We started our publishing with the Coupon Clipper in 1998. We changed the name of the publication in 2000 to ThriftyFun News. This article was compiled in 2003.
These gift ideas are in response to a reader's request. As you can see we got a tremendous response. Thank you to all the helpful readers!
Request: I am looking for some ideas for homemade Christmas gifts for men. We really need to cut down on Christmas spending this year, so my plan thus far is to make everyone a fancy homemade caramel apple (like you see for $15 at Saks at Xmas) and the women will get homemade stationery that I'm hand-stamping with some pretty design. But I've got 2 dads, a step-dad and two teen-aged brother-in-laws I need something else for. I'd like to keep it at $5 to $7.
Anyone have any ideas for me out there? Thanks!
Here are the answers we received:
Food for Men
The men in my family always enjoy food! I have given them lots of homemade foods: jelly, bread, caramel corn, chocolate covered peanuts, etc., and this year plan to make different flavors of beef jerky. I've never made that, but got recipes from books in our local library that sound delicious, and easy to make too, using the oven! I'd be happy to send the recipes if you'd like.
Homemade Christmas gifts for men:
Try a box of pretzel logs dipped in melted caramel and rolled in nuts, skor bar bits, sprinkles, etc. This looks more substantial than a caramel apple and will be enjoyed a bit longer. The cost is roughly the same. Tins of cookies, fudge and homemade candy are always welcome gifts, too.
Maybe one of the men on your list would appreciate one of the following:
For the cook: a potted herb plant - you can start them from seed now and they'll be ready by Christmas.
For the golfer: hand painted golf tees. For a gag: fill a jar with beans and label "cowboy bubble bath".
I have learned from experience that not all men truly appreciate a gift that is hand made. If you want to stay in your budget, consider gift certificates to a local movie theater or print up a homemade gift certificate good for an afternoon out with you - your treat, of course. This could be a picnic lunch, day at the zoo, whatever. Hope this helps!
Gift Packages for Men
Last year I did gift packages for my Dad, Step-Dad and all four brothers consisting of a gallon size ZipLock bag of homemade caramel corn, three doz. cookies (various kinds) and a 1 pound bag of pistachios (these I bought) I wrapped these all in neat decorative cellophane bags w/pretty ribbon and put them in a gift bag. Everyone was delighted! Best yet if you have to mail the gifts they are light and don't cost you an arm and leg to send. Total cost of gift was about $7 including bags and ribbon. Hope this helps.
An idea for inexpensive Christmas gifts for men is homemade candy. You could invest about $10 in a couple of molds and different flavored chocolate at your local craft store, and make enough candy for MANY gifts! They even sell cute little gift boxes around the holiday seasons. No man in my family has ever complained about this gift yet! It is very simple to learn, and the shop where you'll buy the supplies will also carry some easy-to-follow instructional booklets.(HINT: You could get started now and freeze your candies until Christmas)
Not sure what kind of men are in your family but in my family when I was in seminary and had very little money I went and purchased some canning jars with lids and filled them up with a couple of different things. In one jar I mixed up Swiss Style Mocha, In another jar I mixed up a spiced Cocoa Mix. And in a third jar I made up my infamous recipe for pancake minus the liquid ingredients.
I listed who I gave what to so the next year I could switch present so in a three year cycle they each received something different. I have the recipes for them if anyone is interested in using this as gifts. The men did take the gifts home and with their wife's help consumed what was in the jar. I know this because after the second year I received their empty jars as a gift so I did not have to keep buying jars.
I too have to cut back on Christmas expenses this year and decided to make a few homemade gifts. I found an unpainted wooden bird feeder in a local Discount Store craft department and I'm going to paint it and decorate it (I already have the paints), then package it up with a bag of bird food and give it to my father for Christmas.
Dear Santa Reader: Last year I made beef jerky for the men in my family. It was such a big hit that they are expecting it again this year. To cut costs, I made beef jerky with lean hamburger. Extra hint: Make enough to share with anyone who lives with you because it smells great while baking!
All the men in my life just LOVE homemade beef (or turkey) jerky. A couple of big pieces of meat will make enough for the men in your family, and keep you within your budget, especially if you can shop at a Warehouse type store (like Costco). Or how about a small plastic toolbox (I have bought them for as little as $5) filled with a bag of homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies? Everyone can use another toolbox!
