If you have more time than money this Holiday Season—or just prefer to give and receive homemade gifts—here are ten of my best ideas that cost less than ten bucks.
Give all the stressed-out folks on your gift list the gift of relaxation. Make your own bath products and then assemble them in a nice basket.
1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup sea or rock salt, 20 drops fragrance oil, food coloring. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until fully combined and color is even.
1/2 cup almond oil, 1/2 cup castor oil or aloe vera, the oil from 6-8 Vitamin E capsules, 25-30 drops fragrance oil. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with wooden spoon until combined.
Mix 3 cups clear, mild dishwashing detergent; the oil from 6-8 Vitamin E capsules, 1/4 cup glycerin, 25-30 drops fragrance oil, food coloring.
Mix together Epsom salts and enough almond oil (better) or baby oil (cheaper) to resemble very wet snow. Add essential or aromatherapy oil for fragrance and soap colorant if you desire.
Place your spa products in individual bottles or small jars and decorate with ribbons, labels, and or embellishments. Add other items you can pick up at the drug store such as a washcloth, pumice stone, or loofah.
Gather up your family’s best-loved recipes and create a family cookbook, then make copies of it for family members on your list. To add illustrations to your family cookbook, scan old family photos of the person who is known for making the recipe to include on a particular page. Add a section for birthdays and addresses, too.
Need more help? There are sites such as CreateMyCookbook, that for a fee will help you create a beautifully bound cookbook.
Garden stepping stones are easy to make with a small amount of ready-mix concrete from the home improvement center. No need to buy expensive kits at craft stores, just look for a decorative mold to use. To make a round stone use an old plastic 5-gallon bucket or similar. Coat with Vaseline before pouring in the ready-mix. When it has set the stone will slip out easily. Follow the instructions on the ready-mix bag.
Pour in about 1.5 inches of cement. When the consistency is right, have your child put in his footprints and or handprints. Add the date if you wish. Decorate with various seashells, marbles, mosaic tiles, and so on.
Feeling more energetic? You’ll find a free complete expert-guided directive at Your Home Wizards.
Coffee Lover’s Basket
Have a coffee lover on your list? Here are a few ideas to include in a gift basket for any java junkie
It’s so easy! Melt chocolate chips of your choice. Dip the spoon end of a plastic spoon into the chocolate. Allow to dry then wrap the chocolate end in cellophane and tie with ribbon.
Add a box of chocolate-dipped cookies or homemade biscotti.
1/4 cup instant coffee, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup sugar
Café au Lait
1/4 cup instant coffee, 1/2 cup dry milk, 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant coffee, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice.
For the mixes above, combine ingredients then store in a tightly covered jar for up to 6 months. For each serving, place 2 teaspoons mix in a cup. Fill with boiling water.
This is a gift sure to be joyfully received by grandparents and other family members, too. Using the calendar template in your computer’s word processing program print out calendar months on 8.5 x 11 card stock.
On the blank backsides decorate with your kids’ artwork, photos, poems and clip art. Add birthdays marked on the appropriate dates and other memorable occasions, too.
Bring the finished pages to your local library to laminate (most libraries will allow you to use the laminating machine provided you bring your own materials) or quick copy store and bind them together. This is great for grandparents but can be modified for other friends and family.
Choose polar fleece in an appropriate pattern, sports team, juvenile character, jungle print, plaid, solid or another motif at a fabric or craft store when it’s on sale.
Baby blankets require about 3/4 yard; you’ll want a yard or more for adults and older children. Because fleece is quite wide (60 inches is typical) one-yard makes a nice size blanket. Check Joann and Hobby Lobby for great selections and pricing. Then make sure you have the app for either store so you’ll have a coupon to get as much as 40% off a single cut of fleece at checkout.
You can make a heavier blanket by layering two fabric panels or a lighter-weight blanket by using one layer only. Cut about 2.5-inch strips on the edges then tie them together to add fringe. Polar fleece never frays, even with washing. Free printable instructions.
Layered to look like “sand art,” cookie mixes make the perfect gift for family, friends, and teachers. Layer the dry ingredients to make brownies or cookies in a one-quart, wide-mouth canning jar. Decorate the jar with ribbon and attach instructions.
Since people usually receive so many baked goodies this time of year, a treat to make at a later date is usually appreciated. Even if your recipients may not wish to bake them, the jar makes a great display piece for the kitchen. Here’s just one of many recipes:
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 2 1/2 cups flour mixed together with 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Layer ingredients in a one-quart size Mason jar in the order given, pressing each layer very firmly in place before adding the next. Measure carefully. Everything will fit if you are diligent to pack each layer tightly, particularly the brown sugar and flour. Use the end of a wooden spoon as a packing device.
Here’s an early holiday gift. Click on the image above and my 55-page eBook, Gifts in a Jar, will open. You can either print or save it to your device.
Purchase an inexpensive picture frame from the craft store or a department store like Target or Walmart. Have your child decorate the frame with acrylic paints. Place a photo of your child inside the frame once it’s dry, and you have a great gift for a grandparent, friend, or another relative.
Have your kids get dressed in their pajamas, and cover one of their beds with stuffed animals. Set up the video camera on a tripod and record yourself reading bedtime stories to the kids and the animals. Wrap up the videotape with copies of the books you’ve read for a great gift for cousins who live far away. Not only do they get to read along with you, they get to see their cousins whenever they watch this storytime.
Old Family Photo Reproductions
Professionally duplicated venerable, heritage, family photos can be expensive. But you can do this yourself for very little and with extraordinary results.
Take the photo to your local quick print shop. No matter how this original photo appears (black and white, sepia tone) make copies of it on the self-serve color photocopying machine. You won’t believe the result. You will not be able to tell the copy from the original. And the cost? About two bucks for any size up to 8×10. It’s just the best gift, and quick, too.
Frame the photo appropriately and you will be unable to differentiate it from its original, even if it is printed on lightweight photocopy paper. Once placed into the frame with the backing board in place and glass on the front, you will not be able to detect that it is a photocopy. Be sure to give your recipient a written account of who is in the photo and other details you may know.
Question: What is your favorite homemade gift to give or receive?