy baked goods when it’s most convenient for them by placing dry ingredients in a jar, then leaving instructions for what needs to be added and/or done. Best of all, it makes for a visually appealing gift!
3. Cookies – Who doesn’t love dessert? Especially when someone else has done the hard work!
4. Casseroles or full-meal dishes – prep a dinner and then deliver to your family or friends. This will allow them to eat when they don’t have to cook, but without missing out on a hot meal.
5. Holiday treats – We all have favorites that we can only get around the holidays. Make a list of homemade favorites and create a variety place for everyone on your list.
6. A personalized recipe book – Make a list of your best dishes and share with others how they can make the same. You can take note of who has enjoyed which recipe and be sure to include personalized favorites for each giftee.
7. Spiced nuts – tasty and a great holiday treat. Place these homemade nuggets in a festive box, or create your own visual aides with ribbon and clear bags.
8. Canned goods – for those who have the gift (or desire) to can, these can make some incredible presents. Items include jellies, pickles, jalapenos, peppers, soups, tomatoes, salsas, and more.
9. Home-grown goodness – If it’s still warm enough to be growing outdoors, plants can serve as a great holiday gift. Choose from starter trees, bushes, or even herbs.
10. Home-grown herbs – If it’s already colder in your climate, consider giving your dried herbs. These can be kept separate or mixed to provide a special blend.
11. Homemade vanilla – All you need is a few ingredients and you can create some delicious vanilla extract. Add a fancy label and you’ve got a seriously expensive looking bottle.
12. Hot cocoa mix – Stir up a jar of powdered goodness and you can give the gift of tasty hot chocolate all winter long.
13. Pretzel stirring sticks – Dip pretzels into melted chocolate, add some flavor, etc. in order to get some tasty snacks, and functional stirring sticks. They’re visually appealing and a dynamic item to give to a number of folks on your list.
14. Flavored butter – Create all kinds of different flavors to add pizzazz to your loved ones’ meals. Go sweet or savory or both for an ideal variety.
15. Spiced cider – Festive, tasty, and affordable. Especially when you make it yourself!
16. Flavored oils and vinegars – Add a little extra flavor for the chef on your list. With a simple DIY method you can infuse all types of flavors to their most-used cooking liquids.
17. Snack mix – This is a great gift for the picky eater on your list. Add only their favorite items and create a mix they’ll love to eat.
18. Voucher for a home-cooked meal – If you want to provide more flexibility, let your giftee choose the date and promise to cook one of their beloved meals whenever it works best for them.
19. Re-gifted candies – If you’ve been given some candies that aren’t exactly your fave, why not pass them along? Especially to someone who you know loves said candy. It’s a great way to recycle and get your item to someone who will actually enjoy it.
20. Homemade booze – Wine or beer makes an awesome present, especially when it comes from your own kitchen. Create new flavors for a personalized touch.
21. Flavored liquors – You can also add a little something extra to a bottle of one’s go-to liquor. Infuse with fruits, add spice, etc. for a specialized touch.
22. Decorative bake wear – If you have a pan or dish that’s no longer in use, consider making is special for someone else. You can add a name, initial, and more to hone your holiday game.
23. Labels – Use cute papers and fonts and print out labels for your giftee’s most used items.
24. Bookmarks – Perfect for the reader in your life. You can personalize to their interests, too, for an even deeper layer of present fun.
25. Origami – Not everyone has the skill to fold paper into beautiful creations, but for those who can can offer an incredible present.
26. Handmade (or hand decorated) notebook – Special and easy – and cheap!
27. Homemade Floam – Remember this stuff? Brought to us by Nickelodeon? Well it turns out you can make it yourself. Cheer up any age with this quirky stuff!
28. Madlibs – These are fun all on their own, but when tailor made to encompass people you know and things you own, it’s even better.
29. Personalized coupons – Get crafty with these and make them for whatever you think will be best received. A coupon for every holiday and beyond.
30. Gift cards – The modern edition of the re-gift is passing along a gift card. These can come with purchases (as added incentive) or are given to you from a store you don’t frequent. Gift them instead.
