If we’re to believe all the ads on TV, radio, and the Internet, the only worthwhile gifts are the expensive ones — like an iPad 2, fancy jewelry, or a Lexus in the driveway complete with a red bow on the hood. If only we could all be so lucky! But of course, many of us are not in a position to surprise our loved ones with gadgets, gold, or garage-fillers.
So what to do when you are trying to save money but still want to show your friends and family that you’re thinking of them and love them?
It’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are 10 creative, inspired, and meaningful gifts you can make that your family will LOVE. (And they might even be more talked about than the more expensive gifts)
Peppermint Bark: A delicious treat consisting of chocolate and — you guessed it — peppermint, that is also fun and easy to make. Most recipes make an 11 x 17 sheet of deliciousness that everyone at your holiday celebration will enjoy. Try out this recipe, which makes 2 pounds of the stuff. When it’s ready you can break it up, bag it in holiday colored plastic bags, and tie them with ribbons (available at any dollar store), and voila — Macy’s will be jealous of your presentation!
Decorative Platter: It might take a little searching, but you can find plain, clear, glass plates at discount department stores, or possibly on Craigslist, without having to break the bank. Hit up a fabric store and pick out a great holiday fabric,
buy some fabric glue, press it on, then snip the edges, and your friends will have a Christmas platter they can use for years to come.
Cookies: For the price of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and sprinkles you could make enough cookies for an army (though hopefully you don’t have a family the size of an army). Search online for something colorful and unique and make dozens of cookies in a minimum of three varieties that compliment each other. Present them on the homemade platter, or simply hit the dollar store again for some green or red paper plates and some red cling wrap.
Cookie Ingredients in a Jar: Another twist on the cookie idea is to buy an inexpensive glass jar and layer the ingredients to make it decorative. Include on the handmade gift card the easy step-by-step recipe, and they’ll thank you when they get it, and think of you fondly when they bake your thoughtful gift.
Bath Salts in a Jar: This is a twist on the aforementioned “Cookies in a Jar.” Instead, use Christmas colored bath salts. Sure, you could pay lots of money for bath salts at a store in the mall, but believe it or not, you can find bulk bath salts online or at various warehouse or bulk foods stores. You’ll have to call around, but if you can find some green, red, white, silver, and gold, you can layer them inside a mason jar (or an inexpensive glass mug) and pamper your loved ones.
Decorative Glass Magnets: It’s the oldest craft in the books. While you’re at your local craft or fabric store, make sure you pick out a pattern that’s got a tight, smaller holiday pattern, and buy some “clear glass beads.” Snip the fabric to the size of the beads, glue them on with fabric glue, and then glue on a tiny piece of magnet. Give 6, 8, or 10 of these in a small nylon or mesh gift bag, and you’ll have a decoration that can be used every year — and you’ll ensure they hang your card on their fridge this year.
Pencil Wrap (which can double as a Wine Glass Charm): This craft is often used to kill some time indoors on a rainy day with kids. With nothing more than a pipe cleaner (green, red, white, or a combination) wrapped around a solid colored pencil, you can pair 3 or 4 decorated pencils up with some budget conscious Christmas themed sticky notes or basic notepads. Making that list for Santa just got a whole lot easier.
Holiday-Themed Mix CD: We’re not encouraging music piracy, but this one can be a lot of fun. Turn on any radio these days and you’ll hear plenty of Christmas music. The only thing wrong is it seems like the same 12 songs get played over and over again. And hey, we like “Holly Jolly Christmas” as much as the next guy or gal, but you can do some homework and make a unique and inspired mix of your very own, and give it as a gift. If you want, use red and green Sharpie markers for the CD art, grab a plastic CD jewel case, add some ribbon, candies, or fake spray-on snow, and this gift will be music to your ears — plus you can make many copies and hand them out to co-workers or friends.
Holiday Memory Book/Collage: You and your family have spent more than a few holiday seasons together before the invention of the digital camera so chances are, somewhere in an attic there are boxes and boxes of classic pictures from holidays past that you can turn into something magical. You can create a holiday card they’ll never throw away, or arrange a few inside of an inexpensive frame, decorate it with festive holiday colors, and it might become an annual source of wonder and/or laughter that they show off every year.
Pinecone Ornament: Believe it or not, as fancy as it looks, a pinecone ornament just takes some time and patience. Other than that, it takes a pinecone, paint (or glitter paint), some ribbon, spray-on snow, spray-on pine or cinnamon scent, and some imagination. Most people hold a dear place in their hearts for the ornaments on their tree, and if you put the date and year on the ribbon, your gift will hang on many a Christmas tree over the years.
We hope you can get the creative juices flowing with these ideas — and feel free to share some of the good ideas you’ve used to help keep spending under control. You can always start thinking about next year’s holidays by saving cookie tins and gift bags! You never know if you’ll still need to gift on a budget then, so when you pack away the decorations, get a jump start on next year.
Happy Holidays, and whatever you decide to give, have fun!
Image by Sugar Daze