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My per person budget for members of my immediate family is usually between $10 to $20 per person, including gifts that go in their stockings. While I make many gifts for pennies, I also purchase items from garage sales, and I look for low-cost items that my family members will love that also fit in my budget.

 Here are some deals that you can give for $5 or less; click on the photos to go to the item:


Kitchen tools:

Amazon has a huge selection of unique cookie cutters. Even with shipping on these, they still work out to be under $5 each, with most under $3 (no minimum order required).




I’ve bought these for myself and for my daughters. They all come in different colors, too! (Note: a couple of these are now priced just above $5, but some color options are below $5, including shipping).



Fountain Pens:

There are beautiful inexpensive options: 


Read Alouds for Children:



Art Supplies:



Baby Gifts:

These are favorites at my house. 



Having trouble coming up with $5 for a gift this year? Try racking up enough Swagbucks to earn a $5 Amazon gift card. Many of the above items have free shipping with no minimum order, or are still under $5 including shipping.

If you have Amazon Prime, you won’t need to pay for shipping an order, plus you’ll get 2-day shipping. You can click here to get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which includes free online movies and music along with 2-day shipping.


Today only, Amazon is offering $5 off $15 worth of books. Use code BOOKGIFT17. You can read the terms and conditions here.



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  1. Some lovely gift ideas! I will be looking into the cookie cutters and special book deal. I have a question. After seeing comments here about the free music on amazon prime, I’ve tried to find it, but only get a pop up that tries to get me to subscribe to amazon unlimited for .99 every time I click on a genre. Is there any truly free music? Perhaps it’s because the Prime membership is in my husband’s name? …though I’ve been able to watch free movies on my computer with Prime.

  2. I have found some amazing books at thrift stores as well for 50¢to a dollar ! Diary of a Wimpy Kid, magic books, mysteries and other great age appropriate books in mint condition for the great nephews, nieces and grandchildren. I always give books they are a wonderful way to help them become avid readers for life. I make them book marks for them as well. These are well received. The dollar stores also have wonderful things too. For my great nephew I put together a car cleaning kit for his car from dollar store finds since he is a new car owner …lots of inexpensive gifts can be thoughtful and with a bit of creativity well within our budgets. Thank you Brandy for sharing all your inspiring ideas. Gaila in the NW

  3. Donna, I love their collection of mini books. I used to buy them at Cracker Barrel when my mother in law would visit. I bought several that were stained glass designs on that transparent paper- can’t think of what it’s called!! I loved to include those in birthday cards to friends when I wanted to give them a little something.

    For less than $5, my fave gift last year was a headlamp. Everyone seems to love those for walking, doing repairs, or keeping in a nightstand drawer for emergencies. I regularly saw them selling for about $3 with batteries included.

  4. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas. I am a pretty happy person today. I went to the camera store and
    had them put a working lens on my camera. My camera survived the fall. The lens is broken so I will send it
    away for an estimate to repair the lens. Depending on how expensive it is to repair, I’ll file a claim with the insurance.
    If you have camera equipment, it is a good idea to put a rider on your home insurance policy to insure camera, lenses, etc.
    It wouldn’t have covered all of the loss but a major part of it. The same applies to computers. You can have a home insurance
    policy that covers computers. Accidents do happen and computers are expensive. I will be able to use the new lens I bought (really inexpensively) as a stop gap measure until my telephoto lens is fixed.

    I am also happy because my neighbour asked if I’d like to go downtown with her. So I was able to ship my little box of presents by Greyhound, go to the camera store, get stamps. The gifts I gave this year are really modest. A little bag (beautifully wrapped) of fancy tea, a box of chocolate mints by one of the best and historic candy makers here, a book ($6 on sale), a lovely silver-coloured
    necklace of an owl wearing glasses, a gift card to a bookstore, a beautiful silk/wool shawl. I panicked a bit because I did not have anything for a sister in law or my nephew’s wife but I found a stash of lovely Italian scarves (one silk, one wool) that I had
    bought on sale previously and with labels still on them, et voilà the two needed gifts.

