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Great Home-Made Gifts on a Tight Budget
"It is better to give than to receive."
Whoever wrote that was clearly not paying for college. What they said still rings true - giving gifts is just as fun as receiving them. But you don't have to break the bank to gift thoughtful, meaningful, and useful gifts to those that you love! With a little time and effort, you can make them a gift that will tell them just how much you care!
This year, amidst economic turmoil and tuition bills, I'm going to have to get creative with my gift-giving. Here, I've compiled some great ideas for Great Gifts on a College Budget!
This was inspired by a craft I saw on Pinterest. It is quite possibly the simplest and most classy gift for a home that you can make yourself!
Throw Pillow (any size)
If you have an old throw pillow laying around the house, or you can find them at an inexpensive price (my advice is to try stores like TJ Maxx!) you can use a pre-made pillow. You can also make your own pillow with a thick fabric and some batting. (To make my pillows, I recycled old pillows that my mom didn't want anymore and transferred the thick stuffing to my homemade pillows.)
To decorate the pillows, you can write on them or draw on them, or trace something! I used a ruler to make sure that my handwriting was straight. Ideas include quotes, Bible verses, a collection of words or phrases, a name, a simple design, etc.
This gift is great for practically anyone with a couch!
These magnets are perfect for anyone! They are easy and fun to make, and easy and fun to use! You can personalize them, make them match - whatever you want!!
Small round magnets
Flat-bottomed, clear marbles
Cut out small circular shapes from the magazines - try things like letters, vibrant colors, small pictures. Paint a thin coat of glue on top of the small cut-out and stick it to the flat bottom of the marble. After it has dried, glue the circular magnet to the back and voila!
I like to make matching sets - I'll choose a color scheme for each person, and write their name in large letters. Hint: Wrap them up by sticking the set into a small box or an Altoids tin!
Cinnamon Stick Candle Holders
These cinnamon stick candle holders are the perfect gifts for grandmas, aunts, and moms. They smell delicious and they look beautiful - and the best part is they are easy to make!
Hot Glue gun
Glass Votive (candle is optional!)
Hot-glue the cinnamon sticks around the outside of the glass votive, directly onto the glass. Make sure that they are aligned at the bottom, because a bumpy edge will equal a tilted candle. One the outside of the votive is covered, tie a simple ribbon around the cinnamon sticks.
Vinyl Record Bookends
These vinyl record bookends are cool, easy, AND retro!
Block of wood
Glass cake pan
To make these unique bookends, take those old records off the shelf! Any records that are scratched or not listened to anymore are perfect candidates for this craft!
Boil about a cup of water, and pour it into the flat-bottomed glass cake pan. Now, dip about one-fourth of the record into the boiling water. The vinyl should bend easily once it begins to heat up. You can use the block of wood to flatten out the record if it gets wavy, and the best part is - if you mess up, you can just dip it again and start over!
These record bookends are great for music enthusiasts or friends with large book collections! The best part is that you can find bookends exactly like this in stores for $20 or more, but you can make yours for free!
Potholder Glasses Case
If you have a friend or family member on your list who wears glasses - this gift is funky and practical!
Needle and thread
This is one of the easiest gifts you can make - just fold the potholder in half and sew the open edges shut. Ta-da! It's an eyeglass case!
The larger the potholder, the bigger the eyeglass case can be! If you can find a potholder big enough, you could fit sunglasses inside!
Muffin Tin Crayons
If you need a present that will satisfy the younger crowd - look no further!
Old, broken crayons (peel the paper wrapping off)
Muffin tin (A Mini-Muffin tin works best!)
Simply place the broken crayon pieces into the spaces in a muffin tin, and pop them in the oven (Preheated to 275 degrees) for a few minutes until melted (this only takes about 5 or 6 minutes - don't OVER-heat the crayons!) and then pop them into the freezer to cool. You can get creative with glow-in-the-dark crayons or sparkly crayons, but make sure you don't throw in too many crayon pieces at once, or all you'll end up with is a brown mess!
