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Money Saving Handmade Gifts and Art Projects

Updated on June 10, 2010

Want Some Great Art Projects For Inexpensive Gifts?

If you are like me, your finances are a bit low this year. So when it comes time for Christmas gifts and the holidays, I am trying to save money any way I can. Read on for some easy, personalized and money saving gifts that you can give just about anyone!

When choosing a gift, you usually want to get something that suits that person and you think (or hope) they will actually use it and not sell it in a garage sale or re-gift it later! If you take the time to make a personalized gift, suited to them, they will not only be grateful, but you will feel good about the gift you gave them. The best gifts are not always the most expensive, but the ones we actually get some use out of. You don't have to be artistic either. There are stencils, or you can make your own using old cardboard or even leftover plastic or styrofoam, depending on the size you need or want.

Some of the ideas I have in mind are listed below. If you have any questions, or even need a pattern, feel free to email me, and I will make you a pattern, or help you out if you get stuck and need some help! (Patterns will cost a dollar or two, just to cover the cost of the material and the postage to get it to you. Sound fair?) Okay, read on for some ideas I have used in the past with a lot of success-

  • Hand-painted, personalized Galvanized bucket- these come in a large variety of sizes. One of my oldest granddaughter's favorite things to do when she comes to our house is to get her small bucket I painted for her, and go outside and pick up acorns. She LOVES her bucket! Her bucket has little red hearts with white dots painted all over it, along with a rose. I am also going to paint her name on it, because she asked me to. She also picks up rocks and all kinds of things and puts them in her bucket, but usually she sticks with the acorns. She asks about it every time I talk to her. Larger buckets are big enough to use as planters for those who love plants both inside and out, or can be put by a fireplace to hold kindling to start fires. They can be used as umbrella holders, candy and baked cookies or candy holders, and all kinds of uses I haven't thought of yet! You would be surprised at the amount of these I have sold when I had my shop open, and when I took custom orders out of my house. The great thing about these buckets is they are galvanized metal, and don't rust generally. So, to paint your special design on them, use decorative acrylic paints. Then when you are finished and your paint is dry, spray the area you painted with a clear, matte finish, indoor/outdoor spray paint. Once you have bought a few colors of acrylic paints, which usually run around $1.00/color for the cheaper ones, along with your clear spray paint (very cheap!), you can do a large amount of projects. If you are thinking, "I don't have any talent, I can't paint anything", here is where stencils, store bought patterns, and patterns from me can help alot! You can even trace something simple out of a magazine, or even a coloring book! I'll give you some tips for making your own patterns further on. You don't have to get fancy, and with acrylics, you can always wipe off mistakes with a wet rag as long as your paint hasn't dried! Personalize the bucket to the person, or people you are going to give it to, and the purpose it is meant to be used for.
  • Decorated Clay Terra-Cotta Planters- These can be decorated and painted in a myriad of ways, and made into gorgeous planters. These also come in a variety of sizes, and you can go one step farther after decorating and actually get a small plant and give the plant and decorated planter both. You use acrylics on these as well, and just spray with the clear spray paint to seal when finished. You can either give the whole outside a base coat of whatever color you choose, and then decorated and paint your design over that, or let the red of the terracotta show through and paint your design right on the pot.
  • Baked goods and homemade candies-If you like to cook, you can never go wrong with baked breads and cookies, as well as homemade peanut brittle, fudge, divinity (old fashioned white candy that is delicious, but you don't see much any more), and even mixed peppermints, etc. Some of the fancier gift shops have liquer filled candies if you want to spend more. One year, I was broke, so I made everyone "x an o" cookies, simulating kisses and hugs, and most of them were gone before the day was over. You can find holiday tins to hold these goodies at dollar stores if you start looking soon. Great for teacher gifts, Chinese Christmas gift swaps, etc.
  • Make your own candles-This is much easier than you think. You can go to any large craft store and find the kits to make your own candles in various sizes and any shape, depending on the mold you use. You can make scented or unscented, and if you are feeling really creative, you can even try your hand at candle carving. You might find you have a talent you never knew you had!
  • Wicker gift baskets-Ever seen how expensive these are to buy ready made? Buy a wicker basket at a dollar store or discount store for very little, then go to the dollar store and load up on soaps, bath salts, candles (or include one you made!), some baked goodies you made, a cheap paperback (dollar stores often sell these too!),maybe a bath pillow(discount store), a scrunchy or loofah, etc. You can also go the fruit basket direction, or tailor it to suit a needy persons needs, then wrap it all up with clear plastic from a roll (dollar or discount store, again) then top it all off with a nice holiday bow from a roll of wired ribbon. You can do these for about a third of the price of buying one ready made!
  • Handmade Jewelry-It is much easier than you think to make the gorgeous handmade jewelry that is so populat now! You can get the beginner kits at craft stores that have all the beads and fittings you need to make lovely jewelry, even with sterling silver hardwire and fittings. Finish it off with a lovely charm or even take a pendant from an old costume jewelry necklace, and make it really unique. The possibilities are endless with this idea, and again, you may discover you have found a new passion to pursue!
  • Hand painted canvas tote bags- We are all trying to go more "green" these days, and a re-usable tote is a great way to go. Simply get your acrylic paints back out, and use stencils, iron on transfers for patterns to paint by (found at fabric stores), or make your own patterns using a special tracing paper and transfer pencils for transfering your pattern onto the tote using your iron. You can find the transfer paper and pencils at the craft stores. They are not expensive, and again, you can do a latge amount of projects with one pad of the paper and your pencil. You will need to get a bottle of FABRIC MEDIUM to use with your acrylics to make your designs washable. The directions are on the fabric medium bottle and it is very simple to use. There are also fabric dyes and acrylics made just for fabric painting, if you want to invest in more paints. You can even add on rhinestones, iron on patches, whatever you want. The sky is the limit! This can also work on T-shirts and other items of clothing. If you have never done anything like this, I suggest starting out small until you have built up the confidence to tackle a big project. Plus, the idea is to save money, so don't get too carried away...It's easy to do, although it led to a full-time job for me, and I have made ALOT of money doing some of the suggestions I have given you here! So, You take it as far as you want! The sky is the limit!

These are just a very few of the ideas I have for money saving gifts, but you better get started soon! Christmas will be here soon, and remember, if you have any questions, or need anything, email me and I will be more than happy to help you out!

Happy holidays!


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    • profile image

      Maggie 7 years ago

      I've always liked getting the typical generic vase that flowers always come in, getting out my paint and small brushes, and decorating those. They're not nearly as typical and boring afterwards.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 8 years ago from Central Texas


      Thanks for stopping by! I have another hub with more ideas if you are interested. My head is full of these kinds of things all of the time, and I especially enjoy using found objects and recycling eveyday things into art in some way. Go have fun, and try some of these. The great thing is they can work for any level of artistic ability, and almost any age.

      Laura T.

    • IvyCrenshaw profile image

      IvyCrenshaw 8 years ago from USA

      I know Christmas is over for this season, but birthdays are coming. This is a great list of ideas, different from what is usually seen. I really like the canvas bag idea. They are so useful.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 8 years ago from Central Texas


      Thanks for stopping by! Hope you and your mom are doing well, and enjoy the New Year!

    • mrxsmoker profile image

      mrxsmoker 8 years ago from Las Vegas

      Yeah, I think we're all feeling the financial crunch. I think just about everyone can appreciate the suggestions you've listed here. Thanks for the great advice.


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