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Handmade Holiday Gifts That Favor Your Budget

Posted Dec 13 2008 10:53pm

Handmade holiday gifts often conjure up visions of less-than-attractive sweaters knitted by sweet Aunt Millie, or last year’s fruitcake rewrapped for this year’s festivities. 

But handmade gifts don’t have to be unwanted!  With a little time and a small amount of money, you can have fun, exercise your crafty side, and end up with amazing creations that people are excited to receive.

Easy-to-Make Holiday Treats

Art Appreciation  

Paintings & Photographs

Are you an aspiring artist?  Give someone a piece of your work!  Even a modest painting can look nice in the right frame. 

Studies confirm that many people would rather receive phtos of memorable experiences with friends and loved ones than store-bought items.  Whether it's a photo of you and a friend or a close up of their favorite flower, a photo in a nice frame is the perfect gift.  If you have access to some antique photos of your family or ancestors, have them restored for an heirloom quality gift.

Any of these projects can be accomplished with less than $50, and this gift shows the investment of time, thought, and creativity.  You know your friends and family best, so take a few moments to brainstorm what they enjoy or might need or want.  There are dozens of other thrifty craft projects out there just waiting for your time and creativity! 

Edible Delights

Chocolate and Candy

Who doesn’t like getting a box of chocolates?  Homemade chocolate truffles are a decadently easy way to impress your friends and family this holiday season.  With organic versions of chocolate, cream, sugar, and cocoa powder, you can be well on your way to becoming their favorite chocolatier.  Mix up an indulgent batch of dark chocolates for a heart-healthy boost, and top them with a dusting of unique flavor from bits of pistachio, lavender, or sea salt. 

Not a fan of chocolate?  Try making a nut brittle, easily put together with just a few ingredients.  For an added touch, present your culinary gifts in a clear reusable jar or container that the recipient can use after the treats are gone.

Infused Oils and Vinegars

Glass bottles filled with herbs and spices suspended in oil make an eye-seducing addition to any countertop and a flavor-enhancing accesory to any pantry.  Visit Great Green Gifts: Infused Oils and Vinegars for step-by-step instructions and some pointers. 

If you have an interest in working with herbs, use the infused oils idea as a springboard for other creations that offer nutritive benefits.  Try boosting existing jellies by infusing them with herbs, create a heart-healthy hawthorm berry jam from scratch, or experiment with zesty spice rubs.

Scents 'n Suds

Aftershave

Natural aftershave is a gift that will initially "wow" the recipient, then soothe and pamper their face for weeks and months to come.  Try making Aloe Aftershave Gel from The Cat's Meow or this Exotic Aftershave Recipe featured on Pioneer Thinking.

Lip Balm

Fill small reusable containers (glass or aluminum) with a nourishing, homemade lip salve and the recipient will thank you all winter!  With one receipe, you can easily make enough to fill 10-15 containers and share the soothing power of natural ingredients with many of your acquaintances, friends, and family.

When you're ready to pour the salve into containers to cool, you can divide the mixture to create distinct scents to suit your recipients.  If you can answer 5 basic questions about the recipient(s), check this Aromatherapy-at-Home quiz, which utilizes the Meyer Briggs personality assessment to match up preferences and personality traits to scents.

An exfoliating sugar scrub is a nice compliment to the gift of flavorful lip balm.  Mix up this Exfoliating Sugar Scrub Recipe from AromaWeb and slather the skin polisher into a clear jar.

Soaps

If the idea of making soap seems laborious and daunting, it’s time to take another look!  With soap molds, easy pure vegetabe glycerin recipes, and some organic essential oils, you can make beautiful, veg-based soaps in all shapes and sizes.  Visit Creation Soaps' Organic Soap Recipes page to find a few quick, easy glycerin recipes.

If you're itching to don gloves and goggles and cook up creations chemist-style, check out these natural soap recipes (keeping in mind that they will generally take much longer to settle than glycerin soaps):

  • For an in-depth look at soapmaking and a variety of recipes, visit Cranberry Lane
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