Free, homemade ideas for birthday gifts without spending money

The cost of living is really high in the UK at the moment, so it’s no wonder that people don’t have much spare cash to spend. Luckily, when it comes to gift giving you don’t need lots of money – but you might have to be a little more creative.

Here are some no spend birthday gift ideas…

Give personalised coupons

Personalised coupons are a great gift for every occasion – they don’t cost a penny but could be exactly what someone needs, so think about what skills you can offer. Why not offer to help in the garden, wash the car, cook a meal, babysit or give some DIY assistance?

For the kids, the coupons could be for a movie night, a trip to the park, a later bed time or maybe an extra 30 minutes of device time. Not every great present can be gift-wrapped – download and print my free coupons to get started.


Get arty

If you’re a budding artist, or are up for learning some skills, why not give an arty homemade gift. This could be a birthday card, a hand-painted ornament (repurposing one that you already own), a framed watercolour or perhaps a decorated plant pot.


Offer your expertise

If you have a skill or expertise in a particular area, offer to teach it to someone as a gift. This could be anything from cooking, to wood work, driving lessons or even playing a musical instrument. And, you’ll be making memories together too.


Utilise freebies

Keep your eyes peeled for things that people are giving away for free – sometimes they may even be in fantastic condition, but if not think about upcycling your finds. There might be a tatty wooden dolls’ house or toy car garage that you could repaint to give it a new lease of life – making it look brand new for your little one’s birthday.

Olio is a brilliant way to get freebies – they have a non-food section for bits and bobs. And, check out the food too for ingredients for any homemade edible treats you might want to make.

olio food waste advert


Cook a meal

Invite your loved ones over, and cook up a storm. You could do a tasty dinner, an afternoon tea with delicious homemade cakes, or perhaps cook up breakfast food for a family brunch. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal and good company!


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 often be picked up for free on local selling pages, or from apps like Olio; such a simple but thoughtful gift.


Make edible gifts

Why not spend a rainy Sunday afternoon creating your gifts from the comfort of your own kitchen? Depending on your skills, you could make jars of homemade jams, preserves, chutneys or sauces. Or perhaps make your own fudge, or bake some treats like gingerbread cookies or shortbread. Food mix jars can make great gifts too – things like cookie ingredients, or hot chocolate kits.

lemon shortbread, christmas gift, recipe, baking, gluten-free


Share your recipes

Make your own cookbook – sharing your favourite recipes with friends and family, whether it’s a beloved cookie recipe or a special family dish. If you’re feeling really kind, you could even accompany your recipe book with a tasty treat!


Gift garden cuttings

If you have a garden, share cuttings, seeds, or potted plants with others as a thoughtful gift. You could even go further and make planters from free pallet wood, or decorate old pots to give them a second lease of life. If you’re giving seeds, create something cute to store them in, or accompany it with a homemade gardening journal so that the recipient will know when to sow, plant out and prune.


Give the gift of fun

Organise free events to bring the family together – this could be a picnic, a beach day, a woodland walk or something that you could host at home. You could hold a karaoke evening , set up a DIY escape room, or host a games night – my FREE, printable Adults VS Kids Movie Quiz is a great place to start. These are the sorts of long-lasting memories that we treasure forever.

frugal mum DIY escape room, christmas, children


Use second-hand treasures

I love second-hand goodies, and you can find some great things in the charity shops or on local selling pages. But, if you’ve not got the budget for that, and have items in good condition that you no longer need, consider regifting them to someone who might appreciate them. You could even recycle, repurpose or upcycle – shopping from your own home.


Create a music mix

Ok, it might not be the 90s anymore *sigh* so I won’t go into mix-tape territory, but you could create a personalised playlist of songs that you think the recipient would enjoy. Perhaps they’re sporty, so go with a workout vibe, or for a little one it might be all about Disney songs! This could be shared electronically, or put onto a mix CD for those of us that still like listening to CDs.


Make the most of nature

In the winter, you could collect pine cones, twigs and forage to help you to create inexpensive wreaths and decorations, which make great gifts, as well as chestnuts to enjoy over the festive period. During the summer months, pick blackberries in the countryside to make crumbles, tarts or tasty jams.

frugal mum with children in woods, wrapped up, winter


Craft it yourself

If you’ve got a skill, why not make something personal? If you can sew or knit you could make scarves, blankets, throws, doll’s clothes or a jumper. Or if you’re handy with wood you could make a stationery organiser, a toy box, a puppet theatre, castle or a dolls’ house. People are always giving away leftover paint and scraps of wood or pallets on local social media groups, so utilise what’s on offer and be creative.


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 your loved ones to enjoy. Time is so precious, and children grow so fast – there’s nothing Grandparents love more than a trip down memory lane.


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