Today’s topic: Budget Friendly Gifts for Kids. It’s not even mid-December yet, but if you’re like me, the designated holiday funds are getting used-up real quick. So I’ve got 3 tips that will help you stay in the black and still get smiles on Christmas morning.

1) Do It Yourself.
When budget counts, DIY is my secret weapon. There are a million ideas online, but to get you started, three of the most budget-friendly projects we’d tried are bean bags, ribbon flowers and hot cocoa mugs. The ribbon flowers can be turned into hair clips or belts or pins. And the technique for the mugs could be applied to cereal bowls or after-school-snack plates or whatever you can find at Goodwill.

2) Refresh.
Consider “refreshing” a big ticket item your child already owns. Gave them an iPod last year? Then give them an Extreme iPod Makeover this year. Pick out a new cover, download some podcasts or shows they’ll love, add a new playlist, switch out their screen saver with something cool, and throw in an  iTunes giftcard. Sync it all while they’re sleeping and have it wrapped and ready under the tree the next morning. It will feel like an awesome new toy at a fraction of the cost of the original iPod.

You could do the same thing with a bike. Clean it, tune it up, add new hand grips and a new bell. Maybe even a basket! Tie on a big red bow and you’re set.

3) High Impact, Low Cost
If you’re just wishing there was more under the tree so the kids will feel spoiled come Christmas morning, think: High Impact, Low Cost. For example, any sort of play structure, like pop ups tents, tee pees, or cardboard playhouses. They’re available at all price ranges and there are a ton of make-your-own options out there. Best part: they make a BIG impact under the tree — or nearby the tree. : )

If a play structure won’t work for your kids, think of other items that take up visual space. Add oversize beach balls or balloons from the party supply store to create excitement. If you’re giving a new toy bin for blocks, you could make a trail of blocks-they-already-own leading to the gift. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to feel magical.

What about you, Dear Readers? When you think budget-friendly gifts for kids, what tips, ideas or items come to mind?