With the holidays approaching, it’s time to think about Christmas shopping. We always talk about ways to save money on gifts, from hitting the sales to drawing names out of a hat. That’s all well and good, but these strategies only save money for the buyer. How about turning the savings around this year and buying gifts that save money for their recipients?

Particularly in a down economy, gifts that help the recipient save money are much appreciated. You can still save money when buying most of these items if you use the tried-and-true shopping methods. But the bonus is that the following gift ideas also help the recipients save money over the long term. Who can argue with a gift that saves them money?

So, with no further ado, here are 28 gift ideas that save money for the recipient:

1. Gift Cards

Always a staple of the holidays, a well-considered gift card saves your recipient money. After all, they won’t have to dip into their own funds to purchase something that they want or need. They’ll use the card instead.

Try to get a card to a store you know the recipient loves or shops at frequently and that carries useful stuff. Cards to stores that carry only expensive “dream” merchandise aren’t really money-savers, because the recipient is locked into buying something frivolous when they might have preferred to spend the money on something useful or “everyday.”

To save your recipient money, stick to bigger stores like Target, Walmart, grocery stores, large department stores, large bed and bath stores, or clothing stores. At those places, your recipients can either get something they need or splurge on something fun and they will have lots of choices. And, with the lower prices at many of these stores, your gift will go further.

If you have credit card rewards points then you might be able to use them to purchase gift cards. Therefore, you save money for yourself as well as for the gift recipient.

Want to make it more personal? Write a beautiful letter explaining why you chose this gift.

2. Magazine Subscriptions

Do you know someone who enjoys getting print magazines? Or even digital ones? If so, then offer to pay for the membership for one year. This is an affordable gift for you and yet saves them money to spend on something else.

3. Pay for a Service

Does your recipient hate to clean? Spring for a cleaning service. Hate to cook? Give them a gift certificate to a service like Schwanns that delivers prepared meals. Hate to mow the lawn? Give them the gift of a landscaping service.

If they already have such services, offer to pick up the tab for a few months. Items such as these not only relieve the burden from people who don’t like or can’t do these things, but they save them money because they don’t have to pay for the service themselves.

Moreover, it saves them time. Time can be financially valuable as well.

And if you want to save money, you might offer to perform the service yourself, rather than hiring someone else to do it.

4. Buy What They Need

Rather than blindly hunting for the “perfect gift,” ask your recipients what they need. Then get it for them.

If they need clothes, try a gift card to a retailer that sells many styles. Or offer to go shopping with them.

If they need food, get a gift card to a grocery store. Alternatively, sign them up to receive fresh farm food delivery on your tab.

If they need hobby or office supplies, either get a gift card or fill a box with several items. If they need household supplies like cleaners, toiletries, or linens, get a gift card to a big-box store, or create a gift basket with several items.

Gifts that meet a need are just as appreciated (if not more so) than the doo-dad that you thought was “so cute” that you had to buy it. And getting them what they need means they won’t have to spend their own money to buy it.

Don’t worry about seeming impersonal by asking someone what they need. Most people are grateful.

5. Gift Them a Night Out

Give the person the gift of a night out. That might mean paying for dinner and a movie. It could mean getting them a hotel room. Or it might simply mean babysitting their children while they go do something that they enjoy. Combine gift cards and services to create a special night out.

6. Offer to Pay For a Sitter

If your recipients have kids, offer to pick up the tab for a babysitter for a night or two. If they have pets, pay the petsitter.

Sometimes people want to go out, but don’t want to spring for a babysitter so they stay home. Give them the chance to go out without having to pay for a sitter themselves.

Alternatively, offer to be their sitter. Let them drop the kids/dogs off with you and enjoy a night in without them.

7. Reusable Water Bottles

Your recipients won’t have to spend money on bottled water anymore if you get them a good quality, reusable water bottle with a built-in filtration system. If they don’t mind the taste of tap water but buy bottled water for it’s portability, you can get a reusable water bottle without filtration for a little less money.

This will also be a good reminder for them to drink more water. If they do, then you’re contributing to their overall health. Furthermore, that can save health costs down the line.

8. Set up a Savings Account

This can be especially good for kids or grandkids. Open an account (making sure to get any bonuses for opening a new account) and seed it with a little money. Even if nothing more is ever added to it, it will still gain some interest.

