7 Great Gifts For Frugal Weirdos

Frugal people are not easy to shop for. You’d think we would be seeing as we don’t buy things for ourselves very often. However, since we’re usually minimalists (to some degree) and disavowers of consumer culture, it’s actually quite tough to buy for the person who has nothing and wants nothing! Ok, so obviously we have something, but, you catch my drift.

FrugalwoodsXmasPhoto

A Christmas photo attempt last year (don’t worry, we got better)

Every year our sweet families inquire as to what the Frugalwoods home would like for Christmas and every year we hem and haw and say “nothing.” Turns out, this is a terrible strategy. Our parents love us and dearly want to give us gifts and so, they make educated guesses. They are incredibly generous people and we deeply appreciate their devotion to us, but, we realized we ought to give them a helpful list of things that we truly need.

And so, this year, we wised up. Mr. Frugalwoods and I were some organized frugal weirdos. I kept a list ALL YEAR LONG of stuff that we legitimately could use and would enjoy having. Then, last month we made an Amazon wishlist and shared it with our inquiring family members.

I’m also a proponent of not giving gifts as 1500 Days to Freedom discusses. And in fact, Mr. Frugalwoods and I don’t exchange gifts with each other for most holidays. When we do decide to give gifts, we aim for practical or unique items–such as the Soviet T72 Tank Piston I gave Mr. Frugalwoods one year. Our families, however, enjoy the whole experience of gift giving and so, we’ve found ways to frugalize it.

FrugalHound_ChristmasDuck

Frugal Hound with her Christmas duck last year

General Guidelines for Frugal People vis-a-vis Gifts:

  • Please respect our wishes. As in, if we say we don’t need new clothes, we really mean it. I, for example, am not buying any clothes in 2014 and my family understands my preference in this department.
  • Don’t give us random “splurge” items you think we’ll enjoy. We won’t. We’ll feel guilty that you spent so much money and we won’t know what to do with it. Being honest here, we’ll probably re-gift it.
  • Avoid items that we can buy used. We frugal folk love to find thrift store/garage sale/Great Trash Find/Craigslist deals for common used items such as furniture, clothes, and housewares.
  • Select gifts that will enable greater frugality. Our list of the 10 Shockingly Expensive Things We Own contains great examples of items that help Mr. Frugalwoods and I advance our frugal practices.
  • Don’t laugh at our wishlist. We realize it might not seem exciting, but there’s nothing we frugal weirdos love more than practical, economizing tools and household items. We’re suckers for efficiency.

It occurred to me that other frugal gift-givers and recipients might face a similar holiday quandary. And so, I present you with a list of the key gift categories for the frugal weirdo in your life (hint: if you’re reading this, then the frugal weirdo just might be you).

All credit for these amazingly wrapped gifts 'neath our frugal tree go to my fabulous mother-in-law

All credit for these amazingly wrapped gifts ‘neath our frugal tree goes to my fabulous mother-in-law

Top 7 Gift Categories For Frugal Weirdos

1) The Kitchen

Any frugal person worth their money-saving salt cooks most, if not all, of their own meals. Hence, sensible kitchen gear is usually appreciated. And while some kitchen items can easily be found used (plates, glasses, and the like), other things, such as food storage containers, rarely grace the hallowed shelves of Goodwill in decent condition.

Mr. FW roasted Brussels Sprouts

Mr. FW roasted Brussels Sprouts

Since Mr. Frugalwoods cooks just about everything from scratch, and often in large batches (which is both cheaper and easier), the Frugalwoods home is in near-constant need of more food storage containers. We already have two fabulous sets of glass tupperware (which greatly aid in our campaign for zero food waste) but we’re desirous of large air-tight bins we could store flour and other dry goods in. Mr. FW has been eyeing hefty bulk quantities of rice, beans, etc–but, we have no adequate storage vessels. Hence, this set of two 6-quart food containers is on our list. Mr. FW may also use this to proof bread he’s baking.

Another friend of large batch-cookers are equally large pots-n-pans. My dear chef Mr. Frugalwoods has been on the lookout for a used or hand-me-down stock pot for about three years. Since we have yet to find one, he finally broke down and added this 16-quart stainless steel pot to our list.

2) Bedding and Linens

Frugal people need to sleep too. Shockingly enough, we’re not writing personal finance blogs counting our cash all night long. We are alas mere mortals who require snoozing (even though we only paid $279 for our King-sized mattress… just saying). Bedding and linens (which I define as sheets, towels, pillows, blankets, mattress pads) are superb examples of items that are really difficult, and rather questionable, to purchase used.

