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Gift Ideas

10 surprisingly thoughtful gifts for £5 or less

Buying a great gift doesn't have to break the bank. Here's our pick of some thoughtful gifts that'll put a smile on someone's face – all for less than a fiver!

person holding wrapped present

Credit: Efetova Anna – Shutterstock

Need a budget birthday gift or scouting for Secret Santa gifts under £5?

We know – your nearest and dearest are undoubtedly deserving of all the love, affection and gifts you have to offer. But sometimes your bank balance just won't stretch far enough to match your enthusiasm.

You don't have to buy gifts with eye-watering price tags to show you care. We rattled our brains to come up with some cheap gift ideas that can be had for £5 or less – light on pennies, packed with love and all brilliant bargains. Read on!

Most wrapping paper contains plastic and ends up in landfill. Wrap beautiful presents using brown or recyclable paper, sealed with brown paper tape or twine. Or go for reusable gift bags!

Best cheap gift ideas

These are the best cheap birthday gifts and Christmas presents:

  1. A framed photo or quote

    Got a photo that you think your friend would love? Maybe it's one of the two of you. Or maybe it's an inspirational quote you know they live by. Either way, a framed photo or quote can be a really thoughtful gift.

    Photo prints (and we mean real photo prints, not just something out of your printer at home) can be expensive. But, if you exploit the free introductory offers available at most places, they can be... well, free (plus P&P). Check out our guide to printing your photos for free for the best deals.

    And the finishing touch: the frame. We'd recommend something simple but classy like these ones from Wilko. At the time of writing, some cost as little as £1.25.

  2. Touchscreen gloves

    hands in touchscreen gloves touching phones

    Credit: Romain Zaiets - Shutterstock

    The key to buying a good gift is making sure that they'll actually use it. Fortunately, if you're buying a present in the middle of winter, you can bet that whoever you're getting a gift for will need gloves.

    But these aren't just any old gloves. These are gloves that can work with touchscreen phones! Finally, you no longer have to choose between skipping the track or not getting frostbite.

    Touchscreen gloves are available all over the place, but you can't go wrong with Amazon or Etsy.

    What's more, if the item on Amazon is eligible for Prime delivery and you have a Prime account, you can get it sent for free. If you don't have Amazon Prime, get a free six-month trial.

  3. A poster for their favourite film

    If you know them well enough to be able to name their favourite film, this is one of the best gifts under £5 you can get them.

    As you'd expect when you're working to this kind of budget, the selection can be a tad erratic. You might not be able to find the film you're after or you might have to settle for an A4 print rather than a larger poster.

    However, the selection available on both Amazon and Etsy is pretty impressive. There are plenty of fairly sizeable posters for less than £5.

    If you don't mind sticking to A4, we found this Amazon seller to have a ton of classic posters going for £3.49 (£1.70 P&P), with excellent customer reviews across the board.

  4. A jar of their favourite sweets

    jar of sweets

    Credit: Pao Laroid – Shutterstock

    Everybody likes at least one type of sweet or chocolate. And if the person you're buying a gift for doesn't like any sweet treats, don't worry about buying them a present. They don't deserve it.

    The beauty of this gift is that you're simply upcycling and putting a mark-up on something that's usually fairly cheap and easily purchased anyway.

    Say their favourite sweets are Wine Gums (solid choice) – you can buy a large-ish bag for less than £2. This should be more than enough, and could even leave you with a few to snack on yourself.

    All you have to do is put the sweets in a jar, which you may already have in the fridge (wash it out first though). Or, if you don't have a jar going spare, Wilko sells some glass containers for under £5, most of which wouldn't look out of place in a trendy cafe.

    For added bonus points, try tying a piece of ribbon or string around the lid, maybe even fixing a rogue piece of fabric over the lid in the process. So rustic chic, and the absolute dictionary definition of a cheap but thoughtful gift.

  5. A personalised coaster

    Unless you're buying a gift for some kind of desert-dwelling animal, your recipient will definitely need to drink something from time to time. And where there's a drink, there's a cup just waiting to leave a ring.

    For a gift that's as practical as it is lovely, why not give your loved one their very own personalised coasters?

    The good people at Tesco Photo sell a single glass coaster for just £5. They can be delivered to your local Tesco free of charge, and once you've got them, you just need to slot in your photo(s) of choice.

    If you've got a decent printer at home you could probably get away with just producing the pictures yourself. But, if you prefer the professional look, our guide to free photo printing is your friend once again.

    Just remember that if you're paying for the delivery of your prints, you might have to settle for just one coaster in order to keep to that £5 mark.

  6. A scented candle

    scented candle

    Despite what your wannabe-lad friends might try to tell you, everybody likes scented candles. How can you not? Disliking them is the nasal equivalent of not wanting to eat food that tastes nice because it tastes nice.

    Anyway, rant over. Many of the cheap scented candles on Amazon come in the kind of packaging you'd expect to pay twice the price for. The positive reviews seem to suggest that they haven't scrimped on the smell, either.

    To get free delivery and stay within budget, here's your periodic reminder to get a free Amazon Prime trial.

    Don't fancy Amazon's offerings? Ikea's scented candles are just as affordable (they start at around £1), if not more so. Etsy also has a typically unique range (although delivery costs may tip you over £5).

  7. Some homemade sweet treats

    Fancy yourself as a future Mary Berry? Why not bake your friend a special something and surprise them with one of the best cheap but thoughtful Christmas gifts?

    There are plenty of delicious treats that aren't just easy to make, but cheap too. Take for instance our recipe for 40+ chocolate truffles which costs less than £2, or our guide to making chocolate fondant cakes which costs just over 25p per cake.

    And, even if you're not the Star Baker™, it's the thought that counts.

  8. A notebook with a personalised note

    two notebooks

    Got a budding novelist/poet/songwriter/wordy creative among your friends? Then a notebook could be the ideal gift for them.

    If you want to make it extra special, you could add a note on the back page telling them how much they mean to you. And if you're a dab-hand with a pencil, you could even do a little drawing.

    Waterstones do a cute selection of notebooks for under £5. Etsy also has a wide selection, many of which are made out of recycled paper – that's two good deeds in one!

  9. A grown-your-own kit

    This is the perfect cheap present to brighten up any uni bedroom, or inspire somebody to start growing their own food at home.

    There are two ways you can do this. One option is to buy a grow-your-own kit containing the seeds of your nearest and dearest's favourite flower (or herb, if they're a bit of a foodie).

    Alternatively, you can pop down to your local garden centre and buy the seeds over the counter. You could grab a plant pot at the same time, or order one online.

  10. A reusable coffee cup

    reusable coffee cup

    Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj - Shutterstock

    Do your bit for the planet and buy your mate a useful present. Reusable coffee cups are easily one of the best eco-friendly gifts to buy on a budget.

    To give people a little nudge down the path of wisdom and prosperity, coffee shops often give a discount on your drink if you bring your own cup. Couple that up with the fact that there are lots of designs to choose from for under £5 on Amazon and it's a pretty ideal gift.

Birthday coming up? See this list of birthday freebies that could be up for grabs.


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