You can add money to it each holiday to keep your gift growing. Alternatively, you could gift savings bonds or shares of stocks to help your recipients gain a bit of money.

This not only gives the outright gift of money. It also helps set the tone for saving for the future. That’s an educational gift that could last a lifetime.

9. Warehouse Club Membership

If your recipient lives near a popular warehouse club such as Sam’s, Costco, or BJ’s, then buy them a membership. They’ll save money on food, household items, and gas (if the club has a station) and they won’t have to pay the membership fee. That’a s gift that can truly go a long way. They’ll get things that they need all year long at a lower price thanks to you.

10. Pay For Streaming Services

What streaming services does your gift recipient use? Whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Audible or some other form of pay-by-the-month entertainment, you can pay that bill for them.

If you want to save money, see about adding them to your existing accounts.


11. Reusable Shopping Bags

Many places now charge customers for using paper or plastic bags in the store. Therefore, you can save people money by giving them reusable shopping bags. Make them yourself if you knit, crochet, or sew. Alternatively, purchase them inexpensively. If you’re giving them another gift as well, use this as the gift bag.

12. Gifts for the Couponer

If you know someone who is into (or wants to be into) couponing, then you have several gift choices.

First, you can get them a subscription to the local Sunday paper if they don’t already have one. This is a great source of coupons even in digital times.

Second, you can purchase a membership for them at a coupon/shopping website.

Third, you can buy them an organizational system for their coupons, such as a binder and pockets, recipe box, or divided filing pouch.

Alternatively, you could write out or print out all of your favorite couponing tips and put them into a journal for the person to learn from.

13. Seeds / Materials for a Window or Container Garden

If your recipient has a green thumb (or just wants to reduce their grocery costs), then consider setting them up with some pots, dirt and seeds/starter plants to grow their own vegetables or herbs.

Many plants can easily grow in containers in small spaces, so even those with limited space can grow at least a few things.

If they aren’t as handy with plants but are interested in the idea, try getting them a starter kit that does a lot of the work for you. A ready-to-grow herb garden or mushroom farm is a great start.

14. A Good Cookbook

Maybe your recipient eats out a lot because they, “Just doesn’t know what to fix.” A good cookbook can solve that problem. Moreover, it can save the recipient hundreds in dining out / ordering in costs.

Ideally the recipes should be easy and quick to prepare. Plus, they should require only simple, easy to find ingredients and utensils. Otherwise, the recipient will quickly get frustrated and spend more money on equipment and ingredients than they would have by continuing to eat out.

An alternative to the cookbook, of course, is a meal subscription plan.

15. Books About Saving Money

If your recipient is looking for ways to save money, then they may be interested in books about saving money. If you already have some in your personal library, then you can save money by gifting those. Add a nice message written in the front of the book to personalize the gift.

16. Fans, Window AC’s, and/or Space Heaters

Heating and cooling costs are usually the biggest components of an energy bill. Therefore, finding ways to help the person reduce those costs is a huge money-saving gift.

Portable fans, window air conditioners, and space heaters allow you to heat and cool just the rooms you are occupying, rather than cooling or heating the whole house. Therefore, they save a ton of money. Some of these items have gotten so fancy that they make great gifts.

You can also buy decorative ceiling fans and offer to pay for the installation (or do it yourself). With heating and cooling costs going through the roof, a chance to save a few bucks is a welcome gift.

Alternatively, you might offer to pay for a home energy audit, smart temperature controls, or other tools that will teach the person to reduce their home energy bills.

For example, get them a programmable thermostat. Why waste the money to heat or cool an empty house? Set it up once, and a programmable thermostat does the job without someone having to remember to turn the temperature up and down all the time.

17. Reusable Lunch Tote

A chic lunch tote and accessories (including sandwich boxes, utensils, thermos/bottle, and napkins) make bringing lunch to work or school fun. If you have people in your life who are still going to work / school during COVID times, then they may find it really hard to figure out the lunch situation. This can help!

18. Cloth Napkins / Towels

You can eliminate the need for your recipient to buy paper napkins and paper towels by giving them attractive cloth substitutes. Many sizes and designs are available to suit different styles and tastes. Moreover, they can be tossed in the wash with the regular laundry, so they don’t add much to the chore load.

