We know you have missed our lovely friend and blogger, Allie from Broke 207, so we made her promise to write a holiday post for us and she did not disappoint! Allie reviews five simple handmade gifts you can make for the holidays that are fun, inexpensive and something your gift recipient will *actually* like!
Top Five Homemade Holiday Gifts
Being broke at holiday time is the worst. There is all this expectation and pressure to provide presents to beloved family and friends, and none of the necessary financial resources. For those of us with scanty bank accounts and an unwillingness to put ourselves in merry merry debt by whipping out the plastic, this can make the month of December a minefield of guilt and stress.
In a lot of cases, the best course of action is just to tell your gift list that you love them deeply but can’t meet you gift buying obligations this year without seriously damaging your FICO score. Or, offer up gifts of your valuable time in the form of things like babysitting, lawn mowing, or shiatsu massage (assuming that you are trained in the art, otherwise I might skip that one). Anyone worth giving a gift to will understand and be both gracious and grateful for your honesty. Sometimes, not forcing your loved ones into debt is the best gift you can give them.
If you can scratch together a little bit of scratch, and you want to give your friends and relatives a little something something, the homemade route can be an absolute winner. But tread carefully!
Food always seems like a good idea at the time, (unless it’s fruitcake), but there is something to be said for not contributing to the carb and calorie avalanche that comes with the season. Also, how many of those cake mix jars can one person try to fit into a kitchen cabinet before something terrible happens?
And don’t even get me started on badly hand painted wine glasses and other marginally useful (and questionably tasteful) knickknacks.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!
So without further messing around, I present to you a list of five cheap, simple, and pretty awesome non-tacky non-food gifts that you can make at home with minimal to moderate skill:
QUIRKY CANDLES: I read this blog post almost a year ago, and have been waiting for just the right moment to bust it out. I’m not even a big candle person, but the idea of using vintage candy dishes, cocktail glasses, and flower pots as candle holders is extra brilliant. I’ve been hunting down kitschy cool containers at thrift stores and flea markets all summer long, and now I just need to grab some inexpensive candle making supplies (I like the soy wax and fun scents that you can get here), and have at it. Perhaps not everyone on your list wants a poodle shaped candle that smells like sex on the beach, but there’s bound to be someone who does (probably me)!
SECRET STASHES: I can’t think of a single person on my list who wouldn’t enjoy a fancy book with a secret hidey hole inside. Whether they are going for the classic flask stash, or want to fill it with secret love notes or secret cookies is up to them. All you need to make their day is a cool old hardcover book with a gorgeous cover (of an appropriate genre for the giftee), some glue, an Exacto knife with a new blade, and a little patience (ok, maybe a lot of patience).
FOREVER BOUQUET: Technically, this is a wedding project, but I love it so much that I want to have them all over my house without having to walk down the aisle. Vintage brooches usually go for around $.99 or less, and you can often get big lots of them at flea markets and on eBay. And you don’t have to go full bridal level either. You can put petite bouquets in vintage vases, or just attach them to heartfelt cards. The best part is that they can be displayed and admired as-is, or disassembled and worn about town.
RECLAIMED KNITS: My lovely friend Cindy did this last year with a cashmere sweater she got for $6 at the L.L. Bean employee store (but it would work with any funky knit you can find on the racks of your favorite thrift shop), and it struck me as being particularly brilliant.. Basically, she took an oversized men’s sweater, unraveled the yarn, and knitted it into the most adorable fingerless mitts known to man. High end yarns can be super pricey, but if you want to knit something really amazing, you’d be surprised how much mileage you can get out of a $3 sweater. And if you’re skilled with the needles or the crochet hooks, there are more than a king’s ransom of free knitting patterns all over the web.
ELECTRONIC RESURRECTION: My friend Galen is a master circuit bender. Which for those of you not in the know is the art of taking small electronics (usually kids toys and vintage keyboards), screwing around with the circuits, and turning them into noise music instruments. It’s a pretty amazing thing if you know what you’re doing, but unfortunately pretty complicated. But as it turns out, there are lots of things that you can do with neat old electronics that don’t involve a soldering iron and an electrical engineering degree. My current favorite is this super simple conversion of an old radio & some computer speakers into a hipster worthy MP3 player dock. It’s a great way to preserve and showcase the style of otherwise obsolete electronics, without having to release yourself from the musical stranglehold of your iPod.
If my gift ideas are too wacky for your taste, there are a ton of wonderful DIY sites out there filled with ideas for crafting and repurposing thrift store goods. I’m a huge fan of ReadyMade, Craftzine, and Instructables. Just use your imagination and ingenuity, and adhere to the rules of good gift giving (thoughtful, useful, and appropriate to the giftee).