Debra, Santa Rosa
Sew a "Quillow". It is a special pillow with a blanket folded up inside. The blanket folds out and the pillow pocket is an ideal pocket for cold feet. Go to any crafts store for more details. I made one for my husband and he loves it!!!
THE REST OF THE GIFT IDEAS WERE SENT IN BY ALICE
I quit my job two years ago to home school my children. Money was a problem. For Christmas gift giving I am forwarding you my list from last year. Hope it helps. My two children and I did everyone's last year for under $100.00 and that was less than 1/4 what it normally cost for us. As an added bonus I got to spend time with my children and they learned a lot of measuring and heart felt gift giving. Most of these I got from several hours searching on the net, some was forwarded from other home school moms. I have listed the source if I know it.
Cup Candle Holder
Purchase clear plastic cups (8 oz.). In a small margarine tub pour white glue and dilute with water. Tear red and green tissue paper into small pieces. With a paintbrush let children paint the glue mixture onto the outside of the plastic cup then put tissue pieces on top of glue. Have them cover the entire cup. Let dry. Now a tea light candle can be placed inside and when lit shows the Christmas colors beautifully.
Melt chocolate chips and oil together over low heat (about 1 min. in microwave). Have your child dip each marshmallow into the chocolate (so about half of it is covered), then dip and roll in the sprinkles. Place on a cookie sheet to harden. Give away as gifts (if you know anyone who actually might enjoy eating something like this!) or enjoy yourselves.
Power Outage Kit
Yesterday I made a few *free* gifts for family and friends. This is what I did.
If you like, the pockets can be filled with extra batteries, candles, matches, and of course you could even place the flashlights in the loops. I made one loop smaller so I can place a 2-AA battery flashlight next to our 2-D flashlight in the holder. One pair of jeans makes 2 holders. (I like the one that ends up with the pocket containing the 'change pocket'---this is the perfect size pocket for extra matches!)
Sand Art Brownies
This is a recipe for brownies to give as a Christmas gift . . . . or whenever. Mix ingredients in a wide mouth quart size jar, just like sand art that kids make today.
Add to wide mouth quart jar in this order:
This should pack nicely into jar. Include a decorative tag with instructions for making the brownies:
Combine contents of jar with:
Pour into a greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 27-32 minutes
This mix makes a great gift for neighbors, the elderly, school teachers, etc.
Mix all ingredients together well. Put in a sealed container until ready to assemble the gift.
To make individual gift packets: you can put into a small plastic bag, then insert into a small muslin bag, tie with a pretty piece of Christmas fabric. With each gift make sure you add a note that states: One tablespoon + one teaspoon per cup of hot water. I also look for pretty cups and saucers, at garage sales, flea markets, etc. and then you can package with the ingredients.
Hot Chocolate Mix
This mix makes a great gift for neighbors, the elderly, school teachers, etc.
Mix ingredients well and store in air tight container until you're ready to make the individual gift packages.
With each gift add a tag that says: 3 tablespoons per cup of hot water.
This is wonderful hot chocolate, we get raves from it every year from grandchildren. They seem to think this is the Best!
Gourmet Vanilla Sugar
For those who like a little gourmet, but can't afford it, place a dry clean vanilla bean in a mason jar. Cover with sugar. In a few weeks, the sugar will be flavored vanilla.
Note* the bean can be used for years be sure the receiver of this gift understands all they need to do is refill the sugar and shake occasionally for a few weeks.
Home school Mom in Florida
Magic Christmas Dust
In each baggy put a couple of tablespoons of oatmeal and a couple of pinches of glitter. Seal up the baggy. (I admit, the expensive Ziploc baggies, in that smallest size, work beautifully, but you could use other sandwich bags if you tie TIGHTLY with a ribbon.)
On small slips of paper, print (type or handwritten) the following message
"On Christmas Eve sprinkle magical dust on your lawn.
The glitter will sparkle in the moonlight and help Santa find your house.
The smell of the oats will guide the Reindeer!"
Either tape the message to the baggy or attach with a ribbon. You could actually put the paper inside the baggy if there's not too much oatmeal in the way to read it! You can make several at a time just line up your baggies and go down the row with your ingredients. This is a great item to put inside of a Christmas card-makes it a little bit more special and memorable.
