The Cash Fasting Gift Guide: Low Budget Gift Ideas

Unless you’ve decided to not gift any presents this year, the holiday season can be rough for us frugal-minded folks. Generally, I try to avoid spending money, but I don’t skip out on holiday gifting. I enjoy giving gifts! Staying on a budget over the holidays hasn’t always been successful in the past.

Well, I’m getting smarter this year. After much browsing, I’ve found some good ideas and compiled them in this handy gift guide. Time to share the love! Everything here is under $20 (except for one, which I call out). The majority of them are under $10! 👏👏👏

Every item in this gift guide is a product that I have actually purchased myself, with my own money, to gift to friends and family. As a disclaimer: for some of the links below, if you click on them and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. To read my full disclaimer, click here.

Here it is, The Budget Gift Guide!

For your office White Elephant gift exchange:

The Tao of Tea (I like Black Mango)
I’ve met very few people who don’t drink tea; it’s got more widespread appeal than coffee. I prefer loose leaf, although it’s not as convenient as buying tea bags. My office gift exchanges typically have a limit of $30, so I also purchased this to go with the tea:

Tea Infuser and Mug Gift set (Multiple Varieties)I bought the sloth version because it was the cheapest at the time, but there are other versions of this set with a manatee, a narwhal, and something called “Mr.Tea”. I like my coworkers so I got both. For other people whom I feel obligated to get a gift for but don’t want to spend a lot of money on, I would probably purchase one or the other.

For the friend who cares about sustainability/eco-friendly products:

Bee’s Wrap Sustainable Food Storage: an alternative to plastic wrap

Have you heard about these? They’re an amazing alternative to plastic wrap. This set of three is under $20, and a good introduction to food saving alternatives for people in your life who care about sustainability. I’m eager for my sister to test them out; if she gives these her stamp of approval I’ll get a set for myself.

HankyBook: the sustainable replacement for disposable tissues/wipes/napkins

I’m intrigued by this gift because the idea of replacing disposable tissues grosses me out. However, for the hardcore sustainability-advocate in your life, this may be the perfect gift. At a little over $20, it’s a little more expensive than I’d like, but my budget limits are are a bit more flexible when it comes to family. (You guessed it, my sister is getting this one, too.)

For the skincare fiend:

A Charcoal Peel-Off MaskOkay for only $5, how can you not get this? I’m unashamed to admit that I bought two without even bothering to try it out first. I’ve now tested it and I’m very pleased (I’m a little obsessed with skincare). Similar masks go for $8-$15; this is the cheapest that I’ve been able to find.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray

Last year I gave this rosewater spray to 5 different people. For $7 it’s a good deal. I use it in the morning and at night; it smells AMAZEBALLS🌹. The Kardashians swear by this spray… This actually makes me less inclined to buy it, but I’m glad I looked past their endorsement because it is one of my favorite beauty products.

For the child-at-heart:

A rechargeable silicone nightlightLOOK AT ITTTTT. It’s squishy. It’s USB-rechargeable. It lights up in so many colorrrrsssss. There are two options, a “cute” version and the one pictured above, which I think is far superior. For under $15, it’s the perfect funny gift. Yes, the product is advertised for nursery rooms, but I don’t even care.

LEGO mini figurine: A nostalgic surprise

The mystery of not knowing what’s inside this makes the gifting experience more exciting. I purchased this last year for my office white elephant, along with a LEGO building block set (<$20 and perfect for your more creative friends). I experience a ton of nostalgia with Legos so I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s a perfect gift for anyone old enough not to eat the pieces.

The hot new thing: Exploding Kittens

I’ve never met someone who didn’t enjoy this game. Why? The rules are simple and the drawings are hilariously inappropriate. This card game is the perfect gift for someone who still finds poop jokes hilarious (secretly, isn’t that all of us?).

For the person who has everything:

Don’t confuse this type of person with a minimalist. For the minimalists in your life, stick to gifts that can be used up or used frequently; this means gifts like useful kitchen gadgets, everyday shoes, or consumables.

For the non-minimalists who don’t need anything, here are a few gifts to consider:

A giant Ferrero RocherWho am I kidding. Minimalist or not, any chocolate-lover should appreciate a Ferrero Rocher. 3.5 ounces isn’t ginormous, but it’s pretty damn big. Plus, for under $10, it won’t strain your wallet. It’s perfect for the ‘gram, too, so gift it to your social-savvy peeps.

A simple, warm beanie

I think this is the beanie version of the sisterhood of the traveling pants. I own this in red, and over the years I’ve gifted out this beanie in various colors. It’s never over $10, and it looks good on all genders, face shapes, and hairstyles. The only person I’ve ever seen this beanie not look good on is my dad. He’s got a huge noggin, though, and he’s bald AF, so I don’t think he counts. 😂

LED fairy lights

Everyone needs a little twinkle twinkle in their lives. Ian and I have two of these hung up around our bedroom; it makes for really nice lighting. Fairy lights are one of those things that may seem silly, but after you’ve put them up, the effect turns into “Damn, that looks nice”. The copper wire lights are super versatile. I’ve purchased a string for my mom to decorate a mini Christmas tree and gifted (and received) strings from friends because WE ALL LOVE A LITTLE SPARKLE.

Fairy lights are a simple way to glam up a living space.


Giving presents is a very personal thing (if it’s not, you should reconsider why you’re giving a gift in the first place). Hopefully, this gift guide inspired some great gift ideas. I know I didn’t cover every gift-giving category, but all of the presents have mass appeal, in my opinion. Of course, there’s nothing better than sitting down and handmaking gifts, but that’s not for everyone. I’ll make my own cards, but that’s the limit of my craft skills. Plus, time = money, amiright?

What budget-friendly go-to gift ideas do you have?


    1. Author

      I saw this idea on Reddit a while back for a craft beer advent calendar. Definitely going to do that someday.
      You really can’t go wrong with Legos! They’re 10x better than fidget spinners and just all around great toys. Scratcher tickets are a great idea 😂 someone last year gave 25 $1 scratchers in our white elephant gift exchange; I think the recipient got $20 out of it.

  1. I’m very intrigued by the exploding kittens idea! I tend to veer on the practical side when it comes to gifts. I liked knowing the thing I give to people will be put to good use!

    1. Author

      I generally like giving gifts that will be used, too. However, I also think that most people should own at least one card/board game. The game made the list because of how much fun my dad had playing it last year. In multiple games with my siblings and Ian, he giggled the most 😂

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