I’m an advocate for extreme frugality, but people, I draw the line at used bedding (though I am fine with lightly used mattresses as we have one in our guest room). The other acceptable used bedding route is an airtight provenance. For example, my current pillow and our master bed duvet are both hand-me-downs from my parents. The pillow was too soft for their tastes and they bought a new duvet, so I happily rescued their old one.

FrugalwoodsMaster

Our hand-me-down duvet and $279 internet mattress. Also, there’s the hutch I refinished! You can just barely see Frugal Hound asleep on the floor next to it…

Mr. FW and I both included a pillow on this year’s wishlist. Why? Well, unlike many other household items, pillows actually do wear out and ours are on their last little fabric legs. We’re also asking for a mattress pad, since it’ll help extend the life of our mattress and is something we can wash and reuse for many years.

We just bought an electric blanket (using a gift card) and it is some toasty awesomeness. May I recommend this highly for your frugal peeps. Again, not likely to find it used and December is peak heated-bed desire time. Since frugal people like to keep their thermostats way down low, they like a roasty bed to climb into (speaking from personal experience, naturally).

3) Tools

A classic example of something that promotes and facilitates the frugal, DIY lifestyle, tools are the perfect gift for the handy frugal weirdo on your list.

Steady hands and a good line to follow make cutting a miter with a circular saw not that bad.

Mr. FW using a tool

Since they probably already own quite a few tools (many of which are likely used or from the side of the road), consult to discern their precise needs. There’s probably a list of tools your frugal person would love to have, but they’re biding their time until one shows up in the trash or at Goodwill (which is rare, let me tell you). Suss out what they’re questing after and you’ll have found their perfect gift.

Consumables for tools that your frugal person already owns are also an excellent idea, for example: saw blades, clamps, paint brushes, and sandpaper*. This year, Mr. FW lusts after a 4′ level, a plumb bob, and a 25′ tape measure.

*I warned you not to laugh at our lists. Sandpaper is eminently useful and is quite expensive. Also, impossible to buy used. 

4) Footwear (socks too!)

Tread lightly here since you don’t want to overwhelm our minimalist sensibilities. But, if the frugal person in your life is sporting some hole-y shoes, ask them if they’d like a new pair. I myself put a pair of Converse All-Stars on my list since I wear those bad boys pretty much every day all spring and summer. My current pair is on the brink of death and about to rip in half.

The rationale? Quality used shoes are rare to find, especially if you have an unusual foot size like me (9.5 double narrow in case you were wondering and/or have any hand-me-down shoes you’d like to send me…).

Socks are another consumable that’s impossible to procure from a thrift store. Good, sturdy socks make a great frugal stocking stuffer (although does that make the stocking a cannibal…?).

5) Pet Accouterments

FrugalHound_XmasCowgirl

The origin of her infamous hat

The frugal pet owner will almost always appreciate new toys, collars, coats, or costumes (that last one may just be us…). Since we frugalize our care of Frugal Hound, we’re very thankful to her grandparents for outfitting her with a warm winter coat and her myriad adorable hats (which she of course loves). And since she’s an epic destroyer of toys, new ones are always welcome. This year, Frugal Hound asked Santa Hound for this fairly gigantic toucan Tuffy toy. Know of a hound that’s a food gulper? There’s a ball for that.

6) Bike Paraphernalia

Many a frugal weirdo is an avid cyclist and, especially if they bike in winter, there’s a great need for functional gear. Similar to tools, bike consumables are a fabulous option, such as: bike chain lube/wax and de-greaser (although make sure you know which brand your frugal recipient prefers).

Mr. Frugalwoods shared his wardrobe and cycle accessory choices in the epic The Ultimate Bike Commuter’s Guide to Winter Cycling.

7) Frugal Pursuits

Creating your own free or cheap entertainment is a central tenet of frugal weirdos and so, chances are your frugal person has a number of hobbies they enjoy (we’re not ones to pay for movie theaters, restaurants, bars, shows, or whatever else it is that mainstream people pay for these days).

Our trash-find tripod!

Our trash-find tripod!

Since frugal people tend not to hire photographers (as you can tell from the amateurish exuberant photography on this blog) a tripod is a superb way to help them up their photo game. Mr. Frugalwoods and I find photography an excellent frugal pursuit–we enjoy snapping photos on walks, hikes, and around the house.We delight in getting the light just right, framing Frugal Hound’s houndy-face, and just generally seeing the city through a slower, more introspective lens. Doesn’t hurt that I can then use the photos right here on Frugalwoods! Double frugal score. While we do enjoy our Great Trash Finds tripod, we’ve asked for a flexible GorillaPod, which is portable and can attach to almost any surface.

Walking and hiking are quintessential frugal pursuits and, since we’re always looking to expand our knowledge base, Mr. FW and I have asked for a Regional Field Guide of New England. The book includes descriptions and color photographs of the common flora and fauna of our area and will be very handy in our homestead search too. Hiking and camping gear are popular choices as well.

