December 4, 2010

Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas

Want to save some money this Christmas? Try making a few gifts yourself! Here are a few ideas to get you thinking! [To see any of the photos below a bit larger...just click on it!]

Photo Calendar
My favorite gift for grandparents is a photo calendar. They are available online at sites like Shutterfly or Snapfish. I make mine using iPhoto on my Mac and then take the .pdf file to Office Max to print out. Or you can just bring in 12 photos of your choice (printed or on a CD) and they'll do everything for you.
Family Recipe Book or Box
Put all your recipes in one place! Type them up and put them in a binder (or put them on recipe cards in a box). While you're at it make a couple copies to share with a daughter, sister, or friend. I love tried and true recipes! My sister still uses the recipe book I made for her many years ago.

Bible Verse Name Frame
This could be for a first or last name. Pick several verses that reflect the person or family you would like to give this to and print it off on nice paper in an appropriate font then place the printout in a frame. Dollar Tree has quite a selection for $1. Here is an example of the one I made for our family:
Make a book for a toddler/young child by getting a blank book and writing a story yourself. If you aren't a writer, make it a book of favorites (colors, food, etc.) or educational (numbers, letters, etc.). Below is a page from the book I made for one of my boys.You can get blank books at Bare Books or at a local teacher supply type store (like The Schoolhouse). If you're not up to making a book... books in general are still a great gift! Join Paper Back Swap! When you first join you list 10 books and get 2 free.

Last year I made this play kitchen for one of my children. I call it a Fold-Up Fabric Kitchen. I saw the original idea here but modified it a bit and made it my own. The whole thing cost around $5 to make even if you have to buy fabric and assembly took just a few hours.

What's a kitchen without food? I made this little set of felt food to go with the kitchen. There are patterns all over the internet. Just google "felt food".

Fleece Blanket with crochet edge
Can you crochet? If not, it is easy to learn! Really! Google instructions or watch You Tube if you are a visual learner! I made this blanket as a baby gift but it could easily be modified for anyone depending on the fleece and yarn you choose. It is a fun twist on the no sew fleece blanket. And since it requires very minimal crocheting you can make one in just a couple days.
Don't want to make a blanket? Check out the Lion Brand Yarn website for free patterns. There are so many cute things to crochet. I really like the Amigurumi patterns for little animals and play food.
If you need a simple gift for an adult they have a pattern to crochet a towel topper. If you bought a towel with a cute design and cut it half you could make two very inexpensively and quickly.

Dishtowel Angel
This is made from a towel/washcloth/potholder set. I got this one from one of my friends a couple years ago. You can get these matching kitchen sets at many stores. I haven't made one myself but here are instructions.

Potpourri Light Jar
I have made many of these and everyone loves them. A mason jar stuffed with potpourri and a short string of (20 count) lights. Let the cord hang out and cover the top with a piece of fabric cut in a circle tied with a ribbon.

Potpourri and lights are usually available at the dollar store and check thrift stores for mason jars if you don't have any on hand.

Little Wreath
I made several of these a couple years ago using dollar store (again!) wreaths. A simple ornament in the center with some fabric scraps and buttons hot glued around the wreath as well. You can make little cinnamon ornaments or use cinnamon sticks as well on these. Which are cute and make it smell nice too.
Washcloth Lolly
How about something sweet? But not to eat! Again, I made these for a baby gift but you could use a regular size washcloth and give it to an older child or adult. Maybe with a cute shaped bar of soap or free from CVS body wash?Gifts in a Jar
These are always nice. I like that you use them and they are gone. No clutter! There are several recipes available online. This site has recipes for layered baking mixes, brownies, cookies and bath salts. There are also several recipes for mixes on this site with printable tags included.

Gifts in a Mug
This is a twist on the above. There are many recipes for hot chocolate or spice teas online. Put a bag or two of one of these mixes in a mug. Maybe with a plastic spoon dipped in chocolate to stir! Or how about these recipes for cake in a mug...a great gift for a single person or college student!

Christmas Potpourri
This recipe is best fresh BUT if you have a dehydrator to dehydrate orange slices you can package up a dry version in bags to give as gifts. It smells wonderful!

Dish Towel Apron
A dish towel is the perfect size to make an apron for a small child. I have made a few with a towel ( guessed it...the dollar store!) and bias tape trim but this pattern makes it easier. A larger towel would make a larger apron for an older child, teen, or adult. If the dish towel is too long for your little one fold up the bottom and make a few pockets.

We have a family tradition of giving each child an ornament every year. My mom did this for me and now I have all the ornaments from my growing up years on my own tree. Instead of buying an ornament this year...make one! The dollar store (wow...again!) usually has little cross-stitch ornament kits that are quite cute. I found a nativity scene kit a few years ago and made several. Here are several free patterns. Most of these would just take an hour or two to stitch.

Can't cross-stitch? How about these?

Get a package of old style clothes pins and make a snowman or angel. These are super easy...even the kids could make them! And they are unbreakable which is the only type of ornament we had on the tree two years ago :) Fill your tree with several and as you have guests throughout the Christmas season give them an ornament off your tree!
If you are feeling a bit more ambitious try these light bulb ornaments. I got the instructions out of craft magazine several years ago. They take a bit more time but are really fun! Here is a similar pattern for a snowman and a penguin.

Well, I hope that gives you a few ideas. If I come across any more in my internet searches I'll try and post links to share! Feel free to share any ideas you might have in the comments!

Note: This was originally posted on my personal blog in fall of 2008. I updated it with a few new ideas but didn't check the old links. If you find any broken links please let me know. Thanks!


Vivian said...

Wow Shelly - amazing - great ideas that are affordable - do they sell "TIME" at the Dollar Store too, or "AMBITION" because I might need a little bit of that :)))) Thanks for sharing!

Do you know the best place to buy a 20 count light set?

Shelly said...

Dollar Tree (of course!) usually has them although I haven't looked for them this year. Perhaps you can stock up on time and ambition when you are there. :) I'm guessing those things would cost more than $1 though!

PS These ideas were collected over several YEARS time. It's not like I make all of these things every year!

Shelly said...


If Dollar Tree doesn't have them I saw them at CVS this afternoon. They are currently $1.49

Maybe keep an eye out and get some for next year as the price goes down or marked for clearance.