Ready cash is getting harder and harder to come by. You may be wondering how you’re going to pay your bills, and having the holidays to budget in as well can seem overwhelming. Don’t lose hope – it can be done! If I say the word ‘crafts’ your first reaction might be “I’m not crafty.” Not to worry – there are so many helps to making virtually anything these days that even those of us who are all thumbs can find something we can make that will make not just a passable, but a truly cherished gift for our friends and loved ones. You can access a tutorial for nearly any project online these days. Try blogs or YouTube and be inspired by the ideas someone will patiently teach to you. If you need material to supplement these how-to videos, try your public library; you may be surprised at the assortment of crafts you can learn from a book.
Personal, Frugal and Perfect: Homemade Christmas Gifts
So many items can be made up or made over to become the perfect gift. Use Mod Podge to create breakfast trays, vases, decorative plates , lamps or a hundred other projects. Take a quick look around at your scrap drawer, your kid’s creativity corner or even the garage. Rocks, paint, dried or silk flowers, canvas, burlap, embroidery floss, tin, mirrors, cardboard and baskets are just the start of an extensive list of craft supplies. Crafting is a world where anything goes. You are only limited by your creativity (or by the number of great tutorials you have time to watch and duplicate.) Here is one timely idea: Gather some glue, assorted pine cones, small Styrofoam balls, scraps of felt and those wiggly eyes and assemble a group of carolers. Use a pine cone as the body, the Styrofoam for the head and give each one various personal touches with the felt or fabric scraps you have on hand. These cute pinecone people can make a clever addition to a Christmas village – and they are bound to be one of a kind. If you like to affix a small gift to the top of the gift as part of the presentation of the package, but simply don’t have the cash this season, attach a pine cone person modeled to resemble some talent or interest of the person receiving the gift.
Crafts can truly be assembled from anything. There are books and websites galore that teach you how to make cute stuff from things as simple as cardboard tubing, Spanish moss, string, construction paper, soap dispensers and so forth. Perhaps you have crafty or culinary geniuses in your family. They might like to make their own projects, and would welcome a gift of pre-assembled kit (collected and labeled by you to save expenses). It could include directions and a depiction of the craft or food item in its finished state. For an extra special gift, make a kit for yourself and get together to make your distinctive creation as a team. You’ll both cherish the memories of these gifts and the fun you had making them.
If you knit or crochet, or want to learn, yarn can be found for about as cheap or expensive as you desire. Everyone has room for another blanket, scarf, hat or sweater, don’t they? Use those aforementioned library books or step by step visual online tutorials to teach yourself this skill and see just how much you can make when you can knit and crochet. Presenting a dear friend or loved one with a gift you made just for them creates a special bond. Keep in mind, especially if you are learning a new craft, you don’t want to go overboard buying supplies and equipment. You certainly don’t want to spend all that money you are trying to save by making gifts. Start with the bare essentials – in the case of crochet just a hook or two in average sizes and inexpensive yarn. Don’t spend a lot on books or costly yarn or having every size of crochet hook available. See if you like the craft first. If you love it and will go on to learn to make doilies, bookmarks, ornaments and other gifts, this may be the time to make more of an investment.
A big plus of crafting individual gifts for everyone on your list is that you can customize the present to truly fit the person. Let’s say you want to dress up some picture frames. (No one can ever have too many of these.) For the flower lover on your list, make them pretty with silk flowers or flowers you craft yourself from clay or bread dough. For the golf enthusiast, spell out his or her name in golf tees on the frame. A child friendly frame can be made with bright colors and any object the child finds interesting, and by using a bit of plastic rather than glass to cover the picture. Include a carefully chosen picture of the person or family you are giving this too and the personalization will be complete. This is bound to become a treasure to the receiver of this gift.
In closing, find items to use or repurpose from thrift stores, dollar stores, clearance sections and bargain basements and you will save yourself money if you are careful. If your real object is to save money, start with any materials you have on hand, don’t go out and purchase a fancy tool or craft supplies where the price tag will really add up and destroy your goal to be personal but thrifty in your seasonal gift giving. Learn from all the vast media at your fingertips and make a gift for each person that will be prized long after it has been unwrapped.
About the Author
Margo Smith is a graduate of BYU. She dotes on writing about a vast selection of subjects from etymology to pell grants for college to masonry. She draws from her own education, her years in college and an author’s perspective on life when writing articles.
*Image provided by Clementine Art.*