14 Homemade, budget-friendly Christmas gifts

Guest post by Kris.

image by zolakoma

image by zolakoma

Our favorite homemade gifts don’t have to take forever to make, and they don’t have to cost a fortune. We have actually given or received all of these, and you don’t have to have a lot of talent to create them. So as the clock ticks toward Christmas and your shopping budget dwindles, consider making one or more of these:

* Christmas ornaments—Tiny green handprints in a circle make a pretty “wreath.”  Cut out the inside and insert a picture of the little artist.  Or you can stack green buttons on a string, largest to smallest, and top with a star. If you’re not creative, you can find lots of other ornament ideas on Pinterest.

*Meals in a jar–Make some from storage ingredients; include a rehydration recipe attached with ribbon.  These are even perfect for expectant mothers at baby showers.

*Baked goods—Does anyone else have shredded zucchini in the deep freeze? Wrap specialty breads or cookies in plastic wrap and tie with a bow.  I often include the recipes, as well.

*Coupon books—I know, it’s cheesy, but my kids are more likely to give me a few minutes of quiet time if I’m cashing in a “coupon.”  They also LOVE redeeming coupons for “eat dessert first,” when they don’t love dinner or “free room cleaning” when they’re feeling overwhelmed. (Don’t squeal, but it gives me a free pass to ditch broken toys and incomplete puzzles.) Be creative! Print on cardstock and slip into stockings.  Your husband might even think he’s getting a treat when he cashes in on “date night.”

*Stepping stones—One plastic mold and some fine grain cement made lasting gifts for all the grandparents and great-grandparents one year.  Add a kiddo handprint or painted artwork.

image by YO$HIMI

image by YO$HIMI

*Recipe collection—At my bridal shower my mother-in-law presented me with a card file full of my husband’s favorite meal recipes.  She even photocopied the ones in her mother’s handwriting!  And while some of them aren’t my favorites, I cherish being able to carry on family traditions—especially using recipes and methods that may otherwise have been lost to posterity.

*Flower pots—Kiddo thumbprints and a sharpie make bumblebees, ladybugs, and flower petals.  With or without a plant already inside, these pots were really “thumb-thing” special.

*Photo mats—We bought a 16×20 frame and a mat with an 8×10 opening, then put all the grandkids’ handprints directly on the mat.  A cousin wrote their names in calligraphy, but kids old enough to write can contribute their own precious penmanship.

Other gifts you might have the time or talent for by next Christmas:

*Quilts—After her sister passed, Grandma found several quilt tops in a cedar chest.  She and her remaining sister hand-quilted one of them and gave to me as a wedding gift.  It has embroidered blocks of the states and their state birds.  The catch?  When Aunt Barbara made the top, there were only 48 states.  I admire those of you with this skill!

*Cross-stitch—My sister has a lot more patience and talent than I do. Several beautiful pieces adorn our walls. (As a side note, one year she made minty hot chocolate mix in jars and put a cross-stitched snowman just under the lip of the band.  We later turned that into an ornament for the tree.)

*Family tree—Grandma copied all her research (including photographs!) in her own beautiful script.  Simply priceless.

*Paintings—Mom took a class at the local college and gave her paintings away.  My daughter still hopes she might inherit or develop that ability (and insists on having one in her own room).

*Step stool—One year the family’s handiest man built one for my 3-year-old to reach the bathroom sink.  At 7, she still uses it to help in the kitchen.  (I even use it to reach Tupperware on the top shelf.)

*Scrapbooks—I scrapbook for my own kids, but I also made a book that just needed photos for each niece and nephew.  They were perfect shower gifts! They have a way to display photos through that precious first year of life without all the time and expense (neither of which a busy mom has in excess).  It’s neither quick nor easy, but those books were pretty special gifts.

I don’t do Pinterest because of my obsessive personality.  I’m afraid I’d never get anything else done.  But I’d love to hear your quick and easy ideas for thoughtful, homemade gifts!

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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  1. Liz Long says

    I did this with Tiger Cubs and the 1st grade class. The 6 yr old BOYS were enthralled for a full 30 minutes!

    We took home made play dough (salt dough). The kids rolled it out, then used cookie cutters to cut out the ornaments. When the ornament was big enough, they used bitty bite-sized ornaments to cut a whole in the middle. Home-made picture ornaments!

    Some of them were also decorated with beads and such. If you make plain (not colored) salt dough, then you can also paint them once they are dry.

  2. Tami says

    I don’t do pinterest for the same reason. I would live at the computer. That wouldn’t make for a healthy life or marriage. LOL

  3. laura says

    Homemade salsa and a bag of chips!

    Love the recipe book idea. At a bridal shower, I received a recipe book w/ hand-written or typed favorites. Still use it 20 years later.

  4. robot0_0 says

    I made Deer Jerky and Dried fruit to add to some of my friends stockings. It’s really easy to make and they all enjoy it.

  5. Linda says

    My daughter is 22 now but still says her favorite Christmas gift ever was when she was six and she got the “dress-up” box from Santa. My sister-in-law and I could sew only minimally then, but we could buy fabric, sew a wide casing for an elastic waistband, and hem. We made satiny camisole tops, short skirts out of zebra prints and leather, evening gowns out of sequined yardages, a faux fur stole… all bought for clearance prices. We scoured thrift stores for gawdy jewelry, rhinestone shoes, gloves and lacy scarves. We worked for WEEKS and had a great time preparing outfit after outfit. My daughter was so excited that Christmas morning, and she played and played with that gift for the next year or two until most of the fabrics were in rags. THAT gift was truly a hit.

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