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Buying Small Gifts for a Large Group When You’re on a Budget

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holding Starbucks gift card next to DIY Starbucks cup gifts

Are you shopping for gifts for a group?

As great as giving can be, buying gifts for a whole group of people (especially all at one time) can be a struggle. Hip2Save reader, Michelle, is experiencing this challenge:

“I need to find something to give the women in my church group. There are 119 women to buy for and I’m hoping to stay around $1 for each person. Any suggestions? Have you seen any great deals on anything that might work?

buying small gifts group — hip2save team working

When working within a tight budget, I like to combine small items into mini packages to increase the gift’s value while still keeping costs low. Having the gifts be the same lets you purchase in bulk to take advantage of quantity discounts, making that $1 per person goal much more attainable.

Read on for gift ideas that cost roughly a dollar or just a couple of dollars each to help make group gift giving (especially around the holidays) easy on the mind and easy on the wallet!

1. So Noteworthy

happiness journals on desk

This noteworthy set is perfect for keeping a daily journal, jotting notes, or doodling. Both notebook sets offer a wide variety of designs and colors so each recipient’s gift is unique! Add an extra personal touch and write a friendly note on the first page for them to see each time they open their journal!

2. Faux Frappuccino

Starbucks DIY Gift Cup

Find me someone who won’t say “OMG how BRILLIANT!” about these chocolate-filled Starbucks cups… I’ll wait. 😉 This super clever packaging uses clear beverage cups, gold-foiled candies, a little white tissue paper, and a green straw. Feel free to conceal a surprise inside (like a gift card) or give as is.

3. Winter Survival Kit

gifts for groups — winter survival kit with tissues and hand lotion

Cold weather means crisp, dry air—but it can leave your skin feeling dry and lips dehydrated. Sooth chapped winter skin and lips with a buttery lip balm, mini hand lotion, and a pocket-size pack of tissues to make a complete winter kit.

4. MistleTOES

pedicure christmas gift from Dollar Tree

Give the gift of an at-home pedicure with an emery board, toe separators, and, of course, nail polish. 💅 You can even grab Lina’s FREE “For Your Mistle TOES” gift tag to complete the whole set.

As an extra touch, package homemade sugar scrub in mini jars as an exfoliant for rough heels—it’s just like the salon!

5. Made with Joy

Make a Rae Dunn inspired ornament with holiday buzzwords or personalize it with your recipient’s name! Lina’s DIY is easy, fun, and totally frugal, but if you don’t own a Cricut machine, you can purchase similar decals on Etsy!

Make this DIY year-round by swapping out the ornaments and holiday words for a ring dish with their monogram or try fun words like “bling”, “love”, or “his” and “hers” if it’s for a couple.

6. Merry and Bright

Red holiday candle holder from Dollar Tree

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes giving candles as a gift can seem a little generic, but these mercury glass candle holders are absolutely dazzling! ✨Pair with a battery operated tea light for a zero mess candle and you’ve got a gift that appears much more expensive than a dollar and some change! You’ll probably want to keep a few for yourself to add to your own holiday decor.

7. Good Ol’ R & R

Help your recipient melt away the stress of busy holiday plans with a relaxing sheet face mask and some chamomile tea. You could even go the extra mile and DIY an essential oil mister, great for spritzing a pillow before laying your head down.

To make the essential oil mister:

    1. Unscrew the spray top from a glass bottle.
    2. Add 10 drops of essential oil to the bottle — I love eucalyptus around winter time!
    3. Add a few drops of vodka… strange, I know, but it helps blend the oil and makes the scent last longer!
    4. Fill the rest of the way with water, leaving a little room at the top.
    5. Securely screw on the spray top and gently shake to blend the oil.
    6. To add even more of a personal touch, label the bottle with the kraft paper tags to identify the essential oil scent!

Write a little note with some great usage ideas, like an air or fabric freshener! Feel free to switch up the scents with soothing lavender or invigorating peppermint.