As a gag gift, add miniature marshmallows to small snack-size ziploc bags and attach this note:
"You've been naughty and here's the scoop,
all you get for Christmas is snowman poop!"
I won't take credit for the poem, but I don't know who originated it. I used Christmas stationery (bought half-price after Christmas at WalMart) to print my poem on, inserting in plain white envelopes. Decorate the envelopes with felt-tip pens, or use rubber stamps or stickers. I also later found a glass snowman candy dish at a pottery place really cheep and done one up for a gag gift for our Christmas Cantata party.
Homemade Bath Salts
I picked this up during my semester of student teaching. The teacher I was with helped her class make bath salts for their mothers/grandmothers for Christmas. She gave each student a baggy, about 2 cups of Epsom salt, a drop or two of potpourri oil, and a drop of food coloring. The student squished and mixed up the contents of the bag for a minute or two, then she tied the baggies off with a scrap of pretty ribbon and presto! A pretty gift of bath salts! My own children are making them this year at home for their grandmothers and teachers, and we found beautifully colored, unusually shaped glass containers with corks for under a dollar each. And they're so proud of their work!
A Priceless Gift
The best inexpensive Christmas gift I ever received was from my son when he was in Kindergarten. The class took empty boxes (hair color, toothpaste, whatever) and wrapped them in wrapping paper and tied them with a ribbon. Attached to the box was this note
"I took an ordinary box
As empty as can be
I filled it with a special gift
And wrapped it carefully
But please don't ever open it
Just leave the ribbon tied
And hold it tightly near your heart
Because my love for you's inside!"
You could also change the ribbon line to read "just leave the bow applied" if you use bows instead of ribbon. This of course is easier than the ribbon for little ones. I loved this gift and will keep it FOREVER.)
Make A People Feeder
Use a small new chick feeder (from grain store about $2.00) add a mason jar to the top and fill with small candy's such as runts, M & M's, etc. decorate with ribbon or let the children paint the jar.
Another idea is to take melted wax and a short wick and fill sea shells with the wax and let dry. A variety of shells big or small makes cute little bath lights. I use them all around the bathroom when I take a bath to create a soothing lighting scheme and a decorative touch.
Get some good quality plastic spoons to start with-no flimsy cheap stuff! Try using gold or silver ones, clear is OK too. Also find some good quality chocolate and different tracts/liquors to make the spoons different flavors/colors. There is no end to the flavors you can come up with! Melt chocolate till it is liquid, watch out that it doesn't scorch . . . you can do this in the microwave. Add extract or liquor of choice (almond extract, Frangelica, peppermint, anise,Kailua etc.). Then just dip the spoon into the chocolate . . . and lay the spoons with their handles over the edge of a wax paper lined cookie sheet till set. You can drizzle white chocolate in a design over dark or milk chocolate . . . or dip 1/2 of spoon in dark and 1/2 in while best flavors mocha, mint, plain, raspberry. Don't just dip lightly you want a nice puddle in the spoon part and part way up the handle.
I wrap these in clear plastic bags tied with raffia and a tag stating the flavor. These are marvelous with coffee or cocoa and make enough so each family member gets 2 spoons each. They will clamor for more!!! Other things you can dip into chocolate and put in gift baskets:
CANDIED TEA STIRRERS
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Spray with cooking spray. In a small heavy saucepan combine crushed candies and corn syrup and melt over low eat stirring frequently.
Spoon candy into bowl of each spoon. Place spoons on prepared cookie sheet with handles on rims and spoons level. Allow to harden. Store in air tight container.
Coffee and Tea Mix Recipes
The first batch of recipes are from the message board at Crafts Niche on AOL. These mixing and serving directions only apply until you get to the dotted divider line.
To prepare the following coffee recipes: mix in food processor or blender until you have a fine powder.
For all the coffee recipes except the cafe' au lait, use 1 to 2 spoonfuls to one mug of hot water (to desired taste)
(you might have to turn the mint leaves into powder - not sure about this)
CAFE' ORANGE CAPPUCCINO
CAFE' VIENNA MIX
CAFE' AU LAIT
NIGHT CAP COFFEE
CHOCOLATE MALT COFFEE CREAMER
RASPBERRY COCOA MIX (Cherry would be good too)
FORGET-ME-NOT TEA (hot or cold)
To serve, stir 2 heaping tablespoons tea mix into 8 oz. hot or cold water.