What’s on your wishlist this year? Or do you prefer not to exchange gifts at all?

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104 Responses

  1. I fully agree with the cooking one! I also cook in batches a lot, and large pots, pans and containers are a must and not that easy to find. To think of it, most of the gifts I had in the last 8 years were mostly cooking-related, I might be slightly obsessed… On my wishlist for this year is a ravioli plate so we can make our own ravioli at home (I already have the pasta roller attachment for my Kitchenaid).

    Tools for my various hobbies are a close second for me since I’ll hesitate a lot before buying something for myself. But it must be something I asked for because it’s easy to go wrong with that kind of thing.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      The kitchen is almost always a winner! I’ve never heard of a ravioli plate before, but homemade ravioli sounds wonderful 🙂

      • Homemade ravioli is where it is at! Homemade pasta/dough in general is so good. My roommate’s friend came over the other night and made like 10 pizzas from scratch with different types of dough… everyone should sell mac and cheese pizza…

        Off-topic comment is done now!

        Jay

  2. Don’t laugh at our wish list… sigh.. every year! You will think after repeating our list for the past 5 years, people will finally see I mean business. LOL On a serious note, I am with you with bedding and linen. We saved money doing this challenge and we used our money to purchase much needed bedding and linen when it went on sale. Thought I was the only one excited about bedding glad to read you feel the same way.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hah! So true! We just appreciate practical things, what can I say ;). I definitely get excited about bedding–especially my electric blanket!

  3. My mom loves giving gifts and will give regardless of our wishes. It’s hard to blame her though- she loves Christmas and we’re her children! It is weird getting a stocking ate age 35, however.
    Anyway, she’s pretty practical about it. If she sees something I need at my house, she’ll usually go for a gift like that. Other than that, she’ll give me socks, earrings (cheap Kohl’s stuff), and pajamas.
    I don’t mind buying for people anymore. I buy for my parents even though they say not to. They are almost impossible to buy for! I once got them a gift card to a fancy restaurant and they didn’t use it for almost a year.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Your mom sounds exactly like mine! I too am often the recipient of very cute and cheap Kohl’s earrings and socks :). My parents are tough to shop for too, but, they’re good about letting me know things they could use, which I really appreciate. I like to get people stuff I know they’ll like.

  4. Kirsten says:

    i order to not exchange gifts but I have generous family who insists on buying me something, if I don’t give ideas, I get unusable crap. I’m a runner, so this year I asked for an iPhone 6 armband since my new phone (a gift from in laws) doesn’t fit my old one and earphones meant for running.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yep, same situation here :). I feel like it’s much wiser to at least give things to people that they can actually use. An armband is a great gift–I really like the one I have, makes a big difference in working out to have the phone safely out of the way.

  5. Allie says:

    Thankfully, since we moved across the country this year, this will be the first year in which we’ll have to travel back home via plane with any gifts. Our families have been conscious of needing to give small gifts, or foregoing traditional gifts altogether, and I appreciate that so we don’t have to pay for checked bags, and so I don’t have to deal with more clutter!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Ahh, yes, checked bags! Another great point in the campaign against clutter! Thank so much for stopping by 🙂

  6. Robin says:

    We really need some new bath towels but they are dang expensive, so I haven’t handed over the cash for them. Those would be nice! Otherwise we will just use ours until they are rags.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s exactly what we’re doing with ours. The handtowel has ripped and frayed to the point that it’s almost a goner, but the towels are just frayed a tad on the edges. I figure we’ll use them until they’re completely worn through. But I agree with you–towels make a great gift!

  7. I love the point about not buying us things you think we would like. Even before I was a frugal-minded person, my family always seemed to do this and it’s just a waste. We asked our family years ago to just get gifts for Will and forget us so that saves us from having to create wish lists, which works for me. Although my father-in-law always likes to do something and we can’t really stop them, so this year we asked for tickets to the Lion King on Broadway for the family. We took Will to his first show, Aladdin earlier this year when it was in presale so the tickets were cheap, but nothing else is cheap except if you go on a random day and don’t sit together.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Tickets to Broadway are a wonderful idea! It’s something you can all enjoy together and that you might not otherwise buy for yourself. You make a good point that experiences are another great gift to give and receive!

  8. Over the past few years we’ve said “nothing” too and learned our lessons. We basically just got whatever our siblings asked for.

    Last year I sent out a list of a few items that would could use and ended up getting duplicates from both sets of parents.

    So, this year, I sent out a list of almost 100 things, basically from each of your categories. Now if they don’t send me a list, never again!

    My sister and I decided to stop buying for each other this year and to just buy for the kids, but we’ve still got lots of people on our list.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Indeed, “nothing” doesn’t seem to work too well for us either :). Your list of 100 sounds very organized, I’m impressed!

