Inexpensive Christmas Gifts Teens Can Give Their Friends and Family

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is time to start looking for gifts for your family and friends. Although as a college student, most of us don’t have a lot of money to spend on gifts. Here are some inexpensive gift ideas you can get your friends! These ideas will work for birthdays and other occasions too!

Note: We are a reader-supported site and receive compensation from purchases made though some of the links in this post.

gift bags
There are lots of creative, and inexpensive, ways to give gifts this holiday. (Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels)

Inexpensive Christmas gift ideas for teens and college girls

  1. False eyelashes This is always useful for going out to dinner or just getting dressed up for the day.

2. Setting spray If she loves makeup, this is always useful. It helps the makeup to last longer and also feels refreshing on the skin. 

3. Beauty blender This is very useful for putting on foundation or concealer and blending it into the skin. 

4. Spiral hair ties These are super trendy and look adorable as a bracelet and are also handy as a hair tie. 

5. Foot mask These will leave her feet feeling softer than ever.

6. Scrunchies These are the cutest and most comfortable hair ties.

7. Lip mask This will moisturize and condition the lips and they will be soft and not feel chapped. 

8. Mario Badescu facial spray This spray works wonders to leave the skin refreshed and to get clear skin.

9. Body butter This will moisturize her skin amazingly. 

10. Paint Set This is great if she loves art and painting.

11. Cute beanie This is fashion + function and available in multiple colors.

Inexpensive Christmas gifts ideas for teens and college boys

  1. Leather key ring This is convenient and can be attached to pants or belts. 
  2. ELOVEN iPhone case This handy case will keep his cards inside the case and hidden while also protecting his phone. 
  3. Versace Mini Cologne This is a perfect gift for any guy who likes cologne. 
  4. Slides These are great for walking around the house or for using the shower as a college student. 
  5. Men’s SPF Face Lotion This is excellent so that he can wear sunscreen and moisturize his face all in one simple lotion. 
  6. LED lights These are so fun to have in a bedroom and instantly make the vibe of the room more fun.
  7. CamelBak Water Bottle This is a simple water bottle that any guy will love. 
  8. Funny Socks These are hilarious and are sure to get a laugh. 
  9. Backpack This simple backpack is perfect for any college guy. 
  10. Wallet This is an inexpensive, but good quality wallet. 
  11. Nerf blaster Buy one for yourself too, and have an outdoor nerf battle. You’ll have fun and get some exercise too!

Gifts for anyone that are under $15

  1. Ghiradelli hot chocolate mix This is a delicious gift that is perfect for the holiday season. 
  2. Body scrub This will exfoliate the skin and make it softer and healthier. 
  3. Mini waffle maker This is a game-changer for any college student. It is very easy and fun to make waffles with this.
  4. Coffee beans This is an easy gift idea for a coffee drinker and is always appreciated!
  5. Blue light glasses These are perfect for studying, especially because most classes have been moved online.
  6. Cozy blanket Anyone will love this super soft blanket, especially in the winter months. 
  7. Burt’s Bees travel set This perfect travel kit includes a cream cleanser, day lotion, deep cleansing cream, body lotion, foot cream, and hand repair cream.
  8. Laptop Cover This case is perfect for protecting a laptop.
  9. Animal COVID-19 mask This is great for any guy or girl who loves making people laugh.  
  10. Gloves with touchscreen finger pads These enable you to use a touchscreen while keeping your hands warm. 
  11. Uno Who doesn’t love a game of Uno?
  12. Old Navy face masks are also very popular and this is a set of 5 for under $15.

