3 Tips for Frugal & Creative Mishloach Manot

Looking to save on your mishloach manot for Purim this year? Here are three tips that will help you save money – and time.

#1 Don’t try to keep up with the Schwartzes. I did that, too. For a long time. Then the combined forces of motherhood (i.e. who has the time or energy to be the Jewish Martha Stewart?) and a tight budget led me to adopt my simple and somewhat creative mishloach manot approach. There will always be people who give more lavish, creative and expensive mishloach manot. But I like to think that my Purim dollars are better spent on matanot l’evyonim and seudah.

#2 Cut down your list. It’s the best way to save money on a wedding – and a pretty good way to do it for Purim, too. If you are preparing 55 individual mishloach manot, and manage to spend only $1 per “basket” (unlikely), that’s still $55. Realistically, I think $2-$3 is a better target price, even with forethought and frugality. Which means, you’re talking somewhere around $150. Yikes! Can you combine families (adults and kids), rather than doing separate gifts? Could you cut a few people off your list?

#3 Shop the sales, use your coupons, and stockpile. Aaaah, you knew it was coming! Last year, I made Ice Cream Sundae themed mishloach manot, inspired by a huge sale on individual ice cream cups at Target. Keep an eye out for stockpiling opportunities, then use something you can get for free – or practically free – as the “anchor” for your mishloach manot.

I loved all the creative mishloach manot ideas submitted by KOAB readers last Purim. You may want to check those out here, here and here (many were very frugal-friendly) if you haven’t seen them yet. (And yes, I am planning to do something similar again this year – stay tuned!)

Now I want to turn it over to my fabu readers. What are your suggestions for keeping your mishloach manot cute, creative and not too costly? Let’s chat about it in the comments section!


  1. Shayndy Abrahamson says

    I keep the cost down by making mostly home-made items. One year, I made hamentashen, onion rolls (shaped in triangles) and potato knishes shaped like hamentashen. To round it off, I gave a cheap bottle of beer! I put it all in a basket I got on clearance by the dollar store right after Christmas!

  2. Air-popped popcorn is very frugal and can be used in a variety of themes (movies, carnival, etc).

  3. Sue Fendrick says

    We do letter of the law on mishloach manot–we make sure we fulfill the mitzvah by giving them to at least two people, but we make a significant contribution to our local organization helping the Jewish poor (it qualifies as matanot la-evyonim b/c of the cool and complex way they do this) and sometimes have a seudah. I feel like enough other people do mishloach manot and we find our way to be generous to our friends in other ways. I know in Orthodox shuls mishloach manot tend to be more elaborate, but in our traditional/egal minyan, people tend to do more moderate things–dropping off at people’s house (reverse trick-or-treating 🙂 ) a ziplock bag or stapled paper plate filled with some candies, some nuts, a small bottle of grape juice, a granola bar, and a hamentash, e.g.

  4. I kept the cost down last year by buying 2 simple foods that were nicely packaged. I then wrapped them in cellophane with ribbon that I already had. I think anything in cellophane looks nice and fancy no matter what you put inside 😉 The year before I went through my snack pile and made a theme out of whatever we hadn’t been eating. I basically cleaning for pesach and saved money at the same time!

  5. I’ve done a “hearty Purim” theme a few times with some leftover Valentine’s Day candy and treat bags that I can find on clearance at Target, CVS, etc. Last year my daughter dressed up as a rabbit for Purim, and I took advantage of pre-Easter candy sales (not as lucrative as post-Valentine’s) and bought rabbit and carrot-themed candy and baked my own carrot muffins. My shaloch manot message was “Have a Hoppy Purim.”

  6. Last year I made “four mitzvos in a bag.” Gelt 90% off at target from Hanukah (Matanos La’evyonim), rolls from the frozen food sale at target last year(seudah), fruit roll ups that I already had(Megillah) , and bag of hershey kisses (Mishloach Manos). They ended up being very cheap.

