Cheap packaging is a loaded term that tends to have a negative connotation. However, it doesn’t have to be! Just because a type of packaging material doesn’t cost a lot of money doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not worth using. 

In fact, there are several impressive packaging ideas that are as effective as they are budget-friendly. So read on to learn about how you can save a few bucks while still getting the job done when it comes to your packaging. 

Why Is Packaging Important?

Many people think that packaging is just meant to protect and ship a product. In reality, it’s much more than that! When done right, packaging can also act as a marketing tool, a branding mechanism, and a way to ensure customer satisfaction

Overall, it’s a way that you can set yourself apart from the rest of the field, who may just use a basic plain brown cardboard box. To set yourself apart, you have to get creative, know your brand, and embrace the design process.

Do You Have To Spend A Ton Of Money On Packaging?

All that being said, many people automatically assume that they have to spend a ton of money on packaging to set themselves apart from the rest. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, there are several different ways that you can create amazing packaging without blowing your entire budget. All it takes is knowing what to look for, where you should cut corners, and where you should splurge. 

However, if all of this is new to you, then you probably don’t know these things. Thankfully, we are here to help by telling you about nine cheap packaging ideas that are effective yet still cost-efficient. 

1. Custom Mailer Boxes

The first cheap packaging option you should consider is a custom mailer box. I know what you’re thinking—custom can’t possibly be cheap, right? Wrong! Custom mailer boxes are a great option for companies who want some extra protection for their products thanks to corrugated cardboard material and smart features like dust flaps. 

BoxGenie, for example, offers amazing custom mailer boxes that you can design yourself, choose from one of their templates, or even talk with experts about your packaging needs. At the end of the day, customers will love getting their products in a custom mailer box that has been specifically designed for your brand—so much that they will keep coming back for more! 

2. Paperboard Boxes

The second cheap packaging option you should consider is a simple paperboard box, or shipping box. Paperboard boxes aren’t as strong or durable as corrugated packaging, but they are still a great packaging option for products that don’t need as much protection during the shipping process. 

In fact, paperboard boxes are great for retail items that are going on the shelf. These boxes are easy to assemble and flexible—making them ideal for smaller items and trinkets that aren’t breakable. Since they are thinner than custom mailer boxes made out of corrugated cardboard, they are also thinner and lighter—making them easier to store and ship if needed. 

3. Poly Mailer Bags

The third cheap packaging option you should consider is a poly mailer bag. Poly mailer bags are made out of a durable and protective plastic material that’s able to completely seal and cover your products so that they can arrive at their destination safely. Unlike cardboard or paperboard packaging, poly mailer bags are weatherproof and are ideal for shipping scenarios that may encounter extreme weather. 

They are extremely cost-effective, lightweight, and thin—making them cheap and easy to store and ship. Some poly mailer bags are even reusable! Clearly, poly mailer bags are a great option if you’re looking to ship lightweight products that aren’t fragile at all—for example, things like clothing items are easily packaged within poly mailer bags. 

4. Padded Envelopes

Similar to poly mailer bags, but with a twist, padded envelopes also make a great cheap packaging option. Padded envelopes typically either have plastic or paper on the outside, with padded bubble wrap on the inside to provide an extra layer of protection and insulation. 

This is an ideal packaging option if you have small or thin, yet fragile, products that you’re trying to ship. For example, documents and books can be easily shipped in padded envelopes. Padded envelopes are still budget-friendly, although they are thicker and heavier than poly mailer bags due to the added layers of protection. 

5. Eco-Friendly Recycled Packaging

Many people assume that eco-friendly packaging comes at a premium cost—but that’s not necessarily the case! In fact, there are tons of eco-friendly recycled packaging options out there that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. For example, there are eco-friendly mailer bags that eliminate the need for single-use plastic. There are also corrugated padded envelopes that use recyclable corrugated cardboard for insulation instead of plastic bubble wrap. 

If taking care of the Earth is important to your brand and your customers, then eco-friendly packaging is definitely something that you should check out so that everyone can feel good about the products they’re consuming. 

6. Logo Stickers

We’ve talked about cheap primary packaging ideas, so now it’s time to cover secondary packaging ideas and extras. After all, there’s more to packaging than just the bag, box, or envelope. In fact, if you’re really looking to make an impression on your customers through your packaging, then you cannot forget about the extras. 

One example of a cost-effective extra is a branded logo sticker. Using a logo sticker instead of printing your own custom box can be a clever cost-cutting measure that gives you similar results at a lower cost. Just get your stickers printed, slap them on a box, and you have a cheap solution that still shows off your brand. 

7. Custom Tape

Another cheap and clever way to show off your brand within your packaging design is to use custom tape. Ordering custom tape in bulk is a great way to save some money while still getting a cool product that can help spice up your packaging. 

That being said, you don’t necessarily have to get a custom branded tape to take your packaging to the next level. Instead, you could use colored or patterned tape on the box along with another branded component—like the aforementioned sticker option. 

8. Branded Tissue Paper

Moving onto the inside of the box, using branded tissue paper is a cheap packaging solution that doesn’t just promote your brand—but it also enhances the unboxing experience and helps provide some extra protection for the products inside. Since tissue paper is relatively cheap on its own, paying for branded tissue paper won’t result in a huge price hike—and it’s definitely worth it! 

9. Note Inserts

Finally, the last cheap packaging idea that you should consider is a custom package insert. There are several different directions that you could go here. For example, you could include a simple business card that you printed in bulk. You could also include a custom discount code to entice your customer to come back for another purchase. Finally, you could write a handwritten thank-you note if you’re really looking to go the extra mile and make a positive impression on your customer. 

How To Design Cost-Effective Packaging

Perhaps one of the best ways to design cost-effective packaging is to consult the pros. BoxGenie, for example, has been doing this for almost 50 years! As a family-owned and operated company, they understand the needs and constraints of small businesses who are looking to save money while still giving their customers a positive experience and getting their brand out there. That’s why they are always around to listen to your concerns and offer real solutions to help you achieve the right packaging at the right cost. 

So before you totally give up on the idea of custom packaging due to cost concerns, simply check out BoxGenie’s online design tool to view templates, create custom designs, or get price quotes all in one place! 


As you can see, amazing packaging doesn’t have to be expensive! There are so many ways that you can achieve impressive branded packaging on a budget. This information is essential for small businesses just starting out and trying to get their name out there. For more tips, tricks, and guidance, be sure to reach out to the experts at BoxGenie who can help you design the perfect packaging that fits all of your needs—budgetary and otherwise. 




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Megan D., CEO at SSBD

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