13 frugal but thoughtful birthday gift and celebration ideas for adults

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Spoil your loved ones with these personal, thoughtful birthday gift and celebration ideas that won’t break the bank! Here are 13 frugal ways to celebrate in style and show your appreciation…

1. Get your bake on

It wouldn’t be a birthday without a cake! If you’ve got the time, bake your own and it will cost very little. Nothing beats homemade goodies, and you can show your appreciation by baking an extra special birthday treat. Check out my budget birthday cake post for lots of creative ideas. For a simple, no-cook cake that the kids can get involved with, my tasty chocolate fridge cake is always a winner!


2. Create a personalised gift basket

Show them that you know them well by creating a personalised gift basket full of things that they love. You might want to fill it with pamper products and the promise of an afternoon off – bath bubbles, a bottle of bubbly, chocolates and a book or movie would be the perfect gift to go with some peace and quiet. Or, go for a theme such as sports, gaming, movies, gardening, craft or baking if there’s something that your loved one particularly loves to do.


3. Set up an escape room

Escape rooms are one of my favourite things to do – but they can be really expensive. The good news is that you can set up your own at home for next-to-nothing. My post on creating a DIY escape room will give you lots of fun ideas. Invest in some combination locks (about £15 for 4 locks from Amazon) and they can be reset and used time and time again! 😊

If you’re looking for an easier option, why not try a virtual escape room? Or buy a ready-made kit, such as these ones from Amazon for about a tenner – there are loads of different kits and themes to choose from!


4. Give the gift of memories

Memories are priceless and a photograph is worth a thousand words. Frame those magical moments, or create a photo album or scrap book for a really special and thoughtful gift. Time is so precious, and it goes so fast – there’s nothing better than a trip down memory lane.


5. Serve afternoon tea at home

A DIY afternoon tea is a really affordable way to treat your loved ones without spending a fortune. Scones, cakes and sandwiches are cheap and easy to make but, if cooking isn’t your talent, a couple of quid spent in a supermarket or bakery will do the job nicely too. Decorate the table, add some yummy treats and have an afternoon of quality time for a fraction of the cost of eating out.


6. Be creative

If you have a skill such as baking, knitting, painting or crafting, why not use it?  Everyone loves personalised, thoughtful gifts and it shows you’ve made a real effort. A hand-knitted throw or a painting of their favourite place would be so well received. For something yummy, my lemon shortbread and chocolate fridge cake recipes are so simple and they make the perfect delicious presents! For lots more homemade gift ideas, check out my article: Free, homemade ideas for birthday gifts without spending money.


7. Plan a picnic

If the weather is bright, why not plan a picnic and get out and about? Pack up some tasty treats, invite friends and family, and spend some quality time together. Perhaps visit their favourite place, or find a nearby park where you can enjoy the fresh air and relax. Find a beautiful spot and chill – we love family beach days and it’s the perfect way to celebrate a birthday without a big bill.


8. Book an experience

Hunt out the best deals from Groupon or Buyagift to give the gift of a fun day out or a meal. You can get £10 off from Buyagift just by signing up to their newsletter, but they almost always have special offers running – so there are usually lots of bargains to choose from. Take a look at their gift experiences and vouchers here.

Groupon is brilliant too, and can save you a fortune on days out and experiences. Extra voucher codes are often available as well, to sweeten the deal even more! Pop over to Groupon to see what’s on offer near you.


9. Give a personalised coupon

Personalised coupons are a great gift for every occasion – just make sure the coupons aren’t for things that are already expected! They don’t cost a penny but could be exactly what someone needs – why not offer to help in the garden, make breakfast in bed or give some DIY assistance? Not every great present can be gift-wrapped, and the gift of time is more valuable than anything you can buy. Download and print my free coupons to get started.


10. Frame your child’s artwork

Poems, paintings, and drawings become extra special when they’re framed and displayed, and they’re the perfect gift for any parent or grandparent. Frames can be picked up so cheaply in budget stores, or even second-hand from charity shops; such a simple but thoughtful gift.


11. Make a planter

Plant up pots or hanging baskets to bring some colour to the garden this spring. Flowers will usually go down a treat – but potted plants can be enjoyed for a lot longer than a bunch of cut flowers. If your friend or loved one is more of a foodie or a keen cook, why not fill a planter with herbs?


12. Give a night off from cooking

For me a night off from feeding the family is the best gift ever! Why not treat your friend or loved one to a take-away? You could even organise for others to come and host a games night or quiz evening. Or, if you’re a whizz in the kitchen, cook them their favourite meal to show how much you care.


13. Host a party or BBQ

Going out on the town is always good fun, but it can cost a fortune! Celebrating at home can be a blast with your favourite people, and it’s so much more affordable – so why not plan a surprise party? Cook up some snacks, or ask guests to bring a plate to make a buffet and to make things really simple. Ask everyone to bring their own drink, pop some music on and you’re all set for an evening of fun. (We like a disco bulb at our house too!) Check out my DIY cocktail recipes.


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