Christmas Gifts Ideas If You’re on a Tight Budget

A collection of Christmas gifts under a tree

The holidays can be stressful no matter what, thanks in large part to forced mingling, too much family time, and terrible weather, but there’s no question it’s going to be especially tense this year.

Many people have been laid off from jobs or forced to take pay cuts due to COVID-19, which can make the “Season of Giving” a little difficult to navigate.

Between having to buy gifts for your family and friends, not to mention white elephant gift exchanges you can’t get out of, the holiday season is tough if you’re on a budget.

However, you don’t have to stop giving gifts altogether just because you’re trying to watch your spending. 

Here’s a list of some Christmas gift ideas that are all under $20 so you don’t have to stress about constantly checking your bank account for the rest of 2020. 

Gift Basket

If you’re trying to think of a creative but inexpensive gift for a friend, make them a little gift basket filled with a few of their favorite things. 

Grab their favorite candy, a bottle of their favorite soda, a fun facemask, their favorite lipgloss, or anything that is under $5 and put it all together.

This will prove you know their favorite things while also not breaking the bank. 


Getting gifts for parents can be tough — parents can get whatever they want whenever they want it, right? — so give them something they can’t buy, your time.

Create vouchers that say “Cash This In For One Hour of Yard Work” or “One Free Home Cooked Dinner On Me.” Make as many as you want and give them to your parents as gifts. 

Not only is this creative and useful (who doesn’t want one free hour of yard work), but it also doesn’t cost you a lot of money.

Plus, parents want nothing more than to spend a extra little time with their kids.


We know, we know, this is a tad basic, but a candle is a fantastic gift if you need to bring something to a gift exchange or office Christmas party. 

When having to buy a gift for a person you don’t really know, it’s important it’s something they’ll actually use. 

A candle is a good option because most people use them around the house, but it also won’t cost you an arm and a leg to snag a decent one. 

Beverage of Choice

Another solid gift idea is to get this person’s favorite beverage, whether that’s coffee, wine, or something in between.

If you know this person drinks a ton of coffee, grab them a nice bag of coffee beans.

You know they’ll use it and they’ll appreciate the fact you know how much they drink coffee!

If this person loves wine, see if you can figure out their favorite bottle from a significant other or family member. 

Buying a bottle of wine or picking up a liquor can sometimes feel like a copout, but, again, it’s something you know they’ll enjoy. 

Get Creative

Before deciding to buy a gift, really think about the person you’re buying for.

What do they like? What are their favorite movies or television shows? Do they enjoy music? What are their hobbies?

If you spend just five minutes really analyzing each person, you’ll probably be able to come up with a thoughtful gift idea that won’t cost a fortune.

For example, if you know they love a specific movie, get them that movie poster.

If this person loves to read, grab them a new book to try out. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s truly the thought that counts.

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