Buying gifts during the holidays can put a dent in your budget if you don't plan carefully. One way to cut down on costs and still give all the important people in your life something they'll love is to roll up your sleeves and DIY.
"There's a sense of accomplishment when you give someone a gift that you've made, it makes you so much more proud and excited to give it to them," says Erika Domesec, DIY expert and author of the book "P.S. - I Made This." "Being creative and thoughtful is really what it's about."
In 2018, Americans anticipated spending an average of $506 on gifts during the holiday season for family members alone, according to the National Retail Federation's annual consumer spending survey.
But you don't have to spend a lot to show people how much you appreciate them. From coasters to craft kits, here are some meaningful DIY gifts you can make for under $10 and in under 10 minutes.
The way to every foodie's heart is through their stomach. Luckily, there are plenty of tasty food kits you can make using dry ingredients you probably already have at home. A hot chocolate kit is perfect for the season and you can put one together in less than five minutes and for only $4 by shopping for ingredients at a dollar store.
Your gift will basically be edible art.
You can spruce up your hot chocolate kit by decorating it with some ribbon or a bow and a personalized name tag. "Presentation is everything," Meaghan B Murphy, executive editor of Good Housekeeping, told Grow recently. "Learn to be a wrap star, and wrap your own packages in brown kraft paper, which you can get cheap, and garden twine."
Shopping for young kids can be difficult if you're not sure which cartoon they're currently obsessed with, or what size clothing they're wearing. But making them a DIY craft kit is a fun way to give them a gift they'll love and an activity that will keep them busy in one affordable package.
"There's nothing I love more than going to the art store and picking up supplies like cool stickers, paint, pens, and then giving [kids] these things so that they can create their own projects," says Domesek. "What kid doesn't love a project?"
A surefire hit is a DIY slime kit. While parents might detest the presence of slime in their home, the kids will enjoy it and it's not as messy as it seems. All you need are a few simple household ingredients.
Pour your entire bottle of Elmer's glue into the bowl. Add half a teaspoon of baking soda and mix in thoroughly. Then add two tablespoons of water to the mixture. Slowly add your contact solution until you've reached your desired consistency.
If you're looking for a last-minute gift for your significant other, an easy, affordable option is a picture frame featuring your favorite photo together. Consider using a favorite that got lots of likes on Instagram.
Michaels offers several options for wooden frames that you can paint and personalize, while stores like CVS and Walgreens offer printing services that will cost you less than $1 per print and are typically available for same-day pick-up.
If you plan to attend a holiday party at a friend or family member's house, you'll want to bring a small token of appreciation to the hosts for their generosity.
Domesec says it can be as simple as picking up flowers from your grocery store and creating your own floral arrangement for their table. Similarly, you can buy a bottle of wine or champagne and wrap the bottle in fabric and tie a ribbon around it.
When it comes to hostess gifts, creating something they can display on their table is a safe bet. One simple way to create a personalized gift is to create coasters for their table and decorate them with craft markers.
When you do settle on a gift, make sure you put thought into how you'll present it to the recipient. "Presentation is huge for the holidays. When you wrap the gift in a very ornate, over-the-top way, it's just very impressive," says Domesec.
Between gift shopping, food preparation, and family gatherings, the holidays can be stressful. It's nice to give someone the gift of relaxation and help them take a few moments for themselves to practice self-care.
In just a few minutes, you can whip up a body scrub that will leave your loved ones feeling refreshed and renewed for less than $5 per jar. All you have to do is combine brown sugar, coconut oil, and honey in a bowl. Then, mix the ingredients thoroughly, and add more coconut oil if it's too crumbly. Once you've reached the desired consistency, spoon your scrub into a decorative container.
"If you're gonna try making a scrub for the first time, I would test it out before gifting it to people, but I think it's a great gift," says Domesek.
Cosmetic bags can cost upwards of $25 at Sephora, but you can create personalized bags for under $5. Browse online for plain canvas bags, or plastic makeup bags that are easy to hand wash or run through your washing machine if they get stained.
Then add some durable iron-on patches or waterproof stickers to personalize the bag. You can add cute quotes, or the recipient's initials, and throw in a few essentials like makeup brushes, sponges, or wipes.
"People who are into beauty love to organize their tools; making them a gift like this solves a problem in their life," says Domesec.
When you're shopping for your office secret Santa exchange, Domesec suggests sticking with a simple coffee mug and personalizing it with your coworker's name. "Those are the gifts where you want to stay away from something too personal," says Domesec. "It's not so specific to their likes or dislikes. It's something that you know they can incorporate into their everyday life."
While you're dreaming up the kinds of gifts you plan to give to your loved ones, keep in mind that it's not about the money you spend but the time you put into giving them something they'll truly love.
"It doesn't have to be fancy and over the top, it just shows that you're thinking of them and it's a thoughtful gesture," says Domesec. "We don't need stuff: We need experiences, we need thoughtfulness."
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