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When you’re living on a low income, how to save money on Christmas gifts is a popular topic this time of year.
Thankfully, cheap Christmas gifts are everywhere and knowing where they are can make your life much easier this holiday season. All you need to do is understand that it’s okay to have fewer bells and whistles at Christmas time. That’s not what Christmas is all about anyway.
Children quickly adapt to a frugal lifestyle, and it’s okay that Christmas will be more family-focused instead of present-focused. You can still have fun and enjoy cheap Christmas gifts this year by avoiding unnecessary things and saving money.
Whether you need cheap gift ideas for friends, coworkers, couples or kids, these 10 cheap Christmas gift ideas are perfect for you.
10 Ways to Find Cheap Christmas Gifts for Family, Friends and Coworkers
1. Earn cash back on your online purchase
If you’re determined to purchase Christmas gifts for your loved ones, you can absolutely do so without breaking the bank. Sign up for Rakuten (formerly Ebates) and earn cash back on all of your online purchases from major retailers.
If you shop at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Kohl’s and other popular stores, you can earn cash back for your purchases by clicking through to your favorite store on Rakuten. Plus, you get a $10 cash bonus or signing up and completing your first online shopping trip.
If you find the perfect Christmas gift for someone on your list, make sure to check for the same or similar items at other stores and calculate the percentage that Rakuten will refund in cash. You may find that one store is far cheaper than another when you factor in the cash-back amounts.
2. Purchase discounted gifts cards to your favorite stores
You’ve chosen an item at Kohl’s that someone on your Christmas list would just love. You place the item in your cart and checkout with your debit or credit card.
Whoops. You’ve already lost. Anytime you’re shopping online or in-store, make sure to check for a discounted gift card on Raise. Raise sells discounted gift cards, some of which are more than 30% off.
Here’s a good example of finding cheap Christmas gifts by using Raise. If you’ve already signed up for Rakuten, click through a link on Rakuten over to Raise to purchase a discounted gift card. This will earn you 1% cash back. You’ll receive $10 cash back for signing up for Rakuten if you’re a new customer and a $5 credit on Raise to purchase your first gift card.
You then locate a discounted gift card to your favorite store on Raise (from 0% to 30% off) and purchase it. Then click from Rakuten to your favorite store to get even more cash back when you complete the final purchase online using your discounted gift card.
A little confusing? Let’s take a look at the math. Keep in mind that the discounted rates on gift cards, cash back percentages and store promotions change all the time.
$100 – Total cost of Christmas gifts
Minus $10 – cash back for signing up for Rakuten
Minus $6 – cash back for clicking through to Kohl’s from Rakuten
Minus $5 – credit for signing up for Raise
Minus $1 – cash back for clicking through to Raise from Rakuten
Minus $3 – savings for using Raise to purchase a discounted Kohl’s gift card
Minus $25 – additional Kohl’s holiday discount
Minus $20 – additional Kohl’s cash holiday bonus (to grab just a few more cheap Christmas gifts!)
= $30 – total spent on your $100 online shopping trip at Kohl’s. The total savings/cash back earned on this shopping trip is $70!
So let’s go over the instructions on how to get cheap Christmas gifts with Rakuten and Raise one more time.
- Sign up for Rakuten.
- Open Rakuten in your browser or phone and find Kohl’s.
- Click on any Kohl’s link to open a Kohl’s shopping trip.*
- Sign up for Raise.
- Open Rakuten in your browser or phone again and type “Raise” in the search box.
- Click on any Raise link to open a Raise shopping trip.
- In Raise, search for Kohl’s.
- Purchase a discounted Kohl’s gift card from Raise.
- Return to your Kohl’s shopping trip previously opened via Rakuten and checkout using your discounted gift card purchased from Raise.
*Note that you are actually shopping and paying through Kohl’s and not Rakuten. Rakuten is simply providing the special link that secures your cash back.
You can do this sequence of steps for any store (not just Kohl’s). There are many other options! And you can always stack these discounts and cash back amounts on top of the promotions currently offered in the store to get cheap Christmas gifts.
3. Celebrate Christmas for 12 days
Christmas gifts do not need to be something that’s wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. In fact, spending quality time together as a family, couple or friends can be even more meaningful than presents.
If you plan free family gatherings, movie and game nights and celebrate the magic of Christmas for multiple days, everyone will feel like Christmas is much more than just one day.
Spend time together as a family, go Christmas caroling, drink hot cocoa and tell Christmas stories in front of the fireplace. Christmas is far more than opening a few presents on one morning of the year.
Here are some other cheap or free activities to spread over 12 days of Christmas:
- Make and decorate Christmas cookies together
- Drive around neighboring towns and enjoy Christmas lights
- Go window shopping at the mall
- Make DIY crafts and gifts for family and friends
- Decorate your house for Christmas
- Read Christmas stories
- Watch Christmas movies
- Go Christmas caroling at the nursing home
- Write letters to Santa or visit him at the mall
- Have Christmas themed family game night
- Watch for other local free Christmas events in your area
4. Purchase practical cheap gifts under $5
If money is tight, then purchasing needed items for each person on your list will allow you to put something under the Christmas tree while still respecting the budget. Children first and foremost should have their needs met. Unwrapping a new toothbrush, gloves or slippers can be just as exciting as unwrapping a new toy. It’s the surprise element and the love behind the gifts that most children truly appreciate.
