The best holiday presents for a tight budget

Holiday presents. (Kurt Leinemann/The Diamondback)

I’m getting to the point of adulthood where I feel bad about not getting my family members Christmas gifts. This apathy coincides with two important ideas: one, most of my family members really don’t need anything; and two, I don’t have the funds to buy them anything really nice. As a result, I’m forced to get a bit creative with my gift ideas.

Finding ways to show love to your family and friends doesn’t have to break the bank. Making something homemade or catered to a special someone’s taste is much more meaningful than a gift you can order online. 

Here are some wallet-friendly gift ideas for the holiday season:

Friendship bracelets

No matter how old you are, friendship bracelets never go out of style. Beads and thread are cheap, and you can make a lot with few supplies. My friends and I made some a few months ago and we had a blast putting funny words on ours. Whether you design the bracelet with names, acronyms or just colors, it’s a creative way to show someone you care!

Funky candles

Full disclosure: I stole this idea from a TikTok. Essentially, you just take a long candle, submerge it in hot water and wait until it becomes bendable. Then, you can twist and bend them into funky shapes. I found some old candles at my parents’ house to do this with, but if you don’t already have some, you can buy them quite cheap from Michael’s or a home goods store. 

Terrarium kit

Using a glass jar or bowl, you can make a cute terrarium for a friend or loved one. You need small stones, soil and plants, like mini-cacti or succulents. There’s a ton of tutorials online, but it’s fairly easy to assemble. Greenery brightens any space, and indoor plants have a special way of cheering people up.

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Clay rings

Here’s yet another idea I saw on TikTok. I’ve been obsessed with big, colorful rings recently, but it’s hard to find inexpensive jewelry. However, it’s possible to DIY rings: All you need to buy is polymer clay, either online or in a craft store. It’s easy to shape and throw in the oven, and if you buy enough, you can make a ton of rings or earrings — or whatever your heart desires! 

Sangria kit

Spice up a bottle of wine by making a sangria kit. Find a glass container and throw in your wine with a few oranges, apples, lemons, cranberries or any other fruit you like. Tie a wooden spoon to the bag or container with a ribbon, and you’re set. This gift is perfect for any of your 21-and-older friends!

Baked goods

Baked goods are a great way to show you care about someone, especially in the holiday season. If you know a loved one’s favorite dessert or treat, they will be extra appreciative. Personally, I love gifts that I can consume. If you bump some Christmas music while you bake, the vibes will be astronomical.

Burn music onto a CD

Knowing someone’s music tastes well enough to recommend them music is a true form of love. Plus, CDs are kind of vintage now, so if I received a CD of songs someone thought I would like, I think I’d cry. And if you don’t have a CD player, making someone a playlist is always cute.

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Painted wine glass 

I’ve seen cheap wine glasses at thrift stores and I’ve always thought it could be a fun idea to paint a design on one with some waterproof paint and give it as a gift. Whether it’s something cute or funny or even an inside joke, painting something you know your loved one would appreciate is a really sweet gift. 

Stovetop potpourri kit

Put whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, ginger, oranges, fresh pine and any other holiday scents you desire in a Mason jar. Write some instructions on a little notecard, and bam! Your loved one will get a house that smells like the holiday season. Easy, but amazing.

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