Gift giving to a large group doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

And you can make the value seem much more than what you actually spent! With just a buck and these clever DIYs, you can gift some Christmas cheer to just about anyone, no matter how many people you need to buy for.

Give the best gifts with our Holiday Gift Guides!

Join The Discussion

Comments 83

  1. Adrian

    I watched for blanket deals over the past few weeks and was able to get really nice blankets for all of my co-workers for under $5.00 a piece. I am adding little tags with candy canes that say “The Snuggle is Real! Enjoy your Christmas Break!” (I work in at a Middle School). For the two ladies I work directly with, I am adding coffee mugs and a $5.00 Starbucks gift card. 🙂

    • Dealzgurl

      Such a cute idea! I’m sure the recipients will love those!

    • Abby

      That is really nice Adrian! Love it!

    • CM

      Love this idea! I am running out of ideas for teachers!🤣

    • iamkris10

      I am doing blankets for my kids’ rotating teachers (music, art, etc), too! Our note is “Just settle down for a long winter’s nap!”
      I’ve also done a cookie mix and cookie cutter gift one year, one year, a wrapping paper with tape a bows (so the season is a ‘wrap’), and another year we did movie candy, popcorn, and a redbox code.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      What a sweet and fun idea! Thanks for taking the time to comment, Adrian!

  2. Abby H.

    I did the DIY for the “toes” and they came out great! I went to Ulta on Black Friday, bought 5 for $5…..bought the socks at Menards for .99…came out great! I should have done more, I was only able to do 5….great ideas! Practical and economical 🙂 Thank you for all you do…..

    • Dealzgurl

      That’s actually a good idea! I bought a bunch of socks this year to give as gifts. Wonder what would be good to add for men/boys? They don’t typically do nail polish, lol. 🙂

      • Teresa Schilling

        big toe nail trimmer, and a big fingernail scrub brush (they have them at the dollar store in multi pack sizes). My husband loves the nail brush after he works on cars to get the grease from under his nails.
        With a nice ribbon they will look just as cute.

        • Dealzgurl

          Thank you! Gift giving can be soooo stressful, lol. Especially when you’re buying for what feels like a thousand people! 🙂

        • Terri

          Men who “get their hands dirty” may find Goop or GoJo hand cleaner plus a nail brush a useful gift.

  3. Becky08

    I stock up when I see a good sale. Last year at the end of the winter season kohl’s had blanket scarves for $2 and I bought a bunch of them for gifts this year!

  4. dlwood823

    Thanks so much! I love the Faux Frappuccino idea for the teenagers in my family and my kids’ teachers! I’m going to try to find some smaller quantities of the supplies needed. You’re the best!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      So glad you’re going to try out the gift idea—Lina comes up with the best DIY gifts! We know it will be a big hit ☺️

    • Dana Michas

      One year for my employees I bought coffee mugs from the dollar store, Drew the employees names on them with a metallic paint pen, baked them at 250 for like 15 min to set permanantly (there are instructions online). Another year I bought cheap sets of cost glass ornaments and etched thier initials on them and put on some glitter and such, that was even cheaper than the mugs

  5. Ang

    What do you get a male teacher?🙂

    • Lauren

      Gift cards—same for a female teacher! Teachers love gift cards.

      • Kb

        What places and amounts do you recommend for teachers? Between my 2 kids, we have 18 teachers to buy for. (Yes that’s just the teachers). Add the bus driver, extracurriculars, etc. and the number gets higher. I like the idea of a gift card, but $5 or $10 looks stingy. I usually try to find something relatively nice on a good sale (3 wick candles, scarves and lotion pair, etc).

        • Sam

          I’m a teacher and honestly, if I had to choose, I would rather have a $5 gift card than a candle/lotion/mug. Of course I am very appreciative of any gifts and nothing is ever expected! But if you wanted to do a $5 gift card I don’t think any teacher would think that it is stingy.

          Lastly, I always like to mention that my favorite gift is a card with a nice note in it. I have kept every nice note I have gotten from parents and students, whereas a lot of the physical gifts I have recieved has eventually found a new home.