  9. We certainly exchange gifts. This is a small amount of wish list type stuff “wants” on our list, but often we are filling “needs” with the gifts we exchange. We family members we often exchange experiences like movie or restaurant gift cards.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Experiences that you know a person will enjoy are a great idea! And, I agree with you on filling needs–it’s a much more practical approach, which I vastly prefer.

  10. These are great suggestions! It makes me think I need to make a similar list because it would look so different (i.e. no pets, tools, or biking going on in my life). That said, I think the biggest and most important take away for gifting to frugal people is to listen to them and respect their wishes.

  11. Mrs PoP says:

    Often I think it’s easier to determine that the gift isn’t going to go over well when you check the reasons for buying it:
    – “I was in IKEA and this random product had a name phonetically similar to yours!”
    – “we were on our flight to see you and hadn’t bought presents yet, so picked everything out of sky mall!”
    – “I remembered how much you hated x as a child and thought you needed one in your home!”
    These are all serious reasons that have been given for giving us gifts… And we faked gratitude at the time, but really – if this is a reason for giving, check it before pulling out the credit card.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh wow, those are rough. I feel like it’d be better if they hadn’t admitted the context, then you could at least give them the benefit of the doubt!

  12. We got a Frugalwood nose! It makes all the difference 🙂 I put some really odd stuff on my list, but honestly if I can’t use it, I don’t want it!!!!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah! Took me a long time to figure out what you meant, but now I gotcha! My NOSE pictured in living color :). Glad I could bring you such joy via my snout ;)!

  13. My parents always just send me money which I appreciate and either I save it or put it to good use for practical stuff like a hair cut, groceries, or replacing items that really need it. For instance this year I need some new flip flops which I always wear and the ones I have right now are barely hanging in there. I do like the occasional splurge though like a cheap massage. It’s for health purposes right? 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Money is indeed greatly appreciated! You’re smart to spend it on useful stuff too. And a massage for health purposes sounds divine!

  14. Yes, that does make your stocking a cannibal. But it’ll keep your feet warm, even if you do have to pry it from the bowels of one of its own kind.

    I cringe when someone gets us a gift that we could have purchased used for a tenth of the cost. Sometimes I can’t even manage to bite my tongue before I utter “oh, they have these at the thrift shop for like $3 sometimes still unopened”.

    And clothes are a particularly bad gift for us. Mrs. RoG told me never to get her any clothes. And after accompanying her while shopping for hours for just one item, I understand why. She’s picky and I’m okay with that. Kid clothes for the 2 year old are worse. Yes, they will look cute in that new expensive outfit. Both times they wear it. And instead of $20 “on sale”, it would be $2-3 at the thrift shop, and possibly with the tags still on it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Glad you could corroborate my stocking-as-cannibal theory. These are the important things :).

      Those are our sentiments exactly about expensive gifts. We feel badly that our family spent so much on something we could’ve easily gotten for a fraction of the cost. I’m always trying to save other people money :)!

  15. Michelle says:

    Love your list of frugal people gifts. I’m the same way, I always say “nothing.” I honestly don’t need anything though and no one believes me. I do like the things on your list though 🙂

  16. Tarynkay says:

    Maybe I am not the frugal weirdo I thought I was, but I have to disagree. If someone buys me something I could have bought used for cheaper, I don’t cringe. It’s not my money. I might feel differently if my husband bought me something we could have bought used. But we have the same money. I don’t share my bank account with anyone else.

    Maybe I am misreading this, but I am not entitled to anyone spending X dollars on me at Christmas. So if grandma spends $20 on a baby outfit I could have found for $2, I am not out $18. I am just up one cute baby outfit.

    There’s nothing wrong with sending family a wish list if they request one, but there’s also nothing wrong with family completely disregarding that list. It just seems like it might be helpful to go into the season expecting nothing.

    On a super weird but fun note, my extended family did a canned goods exchange one year.
    We elaborately wrapped everything and ceremoniously exchanged and unwrapped all of the cans of beans and boxes of pasta. Then at the end, we took everything to the local homeless shelter. If you want to eliminate the gifts you won’t appreciate and the stress of picking out stuff other people wont enjoy, this might be a fun thing to suggest to your family some year.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      I think we agree that the spirit of gift giving is wonderful. The point Mrs. FW was going after is that we’re big into efficiency and lack of waste. We know how much love is behind whatever gifts may come our way, and we want the giver to know how much we appreciate both the sentiment _and_ the actual gift. It’s that second part that this post is directed towards. 🙂

  17. tess says:

    I like the idea of consumable or use-up-able gifts, homemade cookies if you have the time, spices, fancy salts, chocolate,looseleaf tea, homemade laundry powder, cash money (the universal gift certificate), charitable giving in lieu of gifts, cozy socks,i-tunes or Amazon gift certificate.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Mmmm. I like the sound of consumable gifts too! Fancy salts! Now you are speaking my language. I have no fewer than 6 types of salt in the house… and I’d always welcome more :-). Thankfully I have genetically low blood pressure, or I’d be in trouble!

