Homemade, inexpensive, and repurposed gifts can still be amazing. For example, there is no reason a fun toy for a child has to be a $60 video game or Christmas is ruined. That's probably why I don't understand Black Friday...but I digress haha.
I've mentioned before how one very lean Christmas, like condiment sandwiches lean, my dad got a slingshot. Birch branch from the woods, a piece of surgical tubing my grandmother pilfered from work (she was a nurse), and a scrap of leather. It's been more than 40 years and my father still has it. We all loved using it growing up. And he has fond memories of busting out street lights
My mom never bought name brand sugary cereals when we were little. We got boxes of Lucky Charms wrapped up one Christmas. Holy moly, we went nuts over that.
Romper stompers. Baling string and two large metal coffee cans that had gotten a quick coat of spray paint. We spent hours upon hours stomping around on those and having american gladiatoresque fights with large staffs. The large coffee cans all seem to be plastic nowadays, but washed out gallon paint cans would work just as well.
For readers, bookmarks. I have a box I keep all my bookmarks in and it still makes me happy to use one that I used in grade school.
Fall backs are always something you can eat or something you can snuggle (blanket, scarf, stuffed animal, socks, slippers, etc, etc). Never underestimate the power of a few cookies and a cushy throw.
I made vanilla this year, as well as some vanilla sugar, rosemary salt, jams and jellies, a few other things for all the bakers.
Everyone loved mix tapes back in the day. You can still do the same but make personal cds instead. I have a long commute and DH made me a few that I've had in the car for years, I love them.
Pampering. I've got candles coming out my ears, and you can inexpensively make awesome salt or sugar scrubs, lotion bars, heating packs, lip balm, etc.
Wrapping gifts shouldn't cost an arm and leg either. Use whatever you have. Newspaper, comics, printer paper, butcher block paper, fabric, etc. Drawstring bags are super easy to sew and are reusable. Also save gift bags and salvage wrapping paper or bows from the previous year. Gift tags never need cost anything either. We cut up Christmas cards for tags. People seem to be mailing less so I went on Craigslist a few years ago asking for old Christmas cards, I got a filing box filled to the brim from a sweet older woman. I now have tags for the rest of my life.
Speaking of Christmas cards, with the free deals through cardstore.com, treat.com, and others I haven't paid for cards in years. If you scrap and make your own take advantage of the weekly coupons from Michaels and JoAnns. If it's not out of your way just grab items a few pieces at a time when you're running other errands and never pay full price for any component, the savings add up.
Have you seen the price of ornaments at the store? Holy crap! Don't go out and decorate your whole tree in those, you'll accumulate plenty as time wears on. Paper chains, strings of popcorn, cranberries, pine cones, etc. Salt dough ornaments. Paper, fabric, or felt ornaments, etc. I've got a pair of dove ornaments made out of newspaper that my mom let me have when I moved out. The date is barely legible on one of them, 1938. My great-grandmother made them the year my grandmother was born. The star for our tree is cardboard covered in tinfoil from DH and I first Christmas when we didn't have disposable income for something so frivolous. Now it's just sentimental and we'll never replace it.