25 Great Gifts Under $5

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Christmas gift wrap for Valentine's
To be able to get anything for $5 or less is a real challenge but if you give yourself a little time and are up to doing some  work you can really wow people with your thoughtful but inexpensive gifts. 

You don't want any of your gifts to look cheap even though you haven't spent a lot of money on them and these don't.

With a little bit of creativity and time you can pull together a bevy of great inexpensive gifts for everyone on your gift list.
Cuff links
1. Vintage Cuff Links-  Thrift stores and Antique shops are stuffed full of cuff links since they are not longer a fashion necessity for men. While really rare and expensive ones are quickly snapped up by antique dealers really nice ones are still available for under $5 and sometimes sell for as little as 25 cents! You can try to find them with initials of the person you are looking for to make them extra special. Many men have dress shirts that need cuff links but use double buttons instead.

2. Books There are millions of books out there in every conceivable subject you could imagine and half of them seem to end up in Garage Sales and Church Bazaars. Look and you will be amazed at the prices they sell for, especially at the end of the day. Want to really show off? Lay the book flat, add some extra related small gifts (flower pots and seed for a gardening book, small muffin tin and spices for a baking book) and wrap it all up with cellophane and a huge bow.

3.Vintage Tie or Novelty Tie - It is amazing how cheaply silk ties sell for in thrift stores. Easy under $5 and often under $3. Most of these ties were obviously given to men that did not appreciate them and they were never worn. The point of giving someone a vintage or novelty tie is that they have to have the type of personality that would wear it. Great for young men looking for their style and willing to push the limits. These ties have to be in immaculate condition as a tie is very difficult to clean and still come out looking good. Check the maker and you might stumble upon a designer tie from the 60's or 70's. 

4.Personalized Journals - If you have a friend or relative that is always scribbling notes about their hobby or other interest in stray notebooks or on bits of paper then consider making them a special journal. You can buy a nice journal with blank pages from almost any Dollar Store and then you would make a label on your computer that you would glue on with a glue stick. Some ideas are a gardening journal, a bargain hunting journal, cooking journal, health journal or a sports journal. You could write a note to them on the first page, such as, Dear Amy, I have seen your wonderful interest in baking grow over the years and thought that you could use this journal to record you many successes and your very occasional misses, With all My love, Ingrid.  

Sterling Charm
5.Vintage Silver Charms- During the 50's and 60's charm bracelets were hugely popular and it seemed that every young girl had one. They fell out of favour in the 70's and they have been ending up in thrift stores and antique stores ever since. Dealers tend to snipe off the individual charms from the bracelets and sell them separately for about $5 and under, unless they are mechanical charms that have moving parts which tend to sell for more. It can be a great deal of fun trying to find charms to match a person's personality. These charms can be attached to bracelets, necklaces or even dangle off purses. 

6.Playing Cards and Book of Card Tricks - What better to make your recipient the center of attention than for them to pull out a pack of cards and start amusing a crowd with tricks. This is a perfect gift for someone who enjoys the lime light. If you have difficulty finding a book with card tricks you could create your own by going on line to find tricks. The great thing about creating your own book is that you can store it on your computer and print it off when ever you need it for a really inexpensive but interesting gift. It will take some time and effort in the beginning to make the book but the quality will show the more effort you take.

Making stationerry
7.Personalized Stationary/Monogram-  Yes there are still people out there that prefer to send a written message rather than to e-mail them. Personalized stationery can look rich and expensive if you take the time to do it well. You can also design for them a monogram that they can use themselves and when presenting it to them tell them that you will send them the monogram electronically so they can have it on their own computer. Monograms were traditionally used to decorate linens, mark fine furniture on the underside, and to use on cards and stationary.

8.Personalized Desk Calendar
- This is a project that will take some time to pull together but the results is so personalized and can range from fun and funky to elegant and sophisticated depending on how you make it. Find a double 5 x 7 frame ( the Dollar store is great for a simple one) where on one side you will be making a series of monthly calendars on your computer and on the other side a photograph that is meaningful to them. On the calendar you can personalize it by adding holidays and other events and birthdays, anniversaries and other dates that they would appreciate. 

