Meaningful Birthday Gifts That Won’t Break the Bank

Make that birthday boy or girl in your life feel super special without hurting your wallet. These affordable birthday gift ideas will inspire you all year round!

Everyone wants to make their friends and loved ones feel special on birthdays. But considering every person you know has a birthday every single year, the gift budget really adds up. Don’t even get me started on when two family members and three friends all have birthdays within the same month. How can we keep our budgets balanced with such madness going on?

Luckily, it’s possible to give birthday gifts that won’t hurt your wallet too badly–or at all. The gifts on this list range from $0-$50, so there’s an option for everyone’s budget.

Start by planning ahead for your birthday gifts by making a savings fund that you keep in the green all year.

Milk Bar Treats


Milk Bar is a sweet shop that’s been around since 2008. Award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi launched Milk Bar in the East Village of New York City, where she first combined her culinary training with her love for home-baked goods.

Milk Bar’s treats are so good, the business has spread rapidly since its inception. There are now Milk Bar shops in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Boston, and Toronto. Milk Bar also offers delivery nationwide, and in select cities, you can choose same-day delivery. If you happen to live near a store, you can also schedule a time to pick up your treats.

Milk Bar makes all kinds of seriously delicious baked goods, including cakes, pies, cookies, and cake truffles. They also offer gluten-free items and ice cream. The cakes come in sizes of six inches and ten inches, and the six-inch cake makes the perfect affordable birthday gift. You can also opt to purchase a cookie tin.

The designs of Milk Bar’s packaging are modern, chic, and delightful. The cake, pie, or cookies you order will arrive at the birthday girl or boy’s home ready to eat. Or, the lucky recipient can put the treats in the freezer or fridge for later.

I have personally received a Milk Bar cake on my doorstep on my birthday, and it was one of the best cakes I’d ever tasted! Check out their “Gifts Under $50” page for their most affordable selections of delicious pies, cookies, and cakes. A birthday cake from Milk Bar will currently run you about $52 for the 6-inch option.

A Scrapbook


Scrapbooking is a great way to imbue your birthday gift with love. A scrapbook is all about sentiment and attention to detail, and the more fun you have with the process of making one, the more incredible it will turn out.

Build a scrapbook of your favorite memories with the person you’ll bestow this gift upon. One trip to the dollar store will give you all you need: A blank scrapbook, glue, tape, scissors, stencils, colored pencils, markers, stickers, glitter, paint, and anything else you can think of. Get creative with it!

Use old photos to fill your scrapbook, and if you need to print more, simply use the print center at your local library, Walmart, CVS, Staples, or similar establishment. Most places offer photo prints for just a few cents, so printing a whole stack will only run you a couple of dollars. That’s all you need to create a beautiful and meaningful scrapbook!

Spa Kit


Another great gift that will run you less than $50 is a spa kit. These types of kits are all over Amazon, but you can also make them even cheaper by building one yourself!

If you want to make one of these kits yourself, it’s so simple to do so. Purchase a small wooden box or other container from your local craft store. Fill it with cheap paper confetti in a color of your choice. Buy affordable lotions, scrubs, perfumes, and bath bombs from your local dollar store, Target, or other retailer. Wrap each item in a nice piece of ribbon, arrange them so that they look aesthetically pleasing in the box, then make sure they’re wrapped tight for shipping.

The items don’t have to be super fancy to be meaningful; the thought that goes into building one of these kits will make anyone’s day.

Discount Fashion


This one’s for the fashionista friend who loves keeping up with the latest trends. You don’t have to buy them a whole outfit! Buying them one staple piece that’s trendy and unique will make any sharp dresser’s day.

This can be anything: A hat, a purse, a wallet, a keychain, a watch, a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, or a pair of sunglasses. Of course, it’s imperative that you know your friend’s exact sizes so that you can find the perfect item.

A gift like this doesn’t have to be expensive. You can buy a piece that’s on sale from your friend’s favorite store, for example. An even better idea, though, is to peruse through a few thrift stores. You can find designer items, vintage and new, at thrift stores across the country. You wouldn’t believe the quality of the items people will donate to a thrift store–it just takes some digging find.

Anyone who has stepped in a Goodwill or other discount and consignment shop knows that they’re usually massive. It can take a lot of time and effort to walk through the aisles picking out the best items, but it’s worth the effort. You could go home with several bags of designer pieces for less than $20, if you know what you’re looking for!

Etsy Gifts

Etsy / LaSenada

If you want to give someone a unique gift, Etsy is a great place to look. There are so many artists on Etsy that you’ll be able to find a one-of-a-kind piece for a fraction of the cost you might spend on a mass-produced item from the mall.

Looking for a piece of jewelry for someone’s birthday? One example of affordable and adorable jewelry from Etsy is the Personalized Birthstone Bracelet from LaSenada. This product has five out of five stars in customer reviews on the Etsy site after making over 94,000 sales. The best part? These personalized bracelets cost only $24.00. Sales happen all the time, though–just this week, these bracelets were going for 50% off! It’s imperative to check Etsy frequently to make sure you’re not missing out on any timely deals.

Another adorable gift idea comes from the Etsy shop, TeenyTinyLoveLetters. They sell a gift called Vitamin Me: Daily Dose of Love.

“Vitamin Me features 60 real pill capsules with various expressions: cute winking face, smiling face, and heart faces, accompanied by blank pieces of paper in assorted colors for writing special notes to roll up into each capsule. (Don’t worry; we got you covered with hundreds of ideas!) It all comes packaged in a realistic, high-quality and amber-colored glass bottle with a screw-top lid as well as a cute label with “nutrition facts” and “warnings.”

They also offer ideas for what to write on your little letters, like inside jokes, little poems, quotes, doodles, memories, and words of wisdom. These little vitamin bottles go for only $21.95, and they’re an absolute hit among customers. This product also has five out of five stars on the Etsy site!



Plants are pretty much always the answer. Of course, you don’t want to give someone a plant if they have no interest in maintaining one. But a plant is the perfect gift for a friend with a green thumb. You know, the one who adopts plants like they’re going out of style!

There are so many affordable ways to go about giving someone like this a gift. You can pick flowers from your own garden, if you have one, to make a beautiful bouquet for no money at all. Or, you can buy starter seeds from Amazon or your local gardening depot for less than $5.

You might even start growing a little plant for your friend a few months ahead of your birthday. Since you’ve worked to give the plant food, water, sunlight, and love, it will be all the more special to the recipient. Wrap the pot it in a bow, tape a sweet note on a stick, put that in the dirt, and give the plant to your friend to grow.

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