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Holiday Gift Guide, Part 4: Frugal Homemade Gifts

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Homemade gifts can be so much more than the sum of their parts, which makes them a great frugal gift option.

They are redolent of effort, of “I thought of you all year and worked on this for you” versus “I realized I needed a gift for you ten minutes ago and picked this up as I was driving here.”

knotted heartMoneySavingMom has an extensive collection of frugal gift ideas. Some of my favorite homemade gifts from her list follow:

* Homemade baking mixes
* Embroidered pillowcases
* Hand-stamped notecards
* Personalized CDs (with music, family photos, etc.)
* Custom-made photo calendars (every grandparent I know adores these)
* Homemade food, including freezer-ready quick meals and baked goods (I am seriously asking my mother-in-law for a giant vat of her famous fresh Tomato soup for the holidays this year)
* Canned vegetables, jam, pickles, etc.
* Scarves, sweaters and other knitted/crocheted goodies
* Fleece throw blankets
* Homegrown organic dried herbs (in a charming little jar, what could be better?)

I talked a bit about this in my last entry, but the ultimate “handmade” gift may not be a thing at all, but instead, a service. I love the concept of lending your personal services to someone else, especially in this age of so little free time.

If you’re good at sewing, what about giving certificates for mending and tailoring clothing? Or giving proofreading or resume help to someone still in school? Know someone who travels a lot? A few certificates for rides provided by you to and from the airport could be just the thing. Or create a scrapbook or photo album for someone with lots of memories and no time to compile them. Babysitting, yard cleanup, etc. are gifts which cost little but your time.

I’ve been blessed with some very creative friends, so in the past I’ve received amazing scarves, jewelry, gorgeous embroidered pillowcases, and even original artwork. This year, one of my good friends knitted me some very chic pure-white cashmere gloves.

My own talents are more culinary than crafty, so this year I’m giving out tins of several varieties of homemade cookies and a few premade freezer meals, like lasagna, for those in my life who don’t enjoy cooking as much as I do. If you’re not inclined to create gifts yourself, you can buy amazing and unique handmade gifts of all sorts at

Any special handmade gifts you’ve given or received? Share your favorites.

Image Credit: Autreyu

Updated August 9, 2011 and originally published December 14, 2007.

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About the author

Along with her partner, Sasha owns and manage six residential rental units. Sasha endeavors to support the causes and organizations she believes in through more conscientious spending practices. View all articles by .

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Love the CD music mix idea. I have done this quite a bit and it always makes a fun, personal gift.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

Home made objects are great gifts if the recipient will like the item in question. Otherwise it’s not really thoughtful at all, it’s just having a hobby.

I’ve been the recipient of a few too many home made gifts that I really didn’t want. I do feel bad that someone put in effort into something that just isn’t right for me.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

For this year’s company Secret Santa, I drew the name of a co-worker who works at the opposite end of the country (but comes up to our offices about once a month) and we had a $5 limit on gifts. Talk about a challenge!

So I decided to make fortune cookies. Paper ones, because I’ll be danged if I’m going to risk burning my fingers folding edible ones.

I printed a list of truisms by Jenny Holzer (they’re much better than the you’ll-win-lotto-today type fortunes) and cut them into individual strips and hid them in a fortune cookie I folded using brown manila cardboard. I found a workable cookie template after a few trial and errors.

Here’s a photo:

I used 2 manila file folders (some of the cookies had File Master on their underside, lol!) at $0.50 each and I had a yield of about 35 cookies.

I put them all inside a $2.99 cookie jar and wrapped it up with leftover tissue paper and red cellophane paper from another project.

To make sure he ‘got it’, I composed a teaser poem on the gift tag:

“In each of these
A fortune untold;
The question is
Which will you unfold?”

He was pleased as punch. :-)

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avatar 4 Anonymous

Homemade gifts are worth offering indeed! It saves your money as you don’t need to go to a mall or a store or shop online for your friends and relatives. To stay frugal during the festive season what is required is staying within a fixed budget so that one doesn’t overspend. As for me, I’ve just followed some Christmas tips to stay stress-free and happy during this season. Here are 51 such tips and more:

Hope you find them interesting enough!

Merry Christmas in advance!

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