I like to stick to one color at a time, and use all the yellow crayon pieces together, all the blue crayon pieces together, etc... Another great idea is to use shaped tins - I've seen tins at Ikea that produce heart or flower-shaped muffins, and these would make great crayons as well!
Hint: These look wonderful if you package them as a small stack, wrapped in plastic and tied at the top!
Recycled Jeans iPod Cover
Guys are usually hard to shop for, much less MAKE gifts for. This iPod cover made out of old jeans is the perfect way to recycle old clothes and come up with a fun way to protect the iPod of your brothers, cousins, nd boyfriends.
Old pair of jeans
Needle and thread
Cut out a rectangle of fabric (I think it looks best if you chop out the brand label and stick it on top, but if you don't like the way it looks (or you're ashamed of owning non-name-brand jeans - we won't judge!) you can take a chunk of denim from anywhere in the pants!) that is slightly larger than an iPod. Now, use that rectangle to cut another rectangle of the same size. Remember to sew it inside out! Sew the open edges shut, leaving one narrow end open to slide the iPod in, and then flip it inside out and you've got the perfect iPod cover for the important men in your life!
These easy, personalized coasters make the perfect handmade gift for anyone on your list - especially those hard-to-shop-for people, like Dad's and Grandpa's. They require only a few simple, easy-to-find supplies and can be finished in less than an hour!
Cork (Pre-cut circles work the best, or you can cut your own!)
Mod Podge (Regular glue will work, but won't be as shiny or protected)
Thick paint brush
Cut out your coasters using an Xacto knife, or use pre-cut coaster circles. Trace the circle onto your decorative paper. Cut out with scissors, and then glue it on top of the cork. Then, apply a thick layer of mod podge to the top. Don't forget to make sure the edges of the paper are sealed down to prevent peeling!
You can use old maps, scrapbook paper, magazine ads, or newspaper articles for your coaster tops, or even print out personal photos to make it really personal!
Wine Cork Placecard Holders
These wine cork placecard holders are great and creative gifts for friends and family! They make a great gift for the home, especially for those friends who love to host parties and love to drink wine!
Natural wine corks (a set of at least four - they do not need to be the same cork, try some variety!)
First, decide what side you want to face outward. Typically, that would be the side with the writing on it. Sand the bottom of the cork until it is flat (you don't want them to roll all over the table!) by rubbing the bottom along the sidewalk until it is most flat, and then sanding it smooth with sandpaper.
Use an Xacto knife to score a line across the top of the cork. This can be dangerous, so be very careful! The Xacto knife will probably not cut through completely the first time - just keep slicing across in a straight line until it is deep enough. Also - keep in mind that your cut must be straight up and down - a placecard will not stay in a tilted cut as well. Test the slit with a credit card or other plastic card to make sure the cut is clean.
Tip: Make sure you don't use very heavy paper as a placecard - the cork is not strong enough and it will probably tip if it is too top-heavy.
All hail the holiest (and tastiest!) of Christmas treats - Peppermint bark. Not only does it turn out tasting heavenly, but it's very pretty, too! It also makes a great gift for coworkers, neighbors, or people that you don't know terribly well, but still feel compelled to get a gift for!
It is simple to make, and if you place the bark in a tin wrapped in red and green ribbon, you've got a gift fit for a queen!
We used Paula Deen's Peppermint Bark recipe:
- Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
- 2 pounds white chocolate
- Peppermint flavorings, optional
Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle.)
Looking for a gift for mom, grandma, or an aunt that is tough to please? A set of matching trivets is perfect - it's personal and functional at the same time.
All you need are tiles. Match them to your grandma's kitchen curtains or to the plates that your mom always uses - it's up to you. You can purchase individual tiles at any hardware store - look for cheaper ones, and the flatter, the better. Then, use the tile to trace a square of the same size onto a sheet of felt. Cut it out, hot glue it to the bottom - and you're set!!
Wrap them carefully - Because there is felt on the bottom, they should not scratch, but watch the edges. I stacked mine and tied them up with a big bow. As an added bonus, you can use smaller tiles that match to create a set of coasters!