I always made all my Holiday gifts for friends and family (except little kids – they want toys. From a store.). For the people that didn’t appreciate my handmade gifts, I usually just bought them something on sale like really cheap jewelry or something that I didn’t put much care into. I mean why put your time and love into something that isn’t appreciated? What it comes down to is I only make things for people I care about. So it isn’t just about saving money – because you can go to the Dollar Store for that or go to Costco and buy their homemade breads and repackage them in dollar store containers and pretend like you made them yourself. Below are some of the things I actually made that were great successes.
My favorite site to get photo books published and by the far the cheapest and best quality is viovio.com. I have made numerous books – some cheap and some expensive depending on the number of pages. They use acid free paper and have a zillion size/paper finish options. This is where I print out clients’ books. For lesser quality I use winkflash and get their 100 page deal that generally runs about $20 with $6 shipping.
Flannel Shoe Bags. Sounds boring, right? Wrong! Women put jewelry, cosmetics, etc… in them as well as shoes. And I picked out “manly prints” for the guys. I had 30 people on my list that year and made 90 pairs. Lots of people use cotton, but flannel is more durable and won’t show dirt. I wrapped them up with cute ribbon and I still get comments about how much they’ve been used.
Pine cones fire starters dipped in wax with a little bit of glitter. I live in an area full of pines, so thus the cones. I bought the cheapest burlap and sewed up the sides to put the pine cones in, and threaded red ribbon through cut slots around the top. Then Home Depot for (at the time) cheap large galvanized buckets to put the bag in. Lot of praise for that gift!
Photo Calenders. Artscow.com has specials ALL THE TIME (also cheap playing cards etc…). Like them on FB or go to their site to see their amazing deals. I paid about $5 total a calendar last year (but since the stuff is coming from Hong Kong you have to order about 6 weeks a head of time. I wasn’t thrilled with the quality – I usually upload things LIGHTER than what you see on your screen because they print darker – and I didn’t do it with these calendars). They seem a bit uneven in quality so you get super positive and negative comments – but their prices cannot be beat. I also like Costco.com for calendars. You can now put photos in the date boxes, select your own font, type messages, birthdays etc… and I always insert photos into almost every date box to get the maximum number of images I can in – even if they are clip art.
I also go to Good Will or the Salvation Army to make my own Paperwhite Bulb Kits. I try to get really tall vases (because I hate the ones in the catalogues where the vases look pretty but are worthless), making sure the bulbs will fit, fill the bottom with white pebbles, and then tie the vases with white ribbon. I used to buy my Paperwhite Bulbs at Kmart, but you can get them anywhere – the cheaper the better. Also buy them well before Christmas, because they sell out.
Lemon filled cut glass bowls. I have also bought cheap cut glass bowls and elevated candy dishes at thrift stores and filled them with lemons. Lovely present.
Rice “Therapy” Bags with essential oils. Tutorials all over the internet. People really liked these. Don’t pick out boring fabric. But actually I would use Cherry Pits now and there is a good tutorial at Martha Stewart here.
Homemade Vinegar infused with different herbs. This stuff lasts forever and the bottles and corks are super cheap. So is the vinegar! Lots of free printable labels and recipes on the internet. I made one with regular herbs and added a small amount of raspberries to the other – which created a blood red dramatic presentation.
I always tell my well traveled, arachnophobic friend that if someone doesn’t appreciate a thoughtful, handmade gift – especially in these horrible scary economic times, then may be they shouldn’t be your friend. For real.