Gift Ideas for Practical People

What do you buy for people who hate to spend money? You would think the answer is to get that designer scarf that they would never buy for themselves, but extravagance is not usually the route to a frugal heart. As a cheapskate myself, I can tell you there is nothing I love better than receiving a gift that will help me save money throughout the year. (See also: 25 Gifts That Save Money)

DIY Machines

I like machines such as the Yogourmet Yogurt Maker, the AeroPress espresso maker, and the Sodastream seltzer maker. I am trying out all of these myself and expect them each to save me several dollars each time I make yogurt, espresso, or seltzer at home instead of buying it at the grocery store or cafe. Other ideas in this vein include a bread machine or a food processor, or for the very lucky giftee, a KitchenAid mixer.

The nice thing about these gifts is that the user doesn't have to worry about whether the gift pays for itself. They get the thrill of saving money without thinking about the initial investment. (See also: 20 Great Gifts for Home Cooks)

Warm Clothing and Wraps

We frugalites are always wondering if we could stand to turn down the thermostat one more degree. That's why I like Jockey thermals. I also like Snuggies, down comforters, and those rice sacks that you can heat up in the microwave and stick in your bed.

For the truly practical frugalista on your list, how about a roll of insulation? Just kidding. Sort of.

Gift Cards and Subscriptions

Inside my hard, frugal exterior is someone who loves a treat as much as the next girl. I feel a lot better about stopping at the coffee or ice cream shop if I can whip out a gift card to pay. Does your cheapskate friend accumulate Walgreens Register Rewards or CVS ExtraBucks? A gift card for one of those stores is always cherished, because it means your friend will not even have to pay tax out of pocket!

Personally, I am kind of hoping for a subscription to a monthly music service such as $9.99/month Mog Primo plan. Audible subscriptions are also great (and right now you can get $100 off a device if you sign up for a year), and Netflix is a cheapskate's dream.

As with any gift, you should be sure that you don't leave your giftee with an ongoing obligation.


Not a Harry & David basket — that kind of thing makes my cheapness muscles clench up because I know how much they cost. But most frugal people enjoy a basket of delicious items, either handmade or store bought. Most people, really. (See also: 15 Gifts You Can Bake)

Groupons and Other Daily Deals

I won't be giving any daily deal certificates this year because I've found that a lot of recipients don't redeem them, and that stresses me out. But if you have someone really frugal on your list, they'll be sure to redeem the deal. Just make sure it's a certificate for a whole service or item — not $50 toward a $400 product, for example.

Over on my blog Frugalistic Mom, I recently shared these ideas and more money-saving gift items I have reviewed. I received a Yogourmet Yogurt Maker, an AeroPress espresso maker, and a Sodastream from their makers in order to review them.

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Guest's picture

I was just thinking about the gifts I love as a frugal person. People often say that the best thing to get someone is something they won't buy themself, but for me that could really be anything, since I don't like spending money.

But you're right on many counts. The things I love getting are gift cards to discount clothing stores (TJ Maxx and Marshalls, especially -- I also really like Target), and to book stores, since I don't go clothes or book shopping with my own money hardly ever.

My husband laughed at me the other day when I called my dad (who told me he was thinking to get me a very nice showerhead for Christmas) and asked him if he might consider getting me a bike stand instead. My husband thought it was funny that I negotiate Christmas gifts with my dad, but we both appreciate it because I get something I really am looking for, and he gets to give me something practical that I really need.

Andrea Karim's picture

I know I've said this before, but one of the best gifts my mom ever gave me was a pack of free car wash certificates. That was one year that my car was sparkling clean!

Guest's picture

I love to think outside the box. When gift giving, I like to think of traditional and sentimental gifts. I’ve found a way to achieve both with a tight budget in mind!

To start, find out where your gift recipient was born, grew up, fell in love with their spouse, etc. Next, phone the town’s historical society and ask if there are specific pictures of the location(s) of interest to your recipient from maybe the turn of the century or any other specific year range. Have them email any prospects to you. Simply print at home, frame with either a handmade frame or one purchased at your local craft store and voila! A traditional, sentimental gift for your frugal friends with a touch of history.

Guest's picture

My favorite gifts this year (I think I already have them pegged from my mom and sister! ;) ) are a toaster oven, which will save us lots of money when reheating leftovers since we won't have to heat our large oven, and tickets to the movie we were already planning to see as a family as stocking stuffers. Movies are such a rare event anyway, and free tickets will make it that much sweeter! While it has been frustrating for my gift-loving family to try to accommodate our increasingly frugal tastes, they are amazing and truly care whether we will like and use their gifts or not. I really appreciate the time and effort they have put into thinking outside of the box for us!