What are the best family gifts you can make on the cheap?
Gifts are expensive. When you have a few kids, Christmas and other gift-giving holidays become a nightmare. Even with proper family financial planning, you’ll find yourself stuck buying gifts for everyone and their mother (no, really, their mom will expect something, too).
Do you know what people used to do for birthdays or holidays?
Grandmas made hats, gloves, shirts and a zillion other handmade gifts. These gifts, inexpensive to make, actually came from the heart, too. I’ll be honest: it’s easier to jump on Amazon, overload your cart and add it to your already growing debt pile.
But you’ll never see the seven wonders of the world by barely paying off your debt every month.
What gifts can you make on the cheap?
1. Custom Shirts
Custom soccer shirts, t-shirts, even hats can be made with a heat press. If you don’t have a press of your own, you have a few options that will suffice:
- Iron on transfers
- Ask a friend
- Use an online service
If you have a friend that has a heat press or you use iron on transfers, you can easily make your own custom shift. Go to Sam’s Club, Costco or whatever bulk store you have around, and buy a bulk pack of shirts – they’re super cheap.
Then, make your own shirts.
A few ideas to customize your shirt are:
- Family pictures
- Cartoon characters
- Sports logos
You can even make a silhouette of the person’s face if you want to get a little fancier.
2. Wooden Engraved Plaque
You know those super expensive wooden plaques with the neat quotes? They’re so simple to make with a wood burning tool (you’ll find one at your local craft store). You’ll spend $20 or so on the tool and the wood, but the tool is a one-time investment.
Now, I found the easiest way to get your design on the wood is to:
- Print the design
- Cover the back of the paper with a charcoal pencil
- Trace the design onto the paper
The charcoal will transfer to the wood. You just need to use your wood burner to do the rest.
I’ve made: plaques, coasters and even custom wooden kitchen tools with my wood burning tool.
3. Milk Bath Jar
This might be a DIY gift for your loved ones, but you deserve to spoil yourself a bit. If you have crazy kids running amuck, you know how precious your time is and how nice it is to sit in a hot bath with a few moments of time just for you.
You’ll need just a few ingredients to get started:
- 1 cup powdered milk
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Mint essential oil
You can change out the mint for any oil you like. Now, simply place all of the ingredients into a mason jar, shake up and cover.
4. Gourmet Snack Jars
Who doesn’t like food as a gift? I wish my mom was still around to bake cookies, breads and other treats that remind me of my childhood. And you know what? I would appreciate a snack jar more than I would the latest iPhone – honestly.
Nothing beats food from the heart.
And it’s so simple. Just make the person’s favorite cookies, trail mix or any item that won’t spoil quickly, place them into a fancy jar, tighten the lid and put a bow on your gift.
A few ideas for a snack jar are:
- Nut mixtures
Anything sweet seems to work well in my experience.
5. Stone Candle Décor
I love candles, and one gift I received last year was so simple, too. This gift, from what I can tell, included:
- 1 candle
- A black disc (found in a craft store)
- Rocks or stones (found in a craft store)
Now, my gift giver glued the rocks in place, which is probably a tedious job, and placed the candle in the middle. They obviously left enough room for the candle to fit prior to gluing the rocks in place, and I’ve used this candle holder tons of times with different candles.
You can also get a little fancier and put gems or other cute items on the plate, too.
This is a thoughtful gift that works really well for a girl’s room or a person who just loves burning candles often.
Joe Hughes, known by most as the Heat Press Guru, is an expert in DIY crafts, with a particular focus on utilizing heat press machines to create beautiful, long-lasting creations. He runs the very popular website, Heat Press Review, which provides the latest heat press techniques, tricks, and ideas. He can be reached here.