          • Jenn

            Teacher spelling “recieved” LOL it’s RECEIVED

            • MS

              Please show kindness to others, everyday but especially in this season. Fingers fly fast on a keyboard or phone. It’s super easy to spell things wrong when typing. Kudos to Sam for teaching—my mother was a teacher. It’s a lot of hard work for a lot of satisfying/emotional work but not much in monetary reward. They put their all into the kids and classroom. God bless the teachers!

              • Jude R Washington

                Amen MS!

            • Melly

              It’s not that serious. No need to be mean.

            • Becky

              We all make mistakes sometimes, even teachers. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas 🎄

          • Donia

            I am the worse to invert letters on my phone. I do it often enough I double check my messages in embarrassment later when rushed. No biggy… I hope you did not mean it as hateful as it come across and I am sure you probably did not but it was the way it came out.
            Happy Holidays to all. I am trying to sort teacher gifts this week myself and this helps me decisions.

            • Donia

              my decisions… see I just said how much I suck

          • Erin

            Plus…in some districts they have a price cap on the amount you can actually give to a teacher so it doesn’t seem like they are being ‘bought’.

        • Lisa

          I’m a teacher and I’d prefer a $5 gift card over any other gift. Starbucks and Barnes and Noble are a favorite. I can get a cup of coffee and a book! (And with a teacher discount, $5 can buy a good book!) With as many students as I have over the years, other gifts seem wasteful. I can’t keep everything. Nor do I particularly like to collect apple themed items…lol

        • Jennifer

          As a teacher, I am very appreciative of getting $5.00 gift cards with a nice note attached. It’s nice to be thought of and teachers are natural bargain hunters. We can make $5.00 go a long way! If your students are in elementary/middle school, a $5.00 gift certificate to is very much loved! They help the teacher find engaging activities to enhance learning when time is very limited. Again, $5.00 can go a long way on this site. It also benefits the students as well: win-win!

        • kgak38

          My kids’ teachers are always asking for extra glue sticks and dry erase markers so I stocked up during back to school sales. I plan on giving each of them each an economy-sized box of glue sticks and a $5 Target gift card. Scents for candles and lotions can be iffy if you don’t know preferences or allergies and not everyone drinks coffee so I’d rather give them something I know they can use in their classrooms.

        • Casey

          I always give a b&bw hand soap with a handmade card. I figure if they don’t like the scent to use at home, they can stick it in the teacher’s lounge.

        • MommySpendsLess

          If you tuck the Starbucks gift card into the faux frappacino above it will look a little more special for just a few extra dollars. My 10yo daughter usually makes a little something for her grandparents/aunts/uncles. Two years ago we gave my hard-to-buy-for SIL a small-value Starbucks gift card and presented it as described above (they were happy to give us an empty cup and lid for free when we bought the GC but we only needed one). We used Lindor truffles in gold wrappers instead of Hersheys and hid a pastel bath bomb under the tissue paper.
          I also keep my eye out starting in early November for deals for her teachers. The last couple years Target has offered a high percentage Cartwheel discount on some kind of mid-tier boxed chocolates. If a $5 gift card was presented with a small box of decent chocolate and a handwritten note from you/the kids that seems like plenty to express your appreciation.
          I don’t want to sound unappreciative of teachers but, to be fair, they are working in their chosen career. Many people have jobs where they’re under-appreciated and/or under-paid who are not given gifts at Christmas (and many teachers also receive something daily during teacher appreciation week and again at the end of the school year.) I always try to recognize my daughter’s teachers, bus driver, etc. but I don’t feel the need to spend more than $8 or so each.

    • Janelle

      I’ve done jerky and car wash tokens for the guys and its always been well received. MN winters are hard on cars so anyone can always use a wash.

  6. agh925

    I wish I could post a pic, but I did “movie” gift packages with a box of candy, a bag of popcorn and a redbox code printed on a cute tag and wrapped it all really cute.

