Thrifty birthday gift ideas

Happy birthday

Oh you shouldn’t have…

Birthdays should be a time of fun and happiness but if you’re short of cash then finding money for birthday gifts can be a major cause of stress.

Don’t fear though, with a bit of thought and creativity you can avoid shelling out your money and give a birthday gift that the recipient will love.

Most people will agree that the presents they really remember are the ones that took effort rather than ones that were pulled off the shelf in a shop and hurriedly shoved in a gift bag.

So giving a gift that’s low on cost but high on thought is more likely to be a hit!

1. A day out somewhere they’ll enjoy

It’s been proven that spending money on experiences rather than possessions will lead to greater happiness. So taking the birthday boy or girl out for the day can be a much better present than buying them something they may never use.

A day trip doesn’t have to be expensive either. If they’re an art lover then you could take a trip to your nearest art gallery or outdoorsy types might prefer a day of wild swimming (though make sure you read up on safety guidelines before jumping in the nearest pond!).

2. Let’s talk about regifting

This can sometimes be a controversial subject but re-wrapping gifts you’ve been given and giving them to someone else can be a handy way to save money. Arguably it cuts down waste and, when done carefully, you avoid hurting anyone’s feelings and can pass the gift on to someone who’ll appreciate it more.

A word of warning though: if the person who gave you the gift in the first place finds out then they might be a bit upset. This scenario is beautifully played out with a label maker in the Seinfeld episode where the term “regifting” was first coined.

3. Make a compilation of their favourite songs

Kids today won’t remember the hours of dedication and patience it takes to create a mix tape. I spent many an evening in my youth with my finger hovering over the pause button, waiting for a song to end and then rapidly pressing play and record together when the next song started.

It’s now much easier to make someone you care about a compilation of music they’ll love. Whether it’s burning a playlist to a CD, creating a playlist on spotify or putting their favourite videos into a YouTube playlist.

This is a pretty thrifty present but the real value comes in the selection of the songs. Think about which songs you both loved when you were younger or what was playing at the special moments you shared. Spending a bit of time thinking up the right songs will turn this cheap gift into something they’ll cherish.


Don’t worry about your artistic skills, mine are worse than yours…

4. Home made cards

Gift cards can be expensive and if you’re like me then it could well be something you forget about until the last minute. There’s a cheap and convenient alternative though and that’s to make your own. Not by designing one on a website, but actually making it with your own hands.

Don’t worry if you’re not the artistic type, most people will be grateful for the effort that goes into the card even if you’re not the best artist around. I’m saying this from personal experience, here’s my attempt at a birthday cake…

Here’s a great how-to video we found for you if you’re feeling creative.

5. Make something

Crafting a birthday gift is a great way to save money while adding that personal touch. What you’re able to do will depend on your skills and your budget but here are a few ideas:

6. Cookies in a jar

Baking can be a fun way to pass the time but it’s a faff having to find and measure out the ingredients that are needed. You can make a lovely gift for someone by taking this hassle away from them and giving them everything they need by using this cookies in a jar recipe.

If I’m being entirely honest I think I’d prefer to receive the cookies already made but if the birthday boy or girl likes baking then this gift will help them to enjoy their hobby. Otherwise you could just make the cookies yourself and wrap them in a tub.

7. Homemade coupons

Some gifts are worth more than money. Making some vouchers with a promise to do something nice for your loved one will cost you almost nothing but could make a world of difference. Whether it’s a night of babysitting, a backrub or cooking tea one night, you can offer to do something that they’ll really appreciate.

If you’re not sure where to start then wikiHow has a handy step by step guide to make a coupon book. It’s important to make sure that you don’t promise too much though, or you could end up spending every weekend being someone’s slave!

What did we miss?

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any other ideas for thoughtful gifts that won’t cost loads of money. We’ll update the article to include some of the best suggestions!

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Posted by in Budgeting