Homemade holiday gift ideas 

  • Coupon for lunch or coffee with you on a day they select
  • Hot chocolate in a jar 
    • Ingredients
      • 7-1/2 cups instant chocolate drink mix
      • 1 package (25.6 ounces) nonfat dry milk powder
      • 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
      • 1 cup powdered nondairy creamer 
      • 25 peppermint candies, crushed
    • Mix each of the ingredients together into a bowl 
    • Divide into bags or an airtight container 
    • To make the hot chocolate, pour ⅓ a cup of the mixture into a mug and stir in hot milk 
  • Homemade bath salts
    • What you’ll need
      • 1 cup Epsom salt
      • 1 tbsp. baking soda
      • 3 drops jasmine essential oil 
      • Wide mouth half pint mason jar
      • Optional: 1 – 2 drops of  food coloring {to slightly tint the bath salts}
    • Mix Epsom salt, baking soda, essential oil drops, and optional food coloring. Stir well.
    • Put in a jar. 
    • Directions for the person using the bath salt: add 1/2 cup of bath salts to your bath and relax.
  • Open when… letters
    • This is a super heartfelt idea and shows how much you care about the person 
    • You will need envelopes, a pen, and paper
    • Here are some ideas for the open when to put on the envelope: 
      • Open when you are stressed
      • Open when you are bored
      • Open when you are sad 
      • Open when you are sick
      • Open when you need a confidence boost
      • Open when you need motivation
      • Open when you have had a bad day 
      • Open when you need a smile
  • Tea bag Christmas tree 
    • What you’ll need 
      • Paper mache cone
      • Green tea bags (individually wrapped)
      • Hot glue gun 
      • Ribbon 
    • Start at the bottom of the cone and glue the tea bags to the paper mache cone.
    • Add a ribbon to the top of it.
  • Fuzzy socks stocking
    • This is a very easy and cute gift! Get a pair of fuzzy socks and fill them with candy, nail polish, gift cards, lip balm, and other small goodies. 
  • Bath Bombs
    • What you’ll need
      • 1 cup baking soda
      • 1/2 cup citric acid
      • 1/2 cup cornstarch
      • Food coloring
      • Essential oil of your choice
      • Water
    • Mix baking soda and cornstarch
    • Add essential oil a few drops at a time and mix it 
    • Add the food coloring a few drops at a time and mix in 
    • Add water half a teaspoon at a time 
    • Keep mixing in the water until the consistency is similar to wet sand
    • Add the citric acid and mix
    • Mold into a ball and smooth the edges with a spoon
    • Let the bath bomb dry overnight at room temperature
  • Mason jar snow globe
    • What you’ll need:
      • Tree ornament
      • Glitter (2 tablespoons per globe)
      • Clear glue (2 ounces per globe)
      • Warm water (1 cup per globe)
      • Mason jar
      • Spoon
      • Glue gun
    • With a glue gun, glue the ornament to the inner lid of the mason jar and set aside to dry
    • Add 2 oz of the clear glue into the jar 
    • Pour 1 cup of warm water into the jar and stir
    • Add 2 tablespoons of glitter and stir
    • Take the lid with the ornament and place it face down in the jar
    • Close the jar and secure tightly. Add glue if needed. 
  • No-sew fleece blanket
    • What you’ll need
      • 2 pieces of 1 ½ yard of fleece
      • Scissors
    • Lay the two pieces of fleece on top of each other 
    • Cut out a small square (about 4 inches) in each corner 
    • Make small slits (about 3 inches) all the way around the fleece
    • Tie the two pieces of fleece together by tying each slit to its mirror opposite on the other piece of fleece 
    • Do this all the way around

Mystery gift exchange/Secret Santa

Another fun idea to plan with your friend group is to do a mystery gift exchange, often called Secret Santa. Especially during COVID-19, it is easy to feel distant from others, which is why a mystery gift exchange is an excellent way to connect with your friends while still maintaining a safe social distance. 

If you want to plan it on your own:

  1. Text your friends or acquaintances and ask who wants to participate.
  2. Have each person send you their home address. 
  3. Set a budget and the date the gifts need to arrive by.
  4. Randomly assign each person to a different person. 
  5. Text each person privately who they were assigned to and that person’s address.
  6. Set up a Zoom call for a specific date so that you all open the gifts together over Zoom and each person can take a guess of who they think got them their gift. 

Alternatively you can use the website, Elfster, which is an online Secret Santa generator. All you have to do is put in the name of the event, budget for gifts, RSVP date, and the date that the gifts are being exchanged. Then, you will receive a link, and each person you invite will RSVP and it will email each person with whom they are assigned to get a gift for. This is a great website to use because you won’t know who has you and you will be surprised just like everyone else. 

More Reading:

Christmas Gifts for College Students: 15 Favorites They Will Love (2020)

About Madeleine Korn

Madeleine Korn will be a senior communication student at UC Santa Barbara. She was an intern for United Airlines in both 2018 and 2019, where she was involved in projects to improve the customer experience. This past year she was advertising director for The Bottom Line newspaper at UC Santa Barbara. She loves writing and creating videos and is very excited about being an intern at Grown and Flown.

Read more posts by Madeleine

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates straight to your inbox.