Christmas cookies with decorations on wooden background with merry christmas inscription
Photo - Getty Images

It can be hard to find affordable gift ideas for friends and family. Inflation and rising costs make it difficult for most families to cover essentials. Luckily, a little bit of creativity and some smart shopping can go a long way. Showing you care with a heartfelt gesture doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are five thoughtful, cost-conscious holiday gift ideas that fit any budget.

Baked Goods

One gift that’s always a crowd pleaser is a treat basket filled with baked goods like cookies, brownies, and cake pops. While whipping up holiday sweets, bake an additional batch and set them aside for your friends and loved ones. You can wrap your goodies in festive cellophane and tie a bow around them. If you’re ambitious, you can put together individual baskets or cookie tins decorated with candy canes and ribbons.

Mason Jar Recipes

If you’re too busy to bake but want to give your friends and family a sweet holiday treat, try making these easy mason jar gifts. All you need is a mason jar, a recipe, and a few ingredients. Include the recipe instructions with your gift, either on a recipe card or piece of paper.

Remember: the bottom of the jar should hold the lightest ingredients, whereas the top should be for heavier components such as raisins, nuts, and chocolate.

Handwritten Letters

Handwritten letters are a rarity these days, but they’re still a thoughtful way to show your loved ones how much you care. If baffled by what to write, take a minute to reflect on the times you had with them and what they mean to you. You can even add photos to the inside of your letter for an added personal touch.

Photo Books

If you’re searching for a one-of-a-kind item, why not make a photo book using your favorite memories? Photo books are timeless and affordable gifts. You can make your own by uploading your pictures to a site like ShutterflyBlurb, or Mixbook. Or you could go the traditional route and print your photos at a kiosk or photo lab and construct the album yourself.

Burlap hearts on bookmarks in books.
Photo – Getty Images


If you’re trying to find the perfect gift for the avid reader in your life, consider giving them a personalized bookmark. This craft is an ideal gift that you can personalize. You can DIY it or opt for an online template. Either way, your bookworm will appreciate and put it to good use.

Homemade Candles

Give the gift of aromatherapy this year with a homemade candle. Choose a relaxing or energizing aroma (depending on the recipient’s preference) and design a beautiful label to give your candle an extra special touch. Some scent options include lavender, mint, lemon, vanilla, and cinnamon.


Plants make fantastic holiday gifts. They’re beautiful, easy to take care of (depending on the plant), and can make any space feel more comforting and inviting. What’s more? Studies show plants increase creativity, improve mood, reduce stress, and eliminate air pollutants. A few examples of plants that make great holiday gifts include air plants, succulents, cacti, orchids, bonsai trees, and tropical foliage.

Nothing feels better than seeing the look on a loved one’s face as they unwrap a gift that’s been handmade just for them. So this year, skip the store-bought gifts and get creative instead!