Simple, practical, thoughtful, and eco-friendly gifts for $5 or less.

This time of year, in every Facebook group I am in, I am reading – “What are you guys doing for teacher gifts? Neighbor gifts? Friend gifts?”. It’s the season of giving and we want to show others how much we care about them – without breaking the bank.

So, I thought I would share with you what I do – from my kitchen – for $5 and under.

Quality gifts that others enjoy. Just like an allergy-free, veggie-forward, whole-food diet doesn’t have to be expensive if you have a plan and a system, thoughtful gift-giving doesn’t have to be expensive either.

The best part about all of these is they come from my kitchen and they’re simple to make.

If you can cook dinner, you can make any of these gifts.

First things first, whenever I have the chance, I give them the gift of choice.

If possible, I like to provide a little card ahead of time, with a list of things I can easily make for under $5. I have them select their favorite 3 and then I surprise them with one of their top 3 choices.

I love giving the gift of choice because I want them to love and use what I give!!! I don’t have unlimited time, energy, or money (can you relate?). The last thing I want to do is spend any of those precious resources making someone a gift they won’t use. Giving the gift of choice also lets them know twice that I am thinking of them and care about them. Once, when I give them the card and then a second time when they get the actual gift. It’s like a 2-for-1 special!

So, what’s on the card you ask? What is in my arsenal of thoughtful, eco-friendly, practical, and simple $5 and under gifts? I thought you would never ask 😊


1) Healing Salve

I have been making this for personal use for years. About 1 1/2 years ago, I started giving it as gifts and every single person loves it. It’s a very thick lotion made from beeswax, shea butter, olive oil, and coconut or almond oil. It works incredibly well on dry skin, eczema, mild abrasions (we call it owie cream here), sunburns, mosquito bites, and hives. It provides comfort, moisture, and a quicker healing time. Of course, I am not making medical claims here – just sharing how we experience it in our home. I make a large batch 2 times a year and portion them into 4 oz mason jars. Whenever I need a thank you gift, a teacher gift, a hostess gift, I give this. When I say everyone loves it, I really mean everyone loves it. Best part??? With the jar, this gift costs only $1.50!!! $1.50 – not a typo!!!

You can find the salve recipe here.

I make the following modifications to the recipe:

I use olive oil vs. almond oil, I skip the optional vitamin E oil, I put in the optional refined shea butter, I add ½ tsp vanilla extract, and I add 30 drops of lemon essential oil. Her recipe is flexible, so feel free to make any changes you want. Those are the changes that work for me. Her recipe makes (3) 4 oz mason jars worth.

2) Lip Balm

I started making my own lip balm last year. I put off trying it because I thought it would be complicated. It isn’t complicated at all! Let me tell you why I make my own…I am not interested in putting toxic ingredients on my lips. So, I only buy the ones with natural ingredients – at about $6/each. With kids in the house who somehow cause all my lip balm to naturally evaporate into thin air, I cannot afford countless tubes of $6 lip balm. When I make it myself, it costs .17 a tube. Yes, you read that right. .17 a tube!! AND……IT’S THE DREAMIEST LIP BALM EVER!!!! Also, not my recipe – I get this one from Wellness Mama too. Her stuff is amazing!

You can find the lip balm recipe here.

You can put it in little tubs or tins you may have on hand. Or, you can buy tubes to put them in. I started out by putting it in some mint tins I had laying around, but once I knew I loved it, I got tubes for more sanitary use. I buy my tubes here. If you decide to put it in tubes, I highly recommend using a pipette to portion the hot lip balm recipe into the actual tubes.


3) Beeswax Food Wraps

This is a great gift to give to anyone who is super frugal or super environmentally minded. Beeswax food wraps are a piece of cloth – coated in beeswax – that serve as an alternative to using Ziplock bags or saran wrap. They’re easy to clean and last a long time (ours are going on a year old now with no signs of slowing down any time soon).

They are SO EASY AND CHEAP to make. It took me longer to find my iron than it did to make the wraps (true story!). You only need 4 things to make these – pinking shears (borrowed from my mom), 100% cotton fabric (bought from goodwill), beeswax pellets, and disposable aluminum cookie sheets (bought at the dollar store). You could cover your good pans with aluminum foil to avoid buying disposable pans. If you go this route – cover them VERY well.

Learn how to make beeswax food wraps here.

4) Elderberry Syrup

I am sure you have heard a lot of people talking about elderberry syrup. It’s a natural remedy for the flu. Some studies have suggested it may shorten the duration and severity of the flu. I, of course, am not a scientist, so I am making no such claims. I just know that we take it regularly when we feel an illness coming and I know a lot of my friends do as well. The store-bought versions are expensive!!!! I can’t remember the cost to make my own, but it’s well under $5 for an 8 oz gift.

This is the best, most potent version.

However, that one is “too spicy” for my kids and they won’t use it. So, I now make this version for our home and everyone here will use this version. If you have an Instant Pot, make it in there because the elderberries can be stinky when cooking.

I buy my bottles here.

5) Bone Broth

To learn more about how to make bone broth and why it is so good for you, check out my blog here. The cost of 1 jar is under $1.50. I love giving this as a gift because it makes the tastiest and heartiest soups!

6) Homemade Marinara

In my Instant Pot, I make a homemade marinara that tastes like it has been simmering on the stove for hours. It is so good!!!!! Anyone I give it to loves it and says it’s the best spaghetti sauce they have ever had. You can find the recipe I use here. The cost of giving 1 jar is under $2.

7) A Loaf of Homemade Bread

I have a bread maker, so homemade bread takes me 5 minutes of active cooking time. The traditional recipe I use is here. 

For the best gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free bread, check out my recipe on this blog post!

The traditional loaf is well under $2.  The GF/DF/EF loaf is about $3.


I hope that sharing these ideas with you has inspired you to know that – just like it’s possible to serve your family a simple, allergy-friendly whole food diet with lots of fruits and veggies for $1 per person, per meal, it is possible to give thoughtful, useful, and enjoyable gifts for under $5.

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