Five Inexpensive Christmas Gifts that Teens Can Give to Family Members

Teens and young adults are often strapped for cash. So when it comes to Christmas shopping, most of them have two options–borrow money from mom and dad or just add their name to the gifts mom and dad already bought. But there are a host of low or no-cost gifts that will get the job done.

While this gift giving technique might be fine with Grammy and Granddad, it can leave the kids themselves feeling underwhelmed and unsatisfied. After all, it’s rewarding and fun to give other people presents–especially presents they will treasure. 

If your broke teens or college students would like to give meaningful gifts to their grandparents or other loved ones this holiday season but don’t have money for shopping, suggest some of these no-cost and low-cost gift ideas. 

A “Cookie of the Month” subscription would be a thoughtful gift for a teen to give for Christmas. (Twenty20 @tdyuvbanova)

Inexpensive Christmas gifts that teens and young adults can give to family members or friends

1) A photo album

Today’s young people are undoubtedly the most photographed generation in history. We snap countless photos at every event and occasion and for no reason in particular. Every time my father sees us taking pictures, he says, “I’d like to see those later.”

Sadly, more often than not, he doesn’t because I rarely print the photos on my phone, and my kids certainly don’t. We enjoy them for the moment, then they stay in the cloud. I can’t think of a Christmas present that would thrill my dad more than months (or years) of photos of his family, organized and labeled and at his fingertips every time he wants to thumb through them or show them off to his friends. I would happily turn over my phone and my credit card to one of my children who would make that happen. It would cost them nothing but time and would mean everything to their grandfather 

2) Handmade gifts

Why is it that we tend to only associate handmade gifts with small children? Sure, a macaroni necklace or a little handprint Christmas tree painting is super sweet, but bigger kids have the ability to make gifts that go beyond adorable. Is your teen or college student a talented artist? Suggest they draw or paint something and frame it. What grandparent wouldn’t proudly display a work of custom art by a beloved grandchild?

Or if your young person isn’t an artist, perhaps they could write or print their grandparent’s favorite quote, poem, or scripture verse and frame that. Does your kid knit or crochet? If not, it’s easy to learn. Needle work is also fun and relaxing. In the course of one evening, your son or daughter could create a beautiful handmade scarf while alleviating their own stress or anxiety.  Or how about homemade bath salts or a BBQ rub or any of these 100 easy and inexpensive handmade gift ideas?

3) A booklet of IOU vouchers

Kids have a lot of skills and abilities that grandparents and other family members would love to access. Encourage your son or daughter to make a list of things they can do or ways they might be able help other people–things like IT help, washing the car, washing the dog, gardening or yard work, organizing, running errands, or anything that would make someone else’s life a little easier. Next, they simply have to write out or print a set of IOUs, tie them up with a ribbon, and standby to pitch in when called on. Because they will be repeatedly helping out someone they love. It’s a gift that keeps on giving–both to the recipient and the giver. 

4) A “gift subscription”

Does your kid like to bake? They could create their own subscription service to a “Homemade Muffin of the Month” Club or “Quarterly Cookie Box Club”? Not only would loved ones enjoy getting a regular sweet treat, but if it comes delivered by someone they love, even better! More ambitious cooks could even gift a family member with a monthly or quarterly meal subscription.

Music lovers in your family might enjoy a monthly playlist of songs curated especially by the teenager or young adult in their life, using a streaming service like Spotify, iTunes , or Amazon Music. A shared playlist is a fun way for generations to connect, and it can be easily shared with people who live far away. Whatever your child’s talent or interest, encourage them to find a way to share it with someone they love on a regular basis. What a thoughtful and personal gift. 

5) A handwritten letter

Not to minimize the precious cards and notes that little children give to their families, but as every parent of teenagers knows, words of love and appreciation from them are pure gold! And in this day of text messages and emails, a handwritten letter is extra special.

Without question the simplest and most treasured gift our kids could give their grandparents or other family members would be a handwritten, heartfelt expression of love, admiration, and appreciation. It’s not the kind of thing that can be forced or that should be obligatory, but if the inclination is there, buy your child some nice paper and a fine pen, and be prepared for some tearful hugging on Christmas morning. 

The truth is, most grandparents and other family members don’t really care what presents the teenagers and young adults in their lives give them. But by giving simple, homemade, and personal gifts, young people will not only delight those who love them, they will know the joy and satisfaction of giving a gift from the heart.

More to Read: 

Stocking Stuffers for Teens and College Students

Holiday Gifts for Her That She Will Love 

Christmas Gifts for Teen Boys 

About Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura Hanby Hudgens is a part-time high school teacher and a freelance writer living with her husband and children in the Arkansas Ozarks. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Grown and Flown, and elsewhere. You can learn more about her at Charming Farming, where she occasionally blogs about faith, food, education, and family life.

Read more posts by Laura

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