Budget-Friendly, DIY Gifts

I don’t know about you, but I spend approximately one week singing along to Frank Sinatra’s holiday classics before the stress of the season sinks in. One minute, I’m strolling merrily down the festive aisles of Target soaking up the magic of the season, and the next I’m creating a mental to-d0 list that threatens to exceed my brain storage capacity.

I start to think about teacher gifts, holiday cards, and gift cards for family members who have everything (knowing that I’ll later feel compelled to get them a “little something” so the gift card doesn’t seem impersonal). I put holiday programs on the calendar, ask my husband to unravel the knot of exterior lights, and get Facebook reminders that ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas movie marathon is about to begin.  Magical, yes, but I come dangerously close every year to putting myself in a time-out so I can eat the entire tray of fudge, drink wine, and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation alone.

Let’s get back to what it’s really all about. This is a time of year when we open our hearts and express our love and appreciation for the blessings and people in our lives.  No need to break the bank to buy gifts that are destined to sit on a shelf somewhere.  Here are a few DIY gift ideas from the heart that will warm yours, and theirs, this holiday season.

Memory JarMemory Jar
Life is made of memories, which is why family gatherings involve reminiscing around dinner tables and laughing at stories that had been long forgotten. Years ago, I gave my mom the gift of memories for Christmas. I thought of dozens of stories – laughable moments from childhood to adulthood – and wrote them down in a few sentences on slips of paper. As stories would come to me I’d jot them down and, by the time Christmas rolled around, I had filled a jar with memories that was guaranteed to start her days with a smile.

SaltScrubSalt Scrub
Sure, we’d all love a spa day, but organizing a group of girlfriends to get facials is neither easy nor practical sometimes. With just a few ingredients, I was able to gift my girlfriends with a spa-in-a-jar with this simple recipe and decorative glass jars from the local craft store:

½ cup oil (sweet almond, grapeseed, or massage oil)
1 cup sea salt
5-15 drops essential oil (lavender, lemongrass, etc.)

And, because these ingredients go a long way, you’ll be able to make personal gifts for all of your friends without stepping foot in the mall (and keeping your holiday budget intact).

FrameMessage Frames
If you have extra fabric and an old frame lying around, you have all you need for a cute DIY makeover that will be a welcome addition to anyone’s home or office organizational system.  Spray paint the old frame (or pick up one with an interesting shape at a thrift or craft store) and go for bold with a color that matches your recipient’s style and personality.  Line the inside of the frame with left-over fabric or a remnant that calls to you from the clearance bin at a hobby store, folding the ends over the edge to secure it in place. Voila! With minimal work and a dry erase marker, you’ve transformed a sad little item into a fun piece to replace post-it notes.

ArtPriceless Works of Art
Kids come home from school with a lot of art work; I love each and every piece, but it can create storage problems if they want to keep every single pasta project and chalk-based self-portrait.  This holiday season, have your little ones choose art work that means a lot to them and frame these special pieces for grandparent or aunt/uncle gifts.  To make it extra special, have your artist write a short description of the piece, how they made it, and why they like it, on a notecard and tape it to the back of the frame.  The best artwork tells a story, and this is a great way for your little Picasso to tell his or hers and share a little piece of themselves during the holiday.

PhotoBookPhoto Books
With the introduction of digital cameras, hard copy photo albums quickly became a thing of the past.  Because it’s still nice to sit down and relive precious moments through snapshots, however, photo books are a nice and relatively inexpensive way to document those moments for a lifetime. Creating a photo book that focuses on a great vacation, family celebration, or compilation of silly pics from the past year is a great gift idea for friends and family who will enjoy the opportunity to live those moments all over again.

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