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11 Cheap Homemade Christmas Presents

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By: Wesabe

This is a Guest Post by Wesabe via DivineCaroline.com.  Wesabe helps people take control of their money and reach their financial goals via a free, online money management tool and a thriving community. Wesabe lets members see all their bank and credit card balances and transactions in one place, as well as find ways to get the most value for their money. Wesabe has well over 100,000 members who share advice and information to help each other make better financial decisions every day.

Looking for a great, inexpensive gift for your mother or someone special in your life? The following are eleven sure-fire winners. The catch? You’ve got to channel your sensitive side and put a little time, but the results will be a gift people can’t stop talking about.

1. A Book of Quotes
During my senior year in college, I was virtually penniless but wanted to give my then-boyfriend, now-husband, an amazing, thoughtful gift. He always loved my habit of collecting quotes on note cards. So, I bought a journal and filled each page with quote I loved and water-colored over each. He absolutely loved it.

You could make this gift cheaper by buying a bunch of index cards and hole punching the right corner. Paint each card (nothing fancy, just wipe some paint, or paste colored paper to get rid of the index card look), write a quote on each and then loop a ribbon through the whole thing to tie all the cards together.

2. Personalized Memory (or Clutter) Boxes
This is something I did a lot as a kid. I would go to Michaels and buy a number of cardboard boxes. I would spend time collecting photographs, quotes, and images that reminded me of the person. I would then shellac these over the box. These can be used as display or simply put on a shelf or in the closet as a place to save memories or hide clutter.

3. Make Your Own Recipe Book
Does someone you know have a shoebox filled with cut out recipes from magazines, newspapers and the web? Steal the box and paste all of them into a journal. Voila! You have just made them their very own personal cookbook filled with all of their favorite recipes.

I did this for my mom one year … she loved, loved, loved it. And yes, I got some serious tears.

If you know someone who loves to cook but lacks a shoebox full of recipes (or you lack access to it), you can also browse recipe sites on the web, print out your favorites, and build the recipe book yourself.

4. A Positivity, Productivity, or Inspiration Box
(Or any other theme that might fit)

Here is how it works:

Find a cardboard box with a lid. Find a few pieces of pretty paper or construction paper. Cut these up into one-inch by two-inch squares or rectangles.

On each, write something that has to do with your theme. If it’s productivity, put a tip on each (you can find some great ones by browsing Zen Habits or Dumb Little Man). If it’s positivity, put a happiness tip on each (browse the Happiness Project for some great tips). If it’s inspiration … well, you get the idea. Fold them in half and toss them in the box. Aim for somewhere between twenty and forty of these.

You can either wrap it up and tie a bow around it, or you can theme your box by cutting out images and quotes and pasting them over your box.

5. Personalized Stationary
With the amazing amount of templates provided by most Word and graphic programs, this is almost too easy. However, you can make it a bit more personal by taking a manila folder and using craft glue to cover it with fabric. You’ve now made a personalized folder to hold all that personalized stationary.

6. Coupon Books
To make this work, you’ve got to whip out your inner artist. Here are some ideas (these are really good for kids to make for mom or dad):

  • A car wash
  • Spa day by you (manicure, pedicure, facial, lunch, Sex and the City viewing party, etc.)
  • Dog walking services
  • Two hours of complimentary house cleaning
  • Ice cream sundaes
  • A homemade dinner

Check out this Wesabe discussion What Makes You Feel Rich While Being Frugal for coupon ideas. All are things people love to do—transform them into a coupon and you’re giving a wonderful experience as a gift.

Think about any talents or special skills you have and use these as a gift. After you’ve brainstormed what you want to do for your friend or family member, cut up construction paper to coupon size, and then write/draw your gift of time.

7. Make Your Own Frames
You can pick up cardboard frames at craft stores for less than ten dollars. Shellac pretty paper, quotes, or pictures over them and slide in a good photograph.

8. A Music Book
Have a friend you care about who plays an instrument? Head to the music store and buy a book of blank sheet music. Write a letter to them on the first page telling them how much they mean to you and urge them to start writing their own music.

9. A Personalized Journal
If you don’t have the ten dollars to buy a journal, buy a black and white notebook from the drug store, and shellac with pretty paper (link), magazine cut outs, photographs, newspapers (this can make for a really cool look), or quotes. Write a little note in the cover and then wrap that bad boy up.

If you want to get even more personal, you could write a quote or unfinished sentence every few pages or so, to prompt some inspirational writing.

10. A Memory Collage or Scrapbook
I made this for my best friend my senior year in high school and then for a boyfriend in college. I made a list of special memories we had together and found pictures, pamphlets, and quotes to describe them. I think each book was about ten pages. I wrote my memory of the event and then added pictures, quotes, stickers, and movie/airline tickets.

11. Frame a Favorite Quote
This one is super easy. Take a favorite quote of a friend or family member. Buy a cheap frame. Or if you don’t want to buy a frame, you could take a piece of tag board and cover it with nice paper. Use your best handwriting or favorite font on the computer to write it up. Put in the frame or paste on the tag board. Wrap it up. My best friend framed my favorite line from Robert Frost’s poem “Birches” when I was twelve years old and gave it to me for Christmas. It still sits on my desk today.


Question:  Given the current economic situation, are you thinking about giving homemade presents this year?

  • http://www.certpaper.com IT Certification

    Nice work man..keep it up.

  • http://ipickuppennies.blogspot.com Abigail

    I pretty much always make some form of homemade gifts. I'm doing some sporadic pieces on cheap/easy homemade gifts. My last one was decoupage, using containers from the Dollar Store. Simple, easy and cheap.

    I like the book of quotes idea. It's a lot of personalization, plus you clearly spent time and thought on the gift!

  • http://fabulouslybrokeinthecity.blogspot.com Fabulously Broke

    I like the memory book idea!! Am linking to this.

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