31. Books – Chances are you have an old favorite (or a new not-so-favorite) sitting around. Pass along the love.
32. Paper baskets – Have you seen these tutorials on Pinterest? They are out of this world – and completely made with paper!
33. Decoupage – Same here – you can cover almost anything in paper and create a unique look that others will be happy to call their own.
34. A Puzzle – Take an old picture and create your very own puzzle. Or draw your own for an even different take.
35. Important clips – Has a loved one appeared in the newspaper or a local magazine? Cut out their moment of glory and frame it for safekeeping.
36. Photos – One of the most personalized gifts of them all come in the form of photographs. Do the hard work yourself and put them all in a book for others to do the gazing.
37. Personalized tea bags – Take the tea your loved one likes best and make them their very own bags or tags, or both.
38. Toilet paper – Seriously. There’s even a trend going around where folks are wrapping up a roll and using it instead of a card. Thoughtful and useful.
39. Compliment cards – Write up a list of things you like about each person and create a nice little package. Who wouldn’t want to hear nice things, any time of year?
40. Homemade jewelry – Use string, beads, or whatever else you have on hand unique pieces and accessories.
41. Magnets – We all need magnets to hold up important fridge announcements, but they aren’t always as cute as they are functional.
42. Scarves – Use yarn or old t-shirts to create a cute, easy to make accessory.
43. Hats – Knit or crochet your way to the best gifts of all time. They’ll keep others warm and in style.
44. Key chains – Get creative by coming up with the perfect little reminder of your important person. They can think about you throughout the day, all while having somewhere to put their keys.
45. Shrinky dinks – You can put these things on almost anything. Put your art skills to work and create some seriously adorable trinkets.
46. Coasters – Keep wood tables safe and drink condensation all in one place. All with some seriously adorable handmade coasters.
47. Candles – Add your own scent, use your own container, and more to create ambiance on a budget.
48. Air freshener – Same here – smell great without spending a lot. Add in homemade scents to create a natural element as well.
49. Old CDs – These things are so versatile they can be made into virtually hundreds of different crafts. And best of all, almost everyone has a few extras laying around the house.
50. Decorated mugs – take your plain cups and give them the artwork they truly deserve. Use permanent markers or bake on washable ink to keep your designs for years to come.
51. Christmas ornaments – festive and fun!
52. A blanket – For the skilled sewer, this is an excellent gift and hobby.
53. Decorative clothing – Add some jewels, some flare or décor of some kind and you’ve completely jazzed up your present.
54. Wreath – These can be a holiday themed item or ready for year-round display. Either way, it’s a perfect way to show you care.
55. A family tree – Cut out pictures and create an actual photo tree of each generation for a fun and meaningful keepsake.
56. Personalized board game – Use family trivia, current events, or inside jokes to make an entire game that’s pertinent to your circle’s whereabouts.
57. Write a letter … or a lot of them – Whether or not you choose to decorate your letter and make it fancy, each receiver is sure to treasure their new item.
58. Vase – Get creative and decorate a vase (even add some flowers) for a fresh and funky take on table décor.
59. Memory Jar – Keep a list of favorite memories and tear them up into individual pieces. Each person can draw out a slip each time they’re having a bad day or want to remember something fun.
For the Bathroom
60. Lotion – Add your own scent and make a homemade blend, or give a bottle you have yet to open.
61. Soaps – Same here, there are plenty of recipes for natural or moisturizing versions, or any other type of soap.
62. Homemade cleaners – These are some of the easiest presents to make, yet the best received. These cleaners will get your house sparkling and make your home smell great.
63. Change jar – Add your own spare change to get them started or just decorate and send their way. (And yes, it’s great for the bathroom when changing clothes, or the laundry room!)
64. Lotion – Complete your bathroom gift set by mixing up some lotion.
65. Chapstick – Yes, one more toiletry item that can be made with goods you already own!
66. Bath bombs – Let your giftee relax with a nice evening bubble bath, this time with bonus bubbles.
67. Body scrubs – Perfect for anyone looking for a day of self-pampering. You can even make “man scents” for the men in your life who might think it’s too girly.
