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10 Quick and Easy DIY Gifts that Look Expensive and Elegant

Updated on November 13, 2010

Save Money, and Look Good Doing It!

It is so difficult to find "that little something" for your neighbor, your co-worker, or someone you just don't know that well.

Sometimes you start looking to find "a little something" for the whole family, but that can get really expensive when you start to remember everyone in the family-Aunt Susie, Cousin Mike, etc ...

So you spend an hour browsing around a store, and walk away with some cheesy gift that you overpaid for.

Here are 10 ideas you can use that won't cost you a lot of time or money, but will look like they did. These ideas are family-friendly and don't require a lot of time or expertise to accomplish.

I have used most of these with much success and hope that you will do the same. These are not expensive gifts and many can be made for $10 or under. I noticed the personal touch makes all the difference in gift giving. Home made gifts that are well thought-out and put together nicely go over as abig hit. A small personalized touch also goes a long way.

From Peppermint Bark to Bath Salts, there is at least one great idea here you will take away and use for the holidays or any occasion.

Peppermint Bark Hits the Mark

This takes almost no time or effort and looks and tastes fantastic! When finished you can crack it into different shapes, tie it with a pretty string, layer it in a tin, buy a pretty bowl or glass to put it in, ... people love this stuff and will beg for more!

  • To yield about two pounds you will need:

    Two pounds of white chocolate

    (the better the chocolate, the better it tastes)

    A bag of peppermint candy or a box of candy canes

    Peppermint extract or oil (optional)

    Wax Paper

    Time to Make: 10 minutes

    How it's done:

    Crush about 1 cup peppermint candy/canes by putting in a bag and crushing with a hammer, or use a food processor

    Melt the chocolate in the microwave (use a double boiler if you want to get fancy)

    Add a tsp. peppermint oil/extract now if you like

    Add 3/4 of the candy chips to the melted chocolate

    Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper

    You can sprinkle some candy on top now

    Put it in the fridge for about 45 minutes, then take it out and break it up.

    That is it!

A little creativity goes a long way ...

Last year I found "do it yourself" Christmas cards at a dollar store. I added a little glitter and "voila!"

I gave them out at work and everyone ranted and raved, some still have them hung on their wall.

These days the smallest homemade touch goes a long way.

Bread and Cake in a Box Makes a Sweet Treat

Buy a store-bought bread or muffin mix and add some fresh ingredients of your own, a special topping, and you have an easy gift that no one has to know was store-bought.

Use some really cute mini-bread tins and you have a gift that goes a long way.

Your favorite bread or muffin mix (I like to use cranberry orange or pumpkin bread mix around the holidays)

Depending on the mix, choose a complimentary topping or a small addition that won't alter the mix too much. For example, I add a little orange zest to the cran-orange mix.

You can also throw these in the mix:

Fresh blueberries to a blueberry muffin mix

Chocolate chips and/or crushed walnuts to a banana bread mix

Cherries and pineapple to a plain cake or bread mix

create your own (warning--don't add too much moisture or dryness, it will mess with the recipe too much)

Topping ideas:

mix brown sugar, nuts and butter, spread on top for a crunchy yummy topping.

mix vanilla wafers and brown sugar for another great topping, maybe some coconut for an exotic topping?

The toppings mix into the top of the bread, so be generous and creative. You can always eat the mistakes!

Final touches:

Wrap the bread tin in cellophane and raffia paper.

Make fresh whipped cream (very easy-just heavy whipping cream and sugar on high until fluffy)and put in tupperware on the side.

You can add a little cinnamon or vanilla while blending for an even fancier touch.

My Favorite Every Occasion Recipe

I am giving away my best kept secret here

I use this for special occasions, gifts, and as a simple and easy treat. A real people pleaser!

Mini Cheesecake Muffins

To make 48 muffins you will need:

Miniature muffin liners

2 packages cream cheese

1 box vanilla wafers

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 can of your favorite pie filling

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Line muffin tins with paper liners

Crush wafers and place about 1/2 a tsp. into ea. muffin tin

Mix together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla

Fill tins almost to top

Bake 15 minutes

Cool, then top with filling

It is sooo easy and will go over BIG! This recipe can be varied for regular muffins, or even a whole cheesecake-just bake until a toothpick comes out clean, of course the cake will take longer than mini-muffins.