  7. Dee

    One of the companies I do business with used to send out small gifts. Over the years they’ve switched to making a donation to charity in our name, which I appreciate even more. We’ve been able to choose from several charities. It’s environmentally sound, no shipping, no plastic waste, no worry that it arrives on time. And the money that would go to the small gifts really adds up to something meaningful for people who need it. I’m not bashing the ideas in this post, but adding an alternative that some people might prefer.

  8. Kathryn

    We gave flashlights to all the staff at the cancer center when my dad was having chemo. He wasn’t too happy with the plan, said everyone already has flashlights.

    He later admitted they were a BIG hit, sparked lots of conversations about kids and spouses!

    • Dealzgurl

      Flashlights are a great gift. My uncle gave family members a flashlight years ago and I still have mine. It’s magnetic and I keep it on the fridge. Also, my sister mentioned once that she didn’t have a flashlight so I immediately sent her one. It came in handy very quickly when the power went out and later during multiple snowstorms. Very good gift.

  9. T

    Just a tip for the Starbucks faux frap idea: If you’re buying gift cards to put inside I’m almost positive if you asked for a cold cup + lid for each gift card so you can package them cutely, they would give it to you. Especially if you visit during a non-busy time. Then you can use some of the cash you saved to tip your barista! This may not work for 50 people, but if you’re doing a smaller number I think it would.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Cute idea, T! Thanks for the tip!

    • geralynn702

      Great idea!

  10. hellfiregainz

    Make homemade ornaments or homemade cookies/fudge/chex mix

  11. Jamie

    We have a “gum” drawer at work. So I watch for deals, clearance, or free after rebate type deals & buy multiple types of gum for them to enjoy. For about 50 people I only spend about $20-$25

    • Bunny

      I want to work where you work Jamie! A gum drawer—HOW FUN! 🙂

      I find gum deals on Amazon subscribe & save. There is also a store in my area called Fresh to Frozen (Richmond, VA) and they have lots of great deals on candy & gum.

  12. acgold

    I have made peppermint bark and packaged them in cute Christmas cellophane bags. If is easy and economical. I also bought a lot of gloves and scarves at the Kohl’s after season sale.

  13. BE

    I honestly love the idea of using the money to make a donation to some worthwhile cause. I for one do not need anything and am increasingly aware of how many people there are that would truly benefit from a donation. I would make a nice donation and then create a cute card for each of the church members explaining the donation recipient and why I chose it. It’s also a great way to raise awareness for a charity that others might not be aware of.

  14. Teresa Schilling

    I did the rootbeer bottles with brown pipe cleaners for antlers and a red nose with googly eye. Tag says Merry Christmas and a Happy Root Beer. Since I got the 6 packs of root beers on sale I was able to make each for about .50 cents. And will give out individually to everyone on my second shift.

  15. Kruiz528

    You could also as group decide to use that money and adopt a few kids for Christmas and get them something they wouldn’t normally get.

  16. Michelle

    $2 frosty keyrings. Free mini frostys at participating Wendy’s for a year.. Supports foster kids who are waiting on their forever home too. We give them to the grandparents from the kiddos, since they are always taking them there!

    • Vanessa

      I did the same thing Michelle. I’m adding them to teachers’ gift. I’m thinking of adding a small Wendy’s gc to it.

    • dropofrain

      thank you for suggesting this. I am thinking for inexpensive but practical gifts for our mail delivery person and trash and recyclable guys.

  17. Barbie

    I bought clearance Christmas cookie containers last year for 50 cents, then bought a bunch of Lindt chocolate when they went on sale! 650 variety pieces for around $125. I know $125 seems like a lot but I have enough for all me, teachers, me, secretaries, me, coworkers, me, stockings, and package drop-er-offers 🤪. Did I mention I have enough left over for me😀.

  18. Michelle

    I ordered cute snowman mugs and candy canes from the Dollar Tree, found a bulk pack of Land O’ Lakes assorted hot chocolate and spiced apple cider packets. I’m going to put everything in the mug for coworkers. I haven’t done the exact math, but should be around $1.50 each 🙂

  19. Michelle

    I forgot to say, I love all the other ideas too! Very clever!