68. Laundry organizers – Create labels or gain set containers that are meant for holding clothes.
69. Potpourri – Perhaps one of the favorite homemade gifts of all times comes in the form of potpourri. Put your own spin on it or create a classic blend – the options are endless.
70. Search the house – You likely have something cool to give away. Maybe it reminds you of the one with whom you’re sharing. Maybe it’s just something unique – but whatever it is, it’s likely to be thoughtful.
71. A playlist – Gather their favorite songs and compile them into one awesome playlist. In CD or digital form, so they can take it with them.
72. Slippers – Get cozy with a pair of sock-made slippers. These are easily made and can keep all sizes of feet warm and cozy.
73. Play dough – These homemade version can be made in any color, any scent, and even host cool additions like glitter. Sounds fun to make, and even more fun to play with.
74. A family heirloom – Oftentimes family members pass important items down from generation to generation. Rather than waiting until your will passes something down, consider giving the prized item as a gift.
75. Online freebies – There are tons of these things. Take a collection up over the year or scour hard around the holidays to create an awesome collection.
76. Make a trade – If there’s something in particular you’re after, consider trading something to get it. This can be done straight up or with the credit you earn off of your trade.
77. Amazon trade-in credit – This site sells just about everything. Again, you can sell or trade your own item for site collateral.
78. A pet – Puppies and kittens are given away for free all the time! Pick one up and start the training process so they’re good and behaved for the holidays.
79. Art – If you’re a talented painter or artist of any kind, take the opportunity to make personalized gifts for everyone on your list. It’ll be a present they won’t soon forget.
80. Write something – Or if words are more your thing, write a song, poem, etc. for your most thoughtful and memorable gift yet.
81. Record yourself reading – Pick a favorite passage (or an entire kids book) and give your voice … forever.
82. Hand-drawn coloring book – Adult coloring is now all the range, so why not create pages your friends of all ages can color, while thinking about you in the process?
83. Comic strip – Same goes here, put in your own friends as characters for additional fun.
84. Your skills – Whatever it is you’re good at, folks are always asking for help. So let them not feel bad about it and offer up your time as a holiday present.
85. Clean – No one likes cleaning their own house. Offer a trade or a certificate to clean a friend’s house – at a time of their choosing – for one heck of a gift.
86. Wash their car – Again, labor = incredible friendship.
87. Babysit – Let your friends go on a date, or a day of errands, or whatever they prefer, while their kids are safely in your hands.
88. Pet sitting – Kids aren’t your thing? Or have friends with fur babies? Pet sitting is just as valuable in the eye of the receiver.
89. Your freebies – Whenever you get a bonus gift from a company, stock pile those away for your friends. For instance, extra Internet when traveling, random store credits, and more.
90. Old electronics – It might not be the latest and greatest, but it still holds value. Save up your older models for friends you know are looking for something new-to-them.
91. Photo storage – Save away old photos on a disc or hard drive – giving your loved one the gift of time, and peace of mind.
92. Personal connections – Sometimes it’s awkward to ask for personal favors. If you have one you know a friend has been stocking away, say a lead at a job, help them out over the holidays and tell them no return favor is needed.
93. Dedicate a Pinterest board – Sometimes you see something and you just know it’s Jim, or Sarah, or Juan. Keep a secret board for things you know they’d love and share it over the holidays.
94. Travel miles – Sharing is caring … it’s also an affordable holiday gift.
95. Fill out surveys – It only takes a few minutes, and will provide you with plenty of store points for each venue.
96. Kid activities – Create a list of interactive activities for the kids in your life. Then promise to help them with each activity on your upcoming play dates.
97. Massages – Best when given to your S/O, a massage is a great gift to help someone relax, and save them a bucket of cash.
98. Personalize something of theirs – That cute cutting board with a handle, or that new frame your friend got? Sneak it out when they aren’t looking and personalize it with a name or nice message.
99. Your Netflix password – This is something truly sacred; sharing it will prove just how deep your love flows.
100. An upcoming date – That thing your friend or family member has been wanting to do (that you’ve been avoiding) – it’s time to make the commitment and go all-in. You won’t be disappointed, and neither will they.