“Needs” that make great cheap gifts under $5:
- Personal care items
- Educational books
Related: 40 Christmas Gift Ideas for Men 🎄
5. DIY the gift wrapping so that more can go toward gifts
Have you ever noticed how expensive wrapping paper and gift bags can be? Instead of purchasing new gift wrapping this year, try reusing gift bags from previous years.
Another option to really save on gift wrapping is to decorate newspapers with bright markers or paint to wrap gifts. Have the family help and make this one of your 12 days of Christmas activities!
If you’ve run out of time, you can even go with the black and white look of plain newspaper or use the comics section. Add a fun bow or ribbon if you have something around the house.
More ideas for gift wrapping substitutes:
- Construction paper
- Paper bags
- Decorated scrap paper
- Fun patterned scraps of fabric
- Layered plastic tablecloths
- Blankets or sheets (as part of the gift!)
- Unwrapped gifts placed in decorative baskets from thrifts stores
6. Buy cheap Christmas gifts for coworkers and friends in bulk
If you have a lot of people to buy presents for, try buying items in bulk to save some extra money on Christmas gifts.
Food or snacks are often a crowdpleaser when purchasing cheap Christmas gifts for large groups of people. Whether you have a large family, a crowded office or a lot of friends on your Christmas list this year, food items are very reasonably priced when purchased in bulk.
Ideas of items you can purchase in bulk to save money:
- Fun socks
- Bath bombs
- Art supplies
Related: 40 Christmas Gift Ideas for Dad
7. DIY Cheap Christmas gifts
It might be time to get creative – like – really creative. If you’re pressed for gifts but just can’t come up with the funds, a small DIY gift could be the answer.
Anything DIY can appear elaborate while not costing much. You can even have the kids make things for each other and for extended family and friends.
Here are a few cheap DIY Christmas gift ideas:
- Mason jar recipes (cookies, bread, trail mix, etc.)
- Homemade candles
- Home or office decorations
- Knitted scarves
- Fragrant soaps
- Homemade snack boxes
- Bath bombs
- Movie night gift basket
- Homemade board games
- Handwritten or printed coupon book
Related: 40 Christmas Gift Ideas for Mom
8. Price shop for cheap gifts
If you prefer to shop in store this Christmas season rather than online, that’s okay. You don’t need to shop online to get the best deals (although with Rakuten, it just might be worth it this year).
Visit a few stores and price shop. Saving $5 on gifts here and there really adds up when you have multiple people to shop for. You might find that one toy is $40 at Kohl’s while only $35 at Walmart. But if you look at additional store promotions coupled with a discounted gift card from Raise, you may find that Kohl’s is still the better option in the end.
9. Shop second-hand for cheap Christmas gifts
There have been years that I’ve been able to purchase many second-hand gifts for family and friends. When you think of thrift store items, you probably imagine broken toys, games with missing pieces or clothes with holes in them. But many people donate new or slightly used items to thrift stores.
Browse your local second-hand shops and look for items that your loved ones would appreciate. If something is nice quality but doesn’t have a tag on it or shrink wrap around it, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad gift. Think of ways to wrap the item so it’s more presentable and fun.
Shopping for second-hand gifts is an amazing way to buy Christmas presents without spending exorbitant amounts of money.
Gift ideas that can be purchased second-hand:
- Scarves & Gloves
- Home decor
10. Be honest with extended family and friends
If it comes down to purchasing gifts for extended family and friends or feeding your family, you need to draw a line. Skip Christmas gifts if you can’t afford them.
If you’re able to purchase cheap gifts for your immediate family that double as “needs” this year, then that’s great. But simply tell your extended family, friends and coworkers that you would prefer not to be included in gift exchanges this year.
Don’t let gifts put you into debt. Your loved ones will understand.
Bonus: Make extra money
If you’re struggling to get all the Christmas necessities, then consider spending time making extra money. There are so many ways to earn more money during the holidays.
From signing up for Lyft to picking up a seasonal retail job, you can make money in time for Christmas.
Here are a few more ideas that will help you earn the money you need:
- Rent out a room in your home through Airbnb
- Deliver groceries with Instacart
- Sell unused items for extra money
- 40 more ways to make money fast
Cheap Gifts Are Not Bad Gifts
Whatever season in life you may be going through, know that it’s okay to cut back on spending. Christmas will come and go this year as it always has before and spending time with your loved ones is all you need to make it a wonderful holiday.
These ways to get cheap Christmas gifts as possible will help get you through the season. Do as much as you can for your family but always remember that saving money on Christmas gifts can be done without making a dent in the joy that comes with the Christmas season.
Related: 40 Christmas Gift Ideas for Her
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