TEAS-from AOL craft niche message boards
Mix all ingredients together and store in air tight container. To use, place 1-2 rounded teaspoons of dry mix to 1 mug of hot water. (can use a shot of whiskey or spirits for hot toddy.)
RUSSIAN TEA - UTAH STYLE
Mix together and store in cupboard in an airtight container. When ready to use, add 3 TBS. mix to 1 cup hot water. --
Making Traditional Pomanders for Christmas
Pomanders have been used since the Middle Ages. The pomanders that we make today are rooted in Colonial and Victorian times. During those times, pomanders were not only decorative but also useful to cover up bad odors.
They will serve that same useful purpose today, keeping a closet or little used room fragrant with spices and citrus. Apples were frequently used as the pomander base during the Colonial period because oranges were too expensive. Pomanders today are usually made from oranges. You could choose to make your pomanders from:
The smaller pomanders can be hung on the Christmas tree or tied onto packages
When the pomanders are dry, tie a bright ribbon around them and heap in bowl. You can also run a ribbon through the pomanders and use the ribbon to hang them on the Christmas tree.
Empty half gallon cardboard milk/juice carton - rinsed and dry, 10 in. white candle, ice cubes, crayons, candle scent-optional, 2 lbs.. wax ( I use Gulfwax which can purchased at the food store. It comes in 1 lb. pkgs. and each pkg. contains 4 slabs of wax.
If you buy Gulfwax you will need 7 slabs of wax. Prior to melting the wax you can prepare the mold. Place candle in the middle of the carton and fill with ice cubes. Make sure candle is centered while filling carton. Place carton in freezer until ready to use. Melt wax in coffee can placed in a pan with several inches of water over low to medium heat. Add bits of crayon/candle coloring and candle scent as desired.
Stir wax while melting-I use a piece of wooden dowel. Do not leave melting wax unattended on stove. When the wax has melted, remove the mold from the freezer and slowly pour the melted wax into the mold. Make sure the coffee can is not too hot to handle prior to pouring the wax.
Fill to the top of the mold and let sit for at least 15 minutes. The ice cubes will start to melt and you can drain water out of the candle by holding over the sink.
Let candle sit for another 15 minutes and drain again. Repeat several more times, then carefully peel away the carton from the candle. Let the candle sit for several more hours in order to ensure all of the water has drained out.
You can dust the outside with glitter or attach sequins for decorations. For a nice display, place the candle on a plate covered with tin foil, put some greens around the base, light and enjoy!!!
With just a little popcorn and a handful of other ingredients which are on hand, you can fill baggies or inexpensive containers with a great-tasting treat. The following two recipes are both great gifts. Please enjoy them as my gift to you from Real Food for Real People!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine popcorn and nuts in large heatproof bowl; set aside. Combine butter, honey and vanilla in small saucepan.
Cook over medium heat until butter melts. Pour honey mixture over popcorn mixture.
Stir until combined. Divide mixture and place on 2 baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until light golden brown.
Chocolate Modeling Clay
Combine melted chocolate and light corn syrup. American pastry chefs invented the recipe and have been using this delicious edible clay to make garnishes and unique decorations.
Here is their secret!
Ingredients and Preparation:
Note: the chocolate can be substituted with almond bark, or colored candy disks to create different colored flowers. Melt the chocolate in a microwave for 1 minute.
Stir. If chocolate is not completely melted, return to the microwave for 30 seconds at a time and stir until smooth. If you don't have a microwave, place the chocolate in the top of a double broiler over hot water and stir until melted.
When the chocolate is melted, add the corn syrup and blend Pour the mixture onto a waxed paper sheet.
Spread the chocolate with your fingers until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Cover loosely with waxed paper and let it stiffen for at least a couple hours or overnight. The chocolate will become very pliable.
Making a Chocolate Rose:
Have the kids roll 10 marble-sized balls out of the chocolate clay. Place the balls on a waxed paper sheet, about 1 inch apart.