Vase with pinecones
8.Vase - These can be incredible inexpensive at garage sales and thrift shops and there are styles for every taste. If you buy one that is very plain then you could fill it with seasonal small fruit or nuts for presentation. If giving it to them for Christmas you could fill it with dollar store silver or gold ornaments. If you are giving it to them in the summer you can fill it with flower from your own garden. A bouquet of peonies or hydrangeas can look stunning and expensive.

10.Chocolate Chess Set- Chocolate molds for chess sets sell for under $3. It will take you a bit of time to make a chocolate chess set but it is easy to do, instructions are included with the mold. This is another gift that you can make for several people once you have bought the mold.  Buy your chocolate ( white and dark) on sale after Easter or Christmas for further savings (see the article Storing Chocolate). You can also buy molds for checker pieces for under $3.  

Pot Pourri in bowl
11.Vintage Cut Glass or Pressed Glass Bowl - These can look stunningly beautiful if they are filled with potpourri, fruits, nuts, or chocolate truffles. They are a standard at thrift stores, antique malls and garage sales. They would be most suitable for someone who was traditional tastes. Latter they could use it as a catch-all in their bathroom, on their vanity or on their front table for their keys.

12. Letter Opener
- Everyone receives mail and a letter opener is a practical and useful item to own. They are often in estate sales, garage sales and antique stores. While the high end ones tend to have silver handles and are extremely costly you can find nice ones with leather or brass handles for under $5. To make sure they understand what it is you could make a small tag on your computer that states, Letter Opener.

Sewing a Fabulous Fold Up Shopping Bag
13. Fold Up Shopping Bag As more and more stores are charging their patrons for plastic bags it is great to receive a really stylish cloth fold up shopping bag. This bag is easy to make even for beginner sewers and you can customize the fabric to each individual. 

You can read the full tutorial on how to make these easy bags in Sewing a Fabulous Fold Up Shopping Bag

14. Personalized Pillow Case - You can make the romantic pillow case just by embroidering on the side edge of a pillow case. Either chose a saying like "J'adore" or Sweet Dreams. Have the colour of the pillow case match their regular linen and do the embroidery in a strong contrasting colour.

Clementines in basket
15. Basket of Fruit or Nuts - Clementines are a wonderful fruit that most people associated with Christmas. Often you can buy a box of these lovely little citruses on sale for under $4. Pop them into a garage sale basket with a bow and you have a great little gift perfect for those people who are always saying they don't need anything.

16. Framed Advertisements -  Oh how times have changed. If you have a techno geek on you list then they might find ads from the 70's and 80's about cell phones and computers an absolute riot. Magazines that are old but not vintage show up at garage sales all the time and sell for pennies. Two of these in frames that you have picked up from a warehouse store, garage sale or thrift shop would be great (read my article Deals on Frames for Art and Photography).  Look for ads that have something to do with either their work, hobby, or lifestyle.

Christmas gift basket
17. Gift Basket Yes it is a standard but it doesn't have to be expensive or tacky if you start buying for it early and wisely. Gift baskets can be themed around a person's interests so you have a variety of ideas that you can work with. 

For a complete instructions and ideas on gift baskets read Make Inexpensive Gift Baskets That Look Expensive.

18. All Natural Bath and Beauty Products - The three most common natural beauty products are Epsom Salts for the bath, Almond Oil for moisturizer and Cornstarch as skin powder. These are sold for outrageous mark ups when a few drops of dye and fragrance are added to them. They can be bought very inexpensively and you can repackage with instructions and health benefits as "All Natural with No Added Fragrance or Dyes". Place them in a basket with a cotton face cloth and you have a modern and practical gift.

Hot Dog Hand Warmers
19. Foot, Hand or Neck Warmer- Who would ever think that a cup of rice in a cotton bag could bring so much comfort.To make them you simply have to sew up a cotton bag and loosely fill it with rice and sew the bag shut. Write out instructions not to get the bag wet and to warm it up place it in the microwave oven for 15 seconds to 1minute (every microwave oven seems to be different you will have to experiment). Little hand warmers are great to make for people who have long walks in the winter to get to school or work. Sew up a set of these Hot Dog - Hand Warmers to Make.

20. Paper Dolls  There are many sites that have the original artwork for Victorian paper dolls that you can print out for free on card stock. Do a little research and you will find several. For a little girl that loves her toys to be more contemporary Modern paper dolls are available from Wee Wonderfuls for free to print and are perfect for the 21st century little girl.