19. Rechargeable Batteries with Charger

Your gift recipient will never have to buy batteries again if you get them this gift. Purchase one or more common battery sizes (such as AA).

Have you noticed that many of the items that she your gift recipients money also help save the planet? Good things help in more ways than one!

20. Gas

Most gas stations now sell gift cards that can be used for their “brand” of fuel at any participating station. Therefore, you can get a gas gift card for someone. Or you might simply offer to take the car out, fill it up, get it detailed, and return it ready to go.

21. Reusable Air Filters

These tend to do a better job than the cheap air filters, plus you can reuse them over and over again with just a simple wash to keep them clean. You’ll save your recipients money both in energy costs (these make air systems run more efficiently) and in the cost of replacement filters.

22. CFLs or LEDs

They don’t make a very sexy gift, but CFL’s use about 75% less energy than regular bulbs and last ten times longer. Your gift recipient will save on energy costs as well as the cost of bulbs over the long term. Brightening up their home with nice lights that last a long time is a gift that keeps on giving all year long.

23. Low-Flow Devices

Low-flow faucets and shower heads save money on the water bills. These devices have come a long way and now come in massaging and other fancy varieties that make good gifts.

24. Supplies For Their Hobby

What does your gift recipient love to do in their spare time? Buy them the supplies to support that hobby. For example, get yarn for a knitter or crocheter. If you know someone who scrapbooks, purchase tape and papers for them.

Of course, if you’re not sure what supplies they like, you might get them a gift card to a craft supply store instead.

This gift shows that you know them and value their interests. Moreover, it saves them money on doing something that they love.

25. A Paid Day Off

Many people don’t get paid for the days that they don’t go to work. Some people have a job that has very limited paid vacation or sick days. Other people work for themselves, are stay-at-home parents, or otherwise don’t have the option to take a paid day off. Therefore, any time they need to “call in sick” they feel guilty and stressed.

Make up some personalized coupons to give them a paid day off. Pay their salary for X amount of days during the year to give them the stress-free option of taking a day to themselves.

26. Education

Give someone the gift of an education. This could mean starting a college fund. However, it might also mean paying for some professional development courses that a friend has always wanted to take. It might simply mean paying for a few online workshops to boost someone’s resume. You’ll save the the cost of the classes. Moreover, with a better education, they might earn more down the line.

27. Donate to Charity in Their Name

Do you know someone who always loves to give to others? Perhaps they can’t do that this year. Maybe they don’t have the extra money that they usually spend. Or perhaps they usually volunteer in person but COVID has limited their options. Save them money and stress by donating to their favorite charity in their name. For example, this year people in my support network are donating to Dressember to help me fight human trafficking.

28. Create a Themed Basket

Some of my best gifts have been big boxes or gift baskets filled with items that have a theme. For example, I once got a gift basket full of nothing but pet supplies. It was all stuff I would have bought at some point, but it saved me the money and time on doing so.

I’ve given boxes filled with office supplies to people who have their own businesses and gift baskets of cleaning supplies and household goods to people buying new homes. I’ve given gifts of toiletries and toiletry totes to kids going away to college and boxes filled with “green” items to those looking to change their lifestyles. You can make gift baskets for new babies with diapers, wipes, tissue and other supplies. Useful items can be grouped and packaged in interesting and attractive ways to make great, creative gifts.

It’s great to give something like this because, if it’s all things the recipient would have bought at some point, it saves them the money. Plus, it recognizes something important happening in the person’s life right now.

Why Buy Gifts That Save Money For The Recipient

These ideas aren’t only for Christmas. Gifts that save money are welcome on birthdays, graduations, baby showers, and other occasions, as well.

To come up with gifts that save your recipients money, think of the things that you spend money on, and then come up with a creative way to make that a gift. Chances are your recipient has to spend money on that category or item as well, and will be relieved to avoid or reduce the expense.

I much prefer a gift that helps me save money over receiving another knick-knack that I have no need for and have to clean. Don’t you? It’s great to think of ways to save money on your gift giving, but if your gifts can save your recipients money at the same time, you’ll be doing them a great service.

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