Dreaming of a Frugal Christmas: 6 Things You Can Make That People on Your List Will Use and Want
The problem with many great Xmas ideas is we wait until November to start them and then can’t finish in time. Just devote a little Sunday afternoon time to all or one of these ideas and you’ll have an arsenal of cool cheap Xmas gifts to play Santa with. I present to you a few of the ideas and projects I’m working on and have done in the past.
Baby Food Jar Votives
Back in the day when my kids were eating baby food from a jar I must have saved up a hundred of those cool tiny little jars. Get a double boiler from the local thriftstore, some wax and wick from a craft store and you can have some fun. I’m a candle person anyways so I always save my old candle bits and keep them in a color coated ziploc bags. Come candle making time I mix some of the old wax with new wax and some dye if you wish and you’ve got some groovy little votive candles. I add a ribbon around the top of the jar so it looks less baby food and more clever disguise.
Bath Tea Bags
I order empty tea bag containers meant for the bathtub that can run as cheap as 20 cents a piece. If you’ve got roses and lavender growing in your yard the way I do, you just found a great aromatic "tea bath" recipe! Most tea bags simply have you iron the sides together when you are done. It might take the better part of an afternoon but then you have what’s often a $4 to $6 dollar item in a bath boutique made! Try this idea from You Grow Girl.
This is a hit with my family and friends. With a little baking soda, witch hazel, natural herbs and fragrances, you can come up with great bath fizziness that everyone will like! There are molds you can buy. Some are a bit pricey to set them in--but I found that empty apple sauce containers make great molds! Here’s a recipe from Teach Soap that works well.
Infused Olive Oil
Hey, people spend good money on plain old olive oil infused with rosemary or garlic or both for example--why not make it at home? World Market usually has some great bottles for just a few dollars that can make a really stunning gift. Here’s an easy to follow recipe.
Let’s face it. Everyone has more than enough scarves. You don’t need to knit any more. You can’t knit everyone a sweater--you’d have to have some serious downtime for that sort of project and yarn can be expensive. Enter the tiny knit project--make the kids and cool adult kids in your life some rockin’ amigurumi! What's amigurumi? Inexplicably cute crocheted and knitted animals and whatnot with excessively cheery expressions. No one can be depressed with these around AND if you buy them in a store you'll probably spend $20-$50 on them. Each one shouldn’t take too long to make and you can use scrap yarn to do so. There are a bunch of cool patterns for knit and crochet online but I went ahead and invested the book, Amigurmi World, that’s been a lot of fun.
You know why gloves take so long to make? Too many fingers! Enter the fingerless gloves. All of your friends sitting at computers in cold cubicles and apartments will think you are the most amazing friend ever. Each glove takes about an hour + a little wiggle time for the thumb. One skein of yarn can get you through a pair and many yarn stores will have great sales of one skein left in a dye lot. I’ve made these for awhile so I actually don’t look at a pattern anymore, but Knitty has a good basic one. I confess though, my kids were with me while I was looking at patterns and now I’m stuck making a complicated Transformers hat and sweater. Kids, don’t you want gloves?
Make a homemade checkerboard. I’ve made some from cloth with a checker pattern; I’ve painted old found wood as well to make a checkerboard. The fun comes in with the bottletop caps. We’ve done a big board with peanut butter caps (red and blue) and milk caps (pink for the 2% milk; blue for the fat free) to make two sets. The kids can glitter glue up the tops to match as well.
These are things I’ve been making but my big sources of inspiration, patterns and ideas often come from checking out these places:
The weather is starting to cool off. Time to head indoors, sit down and literally make the holidays happen.
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