  7. Jennifer Barnes says

    1- I never try to keep up with the Joneses, such a waste of $ in my opinion. Most of the experience is the kids prepping, making and delivering them. The kids don’t know the difference.
    2- Lots of friends and family give to an organization then send/mail out cards or letters stating that $ has been given in our name, and no one looks at it as getting out of doing Mishloach Manot.
    3- I posted to you last month that I found some fantastic closeouts on bags and tissue paper at costco post xmas season, and CRAZY rock bottom prices on red/white candy canes. This year I’m going to give 1 red/white candy cane, 1 home made black/white cookie and buy some candy corn, so I’ll have some sort of theme. I need to make probably about 30-40 and I’ll probably will have spent around $35 max on the whole thing…… My sister goes ALL out. Each year writing a poem that explains the theme of her Mishloach Manot. Each year she spends whatever her theme needs. 1 year she made fish bowls. She bought the small ruffle topped vases (mini ones), bought bunch of rock/shell candy and gummy worms, fish, etc…and you can imagine the cuteness.
    4- I would think that people would be happy NOT to get millions of elaborate Mishloach Manos as Pesach is right around the corner too.
    I guess I had a lot more to say about this than I thought!! lol

  8. We use our pampers points to make lovely cards with our daughter in costume. We send those in lieu of Mishloach Manot and just make a donation to Matanot Levyonim. We note on the card where the donation has been given. Then we do letter of the law for a close neighbor or two. No one really needs that much candy.

  9. The best m.m. packages I did were something I found on the web. I made two gingerbread cookies decorated like Mordechai and Hamen, one cookie on which I wrote ‘ad shelo yeda’ (in Hebrew), and a little bottle of nips (mini alcohol bottles). They were a huge hit and everyone got a kick out of them. Relatively inexpensive – just very time-consuming.

  10. Lauren Rosen Gerofsky says

    Mara, last year, when talking of Purim, you started off a lengthy series of posts about Mishloach Manot theme ideas. It was great and I shared many of them at our Sunday School. Folks should look there too.

  11. We always do something homemade, but finding a cheap container is always a challenge since I try to do something reusable. Even $1 at the dollar store is too expensive! I am still on the lookout for this year. I have used Gladware type containers before but don’t want to do it again. I try to make mine healthy or at least unique if I dp a treat.

  12. I totally think that doing minimalist shalach manos is fine, as well as cards and only doing the basic requirement…

    That being said, for reasons we can’t really control, we end up doing about 65 shalach manos, plus my kids each make little ones for their classmates (we started when they were going to school with a lot of kids not from religious backgrounds, so we really wanted to include those kids, now it’s just their routine)

    As to keeping cost per each down, for the kids we do homemade hamentaschen, and 1 or 2 pretty inexpensive nosh type items, and use really small bags, sometimes specific purim ones, or else dollar store\target lunch type bags that the kids decorate.
    As to the hardest one, the one we do 65 of, it is not easy, at all. What we did last year, , is make fried rice, which does not cost a lot, We put them in chinese food containers that a local pf changs was happy to sell me by the sleeve for dirt cheap, put them in brown paper bags with a little zip lock bag of chow mein noodles.
    I am happy to share details if anybody wants.
    We have also done a wedding theme, where we gave everyone a roll, a container of salad, and a couple of homemade little hot dogs in pastry.

    I think our method is that if there is a fun theme, (which we do solely because we really really have fun planning it, and making fun inserts of some kind), we feel comfortable giving small portions of food, and although these aren’t the cheapest foods, when you divide it between all the shalach manos, the cost per each is not so bad.
    Oh, one really frugal one that a friend did was to make a huge pot of soup I think pareve split pea, and give a container of soup (she bought a sleeve of containers from a nonkosher deli, for very cheap, that’s what gave me the chinese idea), with some croutons taped on.
    As to this year, don’t know yet, we have been talking and talking but we kind of work better under pressure unfortunately. But we enjoy it. Just don’t ask us how much fun we are having until the inspiration hits.
    Hope some of these ideas are helpful!
    Can’t wait to see everyone else’s ideas, hopefully it will spark our muse….

    • Love this — you can tell people to have a ‘souper Purim’!

      I was going to do a ‘hope you go nuts on Purim’ theme – self-explanatory — but this sounds like less work!

  13. Honestly, until this year, I have included hamentashen (homemade), a few candies, and maybe a tiny (single-serving) bottle of grape juice. I’ve stuck them in brown lunch bags or clear baggies and written on the outside. It’s cheap and easy, and I am not interested in keeping up with the families — few in our community, thankfully — who do elaborate bags/baskets.