  18. Christy says:

    I learned early on that my mom needed to give presents at Christmas. She was raised during the depression and remembers multiple Christmas’ where no gifts were exchanged. I have always appreciated her willingness to let me gently direct the types of gifts (much like your Wish List).

    My parents have given me “care packages” for gifts over the years. My mom would stock a large basket with items like soap, tooth paste, cleaners, and paper towels. As you suggested socks are a great gift and my mom frequently gives me Smartwool socks.

    Additonal Strategies:
    Exchange an intimate, personal letter with a close friend or family member.
    Provide a coupon for a service that can be collected during the following year. For example, I have given coupons for a batch deviled eggs, two dozen cookies, five hours of labor, and a car wash and wax.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      The coupon idea is great! Deviled eggs… yum! I can imagine coming to the end of a hard week and smiling as I “cashed” in my deviled egg coupon. Sounds like a very thoughtful gift!

  19. Leigh says:

    My least favorite part about Christmas is buying and receiving gifts. What I finally started doing is making a list of all of the things I want, but have been avoiding buying since I don’t completely want to spend my money on them. Last year, I asked for a specific new phone for Christmas since I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted. This year, I asked for a really nice leather purse and a ton of kitchen stuff, plus gift cards for specific clothing items. I’m almost wishing we asked for a slow cooker, since that could have been cool! We’ll probably buy one at some point if we get around to it.

    One year for my birthday, a friend donated some money to my alma mater for scholarships for women in STEM. I thought that was a pretty awesome “gift”! After that, I’ve added my alma mater to the list of places I donate money to.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      A thoughtful donation makes a great gift! My folks got us a “goat” from Heifer International last year and we thought it was wonderful. Nothing more in line with the spirit of the season than thoughtful charity.

  20. Mrs. FW,

    Nice list. I like it!

    You guys have a beautiful house, by the way. I live in a crappy two-bedroom rental. It’s cheap, right on the bus line, and within walking distance to a grocery store. But it’s not even close to what you guys are rocking over there. Great job decorating on the cheap. 🙂

    I honestly want for nothing. My partner and I generally exchange one gift per year, at her behest. It took a while to wear her down to just the one gift, but we generally don’t spend that much.

    To me, Christmas is really all about spending time with those you love the most. The gift giving should be a really small part of the festivities.

    Enjoy your holidays!!

    Best regards.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh thanks, you are too kind! Mrs. FW is a maven when it comes to Craigslist decor. I’m honestly amazed at what she was able to find when we needed to furnish this house.

      Time spent with loved ones is truly the most priceless of gifts. We spend Christmas here in Cambridge, nice and quiet, and watch Frugal Hound lovingly destroy the toys we get for her 🙂

  21. Clara & Eddie says:

    Some excellent suggestions here 🙂 we always promote the zero gift or charity approach, but failing that we always stress the practical things we need … This year Clara’s Mom is getting a pair of extra warm cycle gloves for Clara, and a new camera battery for Eddie. ‘Consumables’ (chocs, cake, beer or whisky) are the gifts of choice we steer those family or friends who won’t follow the zero gift policy. The sad thing is that some still don’t get the zero gifts thing, they interpret it as US not being able to afford stuff, and it almost has the reverse effect. Agh! We want to shout out “hey folks, there’s a reason we don’t have any debt or mortgage,” *sigh*

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Ooohh, you’ll have to let me know how those cycling gloves work out! I’m in the market for a new pair… but I’ll probably wait until after the holidays to try and catch a deal.

      +1 on the consumables. Hard to go wrong with beer and chocolate. 🙂

  22. We are flying cross-country, so our family is getting us gift cards. My parents both prepare detailed Christmas lists every year, and we’ll choose something they want. Hey, they are paying to fly us out there, so we will honor their way of celebrating Christmas! I’ve been making a mental list of things I want at Target (a Calphalon stock pot, a silicon whisk, bubble bath), REI (rain pants!) and other places we might get cards for. My mother-in-law often gets me a gift card to Starbucks and I admit, I would enjoy a trip to a Target with a Starbucks. I’ll stick to my list, I promise, and faaaar away from those dollar bins!

