5 Ideas for Easy and Frugal Last Minute Gifts

The holidays are right around the corner.

If your time, budget and energy are already stretched to their maximum fret not!!

Here are some wonderfully easy,

fun and frugal last minute gifts you can put together with minimal time, effort and funds.

Helpful Hint: Before going out to buy any of these goodies, we suggest that you first take a look around your house and into your pantry. You might be surprised to find that you already have everything you need to put together several of these gifts…without spending a cent!


o Give Breakfast in a Bag: Line a small gift bag with tissue paper then put in a store bought (or, homemade) pancake mix, a bottle of maple syrup, jam, or honey and perhaps a small box of tea bags or a bag of coffee beans. If your budget and time permit, perhaps include a spatula, mixing bowl and/or apron. Tie the bag handles together with ribbon or raffia and include a handwritten or computer made tag reading “Breakfast in a Bag”.

o Vintage Money Savers: A wonderful last minute gift for a child is to fill a pretty a metal tea or cookie tin/canister with pennies, nickels, dimes and few quarters at the top! The children enjoy counting and recounting the money while the tin offers a place for them to continue saving. (This is much more creative and fun than stuffing money or a gift card into an envelope.)

o A Baker’s Delight: Use vintage and new pie pans and cookie sheets as the basis for these simple gifts. To package, line the pan or sheet with a kitchen towel (new or vintage) then add a recipe for your favorite recipe pie or cookies along with some of the ingredients: Flour, sugar; a jar or can of fruit or pie filling to name a few. Let the
recipient add the "wet" ingredients (eggs, butter, milk,
vanilla). Wrap it all up with cellophane and a simple raffia bow; or nestle it inside a tissue lined gift bag.

o Treasures in a Jar: Another charming last minute gift is to fill a new or vintage jar with candies, cookies, fudge, caramel popcorn and the like. Wrap a round of brown paper or fabric across the lid, tie with ribbon or raffia for a charming presentation. We collect apothecary and mason jars throughout the year to have on hand for putting together just such gifts. Dollar Store candy (or even a bag of peppermint or candy canes found quickly at the grocery store) transform into wonderful, inexpensive inserts for your gift jars.

o Give A Dinner In a Basket: Fill a basket with a small assortment of clear glass jars with a variety of pasta shapes. Add a wooden spoon tied at the top with a festive ribbon, a shaker of mixed Italian spices and another of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Let your budget and time determine if you want to also include a set of potholders; a favorite jar of store-bought marinara in a jar; apron; and a bottle of Merlot or Chianti along with a few simple wine glasses (perhaps culled from past yard sales or thrift shopping).


The above excerpts and ideas derived from

"Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons," Bantam Books, NY, NY, Copyright 2000.


scrappy quilter said...

As always wonderful tips. The book is also awesome. Someday I'd love to walk into a store and find to my surprise another book written by you. I'd be doing a happy dance for sure. Hugs..

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

You are so encouraging and kind Carol. I truly appreciate it. Rest assured my friend, you will know about it well before it hits the stores!! Your friendship is such a blessing.

Storybook Woods said...

Oh Tracey, you always inspire me. I love the braakfast in a bag idea xoxoxoxo Clarice

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

You're so kind Clarice. I came up with the meal basket/box/etc. idea when I was trying to think of gifts that might make life a little easier for the family/people I'm giving it to. Also, I was thinking that the meal in a basket might also turn into a fun experience/memory with all the family involved in its making as well as eating. :)
Tracey xox

Kerri said...

Hi Tracey,
What wonderful gift ideas! I am so glad I found your blog (and you) on Eco Chic Boutique! I look forward to reading more!

Kerri (shabbychic72)

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Hi Kerri!! I appreciate your kind words and have to tell you that I am glad to have found the Eco Chic's so charming!!

matty said...


I love your suggestions! I am now running into thrift stores and doing a quick overlook for goodies to use!

In mailing thank you gifts for the tea party, I did not have your address. May I have it, through email, so that I might send your goodies? If you sent it before, it is missing and I apologize for asking again!

Take care,


Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Hi Matty!

Oh yes, thrift stores and Consigment shops are budget saviors for holiday gift~giving!! When our kids were little I bought quite a lot of their "small" gifts from these places. For the same money I would have spent on junky stocking~ stuffers, I was able to find new and like new doll clothes, video games, games, books, and the like (also nice clothing, jewelry and purses for them...especially the girls when they became teenagers). These economical gifts mix nicely with select few new items from their wish lists and make/made for an abundant feeling as everyone felt happy. Especially Mike and I, because our budget was left intact.
P.S. I'll drop you an email later, I have leave now to go pick up Rosie from her sleepover now...she just called!!

Kari said...