    This year, I’ve been stockpiling based on Chanukah clearance at Target and whenever cases of yummy things go on great sales on Amazon — and I’ve used my swagbucks gift cards to pay for the bulk of the Amazon stuff. (By the way, that’s one case each of two snack items. I’m not going crazy here.) Because I’ve acquired items as they have become available, rather than last-minute, I have been able to create a much fancier plan for mishloach manot for (really and truly) less than what I was spending on the plain Jane mishloach manot in the past.

    The only thing I really want now is the cellophane that Shaindy referenced! Time to search amazon…

  14. For the bags, we usually use the party gift bags from Walmart – they used to be $1 for 20, I think they’ve gone up to $1.25 or something. 🙂

  15. HI Everyone,
    I hate to rain on all these dont keep up with the Schwartz’s comments. The question was about how to be frugal and still be fancy. If she didnt care about keeping up, she wouldnt be posting the question. I understand that. I dont do more than I can. One good idea I had, is I buy a package of plastic pretty disposable plates 10 inch size. I package my MM very nicely on it, and wrap with cellophane and ribbons. It is beautiful, and it does not break the bank. I also make home made stuff. We have to be realistic about home made things too though, I usually chuck out the home made things I get, because I dont know the Kashrus, or cleanliness of its origins. Unless I know who gave it to me, and it is their original creation, it goes straight to the trash, or I offer it to my cleaning help, with full disclosure. I am sure some of my stuff ends up in the garbage too.

  16. Hi! We have cut WAY back on our mishloach manot the past few years. We make up several baskets with a full meal in it and take them to our local Kosher food pantry, and they make sure they are given to families who need them that day to fulfill our mitzvah. We make a handful of small mishloach manot for our close friends, and everyone that might drop something off at our house gets homemade hamentashen with a note tied to it saying that we made a donation to the local food pantry. Nobody has ever complained, and actually several families took on our custom. This year I’m using the cookie mix that I got on clearance at Target after Christmas (for $.51 per bag) as the base to my hamentashen.

  17. For a few years we have done a bottle of beer with a bag of nuts tied around bottle neck. It’s inexpensive and can be done in advance. Individual bags of nuts can be found at Costco or elsewhere on sale. Just pinch a hole near the top (if on isn’t already there), thread ribbon through that and a card and you’re done.

  18. One year we did Breakfast at Tiffanys, we used light blue bags and used labels to write tiffany and co and put in muffins and cartons of milk. We also added edible necklaces and ring pops for the jewelry.

  19. Many years ago when my 11 year old was 1.5 she spent a month in the hospital. She was released right around Purim. We suddenly realized that the holiday was approaching and we had not one thing in place and NO money. We also wanted to thank the many wonderful and helpful people who supported us through that awful time. Thus, our Purim tradition was born: we donate x amount of $$ to our local bikkur cholim and mail out cards that say: “in lieu of mishloach manot a donation has been made to bikku cholim of XX” and we give 3-5 more elaborate gifts to our immediate neighbors. This way we help a great tzedakah, give hakarat hatov to a great organization, and also fulfill the mitzva in a meaningful (and non-competitive) way.

  20. One year we made a generous donation to Friendship Circle (in honor of the lifesaver they have been for us and our son with special needs) and I wrote a card explaining what and why and my daughter delivered them. She thought it was terrible that we didn’t make real m.m., so the following year, she came up with a nice idea: as we were planning our aliyah at the time, we gave out “A taste of Israel” — I got 20 fresh pitot from the bakery and cut them in quarters. I also got 80 felafel balls ready made (I got a good price, but I don’t remember exactly how much) — you could also make these at home if that’s your thing. Along with that, we gave a small container with hummus (I got the container from Amazon — about $5 for 200 condiment size containers with lids), and there was something else in there but I can’t remember what it was. We wrote a little “See you next year in Israel!” thing, and the total cost — including my oh-so-classy plastic baggies — was around $50 for 80 mms — a nice way to say goodbye to a community where we had spent the past 5 years.