  20. ReneeAnn

    I love Dollar Tree so this is what I’m doing – they have hallmark brand wrapping paper with cutting lines, scotch gift wrap tape and I even found weatcott titanium scissors! They are a bit smaller than standard scissors but still a good size. $3 for a very practical gift! You can also find a printable to go along from Pinterest if you’re into that. I might even get gifts for the kids librarian, computer teacher, PE coach etc which we don’t normally do but they deserve gifts too!

  21. Danette

    I work at a Chef Center. Quality kitchen towels or kitchen washcloths are a very popular item. What woman does not need a new one?

    • Dee

      Yes! And for other gifts, I’ve wrapped them in a pretty new kitchen towel. Saves paper and the wrapping is part of the gift.

  22. Alex

    Thank You for this! We make holiday bags for families that have to spend the holidays in the NICU with their babies. These are all things we use for these bags! You’ve saved us so much time! We always have to shop around to get good deals on bulk items. Thanks again!

  23. Donna

    We have a place called Bargain Hunt. I found dish towels in packs of 3 for $3.00 and dish clothes 4 for $2.00 to match.
    They are a really nice thick ones. I found some that have Friendsgiving embroidered on them. I am using there for gifts for my Sunday school class.

  24. ndanek34

    Brilliant ideas, and the comments section has a lot to offer as well. It’s no wonder I love this blog/web site.

  25. marybuffalo3

    super cool ideas!

  26. Lesly

    I bake cookies with my children, they bring them to their teachers and school staff, a total of 30 boxes (made out of crafting paper sheets) each one with at least 13 cookies, from chocolate chip, turtle chocolate, pumpkin, red velvet and more… it’s a big hit every year, they’re always expecting them. I spend about $30 on everything

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      How sweet! Thanks for sharing your tradition with us, Lesly!

  27. Lisa

    I always do a Redbox movie code, combined with a pack of microwave popcorn and a box of movie theater popcorn, for my kids’ teachers. There are several different versions of cute “movie night” tags that you can print and add to the gift as well. I’m a teacher, too, and since this is something I wouldn’t mind getting I figured it was a pretty good gift! lol

  28. anne

    Just FYI I shop thrift stores and always see “teacher” themed coffee mugs/cups so I am thinking they don’t really keep them. Yes, I am retired from a school teaching position too.

  29. Claudia

    I wish my coworkers were easily pleased but I work with a bunch of snobs. They criticize the value of everything that’s given to them. I now don’t give them anything and give to the staff at my kid’s school instead. They appreciate small gifts like this. It’s the thought that counts. Thank you for the great suggestions. Happy Holidays!

    • MS

      Some people can never be pleased. Some people are not appreciative. I wouldn’t give to them either—the kid’s school staff is a great idea. 🙂

    • Donia

      People like that then do not deserve gifts. Kill them with kindness instead and pray it wears off….

  30. MS

    I just made about a dozen gifts from the Dollar Tree for co-workers. If you watch, you can pick up a 8-15 pack of clear, cute bags, fill up with some of the nicer food items, a sanitizer (purse size), etc. Add a mug, etc. It’s not that original but is appreciated. Yesterday our Dollar Tree was full of an entire end cap of newer DVD’s, etc. Sometimes you can find books that are still selling at some of the book stores, etc. Rare, but it can be done. Our Dollar Tree also has amazing decorations now that do NOT look like they came from the dollar store. Sometimes when you have to give “something” but it needs to be small, it is the simple, easy things that are the best route. There are products that I love from the Dollar Tree and some not—so if you can be choosy and pick out the higher quality items, you can make a great gift. For example, ours had Godiva full size choc. bars yesterday and a 3 pack of Ferrero Rocher, etc It is possible there to do a gift bag with some of the products not being “cheap” products. Our health and beauty aisle also has some fabulous finds there sometimes!!!

