By Patty Getz
Nothing says I care like a homemade gift. If you think you don’t have time, think again. There are tons of ideas you can use, that take little time, and are easy and inexpensive. Making treat plates is an old standby in my house, but family and friends need a surprise from time to time.
Dollar stores are great places to buy extras to go with your gifts: baskets, silk flowers, ribbons, and containers. You can also purchase art supplies, for an inexpensive art kit. They are always a great place for stocking stuffers as well.
Here are some great ideas for a quick, easy, and frugal Christmas.
Spice Mixes --Save your spice bottles throughout the year, or raid the second hand store for small spice bottles. Find your own spice mixes or mix them up and put them in bottles. Make them as a collection or as part of a theme basket. You can also use this idea with flavored vinegar’s too. For cheap plastic bottles, glue a bit of wrapping paper, or decorative foil, add a label and you have quick Gifts.
Hot cocoa mix-- Mix up a cocoa mix, adding a couple of spoons dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed peppermint. Stuff it into a dollar store coffee mug. Add a cloth gift bag, and you have an elegant gift.
Coffee Tray-- Purchase a cheap wicker tray from the dollar store, and a couple of coffee cups. Add coffee mixes and chocolate spoons, and you have an elegant coffee tray.
Movies-- Record someone’s favorite TV shows, and give them the collection for Christmas. This works especially well for the kids in your family, as they will watch them over and over again.
Busy Cooks Basket – Search for mixes for brownies, cookies, sauces, Hot drinks, and more. It's a great gift for the busy friend on your gift list.
Give of your Yourself Coupons--- Backrubs, and candle-lit dinners, for your hunny. Chores, baby-sitting, and a trip to the mall for a friend. Game time, movie nights, park trips for the kids.
Calendars and Greeting Cards ---- Have a digital calendar maker and printer? How about calendars for the Grandparents, filled with pictures of their Grandkids?
Custom T-shirts-- For all ages, how about computer iron on transfer paper, and T-shirts? You can find this paper in the dollar stores, often reduced. Buy a $3 T-shirt, and you have a super cheap and custom gift. Find graphics off the Internet, or make your own.
Freebie Gifts, and Recycling too!! ---Subscribe to your local freecycle group, they are always giving things away, and you might find the perfect gift there. Find your local Freecycle group at freecycle.org.
Memory book-- Buy a cheap photo album at the dollar store, decorate it, and add pictures and stories, specific to the person you are giving it to. For kids, happy memories of their childhood. For parents, things your remember and love best about them, or a yearly log of their Grandkids growth and development. It's great for long distance relatives.
Busy Moms Pamper Basket-- Make some bubble bath, bath salts, a candle, and record some soft music on CD. Add Some oils and lotions (freebies or trials work great for this). Tuck them in a basket, along with a baby-sitting coupon.
Pinecone Firestarters—Collect pine cones, dip them in wax from old melted candles. It helps fires get off to a quick start.
Stationary Sets-- Find Stationary on the Internet to print off, or create stationary on your computer and print off. Add some envelopes and pretty pen.
Homemade Christmas Ornaments---Christmas ornaments made from salt or cinnamon dough, and painted, make beautiful gifts, and are something kids can help with. Make them freehand, or use cookie cutters. The cinnamon dough is fragrant.
Cooks Basket---Find cook books at the second hand stores, add some ingredients, and make a cooking basket.
Custom Cookbook--Make a cook book if you know what a person likes to eat, or what their cooking style is. Print off recipes off the Internet, and make a cookbook, tailored to that person. This works really great for young kids just out on their own. Give them their favorite family recipes, and a few easy ones, as well as a couple of how to’s. This can be a simple and basic, or as elegant as you want to make it.
Jams and Jellies-- Whip up a batch of homemade jam. Add a piece of Christmas fabric, cut with decorative scissors.
Create a Chicken Soup Book-- Find stories, quotes, poems and other snippets of wisdom, and tailor it to your recipient. Add a nice photo album or note book.
Christmas Garland--- Make a unique Christmas Garland, of pinecones strung together. Have your kids help you decorate them with glitter.
Get Organized Notebook-- The Internet is full of printables. Print up some calendars, do lists, inventory lists, etc. Add them into a notebook, and give them to your favorite mom.
Coloring Books-- Print off coloring pages and worksheets off the Internet. Punch holes and make a spiral bound book or put them in a cheap folder. Decorate the folder, adding a package of crayons or felt markers from the dollar store.
Word Finds and Mazes -- For older kids, word finds and mazes can be found or you can find places to generate custom puzzles.
Playdough Basket-- Make play dough in different colors, adding cookie cutters and rolling pins from the second hand store, for a great playdough kit.
Kids Coupons-- Print off coupons for special privileges that they can redeem: movie nights, ice cream parties, trips to the park, etc.
Book Basket-- Go to the second hand book store, and buy a few children's books. Put them in a basket along with some hot cocoa mix, and a promise to read stories with them every night.
Homemade Music CDs--Record kids songs on a CD for the music lover in your family.
Doll Accessories ---If you know how to sew or crochet, use your talents and your scraps to make doll furniture, rugs, and curtains, for your child’s doll house. Clothes, sleeping bags, and mini tents also are popular.
Hair ties-- Purchase a $1 package of elastic, and use fabric scraps to make hair ties for your little princess. If you have any spare silk flowers, you can sew these on for a really elegant look.
Fancy Socks-- Sew ruffles or beads on plain socks to pretty them up.
Soft Blocks (for babies) – These can be made from scrap fabrics and fiber fill.
Art Kit -- Go to the dollar store, purchase an tackle box and fill with pens, crayons, pencils, and glue, for a great art set, at a small price.
Tin Can Treat Containers -- Take tin cans, wash and make sure there are no sharp edges. Paint, sprinkle with glitter, decorate, wherever your creativity takes you. Stuff them with mixes, or homemade goodies. Add a bow, and you have an elegant gift.
Paper Mache "Baskets"-- Make and decorate bowls from paper mache. Use these to package your gift basket items, instead of wicker baskets.
Fabric Wrapping Paper and Bags--Use scrap fabric for wrapping paper, ribbon and bows, sewing the fabric into bags.
Paint Paper ---Decorate butcher paper with sponges and paint.
Paper Bags ---Paint paper bags, decorate with sponges, and make handles from twine, paper or ribbons.
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