    I had bought these gifts over the past several months so it was not a stretch in any given month.
    I gave a friend a lovely sketch of a cat done by a prominent Canadian printmaker. Two out of the 3 places were also places
    my friend who was driving wanted to go. Our atypical golfing weather came to an abrupt end this morning with snow.
    We made it back home today before the roads got bad. Snow makes it look like Christmas. It is so peaceful and tranquil outside. I just have to write a few last Christmas cards and then I can tidy up the house. I need to visit a few elderly friends and take cookies to them.

    I can’t believe it is so close to Christmas!

  5. Michael’s has cookie cutters 60% off so they are 40 cents and would be so cute on a package! Also all of Hobby Lobby’s Christmas crafts and decorations are 66% off.

  6. Laurie, when I log onto Amazon, there is a button for Music (it’s next to Video on my screen). If I click this I can listen to any of the music available through Prime music. You might try logging in as your husband and see if you see this.

  7. If you participate in Coke Rewards, yesterday they sent me an email with a $5 Amazon gift card. I almost didn’t open it because I thought it was junk.

  8. If you’re in Canada, Michael’s always has coupons, both digital and paper, and you can get between 40 and 50 percent off one item. I always use a coupon when shopping at Michael’s, and often will go with someone else so that we can both use a coupon!

  9. I’m beginning to panic. Someone just said four days til Christmas! I have an eight year old grandson and a husband with no gifts yet. Most everyone else has something to open. Any ideas for that 8 year old boy?

    I’m usually much further ahead with my shopping and gifts. I’ve made a quilt and pillow cases for some of the kids and I’ve been working on cross stitched bookmarks for all of them this week. I’m having a hard time getting myself organized this week as I am exhausted mentally and physically. It’s funny how a little part time job can sometimes be overwhelming even when you just work a few hours each day.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  10. I would ask his parents what he wants. My boys liked Legos at 8, but not every child does. He probably has a special interest. Perhaps he loves to draw and would want to draw that thing. Maybe he loves science and would like a book on a subject he likes. Or perhaps he loves sports and wants a ball/equipment.

    A game is also another way to go. Just check with his parents and make sure they don’t already own it. There are games in all sorts of price categories. Card games are the least expensive choice, but are a lot of fun and a great gift on a limited budget.

  11. We do a lot of shopping at thrift stores and garage sales for Christmas. I found a book in new condition for my husband for $0.75 at the thrift store that I am giving him for Christmas.

    Our local thrift store has lots of bicycles and helmets at Christmastime. They put them aside in the back to bring out at Christmas, since so many children ask for them for Christmas.

  12. Dear Brandy:

    My gift to you and your family this year are wishes for a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the coming year. When you wrote your article, “Why we are a One-Car family”, I had just lost our second car due to transmission failure. Your article sealed my commitment to be a one car family and it has been the right choice for us. Now every time I see that photo of that old toy truck revolving through through your Home page, I am reminded again of the blessings you helped me see clearly.

    I know I am not the only person you help with your grace and strength. Your online community is wonderful as well. And to all of you out there, Happy Holidays!!

  13. This is something we did this year that is particular to our local area, but I thought it might give someone an idea of something they could do similar. Our oldest is 11 and getting her friends small gifts is getting a little more difficult. Our community library sells coffees/specialty drinks and the profit all goes to library materials/improvements. The most popular kid drinks are 3.00, so we got each girl in her close-knit dance class a 3.00 gift certificate there and added a popcorn ball from a local area popcorn store (1.19 each). We packed them in some little red lunch style bags from the dollar store party supplies section along with a candy cane. We used dollar store jute twine and home printed tags to dress them up. Her friends loved them and they came to under 5.00 a piece wrapped. We have done similar gifts as well of a box of hot cocoa mix, a box of mini candy canes and a bag of marshmallows (all purchased on sale) wrapped up in cellophane. I have also found that if you watch the special sales in January and June at Bath and Body Works, you can get hand soaps for around 2.00 a piece (they have a new line of natural soap that is much gentler smelling than some of their normal scents). These pair great with a hand knit washcloth/scrubbie etc. and look really cute wrapped up with tissue paper brought up around them and tied towards the top. We have a local flour brand that sells little bags of pancake mix on sale for less than 3.00. (I have also made my own mix packed in quart jars). If you do any home canning, this pairs great with a jar of home canned fruit syrup. We did a spiced apple cider syrup this year. One family gifts us homemade caramel corn and peanut butter fudge in a cute gift bag each year that everyone loves and looks forward to. The dollar stores are such a great resource for inexpensive wrapping supplies. Even the simplest gift has a grander appearance with a little fancy ribbon or pretty paper! As a side note, I have often robbed myself of joy in giving by not reminding myself that what I am giving-no matter how small, is enough. It truly is the heart and the relationships with those we are gifting to that matter most.