Place another waxed paper sheet on top. Big or little thumbs can press each marble into a flat disk (about the size of a quarter). Use some pressure. To form the rose: Remove 1 disk and curl it into a 'teepee' shape, narrow at the top and wider at the bottom.
Wrap the next disk around the opening of the teepee and the third disk at the back of the teepee. This is the rose bud. Continue adding disks which will look like petals. Continue to layer them to create a rose in bloom.
Roses can be used as edible decorations for a cake or to create a basketful of blooms. They will harden after a few days and can be saved by storing in a cool, dry place.
Since this recipe is the consistency of modeling clay, you can mold any shape you want.
Important note: Adult supervision and participation is required for this activity.
I hope these help. I have added notes where I thought it was important. Always test the "creation" to make sure you have it right. I tried the hot chocolate mix and spice tea mix and added more than what it called for so that is how I typed my labels. Be creative with the containers and add ribbons and bows. Some from things recycled around your house. This year the kids and I made homemade jams and jellies.
God Bless, Alice
I too have a 14 yr old brother who plays sports. This year I got a create-a-mug kit which you paint and decorate your own mug however you want it. I am using his school colors and putting a football, baseball, etc. on it along with his favorite sport number. You can find the kit at Walmart or Target on-line. Then I'm making homemade hot cocoa, wrapping it in a decorative bag and placing it in the mug. You could even make a little basket of things for him: a bag of popcorn, mug w/cocoa, a gift card to Blockbuster. This is still affordable and makes it personal.
I came up with a great idea last Christmas for all the hunters in our family. I used camo cotton material cut into 8X12 and sewed it together on three sides.
I folded the top down and sewed it down but left an opening large enough to run a draw string through.I used jute for the tie string. I went to the dollar store and looked for items that were several in a package to put into each bag.
Here are the items I found to use in the bags:
matches,toilet paper, tooth brush, potted meat, crackers, comb, soap, washrag, band aids, alcohol swabs, cotton balls, and a fork. Each one of these items were purchased some at 10 @$1.00 It was very inexpensive per bag.
I painted each guys name on their bag. They were so excited. Neednell to say the bags were a huge hit.
By Lisa S
I have a great idea for a special Father's Day gift. My toddler son and I made these last year and they were a hit. Get candy bars at the store (the kind with the foil wrapping and paper label). We used am-azing and sugar free nestle crunch bars. Peel the label, trace on construction paper, cut out, and make your own custom labels. Then, place in a basket with a tag that says "Daddy" or "Paw Paw" You could also use this idea for other holidays and different people. Hope it works for you! (02/15/2006)
Sandy, you said your 14 yr old brother loves sports and likes to listen to rap music. I have an idea that we have used for the holidays AND birthdays for our young music listeners. Early in the year, you ask what songs they really like or the name of the group. I had to actually carry a hidden recorder with me so I could then go back and write it all down. Kids love to talk about their music!
Anyway, we pay a small fee every year and download the songs from the internet and burn a 'customized cd' on our computer. You can buy CD label kits from your local Office supply store and print out a custom label that wishes them a Happy Holiday or Happy Birthday. This way it can be updated whenever the music trend stops! You can even take it one step further and buy them an inexpensive CD holder that will allow them to keep a collection of their tunes and personalize the holder with paint or a label maker.
Well, there are tons of things you could do.
I don't really have many ideas, but you could do a few things:
every town or city has a district of shops that aren't major stores, where a lot of people make crafts, and sell them. Go look around in stores like that, and maybe you can get some great ideas!
Also, change of subject: are you planning to give stationery to little girls too? or if you have a female relative who is a tomboy, you could make cute ornaments for them. One year, I made a couple of friends ornaments that looked like little sleds out of popsicle sticks! Then I just painted them, or you can also color them with markers! (11/27/2006)
Lots of kinds of cookies. Fudge. A vest out of old ties(try the thrift shop). (12/04/2006)
By the Oracle
I plan on using several of these ideas this year for Christmas
THANK YOU! I've never heard of Ice Candles, and now everyone is getting them! YAY! (11/03/2007)
Add chocolate chips to your cocoa mix to give it an even richer chocolate flavor. You can glue buttons(any size and or color ) to your bird feeder for a different look. (11/03/2007)
Hey guys you have a lot of great ideas thanks a lot.
