Editor’s Note: Tanya from Eat Laugh Purr is sharing some easy and affordable homemade gifts for the holidays with us. If you’d like to guest post at The Heavy Purse, please review my Guest Posting Policy and contact me.
Christmas is my favorite holiday. While I don’t love the big crowds at the mall, I love hunting for the perfect gift for my loved ones, then carefully wrapping each present with glossy wrapping paper and big bows. I’ll even admit to dancing to Christmas music while I bake all sorts of yummy holiday treats. And while it may seem odd to talk about the holidays when it’s a beautiful 80 degrees in sunny Los Angeles, it takes a lot of time, money and effort to create a magical Christmas. Or does it?
It definitely takes a bit of time and effort, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make Christmas special, even though retailers and advertisers work hard to convince us otherwise. For years, I bought into the hype. While I didn’t create debt buying gifts, I also spent mindlessly or bought gifts designed to remind the recipient how totally awesome I was for buying them such an obviously amazing gift.
I never said I was perfect.
The truth is most of us have done or bought things to impress others at some point in our lives. And while I’m not proud of my old gift-giving mindset, I’m also grateful that I have outgrown it and now follow the golden rule of gift-giving.
The Golden Rule of Gift-Giving
The gifts that I value the most are the ones the demonstrate how well the giver knows me and has nothing to do with the actual price tag. When it comes to buying or making your gifts this year (and year-round), always follow the golden rule of gift-giving: It’s not how much money you spend, but how much love and thought went into your gift that makes it valuable. Do this and every gift you give will be received with joy.
7 Low Cost and Inventive DIY Holiday Gifts
There was a time when homemade gifts were seen as a bit tacky. But thanks to the popularity of Etsy and Pinterest, well-made and thoughtful DIY presents are now highly covetable. They can, however, be time-consuming to make, which is why you need to start planning now.
1. Calendar with Personal Photos
I know. I know. You’re thinking who uses an old-fashioned calendar these days? And you’re right. It is old-fashioned, but there is a generation that still uses them: grandparents. While certainly there are some techno-savvy grandparents who have ditched them, many have not. This is a great gift for them, especially if they don’t live nearby. They would be thrilled to receive a calendar full of pictures of their grandkids.
I found a template using Word for those who want to keep it ultra simple and cheap. I would recommend that you use paper meant to print photos for higher-quality pages. Also, it will use a fair amount of ink, and may require a new ink cartridge, so keep that in mind when budgeting. Shutterfly, Vistaprint and Walgreens are other options if you want to have them professionally done. Shutterfly and Vistaprint regularly offer coupons or have sales, which can help lower the cost too.
2. Homemade Vanilla
I use a lot of vanilla for my food blog and the good stuff is like liquid gold. But it’s easy to make a DIY version for you and the bakers in your life. Get ready for a super hard recipe: vodka and vanilla beans. Yup, that’s all you need. For directions, go here. Please note: it takes at least two months to flavor the vodka, so start now if you plan to gift homemade vanilla this year. Make it extra special by including a favorite recipe using vanilla.
3. Homemade Spice Blends
This is a great gift for the man (or woman) in your life who loves to grill. You could, of course, buy them a nice set of spices, but it’s more fun to make a mixture yourself with recognizable ingredients. Here’s a Cowboy Spice Mix for steak, Chicken Spice Rub and an all-purpose BBQ Rub that looks amazing. You can find a ton of homemade spice rubs, mixes and blends on Pinterest to suit your needs.
4. Crotchet or Knit Scarves
My Mom crotchets and sews beautifully, but unfortunately it is a skill set that I lack. Having been the recipient of a gorgeous crotched scarf, I can tell you that if you have the skills to do this, your friends and family will thank you profusely Christmas morning.
5. Homemade Bath Salts
Do you have someone on your list that would relish a long, luxurious soak in their bathtub? Then a bottle of homemade bath salts is the perfect gift for them. It couldn’t be easier as it’s just a combination of epsom salt, baking soda, kosher salt, essential oil and food coloring (optional). The Idea Room has the recipe and some other great scrub/salt recipes at the bottom of the post too.
6. Baked Goods and Candy
Homemade treats taste so much better than store-bought treats, so unless you’re making fruitcake, these are very well-received gifts, especially if you make their favorite treat. This can be time-consuming, so it’s best to plan ahead and pick items you can make in advance and freeze or have a longer shelf-life. Otherwise, it can be a bit of a nightmare and suddenly make the crowded mall seem appealing. I find cookies, breads and fudge freeze well. Homemade jams and jellies make great gifts too.
Savings Tip: If you need to ship your baked goods, think about what items transport well with minimal packing. Cookies are delicate and break easily, so they require more packing to protect them, which increases the weight and cost. Caramels, fudge, nuts and popcorn transport well, although fudge is oddly enough a bit heavy.
7. Homemade Beef Jerky
This may seem like an unusual option, but that’s what makes it fun! Plus, you again have control over the ingredients and don’t need a PhD to understand what’s in your food. Against All Grain’s recipe earned raves and can either be made with a dehydrator or in the oven.
I’m Making My List and Checking It Twice
One of the best things about making homemade gifts is that you can truly tailor them to fit the recipient, which isn’t always possible with store-bought gifts. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to round-out these gifts with some special add-ons if your budget permits. Giving bath salts, then pair it with a complementary-scented candle. Add a nice set of grilling tools alongside your homemade spice blend or a cookie sheet with your bottle of DIY vanilla. These gifts may take a little bit of time and effort to make, but that’s what also makes them special.
What’s the best homemade gift you’ve received? What’s the worst? Are you planning to DIY any presents this year?