7 cheap but cheerful Christmas gift ideas

The festive season is just around the corner and, for many, it’s time to start shopping for the perfect Christmas present. But how can you buy the ideal gift without breaking the bank?

Our top cheap and cheerful gift ideas are here to help you get Christmas all wrapped up.

1. Gift a world of adventure with a new book

There’s a book out there for everyone, whether your giftee is an avid fiction reader, loves a good biography or can’t resist dipping into the annual edition of Guinness World Records.

A brand new book typically cost less than £10 (research suggests the average price of fiction books in the UK was around £3 back in 2019), making it not only a cheap present idea but also a fantastic talking point.

Thoughtful top tip: Why not arrange a book swap for Christmas? Gift your friends or family a book you’ve really enjoyed this year (it can be a new or pre-loved version) and ask them to choose one for you too. Once you’ve both had chance to finish each other’s must-read book, enjoy comparing thoughts and ideas.

2. Create an ‘at home’ spa day experience

A spa experience is a fantastic way to show your loved ones you care. However, according to Spabreaks.com, a spa day can cost from £30 to thousands of pounds — so why not replicate the experience at home for a fraction of the cost?

Grab a gift box, fill it with crinkled tissue paper and pop in a variety of spa-style products. Think mini scented candles, herbal teas and a cleansing face mask to give your friends or family a real spa day feel.

Thoughtful top tip: It’s more cost effective to bulk buy and create spa experience sets for a few of your friends. For example, purchasing a nail varnish set might work out cheaper per bottle compared to buying nail polish individually. Retailers also promote offers throughout the festive season, such as 3 for 2 on popular items, so you can save when you add more to your basket.

3. Go green with a potted plant

From poinsettias to orchids, cacti to mini Christmas trees, a gorgeous potted plant in a festive gift bag is a great way to add a touch of nature without it costing you the earth. They’ll look lovely in any room, but plants are thought to have a particularly positive effect in our workspaces so they’re a match made in heaven for any home office.

When planted in an eco-friendly ceramic or terracotta pot, you’re sure to have a blooming lovely gift on your hands —it’s certainly a top choice for eco-conscious gift receivers.

Thoughtful tip: If you want your gift to last well into 2023 and beyond, buy your friends or family a seed kit set instead. This is a superb sustainable option, too, reducing any need for single-use plastic and providing a gift that’ll last much longer than a bottle of bubbly.

4. Turn your hobbies into a great gift

Not only can you make money doing what you love, you can also find ways to make gifts whilst enjoying your favourite pastime.

Probably the first thing that springs to mind is homemade soap or candles and, though they’re fabulous homemade gift choices, you can get creative and make gifts by taking part in almost any hobby.

A keen photographer? Frame your favourite photograph and present it as a thoughtful gift. As a fitness instructor, you could offer a personalised fitness programme to get your loves ones’ New Year off to a happy and healthy start. If you’re a super chef, why not part with your best secret recipe alongside a new recipe organiser? Whatever your hobby, you can find a way to turn your skill into a great gift.

Thoughtful tip: Think about their hobbies, too. Whether they’re a gaming extraordinaire, a budding thespian or an aspiring novelist, it’s always a lovely idea to tailor a present to suit their interests.

5. A Christmas playlist

Who remembers the days of mixed tapes? Well, we do, and it’s time they made a comeback. To bring this classic idea bang up to date, create a digital playlist packed full of hits that remind you of great times with your loved one. Simply print out the playlist’s QR code and stick it to a festive postcard or go one step further and design up a beautiful piece of artwork that puts your playlist code front and centre. There are also plenty of professional crafters who have created stunning playlist keepsakes — check out Etsy or Not On The High Street to find the perfect personalised present.

Thoughtful tip: We love the idea of a Christmas playlist advent calendar. This one’s particularly thoughtful if your friends or family live far away, as you can send a song a day that reminds you of them in the run-up to Christmas.

6. A trip out together

Giving the gift of time seems cliché but spending time with loved ones is a proven way to boost wellbeing and improve your overall sense of happiness. Choose an activity or experience to suit your budget and you can give a gift your friends or family will look forward to long after Christmas. Towards the cheaper end of the scale, an afternoon tea voucher is a tasty choice or you can really splash out with a staycation trip if budget allows.

Thoughtful tip: There are plenty of experience vouchers out there that will allow your giftee chance to choose what they’d like to do. It’s a win-win as they can personalise their experience and you can set a firm budget, so you won’t end up overspending.

7. Upcycle to create a sweet treat centrepiece

Sweets and chocolate are a popular gift choice, but you can make your sweets stand out by putting a bit of extra thought into presentation. Layer up different sweets in a jar (you can either wash out a used one or buy new), add a piece of fabric or festive wrapping paper to the lid and tie with a ribbon. It’s simple, but so much more thoughtful compared to adding a bag of sweets or two to the pile of presents under the tree.

Thoughtful tip: If you’re a dab hand in the kitchen, you could even try creating your own sweet treats. A batch of 25 easy-to-make truffles should cost less than £5, given there are only three ingredients: 200g dark chocolate (plus an extra 200g for a chocolate coating), 150ml double cream and 25g unsalted butter.

Planning something special? Budget for the perfect present with our low-cost personal loans

It’s important to budget carefully to keep your costs under control throughout the festive season. Not every present needs to be a big one, and you can cut your spending by choosing one of our thoughtful and yet cost-effective gift ideas. Check out our blog for more advice on managing your finances over Christmas too.

That said, if you’re looking to purchase the present of a lifetime, you don’t have to miss out. Our flexible personal finance options could help. Whether you’re planning the perfect proposal under the mistletoe or buying a bigger gift to celebrate an important milestone, a small loan could make a big purchase more affordable by allowing you to spread the cost over time.

Get quote using out loan calculator, and borrow between £1,000 and £35,000 with competitive rates from as low as 7.4% APR Representative (£7,500 to £25,000).


Written by

Stephanie Reid

Stephanie Reid is a financial services expert with over eight years of experience writing money-saving articles at Novuna Personal Finance. She has written hundreds of articles on a variety of topics including interior design, home improvements and weddings - with a keen eye for spotting money-saving opportunities and passing these tips onto readers. As a mum of two, Stephanie knows how important budgeting effectively is for parents and often incorporates family budgeting tips into her guides.

Tuesday 5th December 2023

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