  14. I would get something to encourage him be active, like a soccer ball.
    When my boy was young he was hyperactive, so we collected all kinds of sports equipment at the thrift and all the neighborhood boys were here every day to play soccer, street hockey, dodge ball, basketball, tennis, bocci ball or badminton. Also, my mom made a ramp to jump their bikes, but many parents think that is too dangerous.
    They ran off their nervous energy. All the other parents would put the kids in a room with video games, so they all played here and my mom or I would watch out for them.
    Merry Christmas.

  15. Andria, if I were to receive one of your gifts I would be delighted. They sound so creative and thoughtful and from the heart. So you should enjoy and be joyful about it.

    Some have followed my ongoing comments about the problems I had after the furnace servicing last week and the gas leak (which was finally fixed). The furnace guy came back on Monday and he replaced a little metal disc that had been making a squealing noise. He noticed that the condensation collector had been recalled so he said he would come today and replace it. In the meantime, it snowed about a foot or more, and so there was a frantic rush to shovel the snow so he could get up the driveway. His arrival was perfect as that part of the driveway was shovelled by the time he had arrived. I had in the meantime shovelled a path through the grass and down to the backdoor so he would not trip on the steps or the downspout. He made a slight error and in the second that he realized it there was a small fireball which singed off his eyebrows, his beard, burned his face (but I don’t think badly), singed the hair on his arms. He could not shut off the gas at the valve (I’m not sure why not).
    The motor was destroyed. He plunged his hands back into the furnace to connect the valve. And by that action he stopped what in another second would have been an explosion or a fire and not a small fireball either. I don’t think he is seriously hurt but as it’s a workplace accident, he went off to the clinic or hospital. His partner came back with the motor and installed it and then two fellow employees came in to check that it was installed correctly. I was not there for the fireball incident because I was outside with my snow shoveller. God and our guardian angels were looking after us. And it is so good to be alive!

  16. Thank you Brandy for helping my year to be frugal in many ways. Merry Christmas to your family.
    This Christmas was the most peaceful in many years as I kept a budget my purchases made early through the thrift
    And I also was able to sew some lavender sachets and
    Do some baking for others. I wrapped the gifts in boxes I had …in beautiful tissue and wrapped in pretty papers
    .50 and bows. My husband couldn’t believe how much was saved. I was pleased too. Thank you

  17. I agree with so many comments today. Your website is such a blessing to all of us. it provides a support community for like minded people that is such a positive reinforcement for a happy, healthy and frugal lifestyle.

  18. Well, after the small fireball yesterday, I am of course happy to be around to celebrate Christmas. I am also smiling because my insurance company will pay most of the cost to reimburse the lens I broke. The only problem is that it won’t auto focus on my present camera. Now that is a glitch. So I will have to think of a solution.

  19. I know this is belated but it was kind of busy last week.

    One of the things I always look for in every store just on regular visits is candles. I watch for nicer candles in jars that can run $15 to $25 full price to be on sale. 2 weeks ago one of the stores had buy one get 2 free so that brought the price of each candle down to just over $5 with tax. They were the holiday scents but that was fine. I like to keep a stock of candles as then I have a quick gift on hand as needed.

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