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"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4


Gifts You Can Make

A framed photograph always makes a nice present. Make your own picture frames out of wood or cardboard. Paint and seal with varnish or craft polymer. Glue on flowers, lace, ribbon, trinkets, glitter, etc.

Personalized Stationary - On plain white paper draw a border, decorate a corner, or create any other design that won’t interfere with letter writing. Take it to a copy shop and make copies on a paper that has matching envelopes. (Some copy shops will only charge you for the price of the copies if you supply the paper.) Mix and match several designs or colors, bundle in groups of 20 with some extra plain paper, and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Homemade Greeting Cards - Get a pack of white cardstock and decorate with colored pencils, watercolors, stickers, or stamped designs. One sheet of cardstock makes two cards, and one sheet of cardstock can be folded into an envelope. You can also make greeting cards and stationary using clipart on your computer.

Buy inexpensive T-shirts or sweatshirts along with some fabric paints and create a one-of-a-kind shirt design.

Search garage sales for cheap but unique old tea cups. Melt down old candle ends. (If desired, add a little scented oil like lemongrass.) Don’t forget to put in a wick (really cheap by the yard from a craft store).

Decoratively paint some small terracotta plant pots and put votive candles in them.

Decorate a soup can with stickers or cover with colorful paper. Fill with candy canes, pencils, etc.

Get some cheap baskets at a yard sale, flea market, or thrift store and fill with fruits or other foods such as herbal teas, cookies, etc.

Make up some homemade spice mixes and place in recycled spice jars, small bottles, or even plastic Ziploc bags. Attach a label with the ingredients and a recipe or recommended uses.

Fill tins or other containers with homemade cookies, fudge, and/or other tasty treats, or place in cellophane bags with holiday designs. Baked breads wrapped in colored plastic tied with ribbons is another idea.

For a muffin, cookie, or cake recipe, measure out all of the dry ingredients such as flour, baking powder, soda, sugar, and/or any seasonings. Seal tightly in a plastic baggie or Mason jar. Include instructions for adding the remaining ingredients (i.e., add one cup milk, one half cup butter and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees).

Hot Cocoa Mix - combine 2 cups dry milk, 3 tbsp. sugar, and 4 tsp. cocoa. Store in airtight container. Give along with a mug, a chocolate-covered spoon (see below), a bag of marshmallows, and instructions. (For a quick cup of cocoa, stir 1/3 cup mixture into 1 cup hot water.)

Chocolate Spoons - Buy a package of good quality plastic spoons (white, clear, or colored). Melt some chocolate (chocolate chips work well) in a double boiler. If you want, add extracts (vanilla, mint, almond, anise, etc.) to the chocolate to make different flavors. Dip spoons into the chocolate and shake off excess (but keep a nice puddle in the spoon part). Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet with spoons level and handles up on the rim till set. While still soft, you can sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. Or drizzle white chocolate over dark or milk chocolate once hardened. Wrap the spoons in cellophane and tie with ribbon. Put a few spoons in a coffee mug along with some individual hot cocoa or coffee packets and you have a great gift for those chilly nights!

Candied Tea Stirrers – You will need about 34 pieces of flavored hard candy (such as lemon or cinnamon), 2 tbsp. light corn syrup, and heavyweight plastic spoons. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. In a small saucepan combine crushed candies and corn syrup. Melt over low heat, stirring frequently. Drop melted candy into bowl of each spoon. Place spoons on cookie sheet with handles on rims and spoons level. Allow to harden. Store in airtight container.

Dough Ornaments - You will need 3 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water. Combine ingredients and knead until smooth. If too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Cut out holiday shapes with cookie cutters. Poke a hole in the top for hanging. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 ˝ hours. After the ornaments have cooled, color them with markers, paint with acrylic, sprinkle with sparkles, glue on fabric and buttons, etc.

Purchase a gift certificate from a local video rental store and put it in a basket with some candy and popcorn. Wrap it all up with plastic wrap and a nice bow. Makes a great gift for families or teens.

Shop the dollar stores for kitchen utensils, baby products, craft items, office supplies, tools, etc. You can put together a nice bag, box, or bucket of “theme” items geared to the interests of the recipient.

Fill a plastic crate with items like dishwashing liquid, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. that you get on sale with coupons. These are things that every household needs and will use over the year.

Take clippings from a plant like ivy, pothos, philodendron, or spider plant and start them in an inexpensive flower pot that you paint with decorative designs. Or take cuttings from your favorite greenhouse plants and put them in a small vase wrapped in a holiday bow.

Handmade rag dolls are wonderful alternatives to store bought dolls.

Make a “Nostalgia Basket” containing cookies that Grandmother used to bake, including copies of her cookie recipes. On the recipe sheets, jot down a few memories about Grandmother and her cookies.

Make an individual small-scale gingerbread house for each child on your list. Experiment with your favorite gingerbread recipe. If you don’t have enough time to bake, graham crackers and even candy bars can be attached together nicely to build a cute house. Embellish and decorate the mini gingerbread houses with candies, nuts, pretzels, sticks of gum and various colors of icing. Add some flaked coconut snow. Set the houses in boxes and wrap them.

If there’s one thing you can offer your loved ones that they will surely appreciate and won’t cost you a dime, it’s the gift of time. Make up a coupon book of favors they can ask for, like a ride in the country, a picnic, or going to a movie. A similar idea is to give “IOU’s” in the form of fancy gift certificates redeemable for various services such as washing the car, babysitting, yard work, etc. This idea is suitable for anyone from close family members to elderly neighbors. The possibilities are endless and will vary according to your recipients’ needs. These can be placed inside Christmas cards or used as stocking stuffers.

Websites (All kinds of creative Christmas craft, decorating, cooking and project ideas! Great ideas for gifts you can make.) (Homemade food gifts.) (Easy-to-make Christmas gift ideas for everyone on your list – family, friends, kids, teachers – even pets!) (Christmas Gifts Kids Can Make: easy homemade gift ideas with free instructions that kids from preschool through high school, can make on their own.) (Inexpensive, Original, Hand-Made Christmas Gifts.) (Great bunch of Christmas Gift Ideas!) (101 Great Gifts to Make for Christmas or any occasion for parents, friends, teachers, grandparents, and others.) (Christmas Gifts You Make Yourself.) (A flower, a photo album, a journal—sometimes it’s the homemade gift that means the most, from L.A. Youth.)


Homespun Gifts from the Heart, by Karen Ehman, Kelly Hovermale, and Trish Smith.


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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