9 Meaningful, Last-Minute Gifts for Under $7

A box of multi-colored gumballs. An ornament with the previous year sketched in glitter. A whistle. A bathrobe three sizes too big. A stuffed animal. A set of dishes with playing card designs on them.

What do all of these items have in common? These were gifts purchased for me as an adult… from other adults. I don’t want to sound unappreciative because I am truly thankful every time someone gives me a gift, whether big or small. However, I think those gift-givers would have preferred to give me something that wouldn’t be re-gifted soon after. I’m sure they would have preferred to save their money and gift something a bit more meaningful and personalized. I assume every gift-giver’s intention is to not only say “I love you” or “I appreciate you” with their gift but also “I know you.”

Hopefully, you can find an idea or two from the list below that will allow you to save money, personalize a gift based on the receiver’s interests, and avoid a difficult crafting attempt (and subsequent Pinterest fail).

Simmer Pot

Holiday Simmer Pot

This gift is perfect for a friend who loves Christmas, candles, or just a yummy-smelling home. It’s especially great as a hostess gift! And all that’s required is collecting ingredients from the grocery store or your own kitchen, tossing them in a bag, tying on a cute ribbon, and writing a sweet note, including instructions. (Click on the picture above for details.)

Calendar with Important Dates

Buy or create a cute calendar, then personalize it with events and special dates meaningful to you and the receiver. You can include date nights with a partner or promises for monthly nights out with a friend. You can populate it with family birthdays and add a gift idea. Additional options include concerts or plays coming to town, free events in the neighborhood, and fun festivals nearby. Check out Dripping with Kids for events and activities in the Texas Hill Country.

DIY Seasonal Banner

Easy DIY Banner for a Baseball Fan –
add a team pennant or name for a more personalized touch

Ok, yes, this is technically a craft, but it’s not a hard one. This handcrafted gift is easy to make, and it would be a fun addition to anyone’s decor. Choose colors for a specific season, for a particular interest like a sports team, or just colors that match the receiver’s living room. Purchase fabric in those colors, cut them into strips, and tie the fabric around wire or twine.

Travel Map

For a teacher, friend, or family member who loves to travel, print a beautiful oversized map of the United States or a blank one to color yourself with bold or pastel colors. Another option is to find a fabric print with a map on it. Then, glue or staple the map to cardboard or foam backing and frame it. Finally, purchase small pins for the receiver to use to mark all the states he or she has visited.

Hiking Kit

For the outdoorsy type, purchase travel size sunscreen, bug spray, and a few protein bars. Then, print a list of local hiking trails to add a personalized touch. Dig up your old fanny pack or gently used backpack and stuff the gifts inside. You can also change up the theme for a beach-lover by filling a wide-brimmed hat with sunscreen, snacks, and a list of the best beach hideouts.

Family Game Night Pack

Perfect for your neighbors, a white elephant party, or another family you’ve been hoping to start regular game nights with… pack a wrapped shoe box or decorative photo storage box with a cool deck of cards, a mason jar full of charades clues, easy snacks like popcorn and candy, and an invitation to come over on a specific night to play.

Book with Personalized Review and Bookmark

Everyone has a book-lover on their holiday shopping list. Why not gift him or her a book you absolutely loved with some personal notes inside? Grab a favorite book from your shelf (you probably won’t read it again), as well as a few sticky notes. Find the best chapters or a few pages with character descriptions that remind you of the gift receiver or some mutual friends/family members. Jot down funny or sweet notes for him or her to find while reading the book. Include a clever handwritten review and bookmark at the front of the book.

Cup of Warmth

Small, thoughtful bags to make cider or hot cocoa are an affordable way to show appreciation to teachers that go above and beyond, crossing guards with broad smiles, letter carriers with a skip in their step, or neighbors who always have that spare ingredient you’re missing. Cost for each treat bag is about 40 cents, but with a sweet note added on, it’s worth so much more! 🧡🤎 (Each bag includes one packet of apple cider mix, a small cinnamon stick, and a couple cookies. For hot cocoa, include a couple packets, peppermint sticks, and marshmallows or chocolate chips.)

Baking Kit

You can quickly think up a sweet friend or talented family member who loves to bake. This easy but thoughtful gift will put a big smile on the amateur baker’s face! Include candy molds and chocolate melts, plus a jar of cake or cookie mix, and a few cookie cutters and cupcake liners. Wrap it up in a pretty box, include some family recipes, and write out an invitation to enjoy an evening of baking together.

Although each of these gifts will show a loved one that you care, quality time might be the best gift of all. I hope that each of you reading this gets the opportunity to spend time with your family and friends this holiday season… whatever that may look like in 2020.

One Comment

  1. […] Find ways to give thoughtful gifts to friends and family without spending much (or any) money. Shop your own home first for items you’ve bought and rarely or never used. Write out a thoughtful note and invite them to do an outdoor activity with you. Drop off food. Re-gift a gift card. Make a fun goody bag with snacks and small items. Get creative and DIY something. For more ideas, check out these meaningful gifts. […]



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