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A day spent outdoors, a thrifted movie collection, or a spread of local hot sauces—here are some gift ideas that won’t leave you broke. 

The holiday season can be a really stressful time, especially when it comes to affording travel, special foods, and gifts. 

But gifts to your loved ones don’t have to be expensive to be appreciated. 

We’ve put together some ideas for making your friends and family feel special without breaking the bank. 

An Arizona Cultural Outing

Image courtesy Act One

Some people enjoy experiences more than they do physical items. If that’s the case for someone you know, consider promising them a day full of fun at one of Arizona’s cultural sites, like Arcosanti, Desert Botanical Garden, or the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson.

And how to do this on the cheap, you ask? You and a guest can visit for free using a Culture Pass through your local library. Our article here lays out all of the location options and explains how to get a pass. 

A Budget-Friendly Day Trip

There are many great gift options for experiences in Arizona, but they can be really expensive—think a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon, or a spa day in Sedona. 

Others are more doable on a budget, like a tour of an alpaca farm in Prescott Valley, or a guided tour of Arcosanti. Our story here lays out seven options for more budget-friendly experiences ranging from $10 to $111 per ticket. 

A Curated Movie Collection

Have a film buff in your life? Something they may enjoy is a hand-picked collection of DVDs. You can pick out several based on a certain genre, actor, setting, or storyline, or something personal to the gift recipient (ie. “movies that make me think of you”). We have an idea that’s great for someone with Arizona pride—here are nine movies through the decades that were filmed in the state. 

And where to find a wide range of movies? You could order them off of Amazon, but consider sifting through the resale DVD bins at a shop like Zia Records or a local bookstore first. 

A Bangin’ Playlist

Some people enjoy nothing more than good music in their ears. You could shop the racks at stores like those mentioned above, or if your gift recipient is more into streaming, you could create a custom playlists for them. 

Like the movie selection, a custom playlist should have selections that are personal to the recipient. You could base it around artists you’ve seen live together, or local bands they may not have heard before. And if there’s a specific message you want to get across, you can write one using song titles in a playlist—although when actually listened to, it may not sound too great. 

Home-Baked and/or Local Goods

Who doesn’t love some home-cooked food as a gift? We have some ideas for making guacamole and nachos. If you need something that can last without refrigeration, consider baked goods or a dry mix, like ingredients for cookies or a special hot chocolate recipe. 

If you’re short on time or would rather just buy something, consider checking out some locally made goods, like these hot sauces or other options listed on Local First Arizona’s online marketplace

A Fun Photoshoot

If you’ve got some skill when it comes to taking and editing pictures, you can offer someone a fun photoshoot. Plan a unique outing and take photos of your giftee throughout the day, then present them with an album (digitally or physically) with photos from the day they can use for their Instagram or look back on fondly. Not sure where to go? We have a list of seven locations local photographers recommend. 

An Exciting Hike

Imatge via Shutterstock

For the outdoors-loving person in your life, consider planning a hike. Take care of choosing the location, figuring out parking, and packing supplies so your gift recipient can focus on having fun.


You can choose a hike in the Valley, or maybe somewhere where you can see snow. If you’re willing to travel a little, you can check out some of Arizona’s National Park sites. While those do cost to enter, there are some days throughout the year when admission is free.

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