Thrifty and Practical

Meaningful gifts on a budget

Making the most of the season means spending less money and more time with family and friends. It’s about savoring the still small moments and creating space to be intentional and thoughtful rather than consuming and spending.

Gift giving this time of year can sometimes be difficult. My heart is much bigger than my wallet. Every family has its own traditions. For our kids we follow the 4 gifts tradition: something they need, something to read, something to wear, something they want. Our extended families draws names for the purchase of a big gift and then we each bring a $1-2 stocking stuffer for everyone. This is helpful for everyone’s budgets and in past years stockings are filled with chocolate, socks, and all other types of fun goodies. This year I felt inspired to create more meaningful gifts while staying in the $1-2 budget per stocking stuffer.

Here are some ideas that require little money, but are thoughtful and personal. I would love to hear what you all do to stay on budget while still giving intentionally.

Blackout poetry 

My sister inspired me with this one. She purchased an old book for $1 from a thrift shop and found some frames for $.25. Create fun, whimsical, thoughtful poetry from a page of a book, frame it, and wrap it up. You can personalize each poem for every person on your list.


Coffee or tea cup with tea and a line a poetry 

Here in the midwest hot drinks and blankets are necessary for making the best of winter. Buy some unique tea cups or mugs (I thrifted mine for $.25-.50) and some of your favorite teas. Fill the mugs with tea bags or looseleaf if that’s your jam then attach a line of poetry or an encouraging note to the handle.


Stamp art 

Slightly similar to blackout poetry, this one requires an old dictionary, stamps, and an ink pad. I found an old Webster’s for $1.50 and bought some stamps on clearance for $2-3. I’m using a bunch of old frames that have been collecting dust and have been handpicking pages with fun words or meaningful words to use.


Coloring pages

Maybe you’re not super crafty or don’t have time to dive into a big project this season. If you have book loving family and friends or friends who love to color, there are shops on Etsy where you can purchase a digital file of coloring pages for $1.50. One of my favorites is Carrot Top Shop. She has characters from Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen, and many more classics. Purchase, print, and roll up with some beautiful ribbon and maybe even a few new colored pencils.


Cloth bookmarks

For all those who love sewing and stitching. My mother-in-love finds the softest, highest quality wool sweaters or flannel shirts from thrift shops and creates the most gorgeous bookmarks. If digging through racks in thrift shops isn’t your thing, craft shops have packs of flannel you can purchase for this homemade gift. Plus you can get as creative and personalized with the patterns or pictures you create.


Homemade hot chocolate mix

The best hot chocolate ever is homemade. When I worked at a restaurant in high school I discovered the Hershey’s recipe on the back of a cocoa tin. Mix up a big batch, fill little mason jars, and attach instructions for mixing for your sweet tooth loving friends and family.


Jars filled with old fashioned candy

There’s something nostalgic and sweet about a jar full of peppermints or rootbeer candies. I love the bags of old fashioned candy sold at Hobby Lobby and other shops. Save up a few jam jars or sauce jars, buy a bag of animals from the dollar store, spray paint the lids and animals your preferred color and fill the jars with candy. It’s super fun for the little kids and big kids in our lives.


Handwritten letter

It will take some time, energy, and thought. A handwritten letter to friends and family full of encouragement, musings, reflections on the past year, and hopes for the year to come will be treasured for years to come. You don’t need beautiful handwriting or expensive stationary to write a meaningful message. Check out this Instagram account for some inspiration in the letter writing department.