21. Bath Tub Crayons - Children love splashing around in the tub. Make a bath set for them by making tub crayons by grating down regular white soap and adding water and mixing it until it is a gel consistency. Pour  into small molds (you could use the plastic inserts from food packages for molds) and add food coloring to make each mold a different colour. Let dry for several days and then pop out of the mold. Place these in a cellophane bag with a label explaining what they are.

Teddy bear with book of rhymes
22. Teddy Bear with Book of Rhymes - Some people have a knack for rhyming and poetry and would enjoy making up a small booklet of bedtime rhymes on the computer where the child's name is frequently used. The front of the small booklet could have the title "Sara's (the child's name) Bed Time Book of Rhymes by Mr. Bear." Look for a plain teddy bear on sale and dress him up with a gorgeous satin bow.  On the cover of the booklet you could have a bear with a matching colour bow. The rhymes could deal with the child's day (try to channel Beatrix Potter) from breakfast to play time to dinner and bed time. Remove the bow from the bear for the safety of the child.

23. Ball-   Do you remember the joy of playing with a ball as a child? Simple basic and hours of fun. Using a permanent marker either doodle a little image or initial it with their last name so it will always be recognizable as theirs.

Wood Blocks for children
24. Wood Blocks - The best toys for children are those that they can multi purpose and use their imaginations on. Wood blocks are great for this. Not only can they build with wood blocks but they can incorporate their other toys with them and use the blocks for a wall their toy trucks have to break through or a fortress wall that there super heroes break down. 

Spending an afternoon cutting wood down to small sizes and then sanding them is all you would have to do. Wood block do not need to be varnished or colored.

25. Doll Wardrobe - If they have a favourite doll make a wardrobe for them. The dresses for dolls are very small and don't take up much fabric. This is a time consuming project but if you have sewing skill and like a challenge you would be giving them a gift that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Try to find out before you start if they enjoy their dolls having historical clothes like capes and dresses or more modern clothes like jeans and hoodies.

Have you Read:
Christmas Potpourri to Make                                 Christmas Pinecone Teddy Bears Tutorial
Christmas potpourri
pine cone pinecone teddy bear tutorial

Making home made Christmas ornaments
More Inexpensive homemade Christmas ornaments

Hot Dog Hand Warmers to Make                                      Kitty Cat Hand Warmers To Make
Hot Dog hand warmers to make
Kitty Cat Hand Warmers to Make

Emergency Christmas Kit - Printable                            Santa Labels and Stamps- Printable  
Christmas Emergency Kit
Printable Labels and Stamps from Santa

Printable Quotes                                                         Make Ribbon Rose or Bow Bracelets
Quotes in frames
Ribbon Heart and Bow Bracelets

Emergency Chocolates
Pinocchio ornament

Making cardboard playhouse
How to sew a fold up shopping bag free pattern

Finished Valentine Day Tins

How to build a puppet theater from a box

Cheap easy cookie tins from cans

25 Great Gifts Under $5                                          Antique Christmas Postcards - Printable
Christmas gift wrap for Valentine's
Christmas greetings antique postcard

Food and Entertaining
Coal Cookie for Christmas
Making inexpensive gift baskets

Festive Food Garnishes Sweet                                             Festive Food Garnishes Savory
Festive food garnishes sweet
Cranberry wreath garnish

Re-using Plastic box for treats

Gifts Wrapping
How To Wrap A Gift Like a Professional                                             Pine Cone Gift Topper
Wrapping a gift professionally
How to make a Gift topper

Printable Gift Boxes                                                            Paper Bag Advent Calendar      
Making paper gift boxesAdvent calendar

Wrapping Without Wrapping Paper                                           How To Make A Florist Bow
Wrapping with out wrapping paper
How to make a florist bow


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Photography and Content
Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2011

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Books are so underrated! They can change your life, add to your knowledge, and are much more entertaining than mind melting TV.

I'm constantly buying vintage stuff online (ebay, overstock etc). I'd say vintage jewelry are one of the best options as you can clean them up and do a little handy work on them, making them look amazing and 100x the value.

Love your FABulous gift suggestions. They're so creative and not the "run of the mill" frugal gifts that are on everyone's website. Thanks for sharing! XOXO

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