My 10 Most Practical and Inexpensive Gift Ideas

in Spend by Lacey Langford, AFC®

Updated: 5 December 2020

When it comes to gift-giving, I think the perfect gifts are ones that are practical and don’t break your budget. It’s no fun when you get a gift you don’t want or use—for the giver and the receiver. And it’s no fun for the gift giver if the present is expensive and goes to waste. 

So I’ve come up with some gift ideas that are good to give and will save you some money. They may not be fancy or flashy, but they’re things people can use or need. And everything on my list are things I own and use frequently. Here are my most practical and inexpensive gift ideas.

1. Battery Tester

We love this battery tester! I purchased this item because I was going to go nuclear if I found one more random battery in my house. We were constantly playing the “is this a good battery” game with our kids. Our battery tester is by far the most useful item I have in my house. It saves me a ton of money buying batteries (and my sanity). This battery tester and a pack of batteries is my go-to gift for everyone in my family. And everyone I have gifted it to loves it. By the way, it’s easy to use and tests all different kinds of batteries. 

2. Identity Theft Stamp

Protecting identity is something we all must do. But it sure is a pain in the butt. An identity theft stamp is an alternative to shredding everything. I bought this item because I was sick of my “to shred” stack, always piling up. It’s an excellent gift for people to handle their bills and important papers at the moment instead of creating a pile to worry about later. It’s a great gift to stay organized, and it’s easier than shredding. 

3. Fire Extinguisher 

Safety first! A fire extinguisher is one of the first presents my father-in-law bought for my husband and me after we married. It’s such a good gift idea because ever household should have one. Here is the fire extinguisher we have, but you can get a less expensive one. It’s a smart gift for in the home and for your vehicles. 

4. Can Opener

This is no ordinary can opener. It’s a smooth edge can opener! My OXO can opener usually throws newbies in my kitchen for a loop, but once you’re used to it, you love it. It opens a can without creating sharp metal edges. And as a Mom of boys, I’m looking to reduce trips to the ER. So it’s a good tool to have. I have a bunch of OXO Good Grips tools in my kitchen—it’s my favorite brand. 

5. Wrap Holder

I have three different versions of these wrap holders. One for aluminum foil, parchment paper, and plastic wrap. I have given one to every member of my family as presents, and they’re a hit every time. They’re useful, inexpensive, and keep my bags and wraps kitchen drawer organized. These are great teachers and coworkers!



6. Meat Thermometer

Undercooked meat can ruin a meal right away. Since I don’t have the gift of looking at food and correctly guessing if it’s done, my meat thermometer is a must. I like this one because it allows me to check the temp without opening the oven. Which helps me not get hot and beet red when I’m cooking. It’s a useful gift for around the holidays, for newlyweds or for people who love to cook.

Update! My new favorite meat thermometer is the Meater. It’s not cheap but it’s awesome. My husband got a Meater as a Christmas gift last year. It’s now become “our” Meater. My hubby and I like this one so much there may or may not be a new one under the tree this year. He loves it to grill, I love it for baking and roasting.

7. Shoe Space Savers

An organized closet can change your life and marriage for the better. I visited a friend and saw how organized her shoes were and realized my closet looked like a hot mess compared to hers. So I copied her and bought these shoe savers. Now my shoes are neatly organized, and I can see every pair I have (which may or may not be a lot). Shoe savers are a fun gift for anyone looking to get organized.

8. Mini Waffle Maker

My mother gave us this mini waffle maker because our boys love a waffle with peanut butter in the morning. The waffle iron is the size of a frozen waffle which my boys like. They like mini waffles. I love that I save money, not buying frozen food. We gave this as a gift to my in-laws as a space saver for their camper. You can add a little to the present by pairing it with a homemade waffle mix in a mason jar. If you’re crafty like that!

9. Tactical Flashlight

Given that we’re a military family, it’s probably not a shock some tactical gear made my list. And a tactical flashlight is practical and inexpensive. These are our good flashlights. The ones we keep away from our kids. We have cheap decoy flashlights in our junk drawer for them to turn off and on until the batteries run out. Then we just leave them in there for them to keep checking to see if they work. We also have a few of these mini Maglites we take camping. Either of these flashlights are practical gifts for in the home or the car. 

10. Ratchet Straps

You can probably deduce that my hubby uses ratchet straps more than I do, but he uses them all the time. We’ve also given them as a gift to loved ones more than once. With all the moving we do, they always come in handy. They’re a practical gift for people with a truck or trailer. Or for any military family—they’ll need them sooner or later. These ratchet straps are also a fun thank you gift when people help you move. Depending on who you talk to, they’re more useful as a thank you than beer and pizza!

That’s it folks, my practical and inexpensive gift ideas. You don’t always have to spend a ton to give a gift that is meaningful and useful. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference—to the person you gave it to and to your budget. Happy shopping.