    • MommySpendsLess

      My local Dollar Trees rarely have the name brand overstock items but a couple days ago I was delighted to find face masks by “Yes To…” and another name brand. My tween daughter had recently expressed an interest in face masks so I snagged a couple for her stocking. Later that day I saw the same ones at Target for $3-$4 each. I also noticed they had more ELF cosmetics and name-brand snacks than usual (perfect for our upcoming road trip). They even had caramel filled Stroop waffles that I saw in the impulse area near Target for $1.99.

  31. April

    For Schools: A couple of those large platters of cookies from Sam’s Club left in the office at a school with a nice note-there’s lots of cute cookie ones out there and a Christmas card thanking them for their time. The same with donuts. This works especially well when your child is older and has more teachers. I’ve also done lunch-variety of 6 inch subs, multi pack of chips, and waters. As a teacher myself, I prefer something that is edible, or a small gift card for Starbucks (guilty pleasure). If you know the teacher well a small ABC gift card always gets a good chuckle.

  32. Jennifer

    One year I made mini farkle games. Bulk dice on amazon, little mesh tie bags, and printed the directions for the Game.

    • frenchie.leopardlady

      I love farkle!! We play it all the time. Thank you for the idea! Heading to Amazon. 😉

    • Jennifer

      My Dollar Tree actually had Farkle! It was dice on a card with a rules sheet. It’s a fun game. 🙂

      • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

        What a great find, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing!

  33. Brandy

    I buy the huge reusable tote bags with cute prints at Michael’s, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, etc. for around $1 each. I attach a silly note such as “Wishing you a TOTEally Merry Christmas” or something similar. Our teachers, coworker’s, church groups, bus drivers, etc. always seem to need a big bag. Most of the teachers use it that day to carry home their other gifts. Easy for the kids to carry to school, economical, and reusable.

    • Vanessa

      I love this. Thanks for sharing Brandy

  34. Cathy

    When my kids were in elementary school I used to send home a note with each student in the class telling parents I was collecting for a visa gift card to give the teacher if they wanted to contribute. Most would give $5-$10. We would end up with a gift card of a significant amount. The teachers loved them and the parents liked not having to come up with an individual gift.

    • Amy

      This is very kind of you & a great idea.

  35. MommySpendsLess

    I used to struggle with affordable gifts for my coworkers that would be suitable for various ages/interests/preferences, especially since I’m a female in a very male dominated field. One year our company Christmas party was a late lunch so I bought an inexpensive toaster for the break room along with bagels and cream cheese from Panera and added a bow and a merry Christmas tag, figuring that everyone would need brunch. It went over well and was so much less stressful than dealing with individual gifts that I continued the tradition. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this year. I’m at a different company and our team is pretty health conscious. An Edible Arrangement is outside my budget but I may get a fruit platter from my local grocery store. Long story short, for 100+ people brunch, sheet cake, etc. would be cheaper and easier if you have the opportunity. I’m not a church goer so please excuse my examples but is there something you could buy for the community area (children’s room, kitchen/event prep area, etc.) that would benefit most of the congregation regularly?

    • Kelly

      Lowe’s usually has a Black Friday poinsettia plant for $1. This year it was $.50. I buy a bunch for the teaching staff. Another affordable and useful gift is simmering potpourri. The kids can help assemble it, which makes it extra special!

  36. JAC

    We have done something totally different this year. I think that most Teachers (like ourselves) get a lot more than they probably really want or need for gifts/gift cards- so this year the family has decided to donate what is usually spent on our children’s Teachers. We will be giving each of the Teacher’s a Christmas card letting them know that we and themselves have donated to a person who needs it much more than either of us probably do. I am hoping that their Teacher’s will feel the same way too. I think it would be so good if all Teacher’s told the students/parents to do this gesture as well- what a great lesson it would be for all. Such an amazing feeling too!

  37. Denise

    I bought a bunch of the packaged expensive brand presharpened pencils in on clearance for my youngest child’s teacher. Add some cute quote relating to pencils and put in a gift bag. Teachers love school supplies especially mid year.

  38. Jenny

    I would honestly use that money to make a charitable donation in the name of the group. I think most adults would appreciate that more than dollar store knick-knacks that they probably won’t end up using.

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