Holidays on a Divorced Budget: Cheap Gifts Your Kids will Love

After divorce, the holidays take on new meaning in multiple ways. You may be living in new digs. You may or may not get to spend the actual holiday with your kids. And, due to expenses related to your divorce, you probably don’t have as much money as you normally would to spend on the kids.

As a parent, the inability to afford all the “treasures” you’d like to give your kids hurts. We’re here to tell you that you can still make them happy while keeping your wallet in check. Here’s our list of cheap gifts for kids after divorce that they’ll love.

Gifts for $5 or less

Silly hat

Most schools these days have at least one “silly hat day” per year. Give them a hat they’ll be proud to wear … one that’ll turn the heads of teachers and students alike. If you start shopping early enough, you’ll find a plethora of marked-down hats after Halloween for under $5. But even if you don’t start early, it’s pretty easy to find a fun hat for a kid that costs less than $5.plush-narwhal-hat~13845778-a01

For example, we love this super-cheap winter kitty cat hat from Temu, this plush narwhal hat from Oriental Trading Company, and this rainbow selection of knitted skullcaps from Walmart.

While you’re in the post-Halloween sale aisle, don’t forget to check out the discounted costumes, makeup, jewelry, and accessories. At up to 90% off, you can get a trove of fun dress-up supplies for your young one.

Squishies and fidget toys

Kids love novelty toys as much as they love candy, and sometimes more. Give them something they can squish, roll, bounce, click, or otherwise fidget with ... you may be surprised how much they love it. And most of these sensory stimulators cost less than $5. 

Some of the hottest offerings today include these Pop Tube dogs from Temu, these rainbow finger poppers from Walmart, and ultra-cheap animal puffers like these from Five Below.

Gifts for $5 to $10

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Give a kid an LED light projector, and they just might use it every night for the next several years. Kids love to make their private space meaningful, and it’s easy to create an astronomical ambiance with an LED star projector like this one from Temu, this teddy bear footprint and star projector from Menards, or this fluffy cloud light projector from Five Below.

Bathtub stuff

Whether you’re gifting a toddler who loves to play make-believe games in the tub or a pre-teen who’s into self-care items like scented soap, you can’t go wrong with a fun bathtub item. 

For babies and toddlers, we love these bath crayons, these wind-up swimming turtles, and this bathtub basketball hoop. All come from Amazon, and if you have a Prime membership, shipping is free. For slightly older kids, check out more free-delivery Prime items like this fizzy set of organic bath bubble bombs or this bar of soap with a toy surprise inside.

What about a cactus? These prickly pets come in all price ranges. Pick one up from your local grocery store. We're not sure how you'd wrap it, though.

Gifts for $10 to $25

Nerf gun

You probably remember the allure of the Nerf gun from your own childhood. They’re still popular, and today’s Nerf guns are even more sophisticated. For example, the NERF Disrupter Elite Blaster has a rotating drum that lets you fire up to six darts in quick succession. Add a refill pack to your gift, and they’ll be less likely to run out of ammo and more likely to keep the party going ... hopefully with you in tow.


Who doesn’t love Play-Doh? It’s a timeless gift that costs very little, and a little goes a long way. You could give a child a set of 12 colorful jars for a little more than a dollar apiece. Or, you could gift them with something you may have had yourself as a kid: the Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop, which comes with a couple of jars to get you started. If shaving heads doesn’t appeal to your child, another Play-Doh venue might, like this Play-Doh Pizza Oven or this Play-Doh Cement Mixer

Gifts for $25 to $50


Drones have been popular for a while now, and they’re not going away anytime soon. When you give a kid a drone, it comes with an unspoken promise that you will spend time together learning about it and launching it. What could be sweeter for a young electronics fan? We like this colorful Force1 Beginner Drone, which you can find at Walmart. 71rQjS5A2jL._AC_SL1500_

You can even get a drone with a camera for under $50, like this Avialogic Mini Drone sold by Amazon. It’s great for beginners who want to get a little taste of what drone photography is all about.


Video games are pricey, but you can find some good deals on some great games, especially around the holidays. Minecraft is a game that even educators agree is good for kids. Here’s a good Minecraft Starter for kids who own a PS4. Minecraft for the Nintendo Switch can be found here, and Minecraft for the Xbox 360 can be found here.

If they already have Minecraft, they certainly wouldn’t say no to a Minecraft gift card like this Minecoin pack that works with Minecraft on the Switch, Xbox One, Windows, Android, and iOS. Even better: Sit down and play Minecraft with them. It’s okay if you don’t know much about the game. Your Minecraft enthusiast will love to tell you all about it.

Planning to go to the movies or out to eat this holiday season? In this economy, we know that's an investment. Why not present your upcoming outing to your child as a gift they can unwrap? It's money you would have spent anyway, but it'll be even more special – especially if you let them pick the movie or the restaurant.

Gifts that are free

If you’re under holiday stress, it might not feel like it right now, but this is really true: The best things in life are free. And kids need to learn this lesson, too.

One of the most precious gifts you can give your child is your time. Here are some gift “experiences” you might give your child:

  • A hand-printed ticket to a movie marathon with you, complete with popcorn, pajamas, and the movie line-up of their choice
  • A promissory note for five free snowmen – that is, you promise to don your snow pants and build a snow family with your child the next time the white stuff falls
  • A jar full of “read when you need it” letters to your child – write them a love note for a day they’re feeling sad, another for a day when they’re feeling mad, another for a day of celebration
  • A mixtape or, more likely, a playlist curated by you that represents special moments in your life together
  • A pre-planned scavenger hunt with clues scattered all over the place – the prize at the end can be the answer to a silly riddle, a plate of homemade cookies, or anything else you think they’d like

We see you, post-divorce Mom and Dad. We understand how tight money can be. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, that’s okay. Combine whatever you have to give with your time, attention, and love, and they won’t forget this holiday season … not because of the things you give, but because of the time you spend and the thought you put into making them happy.

Senior Editor
Communication, Relationships, Divorce Insights
Melissa Schmitz is Senior Editor at Hello Divorce, and her greatest delight is to help make others’ lives easier – especially when they’re in the middle of a stressful life transition like divorce. After 15 years as a full-time school music teacher, she traded in her piano for a laptop and has been happily writing and editing content for the last decade. She earned her Bachelor of Psychology degree from Alma College and her teaching certificate from Michigan State University. She still plays and sings for fun at farmer’s markets, retirement homes, and the occasional bar with her local Michigan band.