Use whipped cream and edible confetti for birthdays

Buy 2-3 fillings, white and dark chocolate chips, break up a candy bar, put them in pretty bowls, and let guests choose their own toppings. Fresh fruit is also a great topping!

A Picture is Worth ...

This idea is for family or friends with kids:

While visiting, ask kids to make a special piece just for you. Take the drawing and frame it nicely. You can do this for as little or as much as you want and parents will just love it.

Idea: add a poem on matte board around the picture.

Personalize It

Now-a-days it is very inexpensive to personalize just about everything. Depending on your degree of technical savvy, you could invest very little into a great personalized gift.

Here are some ideas you can do on your own or have made for a very reasonable price at your local print shop.

Calendars-you can make a beautiful calendar of your friend or family's favorite pictures using cardstock, then bind it using a hole-punch and pretty string, or get it bound and laminated professionally. For acquaintances, use nature photos, funny cartoons, clip art with famous quotes, the ideas go on and on ...

Keychains, mugs, and more ... who wouldn't want a customized item to remind them that they are a great mom, school teacher, mail-person, etc ...

Get something like this also a the print shop, or visit this site:*


Quick and Easy ...

1. Buy a decent frame

2. Print a poem or have it done

3. Put it in a frame & bag it up!

Chocolate Covered Anything ...

Have you seen those wonderful chocolate covered pretzels, strawberries, and other delectable items in specialty stores for a hefty price?

Well, you can do it quickly and for a fraction of the cost.

You need:

1. Wax paper over a cookie sheet

2. Semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or white chocolate and/or almond bark and/or colored chocolate (if you can find it)

3. Pretzels, cookies, whatever else you want to dip in chocolate goodness ...

How to do it:

1. Heat up the chocolate until melted in a deep enough pot to easly dip things in

2. Dip your stuff about 3/4 of the way, shake off excess chocolate

3. Lay on wax paper, place in fridge or freezer until hardened.


1. After dipping in chocolate, roll in sprinkles

2. Dip in one color chocolate, then drizzle the other over the items on the wax paper

3. Buy a pencil tin and load it up with chocolate covered pretzel rods

Make Your Own Cocoa/S'mores Pack

This is a variation of the "pre-made" gift sets you would pay $10-$20 for in stores. You can do the same thing really quickly & with better quality items.

This is a "two-in-one" also, so the individual can enjoy two gifts in one.


Pick up mugs at a dollar store

Buy a good quality chocolate bar for each gift

Buy a bag of marshmallows and portion them in small baggies for each gift

Buy a box of graham crackers and portion them out

Buy a box of yummy cocoa with pre-made packets,

and you get the idea ... portion them out

You can try to fit it all in the mug and wrap it with cellophane and ribbon or use a gift bag, or a pretty gift box, or whatever ...

Simple and yummy!


Add a sampler bottle of liquor

Add your favorite recipe inside the pack

Add a Bible verse if the individual is religious

Add little packets of shortbread biscuits

Add whatever other little something you want to personalize for each person

Homemade Bath Salts

There is really nothing extra special about store bought bath salts except the packaging and price.

Wait until you see how easy this is!

Buy Epsom Salts or Dead Sea Salts

Use 2 cups per batch in a glass or metal bowl

Add 1-2 tsp. of baking soda to this if you desire (for soft skin)

Buy essential oil in a soothing scent and add 10-12 drops

If desired, color with food coloring paste (the kind used on cakes)

Start mixing! about 2 minutes

That is it!

Use whatever glass jar you like and pretty it up any way you like.


Use small plastic bags and add this to any non-food gifts you give out

Get cool old glass bottles/jars from thrift stores and use them (You can buy corks very cheap in a craft store)

You can make different colored salts and layer them(don't blend scents)

Scent ideas:





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    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas

      I make peppermint bark each year but we call it peppermint crack

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, that peppermint bark looks amazing, I'll have to give it a try!


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