Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Inexpensive gifts for the holidays

Chloe Williams

The temperature is dropping, holiday decorations are filling stores and Mariah Carey is preparing to take over the top charts again. With this coming holiday season, it is never too early to start preparing for gift-giving. Whether you are looking for something to gift to a secret Santa, a token of appreciation for your roommate or something for your whole family, we have you covered. Keep reading to check out our guide to cheap and memorable gifts, separated by interest. 

Coffee lovers

For the coffee lover in your life, pick up a unique mug at the thrift store for less than $5, then grab a pack of their favorite coffee or support a local coffee roaster. What’s Brewing has blends for as low as $6.75. 


For the bookworm, Etsy has tons of personalized bookmark options, with most under $10. You could personalize the bookmark with their name, birth flower or a picture of their pet. If your bookworm prefers digital reading, pick out a collection of stickers for them to put on their e-reader or a sleeve to hold it. Another touching gift idea is to customize a book embosser or stamp with “From the library of” and their name. 

Self-care devotees 

A self-care-centered gift is great for those you know who value self-care, but also for general gifts like a secret Santa. A DIY option is to make bath salts or sugar scrubs and put together a mini self-care bag. To further personalize, you can use their favorite scents and colors to customize the salts or scrubs. Combined with small self-care items from the dollar store, this is a safe and sweet gift option. 


We all know someone who values memories and thoughtful tokens of appreciation over expensive gifts. For this person in your life, there are so many options, each pretty inexpensive. The easiest is thrifting a cool frame and putting your favorite picture in it. This gift is perfect, paired with a handwritten note and maybe a few of their favorite candies. Another more time-consuming option is to DIY coasters using photos. Head to Home Depot, pick up some tiles for less than $1, grab some waterproof Mod Podge and your favorite photos. This gift is great for your mom or your roommate. 

Fitness enthusiasts 

For your favorite gymgoer, there are several cheap gift options. If they are constantly sore, you could get them a foam roller or make them some bath salts, as listed under self-care. Other options include a shaker, resistance bands, headbands or an ab wheel. A DIY option could be to make them a fitness tracker notebook modeled after templates online. 

Food lovers

If your target gift recipient is a self-proclaimed food critic, chef or baker, there are several options for useful gifts. If you buy and customize a journal for them, you could turn it into a food rating journal or recipe book. For a food rating journal, you could customize it with local places for them to try and provide areas for them to share their thoughts. Another option is to grab a box, some index cards and local postcards and turn them into a recipe box with the dividers being postcards. If you are not crafty, cheap gifts to purchase include cool thrifted kitchenware, a cool apron and personalized spatulas. Another option is to head to World Market and grab some cool ingredients, hot sauces or jams for them to try. 

Alcohol connoisseurs 

For your 21+ friends and family, alcohol is always a hit, especially at white elephants and secret Santa’s. To upgrade this gift, you could make your own infused liquor, customized to the recipient’s favorite flavors. Alcohol-centered gifts can get pretty pricey, so to keep it simple, you could pick up a bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s and pair it with a nice cheese and crackers for a more sophisticated feel. This gift is also perfect as a token of appreciation for a party host. 

Concert goers

Similar to the gifts mentioned under “food lovers,” a fun, customizable gift for the concert enthusiast in your life is a memory book with pages dedicated to each concert where they can add photos, tickets and ratings. Another safe but more expensive option for music lovers is a vinyl of their favorite album. A cheaper version would be to thrift vinyl’s of new music for them to try. 


We all know someone who is on a new exciting trip the second school lets out. For this person, cool gifts could be a custom passport holder, travel organizers or a leather traveler’s notebook. A DIY option could be to thrift a large frame, take the glass out and get a map custom printed at UPS for them to mark off their travels. 


Technology is expensive, and so are games, but these are not the only options for the gamer in your life. A simple gift could be one themed after their favorite game. If they love Minecraft, you can get them a creeper plush or themed keychain. If they have a PC, you could get them stickers to “sticker bomb” it. If they have a switch, you could buy a new skin for it or a cute stand

Pet parents

One thing about pet parents is that they love everything that reminds them of their furry friend. Gifts for pet parents are endless, but some cheap ones include personalized jewelry, a mini painting or a keychain. If you have access to the animal, you could also get some air-dry clay and make a print of their paws. Another DIY option would be to make and frame a photo collage of the animal. 

Car obsessed

For your car-obsessed friends or family members, there are many inexpensive options to personalize their car. Some cheap options available on Etsy are custom photo air fresheners, a spark plug bottle opener, a hanging crochet decoration or one of the many cup holder options. A DIY option would be to take a Polaroid picture, cut a circle in the top with a hole puncher and tie a string around it to create a custom car ornament. Another option for those who are artistic is to draw their car and frame the art. 

Plant lovers

Gifts for plant lovers are easy and cheap; while plants can get pretty pricey, you could start propagating some for them to pass along. If you are looking for a full plant for cheap, check out local flea markets. At Mission Open Air Market, some plant vendors sell large monsteras and snake plants for as low as $8. This is less than half the cost of other plant stores. 

Your partner

More personalized and intimate gifts for your partner could include custom Legos, heart keychains, custom Pokémon cards or a custom record. DIY options include a “Reasons why I love you” book made with playing cards or a date idea jar. 

Another option for a gift you have been eyeing is to purchase it during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, so you can get something specific for less. Whatever you decide to get your loved ones, just remember an expensive price tag does not equal a perfect gift. Be thoughtful and prepared, and the rest will fall into place. Have a happy holiday season and good luck. 

End of the Fall 2023 term at UTSA:
Happy holidays, have a good break!
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About the Contributor
Chloe Williams
Chloe Williams, Managing Editor
Chloe (she/her) is a senior majoring in Business Marketing with a minor in Adaptive Decision Business Models. On her off days you can find Chloe thrifting, being a self-proclaimed food critic or outside enjoying nature. This is her third year at The Paisano and she is excited to serve as Managing Editor.

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