    We’ve had trouble in the past with the boys being given annoying, battery-operated push-button toys (all of which were consigned/donated in the last move), but they’ll be getting only some small trinkets this year and a couple of things from us and Santa (books, toy fire truck, floor puzzle, stockings full of edibles, and that’s probably about it!). It’s hard to draw the line of toys at home without being the sort of shrewish uber-controlling parents whose children are never allowed to drink juice.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh kids toys. I’m sorta thankful that we don’t have to worry about that yet 🙂 Seems like many folks have very heartfelt convictions about the amount, type, and noise level of toys for children.

      Frugal Hound is so much easier to shop for! Every year we get her something squeaky, and we watch with glee as she tears into it with savage abandon. Last year’s duck made it about 15 minutes before the squeaker was dead. 🙂

  23. Even Steven says:

    Really like the list. I don’t consider myself a frugal weirdo, but if you buy me something that I wear repeatedly you are in my wheel house. Something like work shoes, casual shoes(Nike Cortez), white t-shirts, dress socks, and boxers. Your household items certainly fit into the mix. Dang maybe I am a frugal weirdo.

  24. tess says:

    one more thing, in the past, one of my brothers to save his own sanity, would buy multiples of the same thing for everyone, mugs, umbrellas, etc, now his wife is in charge

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh that’s pretty funny. See, now add this plan to your previous suggestion of consumables… bulk salt and chocolate purchases!

  25. Mrs. WW says:

    I’m beginning to see a theme in your posts. You want tell us everything you own or like so we can buy and own it all just to be like you. : /

    Well, I LOVE the idea of being just like the Frugalwoods! Hope it’s okay that this version comes with two boys and MUCH more hair on the dog.

    Yes, gift receiving is so hard. I agree. It is hard to turn off that parental spigot of well-intended stuff. I’ve slowed it significantly. For one occasion my mom bought me four bottles of a leave-in conditioner she saw I used. It was a great and thoughtful gift. I WILL use it and it will eventually be used up and not just clutter things up.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah! I love gifts of consumables that won’t expire. That’s perfect, and it shows how much your mom was searching for something that you would appreciate and use. She might also have been sending you a message about hair care… 😉

      • Mrs. WW says:

        Ha, ha. I think it was actually a compliment. The last time they came to the house she took a shower and used some of my leave-in conditioner. She told me she used it and we talked about how nice it was to have for my curly hair. Not 2 minutes later my little boy came downstairs (where we were) and said, “It smells like wet mom down here.” That, although sounding suspiciously like a negative jab, I think was also a compliment. When you’re six you still love smells that remind you of your mom. ; )

  26. We have some of those Cambro containers and they are *heavenly* That size is great for bread proofing, but not large enough for bulk flour/sugar/rice purchases from Costco. We found we needed the 22qt containers for the 25lbs of flour from Costco, and the 18qt containers for the 25lbs bags of sugar/rice. 25lbs of sugar will easily take two of those 6qt containers… Surprising as it may seem, the “preppers” are really good at telling you what size container you need for various quantities of dried goods – just do a search 🙂

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      See, I knew if we mentioned those someone would chime in with some useful on-the-ground info! Thank you! I have a friend who bakes, and these are the size he uses for proofing. I’ve always lusted after them. I’ve always been like, “I have no idea what _doubled in size_ looks like in my metal bowl!” I’m an engineer at heart, I just want to measure everything! Dough rise included!

      • We use the 6qt for proofing all the time, although I bought a KAF proofing ‘box’ for Dad for Christmas. It keeps the temp appropriate (he hasn’t opened it yet) , so I don’t know if we’ll continue using the Cambros (for proofing). We’ll definitely be using them for storage though!

        • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

          oohhhh I’ve seen that online and wondered how they’d do in practice. Since we keep our house on the cool side in the winter it’s always a challenge to get the right temp for a good rise. I’ve taken to putting the oven on “warm” for 5 minutes and then popping the proofing bread in while turning off the oven. This seems to work… but it’s a hassle and an uncontrolled variable. You’ll have to let me know how the proofer turns out!

  27. Andrew says:

    My brother and sister and I don’t give each other gifts. I but their kids a small gift each. My parents insist on giving me stuff. Usually money b/c I say I don’t need anything. I just end up putting it into savings. then I’ll buy them an Omaha Steaks meal or something like that. they don’t want or need any stuff either.

  28. Ashley says:

    If you have frugal tots or have frugal tots on your list a contribution to their 529 college savings plan is always great. My husband and I do this for our nieces and nephews. For adults food (or gift cards for food) and booze are the best gifts!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      I always forget about 529 plans, but I shouldn’t! Excellent point. And booze is becoming a common refrain in the comments. I like what that says about our readership 😉

  29. Tawcan says:

    Loving these frugal gift ideas. Mrs. T and I definitely focus more on kitchen items that we can use for a looong time.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      I still have spoons, a knife, and a pot that my mother gave me when I went to college 13 years ago. Kitchen stuff makes for a great gift! And used properly, it keeps on giving!

