Prepper Holiday Gifts That Won’t Break The Bank

by Tommy Grant

The combination of inflation and increased interest rates is hitting average consumers hard, and it showed this past Black Friday. Many people are budgeting more tightly; others are relying more on credit cards and buy-now-pay-later apps to make it through the holiday season.

Credit cards should be saved for true emergencies. Most financial planners strongly recommend avoiding credit card debt for expenses that you can plan around, such as holiday gift-giving.

But a lot of people are simply out of money. What are some holiday gift options if you have a worsening debt situation yet want to be generous toward loved ones?

Most of us are good at something. Think about your own skill set, and see how that might translate into items or services you can share with your friends and family.

Homemade Items

Festive Holiday Breads

Think fruitcakes  or German Christmas bread. One of the nice things about these traditional recipes is that they are made to improve after sitting for a few days or even weeks. They were designed for people to make in advance and bring with them on the big day.

Mason Jar Spice Mixes

You can often find mason jars very cheaply at thrift stores and garage sales, and many grocery stores sell bulk spices in plastic bags far more cheaply than the ones in the little jars. If you have a reputation as a good cook, why not put together some attractive jars of spice blends that you commonly use? Pumpkin pie spice is a good one for this time of year, and this site includes a pumpkin spice recipe along with other blends.

Mason Jar Cookie Mixes

These have the same advantages as the spice mixes: they’re inexpensive and easy to turn into attractive gifts.  

Wildcrafted Jams, Jellies, and Syrups

This might require planning, depending on your part of the country. But if you get it right, homemade jams and syrups from plants native to your area can make unique gifts, especially if you give gifts to relatives from different parts of the country. I often give out either chokecherry or cactus syrup, but other examples might include mayhaw, elderberry, huckleberry, or anything else native to your area that you have experience harvesting and processing.

Herbal Tea Blends

If you grow plants like mint, chamomile, or lemongrass, if you have come up with a blend you enjoy, introduce it to your friends.

Home-brewed Beer, Wine, Cider, Mead

Many of my male relatives enjoy making home-brewed beer; I like making country wines. Bringing a few jars of home-brew to family gatherings can be fun, especially if none of your relatives are overly particular.

Homemade Skincare Products

Like the spice and cookie mixes listed above, buying skincare ingredients in bulk and making your blends is often cheaper. I don’t make a lot of skincare products myself, but since I live on the High Plains, I burn through a lot of moisturizer. I genuinely appreciate my friends and family who share homemade lotions! If you make your own skincare products and have a knack for creating unique scent blends, why not make larger batches around Christmas time and share those?

Handcrafted Soap

As discussed in our previous article, homemade soap is a valuable, practical, and attractive gift.

Homemade ornaments are another great holiday gift idea


Maybe you are good at making attractive ornaments. Or perhaps you have adorable children and older relatives who don’t see them often and don’t spend time on social media. If that’s the case, bulk ornament frames are cheap on Amazon, and when filled with a photo of cute little kids, make a personalized present.

Knitted or Crocheted Items

You may want to ask who wants what first before making anything. But children lose hats and mittens all the time, and as for adults, clothes wear out. I’m all thumbs when it comes to knitting, but my friends and relatives are awesome at it. Many people welcome these handcrafted gifts.


Not everyone is into baking and crafting. That’s ok; people have other needs. Especially right now, many people are finding it hard to afford repairs or keep their homes attractive. If you have friends or family drowning in needed repairs, perhaps a better gift would be an offer of a weekend spent working on a project.

Homes in disrepair will be more noticeable, depending on where you live. I have lived in two states with notoriously loose code enforcement regarding new home construction. In fact, my town is digging a giant pit right now because the town next to us didn’t install proper drainage for its massive new subdivisions. Sewage was backing into the new homes, so my town gets a big new retention pond.

This is anecdotal, but the FEMA report from 2022 isn’t. They gave 39 states a failing grade on their building codes.

Living in a home that falls apart quickly and looks terrible is demoralizing. If you are good at making cosmetic repairs, or if you are willing to develop and then share that skill set, you will be improving the quality of life of everyone around you.


Some people are good at it; some just aren’t. I had a friend once who repainted a dentist’s office in exchange for root canals back when that kind of thing was still legal. (It is very much against the law now, in case you were wondering). A new paint job can really brighten up a house or make an office look more professional.

Drywall Repair

Drywall takes some skill; not everyone knows how to do it. And yet, any house that’s been lived in, particularly with children, is going to need periodic touchups. If you’re already good at this, your services may be a more welcome gift than another toy children may or may not play with. 

Installing Shelving

Requires patience and attention to detail in leveling. However, if you have a small and/or crowded home, well-placed shelves can eliminate the need for pieces of furniture, making your home feel less cramped.

Offer lawncare services as a holiday gift

Yard/Property Maintenance

Do you have a chainsaw? Do you love using your chainsaw? If you do, other people may prefer help cleaning up their yards to other gifts.


If you have a couple with young kids in your life, offers of help in having a date night can be sorely needed. People who live near relatives may take this for granted; I never had relatives close by when my kids were small, and I really appreciated the friends who were willing to watch my children once in a while.

Final Thoughts

Not being able to afford gargantuan piles of toys or fancy vacations doesn’t mean you can’t have a holiday season full of love and gratitude. There are many ways to be generous toward your loved ones. Rediscovering those ways isn’t all bad.

If your children are old enough to be helpful, or if you have a good group of friends, working on a project together can turn into something fun and festive when you’re done. For example, I had a small business selling chickens for years, and I still sometimes get together with friends to process birds. It’s reminiscent of the spinning bees of the Revolutionary period: exhausting but fun when you have good company. At the end, something as simple as a beer and a hot meal seems like a treat.  

Many people are strapped for cash right now. If you are struggling, don’t let that embarrass you or make you withdraw from your normal social circles. I can guarantee you other people are feeling the same way. If your hands are empty, but your heart is full, reach out to your loved ones and let them know you’re thinking about them. Words of kindness and encouragement never wear out.

Additional Resources:

Prepper Holiday Gifts That Won't Break The Bank

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