A Zero-Budget Christmas
Part 6: Homemade gifts-help for the DIY challenged
We’re continuing our Zero-Budget Christmas series with an entire post on one of the best ways to give thoughtfully with little money: creating homemade gifts.
Those of you who are crafty or creative love homemade gifts. You’re probably knee-deep in fabric scraps and Mason jars right now.
But if Christmas came around before your glue gun was warmed up, you might not be feeling the DIY vibe this year. Or perhaps you are not a crafty type of person. For those of you who can’t find your way out of a Hobby Lobby, making homemade gifts can be overwhelming.
This post is for you. Even if Pinterest gives you heart palpitations and you have very few days left to create any sort of Christmas magic, you can have a stash of homemade gifts ready in no time. Here’s how:
- You do not have to be crafty or creative in order to make some great gifts. I did an entire series on this blog called Simply Homemade, which I created for people who don’t think they can make homemade gifts. These are simple, inexpensive, and very fast projects, yet they are gifts anyone can make and everyone would love to receive. Head there for instant inspiration!
- Host a homemade gift exchange. Maybe you only know how to make one thing. You can knit a scarf or tie a fleece blanket, and everyone on your list has already gotten a million of those things from you. Here’s your solution: a DIY gift swap.
Everyone who attends makes multiples of one gift—their DIY specialty—to give to every other attendee. In exchange, they get a homemade gift from every other attendee. If six friends attend, that means each person leaves with six unique gifts to give—but each person only had to make one. Genius.
- Make a craft kit. This is perfect if you’re short on time. Craft kits are hot items to buy, but the contents usually leave much to be desired. You can DIY a better kit on a lower budget. Choose a project, pre-measure or gather the supplies (you can use craft store coupons to save a bundle), and print the instructions. Package everything in a cute box and you’re done! This is perfect for the person who loves to craft but ran out of time to physically make the gifts.
You can even get your friends together to assemble craft kits assembly-line style to save even more time and money. Parse out the supply list so everyone brings something, and everyone goes home with something! As a bonus, you’ll get to spend time with friends during the hectic holiday season.
- Give the gift of gourmet. Freezer meals. Homemade monkey bread. Peanut brittle. These are all food gifts that rock. Who wouldn’t want to get a homemade lasagna to stick in the freezer for a crazy Christmas night?! Food gifts are awesome because, as far as I know, we all need to eat. And we all like it.
But, if your culinary skills are lacking, you can hack this idea by creating food mixes. Similarly to the idea above, simply assemble the ingredients, print some directions, and package everything up in Mason jars.
One year, I made mocha mix and homemade marshmallows to give. Another year, it was dry soup mixes. Search Pinterest and you’ll find a million cookie-in-a-jar mixes. The best part is, you don’t have to bake a thing.
Don’t forget to use coupons and online apps such as Ibotta to save on the ingredients or earn money back on the stuff you’ll buy anyway (roll those savings into some Christmas capital for next year). Walmart has a fantastic curbside delivery service in many areas, and if you haven’t used them before, you can save $10 on your first order. And it is. the. bomb.
- Stick with tradition. If creativity is not your jam, pick one thing you can make, and make it every year.
My mother-in-law makes the most amazing cinnamon rolls. It’s something we look forward to every year. If she ever stops doing it, there will be a revolt. A pan of her cinnamon rolls is a fantastic gift, and exactly what we all hope she’ll make.
Growing up, one of my aunts made hard candy every year and gave it away in jars. I don’t remember most of the gifts I got as a child, except for the really special ones, but I remember jars of Aunt Carolyn’s “Rock Candy,” as we called it.
Make a tradition of the one thing you do well and your people will look forward to it all year long.
- Assemble gift baskets. Alright. So, you can’t craft and you can’t bake. Don’t worry–gift baskets are where you can shine. Pick a theme, like Movie Night, Cookies and Cocoa, Spa Day, Dig in the Dirt (gardening stuff), Snow Day—the sky’s the limit—and gather items that fit the theme. Scope out your local thrift store for inexpensive baskets, or use things like dollar store laundry baskets, storage bins, or even wrapped shoe boxes to create a container for your goodies.
Then fill it up! A movie night theme basket could include things like DVDs (shop your own collection or get some great finds secondhand), microwave popcorn, box candy, glass bottles of soda, and straws. A spa basket could include candles, a classical music CD, lotions, a loofah sponge, and a good book.
The best part about gift baskets is you can shop all year using coupons to put together very inexpensive themed gifts. You can even use these as family gifts (try a Game Night theme) so you can knock out that Christmas list even faster.
The bottom line is, anyone can make homemade gifts. Just have fun with it. Even if your projects don’t turn out quite the way you had hoped, your thoughtfulness and love for the recipient will shine through.
And isn’t that what Christmas giving is all about?
To begin reading A Zero-Budget Christmas from the beginning, start here.
**During this series, affiliate links may be included for your convenience.
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