Quick and Inexpensive Christmas Presents

Still looking for an inexpensive Christmas Gift?

Here’s my quick list of small things you can purchase to make a wonderful present out of (or to supplement what you bought if you are stumped for ideas).

Let’s try and stay away from the ubiquitous candle, shall we?


Not only are they totally practical (warm tights? how can you go wrong?), they are totally in fashion this season.

(Plus, they aren’t SOCKS, although cashmere socks sound pretty good right about now)

Think dark rich purples, deep rustic browns, or for the wilder fashionista, a patterned pair of tights like lace tights or striped tights? They would look great tucked into knee high boots, and paired with a warm winter coat and a skirt, so that when she walks, they flash with every slight opening of the coat.

One bonus is that tights can be purchased for ANY age. Just have to think about the colours in terms of their personality and age.

A little girl would love two toned tights that are fun, with flowers all over them (maybe?) so don’t buy boring brown tights.

But someone more career minded and older may appreciate navy tights instead, as they would be more practical for their life and less childish.

The other bonus is that they’ll make her smile every time she looks down.


You don’t need much. A little How-To sushi D-I-Y book comes with the basic chopsticks, rolling mat, cute little soy sauce platters and a rice paddle.

If you head down to Chinatown, these items can’t cost you more than a $5 each, MAXIMUM, or maybe less (!). It can be as expensive or as cheap as you’d like it to be.

You can personalize the kit by buying some joke stuffed sushi Winnie the Poohs, or sushi magnets.

I’d say the book is pretty important however, so I’d spend at least $10 on the book. You can find a ton of them in the half off bin about making sushi. Just make sure you pick one with pictures on how to make the BASICS of sushi. From there, they can experiment with hot dog sushi, spam sushi and so on.

The other option would be to also use a colour printer and print out great recipes from the internet, and bind them together in a binder, decorate the front and give that as a personalized “Sushi Recipe Book”.



Some people may not really be into this, but I kind of am. 

They’re not clutches and not totes in the standard black satin. They’re fun, quirky (but SLIM!) wallets that you can transfer a couple of cards into for a night out on the town, giving your practical (but huge) paperweight a rest for the night.

I like lots of different wallets, and ways to carry cards and cash. I think the count is up to 3 or 5 wallets that I own, and I rotate through them.

The best option I’ve found for the slimmest wallet that works really well for going out is something that looks like a Cigarette Holder. They call it a “Hinged Metal Case”.

I bought mine for $15 CAD at Urban Outfitters. It’s actually exactly like the pictures above, just without that purple lace on the front, so it looks a lot sleeker and more modern (the front is just embossed silver).

I KNOW you can buy them in the Toronto Urban Outfitters on Yonge Street for $15. Snap one up!

It holds a good 5-7 cards, and a wad of money. And if I bring my spare car key, I can put that in there too so that I just carry around this sleek looking wallet.

Here’s a Geisha one from Urban Outfitters that looks pretty cute for $14. But for those prices, maybe Chinatown would be a better option. They sell wallets JUST like them for $7 or $10, not $14.

UO can be a bit of a rip off for ethnic-looking items.


Here’s a neat idea for a present that’s pretty frugal compared to my other ideas above. 

For the person who loves to cook (or has never cooked before..), get a large clear jar, grab a recipe for cookies and measure out ALL the dry ingredients.

Place the dry ingredients in the jar in a pleasing way (flour on bottom, then a layer of brown sugar, then chocolate chips, you get the idea).

When it’s all properly layered like those coloured sand things in a bottle, seal the thing, buy a big pretty ribbon, tie it around the top, and attach a recipe card that says “Remaining Ingredients to Add“, and another card with a thoughtful note about the gift like “You better invite me over when these are baked! [Insert phone number here]

The key about presents is to make them personalized and fun. Something like that is pretty cheap to re-create (dry ingredients + glass jar + ribbon + 2 cards), but the time and effort that goes into creating one of those would be much appreciated.

If you want to feel like you want to add more, head to the Dollar Store and buy $1 cute little mixing paddles, measuring cups and whatever else you can find, and attach it to the jar with a ribbon.

It’s like a Complete Cookie Making Jar Kit.


It could be a fun way to dress up an iPod you just bought someone, and/or refresh the iPod they got last year! 

From Urban Outfitters, you have limited edition artist iPod covers for $14, but you can find these online any where. Just search: iPod Skin Covers, although getting them in time for Christmas may be an issue at this point.

However, if you head to an Apple Store or tech store like Best Buy, they have pretty cute covers for iPods and iPhones.


The beauty about the jewelery box is you can either buy it or make it yourself. In craft stores, they sell these plain wooden boxes that you can decorate with sequins and feathers to make it really personalized (the bonus is that if you buy the craft materials for one box, you can probably use it all up making 2 or 3 other boxes).

But if you must, purchasing a jewelery box is a good idea, especially since that they come in very cute fabrics and colours now, AND is a very pretty present that you could put some accessories you bought inside there, and/or eyeshadow palettes from Sephora/Shopper’s Drug Mart!

Then you wrap the whole thing up, or just throw a bow on it (it’s pretty as is!) and you have a quick present-to-go.

Then when she opens it, she’ll see your other thoughtful gifts!


Hard to go wrong with makeup. But instead of buying a lip gloss here and there, why not buy eyeshadows?

Cover Girl and those other mainstream brands have some pretty palettes out there, and for the makeup lover this could be something very cool – to open a present where all there is, is EYESHADOW to experiment with.

Consider throwing in an eyeshadow brush or two to enhance the process.

Each eyeshadow palette is about $8 from what I recall (or cheaper), and you could pick up 2 or 3 in flattering colours from different brands, and put them in a cute jewelery box (see idea above) to give as a gift.

Make everything into a kit. A personalized kit.

Maybe get an index card, and write down the entire ‘recipe’ for how to create a smokey eye with different eyeshadows, and put the index cards with the eyeshadows.

Or how to create cool designs with wetting eyeshadows to make it more of an intense colour, or layering eyeshadows by patting them on your eyelid to make them into eyeliners.

Anything that has a personal touch on it, even if it’s storebought, immediately becomes better.

Hope that gives you some ideas!

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.