  21. I try to do something different for my mishloach manot. As a family, we don’t eat much by way of sweets or cakes, and I refuse to buy barrel-loads for Purim. In past years, I’ve had a breakfast themed MM, with yoghurts and home made granola, I’ve had pasta theme, with a bag of pasta, a bag of grated cheese, and some home-made tomato sauce. This year I plan on home made soup and croutons. I them also take some of the junk food out of any parcels we receive early in the morning to add to our outgoing packages. I use pretty disposable plates/bowls, depending on the size of our parcels.

  22. we give 2 or 3 mishloach manot–usually soemthing like bagels,cream cheese,juice and muffins.the people from our shul get mishloach manot arranged by the shul—every family gives a sum of money and the money goes to tzedaka.for the rest of the people we would like to give mishloach manot to—we make a donation to a soup kitchen and send them a note that a donation has been made in their name.

  23. Last year I put together something small and only gave to a few people (neighbors, family, and a few people at megilla reading), since we’re new and don’t really know anyone.

    I made chocolate crinkles cookies, wrapped them in wax paper and put them in blue tissue paper with a few small chocolates (a bag of Dove or Hershey’s on sale), all inside a bread bag, the whole box of which was very inexpensive. I’d have made them a little more elaborate if I could have thought of inexpensive Pesach-friendly ideas.

  24. Like Chani V, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but…l used to do very elaborate cute m. m.s Over the course of the last few years I have really whittled it down. I see how much junk (sorry) is coming into my house, and a lot of it winds up in the trash. What a waste! I lost a lot of weight in the last couple of years, and I want to keep it off. And I don’t have room in my house for all the beautiful containers. I’m so happy when I receive a card or community-generated basket with many names on it. In my community, the day school does a fund raiser where they deliver m.m.s One m.m. can be from many people giving a small amount toward one recipient’s basket. Love that. Then we make a couple to fulfill the mitzva.

  25. Last year we had just gotten a dog named Gorilla, so we did the theme, “Megillah Gorilla” (anyone remember that old tv show?) I made dog bone-shaped cookies, and put in different items relating to either dogs or gorillas (banana laffy taffy, candy hot dog, etc.) and then wrote a short poem on “parchment” (the “megillah”) tying it all together. It was really cute and everyone loved it.
    I’ve done pizza themes (got “pizza slice” dishes at the dollar store and filled them with pizza ingredients), Japanese theme (“shushi” made from rice crispies & marshmallow mixture rolled with gummy worms and fruit roll-ups.) A friend did “tea time” with jam, cookies, and tea bags all together in a little jam pot. Just have fun!

    • Okay, looking back over my comments, I should have mentioned that all of this stuff was done very cheaply. I wrapped things in cellophane with some curly ribbon, and most things were homemade and/or bought on sale. I’ve noticed everyone is cutting back – and it’s not so terrible. We used to try to do fantastic mm, but now it’s just fun and simple – not too elaborate.

  26. Very nice to not want to keep up with the Joneses… how about when you have to do one very fancy one?
    I’m looking for an elegant idea that’s also easy to put together. I got married recently and have to prepare something for my in-laws.
    No cutesy “themes”, just something nice and simple.

  27. It’s funny to have read that someone else did split pea soup in deli containers — I have been doing that for over 15 years! I attach some healthy crackers on top in a ziplock snack bag and put a sticker on each tub, “Freilechen Purim from the F’s – soup made in parve pot.”
    I’m sure there are those who don’t care for it, but so many people tell me they love getting something healthy, that they eat it for “lunch” Purim day and that they wait for my soup every year. Who needs more candy? It’s unhealthy & can get overwhelming. I focus on giving to teachers and to singles/families who are going thru a hard time or might not get many. Freilechen Purim to all!

  28. I think that all that candy and junk is just too much on purim, makes me want to vomit. I love the food shalach manos as it is useful day of or even the next day as a lunch. I have done in the past and have gotten:
    Falafel platter w chumus, techina, pita, israeli salad
    Bagels with cream cheese and/or tuna and small salad (potato or something)
    Potato Kugel – Small pans
    Little Chocolate Cake
    Little Veggie Platter

  29. Last Year we dressed up as Ketchup and mustard, baby as a hotdog, then got fast food containers from local resturants and grilled a bunch of hot dogs, with some salad on the side, ketchup mayo and mustard packets and a can of soda or beer- with a cute “receipt” on it with pics of us on. Was a huge hit! Everyone loved it and said they ate it right away. For large families we gave a few hot dogs sandwiches.

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