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Gift Ideas

Best birthday present ideas 2024

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It's not always easy to think of great birthday present ideas for your loved ones when you're on a budget. But, we happen to know of lots of gifts that are thoughtful, memorable and affordable.


Credit: Fotosova – Shutterstock

If you've ever found the perfect birthday present for someone which you know they'll love, only to look at the price tag and see it's painfully out of budget, we can definitely relate. Luckily, though, this scenario can easily be avoided – as this gift guide will show you.

Whether you're looking for a birthday present for your best friend, mum, dad, flatmate, partner or just about anyone else you're close to, you're bound to find some gift inspiration here.

Read on for the best birthday presents to give to your nearest and dearest, with a student budget in mind.

As well as treating others, make sure you're also making the most of these amazing birthday freebies when your big day comes around.

11 birthday gift ideas

Here are the best birthday present ideas:

  1. Food and drink hamper

    Gift hamper

    Credit: nikkytok – Shutterstock

    Sometimes, the best birthday presents are the ones that are simple and low-priced, but chosen completely with the recipient in mind, like hampers.

    Although you can buy pre-made hampers filled with things like chocolates, wines and cheeses on Etsy and similar sites, it can be cheaper to buy each part of the gift yourself.

    Try to find good deals on each item in the hamper to keep costs as low as possible. For example, you can get some nice wine for under £5.

    As well as lowering the cost, buying each part of the hamper separately means you can also make sure the overall gift is tailored completely to the person you're giving it to.

    If you know your best friend has been working really hard lately, you could choose items that would help them unwind like a candle, a face mask, a journal and maybe a hand-written note that lets them know how much they mean to you.

    Package all of your items up together in a box or basket, and you've got a low-cost birthday gift that is sure to mean a lot to whoever is receiving it.

  2. Homeware

    We all want to make our house feel like a home, so a nice home decor item is a great birthday gift idea for a friend or family member.

    You don't need to spend much to get a great homeware gift. Whether it's a tea towel, a photo frame, a set of coasters or anything else that catches your eye, items for the home can be affordable and really thoughtful.

    Plus, unlike foodie gifts like sweets and chocolates (which, let's face it, will probably be eaten within a day), homeware presents are long-lasting. This means the lucky recipient can be reminded of you each and every time they use their birthday present.

  3. Handmade crafts

    Not only are crafted items super relaxing to make, but they also make brilliant birthday presents.

    DIY craft gifts can be as simple or as complex as you like – what matters is that you've taken the time to make something that you think they would love, and you've put the effort into it. It might sound clichéd, but it really is the thought that counts.

    If you're a beginner at crafts, it might be worth getting something like a candle-making kit as this should make it easier for you to get started. Just be sure to closely follow the kit's instructions and you can't go far wrong.

  4. Flowers

    A bunch of flowers is easily one of the best birthday present ideas for friends and family – it will brighten up their house and their day.

    You don't need to spend a fortune on flowers to find a beautiful bouquet. If you're on a tight budget, we recommend steering clear of high-end flower boutiques as these will be pricey. Instead, have a look at the ones from your local supermarket – a £5 bunch will still make a great present.

    You could also consider getting some seeds for flowers or plants that they can grow at home.

    As long as you pick out flowers that you think will put a smile on your loved one's face, that's all that matters.

  5. A tree planted on their behalf

    tree on a hill

    Credit: Willy Barton – Shutterstock

    If you're looking for an eco-friendly gift idea, planting a tree on someone else's behalf is an ideal birthday present. It's both extremely thoughtful and a good deed that will make them and you feel good.

    One good option is donating to the National Trust's 'plant a tree fund' for a minimum donation of £5.

  6. Art prints

    If you're talented at drawing, painting, printing or just about any other form of image-making, giving away your artworks as birthday gifts will always be highly appreciated.

    But, for anyone who's not confident at art, don't worry – you should still be able to find art prints for a pretty good price online if you know where to look.

    We recommend heading to Etsy and having a look through the selection of lovely art prints on there.

    For limited-edition, handmade prints (e.g. etchings, lino prints and lithographs, etc.), try Artfinder. The prices will vary a lot, but you should be able to find some in a range of styles and sizes for between £20 – £50.

  7. Scrapbook of memories

    One of the most thoughtful gifts you can make, while spending very little, is a scrapbook full of photos, memories and notes.

    If you're looking for a birthday present for your best friend, a scrapbook is an amazing gift. It's the perfect way to show them how much the friendship means to you, and how special your memories together are.

    To save money on the gift, have a look at the scrapbooks from Amazon.

  8. DIY cocktails in a jar

    If you know your friend/family member's favourite cocktail or mocktail, a great birthday gift idea is to fill a jar with the ingredients for that drink.

    For example, if you're getting a present for your sibling who you know loves Woo Woos, you could get a mason jar and add in miniature bottles of vodka and peach schnapps, along with a small carton of cranberry juice.

    Then, all you need to do is tie a note around the jar lid with the cocktail recipe and a little birthday message, and the gift is ready!

    And, for more drink ideas, check out these easy cocktail recipes.

  9. Books


    Credit: Unuchko Veronika – Shutterstock

    Books can make really special birthday presents. They aren't expensive (especially if bought second-hand) but a lot of thought needs to go into them to make sure they're right for the gift recipient.

    It can be difficult to buy novels for people unless you're sure there's one they haven't yet read but would love. But, if you have a look for non-fiction books based on their interests, you're sure to find one that they're unlikely to own already, but that's perfect for them.

    Unsure where to start? Try charity shops and sites like Wob for second-hand books.

    There are also loads of great bookshops to visit, Waterstones, Foyles and Hive (all three of which offer student discount).

  10. Magazine subscription

    Why limit your gift-giving to just one day? Magazine subscriptions give your friends and family something to keep looking forward to several months after their birthday.

    They don't need to cost a fortune to buy, either. There are loads of magazine subscription sites to choose from but, to keep the costs low, it's worth having a look at Great Magazines as they offer a 15% student discount.

    Please note that the subscriptions from Great Magazines are usually available for either a year or on a month-by-month basis. However, if you'd rather just get a subscription for a set period like three or six months, you could choose the pay-monthly option and cancel after your chosen period (just make sure to set a reminder to end the subscription in time).

    Also, keep an eye on our deals page as we often share magazine offers, including limited-time reductions on subscriptions.

  11. Homecooked meal

    Whoever your gift is for, a homecooked meal would be such a thoughtful way to show them that you appreciate them, making their birthday feel that bit more special.

    When planned in advance, the dinner really wouldn't need to cost much. We have a whole host of student recipes that work out as just a couple of quid per head (or sometimes less!).

    Invite over the people you're both close to and throw them all a fun, laid-back dinner party. The time and effort that will go into preparing and making the meal will mean a lot, and it's a gift that will be truly memorable.

    And, it goes without saying, don't forget the birthday cake.

Most wrapping paper contains plastic and has a big carbon footprint. Wrap presents using recyclable paper, sealed with brown paper tape or twine. Or go for reusable gift bags!

For plenty more ideas, check out our list of surprisingly thoughtful gifts for £5 or less.

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
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