A pound of cashews/pistachios/etc. for the nut lover
A teapot/cup with tea for the tea lover
A coffee mug with biscotti and several sample size gourmet coffees
A cute platter with cookies or baked goods on it
A tin filled with baked goods with the recipes
Gardening gloves with a trowel or other tool or with a plant or seeds
Basket filled with fancy chocolates
Movie night gift: basket with gift certificate for movie rental, box(es) of candy, soda, bag of microwave popcorn
Housewarming gift: postcards that say “we’ve moved” with stamps
Note cards and stamps
Nice glass candy dish (try an antique shop or a flea market!) filled with candy
Books – try a book sale or a used book shop for unusual finds
Prepaid phone cards
For the bread lover: home-baked bread with the recipe
From the dollar store: candles, bath mitt, body wash to make up a gift basket
Italian night for a family: colander with a jar of spaghetti sauce, a package of pasta, and a loaf of Italian bread
Make mini-loaves of quick bread mixes from the grocery store; give to multiple people as a small gift.
Make stationery on your computer and printer. Design it in a word processing program, buy colored paper (or white if you prefer) and print it yourself. You could even buy matching envelopes, stamps, and stickers to seal the envelope if you wanted to get fancy.
Make a “quote a day” jar with quotes you find amusing or inspirational, print on colored paper, cut apart, fold up, then place them in a nice jar or container. I’ve done this for years for my mother and she loves it.
Get a rubber stamp and make note cards (and matching envelopes).
This one requires planning ahead: buy a blank book or journal and fill it with quotes that remind you of the recipient, newspaper or magazine clippings that they’d be interested in, stories of the two of you together, and pictures of you together, etc.
If you are good with kids, offer to babysit.
If you enjoy cooking, offer to make dinner.
Give an “experience” – go out to lunch and a movie with a friend, take someone who doesn’t get out much shopping, go hiking together, do something you both enjoy together.
If you are good at cleaning, clean house for someone who’s working extra shifts (or who has a newborn!).
Make sachet bags for dresser drawers/closets. This does not take much fabric or potpourri to make a nice set.
Get magnetized shopping pads for the refrigerator; everybody goes shopping or needs to make notes at some point.
Get decorative boxes that remind you of the recipient – they are great for organizing small things.
If you know someone who is short of time and behind on laundry, do it for them.
For someone who is really busy or just not up to cooking, make a week’s worth of meals and put them in easy-to-reheat containers in the fridge or freezer. (Mark with the date cooked.)
Thank you gift? A simple thank you note. Many people don’t write notes anymore, so this would be a nice surprise.
Have a greeting mailed from the White House; mind you, these are available only for a limited number of events, but you can find information here for these greetings.
Make a simple Christmas ornament; there are a lot of interesting ideas out there. Try going to your local craft store for ideas – or check out a library book. One idea is to buy a ceramic ornament from the craft store, along with either the proper paints to decorate it or press-and-stick decorations.
Buy a plain tote bag from a craft store and decorate it with fabric paints, iron-ons, or whatever you would like. They make good book bags.
Crochet an afghan. This can be easy to do even on a budget. Simply buy the no-dye-lot yarn – and don’t buy exotic colors. If you do that, they should continue to have the yarn in stock and you would not need to buy it all at once. Another idea would be to make a rainbow colored afghan so that you could simply buy colors you like as you go.
Crochet or knit scarves for those you know in cold climates. Handmade scarves are much nicer than store-bought.
Make a personal care gift basket: fill with finger nail polish/polish remover/cotton balls, makeup/makeup remover, or a bath sponge/body wash/ scented spray.
Jar gifts: take a nice jar and fill it in layers with the ingredients for something like your favorite chocolate chip cookies (only the dry ingredients, obviously). Then type up and print out the wet ingredients and directions for making the cookies and attach to the jar with a pretty ribbon. Some sites with recipes are listed below:
You can find nice candles that are not too expensive – just be careful about giving them to people with allergies!
Small figurines that match the recipients taste can be nice without being expensive.
Matching hat and glove sets can be nice as well, and can be as expensive as you’d like.
Gift certificates to their favorite store can be nice as well – and can be for many different denominations, depending on your budget.
Gift certificates to restaurants are also good, particularly for people on a fixed budget.
A miniature Christmas tree decorated with mini-ornaments
A blooming plant of some sort for the gardener
For new parents: a bib a day for their baby (one for each day of the week). You could go with a theme (humor, I Love…, a color, etc.)
Also for new parents: a gift basket with a number of indispensable items like a thermometer, nail clippers, comb, baby wash clothes, Vaseline, and the like.
Another one for new parents: lots and lots of wipes.
