Submitted by Michelle Jones
Buying gifts on a budget can be somewhat of a challenge but I've always loved the old saying "It's the thought that really counts!" The key is to take some time to think about some things that your gift recipients might really enjoy and with a little creative energy thrown in you'll be able to create the perfect gift without spending more money than you can afford!
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Here are some terrific "homemade" holiday gift ideas we've received from our readers that are very budget friendly:
"We received a great gift last year that I just thought was the most wonderful idea. We received a 6-pack of Microwave Popcorn and a $5 gift certificate to Blockbuster. It didn't cost much, but it was a full night of entertainment for us!" - Andrea R.
"This is a gift that keeps giving throughout the year and you can easily make in minutes. Items needed: Index card holder, index cards, stamp, ink, pen, recipes. Use a rubber stamp that says 'From the Kitchen of:' and then stamp about 10 cards. On the cards write out your favorite recipes and then gift wrap. Each year I buy new kitchen tools for gifts and with them I send new recipes. This is great for new cooks and can even be used to get kids involved with the cooking. Also, when we are tight on money for gifts we purchase something nice but inexpensive and add an extra gift with the wrapping. Instead of a plain ribbon and bow, add a broach or pin to the knot in the bow. Or tie a piece of costume jewelry to the ribbon. To save even more, we make the jewelry ourselves with wire and beads." - Sarah C.
"This is a gift that keeps giving throughout the year and you can easily make in minutes. Items needed: Index card holder, index cards, stamp, ink, pen, recipes. Use a rubber stamp that says 'From the Kitchen of:' and stamp about 10 cards. On the cards write out your favorite recipes and then gift wrap. Each year I buy new kitchen tools for gifts and with them I send new recipes. This is great for new cooks and can even be used to get kids involved with the cooking. Also, when we are tight on money for gifts we purchase something nice but inexpensive and add an extra gift with the wrapping. Instead of a plain ribbon and bow, add a broach or pin to the knot in the bow. Or tie a piece of costume jewelry to the ribbon. To save even more, we make the jewelry ourselves with wire and beads." Sarah C.
"I have a great frugal idea for a kids project. I run an at-home day care and I am always looking for ways to keep the costs down on supplies for the kids. Well, my 'kids' and I just made gel potpourri jars for their parents. I got a quart size bottle of liquid potpourri (on clearance for $.70!) heated it until almost boiling and added 2 packs of unflavored gelatin, removed from heat, stirred until dissolved, and then poured into baby food jars that the kids decorated with stickers or decoupage with tissue paper. While it's still wet sprinkle on some glitter, then cover with a paper doily and some ribbon and there you have it. I made 9 gifts for the parents for less than $1.70. I hope you enjoy the holidays as much as I do." - Linda A. of PA
"My husband has about 15 employees under him. I thought it would be nice to give them something for Christmas. I found mini ceramic loaf pans with holiday patterns on them for $.99. I am going to bake Amish Friendship bread in them and give the bread starter with the bread for the gift. I will wrap them in brown lunch bags tied with a holiday ribbon. The whole set of the gift per person is about $1.75 and the gift will keep on giving, because the point of the Friendship bread is to keep passing it on." - Kristen from TX
"While talking to my sister-in-law just the other day, she mentioned that she loved last year's Christmas gift. Our families live away from us (actually we're out of state), so I took the King Arthur Flour's Cranberry Orange Muffin recipe which we had tried (it was very yummy and not overly sweet) and I gathered all the ingredients. I mixed the dry ingredients together and placed them in a small baggie, then measured the dried cranberries and packaged them, and zested the orange (the new press n seal wrap was perfect). These items were then layered in the red & green Ziploc® boxes. The gift card had a recipe note telling to add eggs, milk and orange juice, and how to bake. I included a bag of hot cocoa mix for them to fix and serve with their muffins. And their Christmas gifts were packaged and sent. This was extremely simple, inexpensive, and traveled well. Each family member had something fresh and quick to prepare for their meal, which they enjoyed, and it brought them fond memories of my cooking. This idea can also be taken and packaged in an embroidered sewn bag, in a jar or other creative ways. The Ziploc® boxes worked well for shipping in our case. They fit well in each box and arrived in good condition." - dmb5775
"This is a great idea for inexpensive Christmas gifts. I found a great deal on glasses at a local outlet store (Crate and Barrel), really cute with snowmen on them. They are also available on-line. I'm filling them with Christmas candy, which I purchased at a markdown store. I thought it would be nice to put in a candy cane and wrap with green plastic wrap. It makes a nice little gift for anyone that you'd like to say Happy Holidays too! All added up the cost per gift was about $2! TRY IT, SPREAD THE CHEER, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!" - Laurie P.
"I work in a doctor's office and every year we usually do a gift exchange, the employees draw names, then we have a $25 limit per gift. This year we decided to do something different, instead of doing the gift exchange we decided we'd do a cookie swap. But we're adding another aspect to the swap, we'll all make 3 types of cookies, enough to wrap small packages to hand out to our patients that could use a little extra Christmas love. Many patients bring us treats (that we love to receive), so we thought it would be a nice idea to surprise some patients that are having an especially difficult time. This gift will cost a lot less than the $25 limit and it will bring happiness to a lot more people!!! - Laurie P.
"I have a lot of sisters and a brother, all with families. This makes frugal gifts essential. One that was a favorite was this: 1 purchased holiday cookie tin, 1 purchased cookie scoop, homemade cookie mix in a decorated zip lock bag, decorated and hand printed recipe card for the cookies, and a set of hand crocheted pot holders. Everything fit into the tin for wrapping and shipping, and wasn't too heavy. Everyone loved it because it gave them a family activity as well as goodies to eat and something useful to keep." - Laurene H.
"Another cheap holiday tradition: Every year we cover our entry doors (they're metal) with homemade snowflakes, in a variety of sizes, cut from typing paper. We each make several so they are all different. We have had many comments from guests who are amazed how great such a simple thing looks. Thank you again for all your efforts in making this terrific newsletter." - Laurene H.
"I'm going to hit the thrift stores and find some inexpensive cookie jars and/or canisters (actually, I'll go back to the stores, since I saw some great ones today) fill them with homemade cookies the kids will help me make, and give them as gifts." Ron K. of AZ
"We love to give books. I find Amazon.com discounts books and music. If you spend $25 the shipping is free on books and music and some other things as well. Saves time, money and gas. Plus, it is delivered right to your door!" Melissa A. of PA
Have a frugal gift idea for the holidays? Please contact us, we'd love to hear from you!
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Copyright © 2008 by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.