It's that time of year when the world falls in love...................... and gets totally in debt. Resist the urge to splurge with some of these simple, homemade gift ideas.
Photo scrapbook, calendar, or album: This need not be an elaborate, expensive affair. One lady in our church gives her parents a scrapbook of the children based on the ABC's. She buys a simple scrapbook and 13 pieces of scrapbooking paper. For every letter, she thinks of an appropriate word and picture to match. For example, A is for apple and the accompanying picture is of the children eating apples, making applesauce, at an orchard, etc. B is for baseball and the matching picture is of the family at a baseball game. She journals next to the photo where they were, what they were doing, and a quaint story or funny memory that may have occurred. With one side of each paper for a letter of the alphabet, she ends up with a great book with 26 pictures of the family's year. Warning: This kind of gift often becomes expected every year! Many times, photo-hosting sites such as Shutterfly will have annual sales and promotions where you can order a book, get one free, so that would be something to consider.
Gift baskets/cups/bags/container: If you know someone who is really hard to shop for, but they have something they really love, this would be a great idea.
Tea lover-- a delicate/unique tea cup (optional saucer) at a resale shop or garage sale, line it with tissue paper, and fill it with little sachets of loose tea, tea ball, or just a variety of flavored tea bags.
Coffee connoisseur -- coffee mug filled with small flavored coffee samples (that you got in the mail!), homemade flavored stirring spoons like these, and a couple of homemade biscotti.
Child-- a sand bucket filled with books, puzzles, toys, socks (their mother will thank you), candy, or anything else your imagination can drum up.
Teenage girl-- a cute little basket with body spray or lotion (give those samples that you have sitting in the closet!), a journaling book, a matching pen and notecards.
Grandparent -- a small oatmeal canister covered in your child's art projects and filled with pictures of your family, or 12 crafts or a cards made by their grandchildren that they can open each month to last them through the new year.
Gardener -- watering can filled with seed packets, trowel, gardening gloves, and twine.
Grandchild -- a small tote bag or backpack filled with crayons and coloring sheets, and 12 self-addressed, stamped envelopes ready to send to grandparents with their art work.
Food ideas: I think this idea is perfect for the elderly or a single person on their own. Everyone has seen the cookie mix-in-a-jar idea, but they really are fun to receive. Some variations include pudding mixes, soups, brownies, and dips. Go here, here, or you could even try bath and body care in a jar! If you hoard your canning jars like I do, then why not put the mixes in quart size Ziploc bags and place in a nice holiday tin, bag or basket? You could also pair the food mixes with prepared goodies, like cookies, nut mix, candy, or an entree.
Bird feeders: How about homemade suet cakes? This would be ideal for someone who enjoys nature, or is housebound. Here's a website to get you thinking. Or, you could do something as simple as a pinecone feeder. Just tie some twine around the top few "flakes" of the cone, then coat it with peanut butter. Sprinkle birdseed on top of the peanut butter. Wrap this in colored saran wrap and a bow, or put in a Ziploc bag and pop that into a gift bag. There are many tutorials for homemade bird houses as well. That would be a great use for that scrap lumber you have around.
Neck/Hand/Boot Hot/Ice Pack: If you have any sewing skills at all, this would be a great project. The variations are endless. Cut two tube, mitten, or foot pattern out of material, sew right sides together, leaving a small inch or two gap unsewn. Turn right side out, fill with rice, herbs, flaxseed, or pine needles, and sew up the gap. Heat in the microwave for a minute or two for a hot pack, or throw in the freezer for an ice pack. Check out here or here for detailed instructions. (On a side note, check out this site for a frugal variation on those disposable hand warmers! Necessity is the father of invention!)
Draft Stoppers: With winter upon us, the drafts become more noticeable. This gift is both fun and functional. Scroll through this photo tutorial to sew your own. Here's a really cute almost-no-sew idea using an old pair of women's tights!
Pincushion Jar: This is another oldie, but goodie. Use a small, wide-mouthed canning jar to make a pin cushion. Here's a great tutorial.
Gifts for Him: Homemade gifts for guys tend to be a little hard to imagine, but here's a few. Make him a "bad call brick" out of an old sponge, or a big batch of cookies or candies with the written guarantee that he doesn't have to share. I thought this project out of an Altoids box was clever! A no-sew tied fleece blanket would be a nice gift as well.