To give gifts that truly matter, make them yourself and put your heart into them. You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save when you create homemade gifts yourself! It is possible to give great gifts on a budget.
The most memorable Christmas of my childhood was the year my parents bought the house where we grew up. They closed on it in September and, when Christmas time arrived, they had absolutely no money for presents.
But my father had done a carpentry job, building a barn, and had the scrap wood from it.
Mom had been taking on sewing jobs and had plenty of odd pieces of fabric.
That year, we received the wooden toy box and doll bed that my children still play with, plus homemade doll clothes and blankets. Other gifts that have stood out are the teddy bear – Theodore, of course – that I received as a toddler, and a little elephant ring holder that my grandmother gave me three months before she died. I suspect she bought it at the Five and Dime, but I will always treasure it.
My point in this trip down memory lane is that memorable gifts do not have to cost a lot of money.
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Here are some great gift ideas for when you’re pinching pennies during the holiday season. Some are more expensive than others, but most of them can be adapted based on what you include.
Tea or Coffee Basket
Create a gourmet tea or coffee basket with a hand picked mug and a selection of coffee or tea.
Even empty, I’d be thrilled with a fun mug, especially one that reminds me not to take the haters seriously. I mean, if you make anything of your life, you’re going to get haters. Fill this up with a few goodies from the dollar store and it’s even better.
A basket isn’t needed – just fill the mug. If you’re not entirely sure what the recipient likes, make sure to ask questions ahead of time. “Coffee, tea or hot chocolate – where are you at on the hot drink spectrum?” is a question most people love to answer.
Add in other items as desired, such as honey, sweetener sticks, crushed candy cane, specialty creamers and marshmallows to suit the gift recipient. You can have a lot of fun with this.
For under $25, you could create a family gift that will please everyone.
Homemade cocoa mix
If the recipient isn’t a tea or coffee drinker, substitute homemade cocoa mix.
It’s basically a mixture of cocoa, sugar, optionally powdered creamer and other flavorings as you like. Miniature marshmallows, crushed candy cane, instant coffee to turn it into a cafe mocha and other additions make it extra special. Layer the mix in a jar to create a unique gift and include instructions for making the hot cocoa on the gift tag.
Packaged in a pretty glass jar with a gift tag, this is an inexpensive gift that most people will love.
Homemade baking mix
Follow the same idea as the homemade cocoa mix, but this time with cookie or brownie mix.
Layer the individual ingredients like flour, sugar, and chocolate chips in the jar to create a unique gift. Include clear instructions so the recipient can recreate your favorite cookie recipes. If you have a bit more money, include a baking sheet.
And of course, if you know the recipient will just stick the mix in the cupboard and forget about it, there’s not a thing wrong with giving a tin of homemade cookies or brownies.
Gourmet gift baskets
Combine cheeses, meats, crackers, mustards, jams, and other ingredients to create your own gourmet gift baskets. Buy – or better yet, make – the individual items yourself and save a great deal of money over buying pre-built gift baskets from specialty stores.
Think about what you would like in a basket like that. Here in Nova Scotia, I’d fill it with (and no, these are not affiliate links!) some Brothers Pepperoni (which I could eat by the pound), any incredibly delicious Growler cheese from That %^## Dutchman (yes, that’s the real name of the farm, and no, it’s not an affiliate link!) and a stack of Nova Scotia oatcakes (click here for a recipe).
What could you put in a local gourmet basket?
Gardening gift basket
Combine flower seeds, vegetable seeds, and other gardening goodies – like trowels and hand shovels – to create a gift basket for someone who enjoys gardening.
This can be especially nice if you include heirloom seeds that you have saved. Add other goodies as desired, like plant markers, pretty containers, and homemade soil mix.
Make sure you have a price limit in mind as you create this basket, because it could get out of hand.