Another one for new parents: a copy of your favorite childhood book.
To give parents who don’t need anything else to dust: write a letter thanking them and describe the great memories you have of childhood.
Make your spouse’s favorite dinner and dessert for a romantic evening.
Call relatives you haven’t seen in a while – the gift of time is a wonderful thing.
Write to older relatives. Shoot, write to younger relatives…most people enjoy getting letters or cards in the mail.
If you don’t see your family often, have professional pictures taken, then frame some as gifts. You can often get package deals that are not too expensive for the pictures.
Crochet bookmarks for readers.
Cross stitch bookmarks for readers – you can match the design to their hobby or interest.
Find out if they have an “Amazon” list; if they do, find an item from their list that is in your budget.
Give coupons for a service that you can perform for them: offer to wash their car, cut their grass, cook dinner, clean their house, babysit, etc.
Bake cookies and stop by for a visit, if you haven’t seen them in a while.
Offer to pet sit.
Make up a recipe book of your family’s favorite recipes, then print it and put it in binders for family members.
Make a gift basket with a few nice pieces of fruit and some different kinds of cheese.
Make a basket for someone who likes to cook with different utensils that you know they need or want.
Gather 12-13 pictures together and have a family calendar made. Many 0nline sites can take digital photographs you upload; one I’ve worked with can even do multiple pictures for each month. They aren’t too expensive and if you look, some are less expensive than others.
Put favorite pictures on mugs, t-shirts, playing cards (I think), note cards, and the like. There are a number of sites that do this sort of thing.
If youhave MS Powerpoint, create a slide show using special pictures. You can do so much with it: add music, use special effects, etc.
Buy Christmas ornaments in January, when they are on sale.
Look at other items on sale in January; see if you can find things that are appropriate for those on your list.
Several books from the best seller’s list
A CD that you found that you know they’d love
Books on CD or tape
Gift certificates to a movie theater
A donation to a charity in the recipient’s name
Make candles! Add a candle holder.
iTunes gift card might be good for a teen.
A set of colored pencils and a sketch pad for a budding artist
A journal or blank book with a nice pen for someone who likes to write
For an soon-to-arrive baby: a small basket with pacifiers, teethers, stroller toys, washcloths, or other small items
If you cross stitch, buy a set of plain place mats and cross stitch a small decorative element on each. You could even make matching napkin rings.
Make a decorated picture frame. Buy a simple wooden frame. At a craft store, you should be able to find some elements that represent the recipient’s interests or hobbies that you can glue to the frame.
A basket with muffin/biscuit mix with jams/jellies
A magazine subscription; there are some out there that aren’t terribly expensive.
For a new mother: babysit so she can sleep, get her hair cut, run an errand, etc.
Pet sit for a friend who travels at the holiday.
Fill a nice container with their favorite treat, homemade or otherwise.
If you have a special talent like backrubs, cooking, or working on cars, offer your services.
Try a fruit-of-the-month club for a three-month period.
A small package of gourmet chocolate
If there is an inexpensive wine that you’ve found that you like, share it with a friend.
For kids, make an arts and crafts box. Get a box or basket of some sort and put stickers, paper, crayons, colored pencils, and the like in it. You could add coloring books or sketch pads as well.
If your favorite gardener likes antiques, try giving them an “heirloom” plant. There are heirloom roses and tomatoes, among others. Try your local garden center.
If the recipient likes unusual plants, try a venus flytrap or a tropical-type plant.
A get-well-soon basket: a can or two of their favorite soup, a large mug to eat it out of, and some tea/honey. If you know they are coughing, add cough drops or hard candy!
If they have a pet, make homemade dog treats or cat treats.
Listen to what your recipient really wants or needs; it could be as simple as a pair of nice gloves for driving to work on cold days or a mug with his favorite sports team’s name on it.
Crochet a scarf (or knit it!) in their favorite team’s colors.
Make a set of handmade notecards with matching envelopes and add a book of stamps for someone who loves to write notes to people. There are any number of ways to go about this; you can now print out your own notecards using specialized stationery from an office supply store; simply pick out a nice font and personalize it. You can also get nice rub-ons or stickers that are acid-free and simply add those to the paper.
Put together a small “kit” of the supplies to finish a small project in a craft that you excel at and give it to someone who is interested in learning with the promise to show them how.
Write a letter to a friend to tell them how much they have meant to you over the years and print it on really nice paper.
Just listen when a friend or relative needs to talk – don’t offer solutions or to fix things unless you know that is what they need. Sometimes people just love the gift of listening.
Does your recipient participate in a particular sport? They may need some supplies: tees/golfballs, gloves for weightlifting, a new exercise video, good socks to wear with hiking boots or inline skates, and so forth.