Yes Men love food so just make homemade treats, or maybe something you've made in past that they've loved. Try first looking for their favorite treat and make something around it.
For a friend of mine (a girl, It might work with guys)
I took all her favorite things, and stuff she liked to do (ex: dancing, cooking, singing, etc.) and I went on the internet and browsed pictures of those things and printed them off, and made a collage on a box and it was a hit. Just an idea!
For a quick and easy Christmas neighbor gift. On Dec. 1st you can give them a roll of wrapping paper with a cute note tied with nice ribbon. The cost is only a few dollars, and they love it. (11/12/2007)
By Claudy E.
This year is a tight year just like everyone else. I am making "I spy" bags for everyone.What ever their favorite hobby is, is the type of bag they will get. It costs me about $5-$10 dollars a bag depending on what you put in them. I put 40 items in the bag filled with 3 1/2 cups of poly pellets.
My bags are 6X6 fleece fabric. cut and sew a 4 inch plastic fabric window in one side. Sew both pieces of fabric together, leaving a small opening in one corner to put all your things in and the pellets. Sew the corner shut. Make a list of items that are in the bag, laminate the list. Put an eyelet in one corner of the bag tie the list to the bag with a ribbon and your done! Very easy and cute. Everyone will enjoy them. I am even making them for my children's teachers. (11/15/2007)
I have 5 siblings and no money to spare. A couple years ago, I decorated quart jars and made "MEMORY JARS". I thought of 52 different things that have happened through the years and made little notes", like remember when Suzy give Jim his first hair cut" or just little things everyone always remember and talk about at family gatherings. Copy them off for each jar. Put 52 little notes in each one. They can open 1 a week all year. My little niece loved it cause her dad had to tell her the story about each one he opened. It was huge hit!
I am terrible at crafts etc. but for the men this year I bought-plastic popcorn boxes for a buck at target.Then I grabbed a bunch of three dollar dvds at walmart. I am going to add a package of microwave popcorn and a couple of sodas and wrap them up in some seasonal cellophane-total cost about 5 dollars-for a movie night. (12/07/2007)
These were wonderful ideas, I have a daycare and we are always looking for different ideas. The homemade food for dads are always a hit and the dipped spoons and homemade cocoa for mom's are perfect. Some other things I have done for the spoons is crush some peppermints and drop them on the spoon when the chocolate is warm. We also buy clear ornament balls and coat them with a liquid glue inside, then add sparkley paint or glitter and their other favorite colors of paint. They make really pretty ornaments. (12/13/2007)
By Lois E.
We do a white elephant gift exchange for the adults at our family xmas party. I'm doing the snowman poop in a jar as one of the gag gift in my white elephant package!! I luv this idea, I had never heard of it before. Thanks for all the ideas:) Merry Christmas everyone! (12/23/2007)
Why not combine the idea of the Memory Jar and the nestle candy bars? That way each time they open the candy bar, a "sweet memory" is revealed as well. (10/16/2008)
By Amanda F
Here's an easy personal gift idea. Buy a box of shiny colored christmas balls, a can of glass frosting spray paint, and some lettering stickers, I used the ones from my Scrapbooking stuff. Use the stickers to spell out the persons name, make sure they are well pressed on (I also put the year underneath their name), spray the ball with the frosting spray. 2 lighter coats worked best, then when they are completely dry, carefully remove the stickers, I used a craft knife so that I made sure that I didn't scratch the frosting, tie a pretty ribbon for the hanger, or use standard ornament hangers.
I tried to do a different color for each family member, and then grouped them in a giftbox or tin to give to friends as a set. I was able to do up 30 balls for less than $10 in supplies(had lots of spray left too), and it was really appreciated by our friends that have names that you don't normally find on storebought items! (11/13/2008)
If you are any good with computers, here is an idea I did last year. Take some photos you already have on your computer and make a collage. I have also made, for the guys, sports "collection" pictures. Using Adobe photoshop I took different logos and pictures from their favorite sports team and put them together into one 8x10 picture. Then you have to buy a frame, on sale, print and you're done. Not expensive at all, but a little time consuming. Total cost depends on the frame you buy, and the guys love it. here's an example. (11/19/2008)
Add your voice! Click below to comment. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!