28 - 2010

DIY Gifts: Save Money by Giving a Piece of Yourself


homemade gifts

The following is a guest post from Jennifer Kardish at Wholesale Kitchen Cabinets.

There are about a million websites devoted to the weekend warrior, and if you’re one of them, you know that you can save a lot on food, travel, home repairs, and almost any area in which you spend, by simply doing it yourself. Gift-giving is no exception and there are many reasons you should do it.

For one thing, a gift that you make is special. It shows that you care enough to devote your valuable time to the ones you love. In addition, anything you make (with the exception of macaroni paintings) is bound to be more useful than some tchotchke that you buy because you have no idea what to get. And by making your own, you are joining a community of people across the globe who subscribe to making less waste in order to keep our planet healthy. Plus, you can’t beat the savings. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Stationary or cards. Everyone needs to send out a “thank you” or “get well soon” card periodically, and some people still engage in traditional correspondence (despite the speed of alternatives like texting and email). So get some plain paper and envelopes and few stamps to personalize, then put it all in a matching box. If you’re really gung ho, you can even make your own paper by recycling (check out the guide at Pioneer Thinking), dye pages with tea and coffee, or use a graphics program to create a sophisticated watermark.
  2. Jam or canned fruit. If you have a green thumb, this is great way to give a gift that is sure to get used. Fruits and vegetables from your own garden canned in mason jars (with a personal label) make a fun, functional, and beautiful gift. If you’re also pretty handy in the kitchen, consider making a big batch of jam to keep all that late-harvest fruit from going to waste and sweeten up the holidays.
  3. Candles. These are a lot easier to make than you think. If you can find sheets of beeswax, you literally just have to roll them around a wick and trim to the length you want (wrap in tissue paper and tie with a pretty ribbon to finish). If you want something a bit more traditional, try one of the many websites that offer instructions, like Scented Soy Wax Candles. You’ll have to get some equipment, but you’ll save on these scent-sational gifts in the long run.
  4. Jewelry. This gift does require a certain level of craft and artistry, but if you have a flair for design, you can make beautiful presents for less. Metal-working and glass blowing require at least a modicum of instruction to take up, but beading is something anyone can do. The best part is, you can make a lot of modern styles that you see in magazines and stores for way less money. And if you look online to buy beads and hardware in bulk, you’re going to save even more.
  5. Baked goods. The best DIY gift ever, no one can say no to a warm batch of Granny’s PB chocolate-chip cookies or some sweet banana-nut bread. The best part is, anyone can do it. Plus, if you put them in a festive tin that can be reused, there is literally no waste (and you’re doing it for about a quarter of the cost of buying at a bakery).

Even if you don’t consider yourself terribly creative or crafty, there are plenty of options for you to attempt some DIY gifts. So look around, gauge your interest and talent level, and give it a whirl. The worst that could happen is that you can the effort and buy a gift instead. But you may end up discovering a passion for the homemade, a hidden talent, or a productive way to spend a Sunday afternoon. You also stand to save a lot.

Jennifer Kardish is a communications coordinator at Wholesale Kitchen Cabinets. You can check out their free design tips for your kitchen and home.

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