  30. Eileen says:

    Holiday gifts are tough! I concur re: bedding and shoes. Bike helmets are also good, since those need to be replaced for safety frequently. (I may have hit my helmet-encased head against our very low closet ceiling a few times, is all I’m saying.) The hardest part is convincing people that the things on the list are what we really want. My family seems to think a mattress pad is a bad present — but if you really need one, you need one!

    There’s also the “buying things for family members on the other end of the scale” dilemma. My solution is to get consumables for the people who already own everything. Hey, everyone likes wine and coffee!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Most everyone DOES like wine and coffee! Scrumptious consumable gifts are awesome (and often pretty frugal)!

      Bike helmet is a good one, I bet there are a lot of folks out there who really should replace their helmet more often (or ever!). I’ve never whacked mine too hard, but it’s approaching 10 years old so it’s probably time to start considering a new one from UV damage alone.

  31. I keep a note on my phone for whenever I get that “man I really want that but don’t want to buy it for myself” feeling, I just add it to the list. So when Christmas or my birthday rolls around and people ask me what I want, I have ideas ready. I think it’s the best thing! Very similar to your Amazon wish list.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Yeah, that really helped us a lot this year. Mrs. FW was meticulous about writing things down all year, and then it was really easy (and fun!) to go through and amazonify the list. The best part was discovering things we had written down many months ago and being like “Oh yeaaaah. Definitely could have used that!”

  32. We do very little gift exchanging. We play Dirty Santa with the extended family and I search for $10 deals, oftentimes getting them free with coupons! We concentrate on great items for the kids! The hubby asked for a wish list the other day and I cringed because he won’t hunt for the deals, lol! Is that wrong?!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      So I had to google “Dirty Santa” with much trepidation… but was relieved to discover it’s another term for White Elephant gift exchange. Phewww. Always gamble to google unknown terms that have “Dirty” in the title.

      Funny enough, up here in Boston they call it a “Yankee Swap”. Same rules, including the stealing. It’s a lot of fun! We always do it at work, and people bring some hilarious things!

  33. Chonce says:

    I think its cute that your families insist on getting you gifts for the holidays 🙂 I learned quickly that the “nothing” response will most likely lead me to receive gifts that I don’t really need or have use for so I usually just say gift cards or try to think of something small I might truly be in need of. Since I find myself cooking more to avoid eating out a lot, I am definitely in need of some kitchen utensils and appliances.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Hah, yeah, we learned that lesson pretty fast. And who could blame them? We’re pretty weird folks to try and shop for!

  34. Great list! This is an important one -> “Don’t laugh at our wishlist.” I ALWAYS ask for practical gifts. When there are so many practical things I can acquire (especially tools or “frugal pursuits” as you listed) It’s hard to want “splurge” items that will either go unused or be outdated within a few months.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Or at least, good natured laughing only 🙂 I mean, come on, we asked for a plumb bob this year! It’s a funny word to begin with… but to ask for it for Christmas? 😉 But yes, unused splurge gifts make us sad. Much better to communicate clearly from the beginning and everyone knows what everyone wants.

  35. Ryan says:

    I’ve been having this problem for a few years now. It’s just not acceptable to say “I want for nothing” to your parents and in-laws. Just this weekend I was telling friends that, even though they didn’t want anything for their wedding, they *had* to start a registry. Otherwise, people will buy stuff anyway, and it will be junk.

    I wear mostly Chucks during warmer months, too. And last year I got a nice pair of leather insulated All-Stars for Christmas for winter wear! This year I’m hoping for Lowes gift cards and fingers crossed for a Kreg jig.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      A Kreg jig is a great addition! I’ve wanted one for a while but managed to make due without it. Seems like such a genius tool!

  36. I don’t like getting gifts, but my parents do like to give them, so I guess I should be grateful. Practical ones are always the best. I especially like getting health and beauty products. My Mom usually gives us things like socks and huge family size bottles of shampoo that last until June, which is awesome. If only I could get her to stop buying the foo foo girly clothes for my daughter. I guess she wasn’t able to do that for us when we were little and is making up for it now!

  37. moneystepper says:

    Great ideas guys!!

    We don’t have a “wish-list” this year, and haven’t had for a couple of years. My financée and I are going to buy ourselves a canvas of Marseille (where we have just lived for 2 years) as a good memory to put on the wall in the lounge.

    We have agreed with our friends and family that we won’t exchange gifts, but will spend a lot of time with each other over the Christmas period. For me, this is what Christmas is all about!!

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Awww, that’s a great gift! Funny enough, our first Christmas living together Mrs. FW and I bought a piece of art that reminded us of our college town where we met. Still proudly hangs on our wall today!

