I am a very tight budget for Christmas and birthday gifts. I find making something homemade is the best anyway because you put time and effort into it. I am looking for some frugal gift ideas that I could make for loved ones like family and my fiance. Thanks.
By Krystal from Kenora, Ontario
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A lot depends on your abilities. I have found that because I don't have a lot of storage space in my apartment it is better for me to spend more on the craft kits where you only get enough supplies to make one item, because when I make a craft item I only want to make one of each item. Depending on how much you want to spend, one thing that is easy and costs about $20.00 in US cash is polar fleece throws. I am making one for my oldest grandaughter for Christmas. I buy 1-1/2 yards of two different kinds of fleece fabric and lay them on top of each other, then I cut 3 or 4 inch squares out of each corner then I cut fringes all the way around that are the same length as the squares and about the width of a finger, then you tie the layers together using the fringes.
If you google directions for making fleece blankets you should be able to find better directions. Being my grandaughter is into the piece signs one layer of the throw that I am making for her has piece signs all over it and the back side is plain turquoise colored. I make these for baby blankets when my nieces and nephews have babies, and I make the baby ones the same size as the adult throws because that way the babies can still use the blankets when they are considerably older. These are really warm and make a nice gift. Some people make these out of just a single layer of fleece and cut the fringes, leaving them untied. For an adult or teenager if a person uses a single layer you could slip a pony bead on each fringe and tie a know under it to keep it from sliding off. Something else that I used to do and it has been so long ago that I can't remember how I did it but I took a bandana and I always found the ones that were prettier colors than the basic ones that you see all over. I cut fringes around two sides of it and put 2-3 pony beads on it and then tied a know in the fringe to keep the beads on it. This was then tied around the neck with the know in back and a triangle shape in front. This looked nice with a plain tee-shirt and jeans. The simplicity pattern company used to have a cute pattern in their books and I don't know what the toy was called but it was really "funky" looking and made out of scraps of polar fleece.
You could pick up inexpensive tee-shirts and a few bottles of fabric/craft paint and paint geometric or abstract designs on the front. If you do this you want to slip something in between the front and back of the shirt so that the paint doesn't get on the back side of the shirt. When I do this I usually use two colors of paint and one either gold or silver tone. Also when I do this and want to get done fast, I end up painting squares, lines, dots, etc. with a lot of them over lapping. Some times I will make a glob of the gold or silver paint and stick a flat backed fake gem stone in it. I have done more detailed designs too, for example one year I had a blue denim winter coat and decided it was too plain so I free hand painted peach flowers in a triangle shape on the back starting at the shoulders then when the back is completely dried I turned it around and did the same on the front. I used 2-3 shades of peach and the same of green for leaves and stems curving in between the flowers. If you give people painted shirts or something be sure and tell them that when the launder the item to be sure and turn it inside out.
The first Christmas after we moved into our house (we moved over Thanksgiving weekend), and the first Christmas after our daughter was born (the night before Thanksgiving, although several years later), we had to be creative and not spend too much money.
Honestly, true friends and loved ones won't judge you. They tend to appreciate the thought and effort that goes into homemade items. Let me see if I can remember some of the things I've done.
I've made goody bags and containers of baked goods. I'd bake several different kinds of cookies. Homemade peanut brittle (there is a wonderful microwave recipe that simplifies everything, just make it in a Pyrex 4-cup measure!). A doctored up Chex snack mix, or something similar. Meringues, or maybe candies. Have you ever used CandiQuik? You find it in the section with chocolate chips. You can dip pretzel rods (or regular pretzels) into either the chocolate or vanilla CandiQuik, and then to make it prettier, add some holiday sprinkles. Last year I dipped peanut butter Ritz Bitz sandwiches into the chocolate CandiQuik and took it to school to share with other volunteers and teachers -- it was easy and very well received! Anyway, I'd get a nice mix of goodies, put the cookies in a tin, and other things would go into Ziplock bags. The Ziplock bags would then go into a paper sack. You can embellish the paper bag to make it look more special. One easy way is to fold the top of the bag down a few times, punch two holes, then thread and tie pretty ribbon through the holes. I've seen a twig threaded through the holes, too, but ribbon is more my thing.
One year I made all sorts of body care items. I got a few different kinds of melt and pour soap bases, along with a few scents and additives. Made some scrubby soaps in one scent for the men, a creamier soap in a different soap for the women. I made some bath fizzies (also called bath bombs), sugar scrubs, and lip balms. I had to order the containers and citric acid (for the fizzies) online, but most of the supplies for the other things can be found locally.
One year, I found this little idea online. You get a whisk (like for beating eggs), and some chocolate kisses wrapped in Christmas colors. Put some of the kisses into the whisk by spreading the wires just a bit. Then wrap in plastic wrap & some ribbon. Attach a note that says, "We Whisk You a Merry Kissmas!" We found whisks with green and red handles in the dollar section of Target that year. It's kind of hokey, but my daughter was maybe two or three years old, and enjoyed passing them out to everyone. It was her gift to everyone. :-)
In more recent years, I make jewelry for the women on my list. I use sterling silver and gold-fill (I do this as a business, too), which can get pricey. But nice pieces can be made with base metal, too. If you go with base metal (which will be so much more affordable), the one place to consider going with sterling silver or gold-fill (not plated) is with ear wires. Or make an effort to find ear wires labeled "hypoallergenic." It's still not fool-proof, but do what you can to make sure the recipient won't have a reaction to regular base metal ear wires.
I recently got some more equipment, so I'm going to try to make some soldered jewelry (soldered with a torch). Sometimes I wonder if the women get tired of jewelry year after year, but everyone seems thrilled.
I find it harder to find something to make for men. Now that I'm soldering, maybe I can make each one a sterling silver ring. But that would require figuring out their ring sizes without being too obvious, and none of them live near me. While wandering through Hobby Lobby a little while back, I notice they had some things for leather working. I think they had either kits, or the individual items needed to make leather belts. And these are solid leather, not the like the ones in the store with a super thin layer of leather that wears down in no time. I've ordered my dad a handmade leather belt, and he was very pleased with it. Might be something to consider!
Look at your own creative skills, and go from there. One year my mom made everyone handmade quilts. She started pretty early that year! Dad has made wooden items. Just about everyone can make something! If you don't find inspiration here, go through a local craft store/department. Or think about the recipients. Maybe someone loves something but can no longer do it themselves, or don't know how (like an older relative who likes gardening, you could plant something for them; or make a compilation CD of their favorite oldie music). Best of luck -- have fun making your gifts!
My daughter had a wonderful idea last year she was strapped for cash. We all drew names and passed down something meaningful to each other. Copies of pictures framed of Gramma, Cds,books we loved, an old blanket that had been in the family. I gave a bar of silver to my coin collector son in law that had lain in my jewelry box for years. You had to put thought into the gift which was the most meaningful thing we could do. We loved it. Gag gifts were also given. The old blanket was one I had given up to a sister on a camping trip and my husband always missed it.
Home made jelly buy the pectin follow the direction for jelly, but instead of fresh juice buy the frozen canned mix and use the amount called for. So for about $20.00 you can get about 24 jars. Everyone like jelly. Cover the lids with some fabric.
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