These are such great ideas. I love the one with filling the cookie tins with change for kids. Maybe I will do that for my son when he is old enough. Merry Christmas!

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Hi Karie!!
The kids do love to count and recount the change...and they think they are rich!! My kids always seemed to add their little bits of change to it as well, so it became a piggy bank of sorts!

Simply Heart And Home said...

What wonderful ideas Tracey! Thank you for sharing them with us.

Have a lovely Sunday.


Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Hi Gina! I have to tell you how much I loved the poem you posted about was lovely,lovely, lovely!

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

I'd be happy to receive anyone of those gifts but the breakfast one is my favorite! You have so many good ideas!

I hope you and your family have a merry and blessed Christmas!


Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

What do you say about me giving you the breakfast basket...and you invite me to your lovely, lovely house for breakfast!! ;) Thank you Manuela, for the compliment...especially coming from someone of your creativity and action!! Blessings to you and your family this Christmas...and wishing us all a happy, blessed and prosperous 2010!!

"God bless us every one!"~~Dickens


charmaine said...

hi my sweet and beautiful friend Tracey! somebody's birthday is today, right? Happy Birthday Rosie!! happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Rosie, happy birthday to you!! please tell Rosie Happy Birthday for me.

i know today has probably been a busy day for you, celebrating her birthday and getting ready for Christmas. i hope she had a fabulous day! how's everything going? i pray all is well. i got all of your messages. as always, it is always a joy hearing from you. so, you guys opened presents this morning? i think that's a wonderful idea being that her birthday is so close to Christmas.

i just love all your fabulous ideas. these are gorgeous! you are just amazing! it has been such a joy getting to know you this year. just last year we were just getting to know each other, and look, it has been an entire year already. i look forward to our friendship growing in 2010. i do believe that you have been a friend given to me by God. i'll call you a special gift from God because your spirit is so much like His. you have such a loving nourishing spirit. i truly appreciate your friendship. thank you for being such an inspiration. you motivate me in so many ways. keep inspiring the world with your warm heart, beautiful spirit and great ideas.

my family and i wish you and your family a blessed and wonderful Christmas. Merry Christmas my good friend!! :)

God Bless,
Charmaine & family

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

LOL!! You are so funny and sweet Charmaine!! Rosie will just love your birthday song!! She's on her way home from an afternoon at Disneyland with her best friend and we're all meeting at seven to have dinner together at her favorite Mexican restaurant (with coupons...of course!!)! I will tell her about it over dinner and show her when we arrive home!! She and I (and Katie sometimes) spend mornings enjoying the many beautiful things you post on your your children's blog "She's So Pretty". In fact, I have to tell you that she is seriously wondering if she could fit in the larger sizes of the kids clothes...they are so cute. I tell her she should go to the children's department and try on some of the larger size 16's (she's tiny but tall...that might be a problem ;). But she's too shy to do it. When I was small (before children and time took their toll ;) I would buy my Izod polo shirts in the boys department for about half the cost of the adult sizes...but I digress...again!

Oh my blessed friend...I am of the same mind in that our friendship was a "divine appointment" (as my friend Mary Ellen from "Mary's Meanderings" so aptly puts it). Wow, I can hardly believe it's been a year already. I don't think you'll ever know how much I appreciate all the kind thoughts, comments and words you send my way...and getting lost in all those lovely images you take so much time and care to select and post has soothed and calmed me on many a hectic, stress filled day. So, you see my friend, you are a blessing and an inspiration to me as well. How amazing that this blog world is so very miraculous in the way it allows us to forge such wondrous and nurturing friendships. Thank you so much for all you do. OH! I hear the door and voices...I think the family is starting to arrive home for dinner. I am off for now. Here's wishing you and your family a lovely, lovely Christmas and may 2010 be the year all your dreams and wishes come true in a perfect way for all concerned.

Good thoughts, love and blessings to you and your family.

Tracey and Family

The original "FRUGAL LUXURIES" ~ Based on the books by Tracey McBride ~ Established 1993

A warm Thank You to all kind souls and kindred spirits who generously take the time to leave a comment...your encouragement, trust and support are deeply appreciated...please know that we read each and every message and will respond as time allows.


Frugal Luxuries
is a registered trademark.


"FRUGAL LUXURIES: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul" was written by Tracey McBride and published by Bantam Books, NY, in 1997. It was the first of its genre to synergize the elements of simplicity, frugality and gracious living.

After more than a decade, FRUGAL LUXURIES has never been out of print and is now more relevant than ever.

"It's our hope that a new generation, faced with a teetering economy, will also find this information helpful and enlightening."

Sending Good Thought to Our Special Band of Kind and Kindred Souls!

Frugal Luxuries Book I

Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons Book II

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