  38. LOVE the idea about linens/bed linens!!! Don’t know why, but I HATE spending money on bed linens, probably because I prefer the spendier brands. Not ridiculously expensive, but definitely not the brands that make you feel like you’re sleeping on a bed stuffed with hay. 🙂 Asking for them as a gift is a fantablous idea! Rick and I almost always ask each other for stuff that we need or want around the house.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Without linens as gifts, we’d use the same set of towels for 20 years! It actually doesn’t bother me that much, they seem to do the same basic job of drying, but they do get ratty looking. And eventually I imagine the agitator on our washer is going to eat them. Once the edges start fraying…

  39. Great list and you made it personal too. Me likey converse sneakers as well, but never heard of darn tough socks. LOL. I’ll have to check this out for cold nights.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Mrs. FW swears by the comfort and style of the chucks. Darn Tough is just one of many good brands of nice wool socks… but they are very well made and made in the USA to boot!

  40. Sometimes it is scary how much you guys are like Jacob and I. I love this list! I totally agree about the kitchenware. Our Pyrex is in constant use.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      I think I’d give up my bread knife before I gave up my pyrex tupperware. It’s just so darned useful! And I still remember the dark days of plastic tupperware that constantly warped, stained, scratched, and was generally gross. It’s one of those things that is just worth spending the money on. And well taken care of, they gotta last a long time!

  41. Mel says:

    I think your list is great! I would also add gift certificates you’d use anyway – like to the grocery store or the gas station… or your favorite bike shop 😉 I love getting very practical gifts, because then I can do what I want with my money instead of buying a new pot or a bowl because I broke mine or something. My mom has a lot of trouble accepting this. I still remember the epic blow up of 1994 when my dad made the crazy mistake of buying her a toaster because she needed one.

    …my mom and I had slightly different views on finances. 😛

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      Hah! I bet that was a scene! That’s edging towards the fraught cliche of giving a vacuum cleaner. Dangerous territory… 😉

  42. Allison says:

    I am on the same page with you!
    Last year, everyone was shocked when they asked what my husband gave me for Christmas. I asked for, and received an extra mortgage payment. Our goal, is to be 100% debt free, and the mortgage is the last debt to go.
    We have everything we need, and if we want something, like you, we are going to search for a deal.
    I understand why friends and family get frustrated, because they want to give us something. So, we always say gift cards to restaurants, so that way we can go eat out.

    • Mr. Frugalwoods says:

      What a thoughtful gift! And it’s nice that you give friends and family clear alternatives so they feel comfortable too. I’m all for helping people I care about feel comfortable with our slightly odd ways of doing things. 🙂

  43. Practicality, experiences, and massages- ALWAYS at the top of my wishlists 🙂

  44. My family does not accept “nothing” as an answer, either. They will sigh and roll their eyes until you give them an answer, or they’ll go out and buy something you don’t really want, or (ideally) just give you cash. It’s best to just compile a list, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing as well! We could actually use some quality containers and pots. Your tree looks so cute!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Sounds exactly like my family :). We seem to have kitchen stuff on our list every year–it really helps when you cook all the time. Thanks for the tree compliment, we’re glad it’s still going strong on its 5th Christmas!

  45. This article really aligns with what I have experienced the last couple of years. I tell people I don’t want a gift and that I have everything I need. I have my budget for the things I want and only budget a small amount for gifts for others. They still get me things (mostly gift cards now). It’s like the social pressure of reciprocating doesn’t occur to them.

    It has been a negotiation with my wife to spend less and not try to “match” the value of what people get us. We are getting better though.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      It’s definitely a delicate balance. We’ve always done pretty reasonable, affordable gift giving, which I think our families appreciate and understand.

  46. One thing I really can’t do secondhand are pots and pans. I’m always thinking maybe someone cooked something gross in them, like maybe a squirrel or a rat or something. I don’t know why I can’t get past that. :\
    Nice that you have such generous families. I’d love to hand someone a list of things I’d like. First on the list would be a Roomba! 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      A squirrel or a rat! Hahah! I can honestly say that thought has never crossed my mind ;). But, hey, all the more reason to put ’em on the Christmas list! We do feel very fortunate that our families are so generous.

  47. I’d add “canning supplies” to the list, for those who are interested in food preservation. If you’re flush, make it a pressure canner or a dehydrator. If not, then a water-bath canner, some jars, some lids — whatever you can afford and the recipient wants/
    I found a couple of canning-jar funnels and jar lifters at thrift stores, paying from 35 to 79 cents.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a wonderful suggestion, thank you! Certainly something that enables greater frugality. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  1. December 13, 2014

    […] The Frugalwoods shared gift ideas for frugal weirdos. […]

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