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Last Updated September 10, 2020

The average American will spend $885 on Christmas gifts alone according to Gallup. With other special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, Valentine’s Day, and graduations, you can easily spend thousands of dollars on gifts every year. I was spending hundreds of dollars on gifts every month and had to come up with ways to save. This article will give you some tips to save money on gifts—all without looking cheap.

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Ways To Save Money On Gifts

  1. Shop In Advance

This may be one of the most important things you can do to save money on gifts. I find I spend the most when I did not plan and need to buy a last-minute gift. By planning ahead you can take your time to look for great deals or shop during holiday sales weekends.

If you do shop early, be sure to keep a list of what you have gotten for whom. You don’t want to end up buying a gift in advance and forget who it is for.

You can download my FREE Christmas Shopping Plan to help you with this.  However, I want you to use this method throughout the year for all your gift-giving.

  1. Make A Homemade Gift

Sometimes making a homemade gift can be a cheaper alternative. For example, I love to bake. Therefore, I would make a cake, cupcakes, or cookies in lieu of bringing a gift to a special event.

For instance, I baked a cake and some cookies for my cousin’s baby shower. It cost me approximately $50 to buy all the ingredients and a few hours of my time. My cousin would have spent hundreds of dollars if she bought a custom cake and cookies like the one I made, so she really appreciated it.

Save Money On Gifts
Cake and cookies I made for my cousin’s baby shower

Personally, I think people (myself included) appreciate homemade gifts more than store-bought because you know much more time and effort was put into the gift, and it was made with love.

Save Money On Gifts
Valentine’s Day cookies I baked for my Mom.

For example, my uncle makes a custom annual calendar for our family as a Christmas gift. Each month has family photos and dates that are important to our family (i.e. – birthdays and anniversaries of people in our family). This is such a great gift because, at the end of the year, I like to cut the photos out of the calendar and frame them or put them in a photo album.

Another example is my sister gave everyone in the family a photo collage for Christmas last year. It was so touching because she took the time to print out pictures we took over the year that provided priceless memories.

If you would like to do something like this, you can buy this Scrapbook Photo Album DIY Kit from Amazon.  I used this to make a gift for my friend’s 36th birthday (pictured below).

Save Money On Gifts

So consider making a homemade gift. You don’t have to be incredibly talented or artistic—because most of the time it’s the thought that counts. No matter how small the gift may be, it shows a little thoughtfulness to those you care most about—not to mention being easier on the wallet.

For me, baking for major holidays and events has helped me with my gift-giving budget many times.

  1. Give Your Services

Consider offering your services as a gift. Think about the tasks that you can do for someone.

For example, my best friend is excellent at calligraphy and can write out invitations or certificates. My uncle is a brilliant photographer and can offer a photoshoot or professional photos. My cousin is an outstanding tutor and can help with math or science classes. I am a lawyer and can help someone draft up a legal document.

What services can you provide? Maybe a homemade three-course dinner for a loved one, a car wash and detail, a haircut or color, organization services, personal training lessons…the list could go on and on.

Think about the person you are giving the gift to. Have they ever mentioned they would love you to teach them about or how to do something? Or perhaps they have mentioned wanting highlights but not being able to afford them.

Whatever it is, if you have the skill or talent then offering it as a gift is not only heartfelt and valuable, but also saves you money.

  1. Use Reward Points From Credit Cards

Save Money On Gifts

Many people these days have a credit card that offers rewards points or cash back for their purchases. If your card gives you cash back rewards, you can buy a gift and then apply the “cash” towards your credit card balance. Also, consider using your rewards points to buy gift cards.

  1. Get Free Cash Back On Online Purchases

There are a few cashback websites I like to use when purchasing things online. In general, the way these cashback websites work is you go to the cashback website and search the store you want to buy from online. Then click on that store. You are then redirected to that merchant’s website and you can shop as normal with your credit card, debit card or gift card.

You can use coupon codes and the site functions exactly as if you had not come through a cashback website. After you complete your order, you will get cashback.

My two favorite cashback websites to use are Ebates.com and Ibotta.com.

Ebates (aka Rakuten)

Ebates.com is best for general online shopping. Every quarter they will send you a check or you can get paid through PayPal. When you sign up right now and purchase something through eBates you will get a $10.00 gift card and can choose from a few different stores.

I have been a member since March 2011 and have gotten over $1,200 in cash back. Of course, you can earn a lot more depending on the stores you like to shop at and how much you spend.


Ibotta.com can be used for online purchases, but it is the best for in-store purchases as well. You get paid via PayPal, Venmo, or you can buy a gift card with your earnings. If you sign up right now, you will get a $10 welcome bonus after your first purchase.

  1. Buy Discounted Gift Cards Online

Save Money On Gifts

There are so many websites you can use to get discounted gift cards. Some of the websites I like to use to buy discounted gift cards are:

How it works is people sell their unwanted gift cards to the marketplace (you can sell your unwanted gift cards too), and you can then buy a discounted gift card for some of your favorite brands. You can buy an electronic gift card that is almost instantly emailed to you, and then print it out; or you can purchase a physical gift card that is mailed to you—shipping is free.

I’ve been able to save up to 30% on some of my favorite brands. The one downside is some of the physical gift cards do not have round values. For example, they will have a gift card with a value of $55.33—which makes it awkward to give as a gift. What I do when that’s the case, is buy the gift card and use it to buy an actual gift at that merchant’s store or on their website.

So for example, if I see a Victoria’s Secret gift card for 15% off, but the value is not a round number (like $55.33), I would buy the gift card for myself and then go to Victoria’s Secret to buy my gift. This way I save 15% on the gift I purchased! DOUBLE savings if you use your gift card online and one of the websites above is offering cashback!

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You can save money on gifts if you plan in advance. You can make a homemade gift or give your services; use rewards points from your credit card; get free cash back on your purchases; or buy discounted gift cards. Try one or a few of these tips to save money on gifts without looking cheap.

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