12 Homemade Gift Ideas To Fit A Small Budget

by Millie Kay G. on December 3, 2008

If you’re sticking to a small budget and looking for ways to trim costs during special occasions, try these homemade gift ideas for the people on your list.

hand made book
Nice hand-made book by paperfairys.

A while ago, we talked about some ways to save on crafts and creative DIY projects. We also shared with you some of our best gift ideas for the holiday season and thoughts on how to create family holiday traditions to save money. Well, I’ve decided to bring all these suggestions together to come up with some great homemade gift ideas for this time of year!

Even though I enjoy finding great deals on gifts at the mall and online, I try to make a few presents each holiday season and other special occasions (like birthdays). Some of my best memories of holidays past include handmade favorites, such as the simple papercraft ornaments my mom made for me one Christmas Eve. A few years ago, I made some afghans that still see daily use in our household. If you’re handy and creative, these DIY gift ideas may work out for you!

Frugal Homemade Gift Ideas For The Budget-Conscious

Pouches and Tote Bags

Recently, when someone gave me a cellphone, I spent less than an hour making a pouch for it. If you can knit, crochet, or sew up a square or rectangle, you have the foundation for a basic pouch. In the past, I’ve made pouches to hold sunglasses and makeup, handheld games like the Nintendo DS or the Playstation Portable, and iPods. You can add fancy touches to the pouches by embroidering a design or adding a cute applique!

Another project that would be quick to tackle would be a tote bag. Recycle your old jeans or fabric from a discarded dress or shirt to stitch up a bag. Add a paperback and you have a sweet little book bag. Or make a few bags like the one from BurdaStyle — they look like they’d be great to use for shopping.

Clothing and Accessories

Thanks to the yarn emporium in my office, I’ve made a fair number of scarves. They’re quick to make and people always seem to need them in cold climates. If you don’t knit or crochet, you can sew up a scarf in little time. Peruse the remnants available in the fabric section of craft stores for low cost ideas.

Hats, Wraps, and Throws

These are also relatively quick to make for crafting novices. Last year, I crocheted a rectangle, sewed up one end, then joined the corners together to make a simple hat. Easy patterns for wraps and throws aren’t difficult to find; check out the choices at Joann for more inspiration.

Spa Basket

It’s hard to get away to a resort this time of year, but you can give your friends and loved ones a spa basket instead. Make a batch of Citrus Slice Soap and add some candles — even homemade, scented ones! By using easy-to-find ingredients like Epsom salts and a how-to, you can add in your own bath salts. Some flowers add a nice touch as well.

Good Times with Families

For families, I like to put together meals to go. One year, I gave a relative a basket with pasta, sauce, a loaf of bread, and a cookbook — I’m sure she enjoyed not having to think too hard about dinner. For a picnic basket, it would be fun to write up my favorite sandwich ideas, along with some side dishes, a sampling of desserts and a loaf of homemade bread.

I also thought about putting together a garden kit and adding in some seed packets or garden gloves. This would be something any family with a yard would appreciate!

And what about this idea: why not invite families over for craft time once a month? You could help each other out with projects and teach each other new skills.

Creative Meals

Back when I studied foreign languages, I enjoyed learning more about another culture through its food. So if I had a foreign student in my gift recipient list, it would be a nice touch to track down some recipes and invite the foreign language student over for a meal. Or I can pack the treats to go — say a bento box filled with rice candy for someone studying Japanese or a cassoulet for a French student.

Picture Box or Scrapbook

Another idea that might be fun is a picture box or scrapbook tailored to a child’s interests. If that preteen you know is a football fan, track down news stories about his favorite players (hopefully cheerful stories), and add in pictures and scenes from memorable games.

Organizers

Are you pretty handy? If you’re wondering what kind of present to offer a family of gamers — perhaps they’ll appreciate a simple shelving unit you put together to corral all their gear. With all the consoles, controllers, game boxes, guidebooks, remote controls, and other gaming accessories they probably have, your ability to bring order to their gaming lives might be a welcome gift.

Kids’ Toys

For younger children, I’d have fun making a few toys like softies. Give the toys some cute or wacky faces and you’re good to roll.

Gifts Made With Your Computer

You can also give your gifts the personal touch. For example, when I made a calendar with a word processing program last year, I added a bunch of funny sayings and quotes to the pictures I inserted. This year, I might make the neighborhood pets the stars of their own LOLcat-themed calendar! :)

Monograms and Embroidery

If you’re handy with embroidery by hand or on the sewing machine, try monogramming a nice set of kitchen towels for the cooks on your list. Or personalize a gift by adding decorations in their favorite colors or patterns — give team spirit to a set of plain white bath towels by trimming the edges with ribbon in a team’s colors (the Sooners fans around here would go for that!).

The Gift of Service

And if you’re the resident tech expert in the neighborhood, you can print out gift certificates for your time. Teach someone who’s new to online photo services about Flickr or Picasa; organize a senior’s massive music collection (just where did Grandpa get 50,000 tunes, anyway? ;) ); disclose what you know about safe file sharing; or help someone get started with your favorite personal finance tools or software.

~~ooOoo~~

Often, the most memorable gift is the one that enables you to spend time with someone, so why not allow your DIY skills to help you make a statement during each special occasion? Why not use your talents to start making memories this season?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer December 3, 2008 at 5:19 am

What about this? I simply throw in a packet of TickleMe Plant seeds with each Holiday greeting Card I mail out. Most people are very surprised they can grow a plant that moves when you tickle it from seeds. The leaves rapidly close and even the branches MOVE when tickled. I got the birthday party special so the seed packets were very inexpensive and its the same price as mailing the card itself! I found it on line at ticklemeplant.com.

2 Andy @ Retire at 40 December 7, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Great list. I’m going to do the calendar one this year even though I meant to do it last year and failed. This year, I will succeed and I think it’s gonna be a whole lot of fun too.

3 elaine December 16, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Hi … i see you used one of my books … how flattering :)
Good article too .

4 SVB December 16, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Thanks Elaine! It’s such a pretty book. You are very talented! Keep up the great work! :)

5 Christine December 19, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Awesome! Thanks–I think I will make iPod/gameboy cases for all the nieces and nephews (12 of them) next year! This year I just finished making them scrapbook paper collage wall hangings tailored to their interests. I’ve done knitted hats and mittens, quilted blankets (when there weren’t so many kids!), pillowcases, fleece hats, scarves & mittens, fleece pillows, and last year I sewed drawstring backpacks in fabrics showing their interests.
I’ve been doing the photo calendar for years–my parents and sister get one version and my in-laws and sister-in-law get another version.
Gotta remember the iPod/gameboy cases for next year… thanks again!

6 Isaac Yassar January 14, 2009 at 2:21 am

Hi, I’m Isaac Yassar and I help people reach success in self development, business, and blogging for free. Thanks for sharing Millie, it is very interesting. My girlfriend’s birthday is at January 29th. Hmm, I wonder what’s the best present for her.

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