Being a student can sometimes mean that budgets for holiday gifts are stingy at best. A poor financial situation, however, can be an opportunity to bring out your creative side with some homemade gifts for friends and family — and after all, it’s the thought that counts, right?
The easiest way to save cash is to make something yourself by buying minimal supplies or using what you have on hand already. Some of these ideas do require putting in a little extra time, but what you spend in time you will save in money this holiday season!
1. Baking: this is one of the easiest homemade gifts, and who doesn’t love a tin of holiday treats? Simple and yummy recipes to make include caramel corn, chocolate truffles, butter tarts or sugar cookies in fun shapes like snowmen, Santa or Christmas trees. If you want to get really creative, try making a gingerbread house — from scratch or otherwise — and decorating it with the person’s favorite candies and chocolates. These types of gifts are delicious and you can put the treats in a holiday-themed container and wrap it with ribbons and a bow.
2. Speaking of goodies: if you don’t want to bake something yourself, another gift to make is “do it yourself” baking jars. Take a large mason jar and gather all the dry ingredients together for your recipe of choice and then layer the ingredients in the jar. Attach a note with the recipe, including instructions to add the wet ingredients — milk, eggs, vanilla extract — and then the receiver is one step ahead for the next time they bake! Some ideas include cookie recipes, muffins or a brownie mix.
3. While we’re on the topic of food, another idea is to make a large batch of salsa, jam or your favorite preserve, and then gift that to a number of people. Even a large batch of homemade soup can make a good option, and friends and family can then enjoy your gift after the holiday season, as these options will keep longer.
4. Depending on your creative abilities, knitting or sewing a variety of gifts can be a simple way to bring some holiday cheer. If you can knit, now’s the time to supply your friends and family with mitts, toques and scarves. If you know how to sew, try a pattern for a homemade apron or tea towels. Many people appreciate these types of handmade products that are also practical.
5. If you have a family member or friend who appreciates sentimental gifts, now’s the perfect opportunity to put together a photo album of all your favorite memories. Since many people store their photos digitally nowadays, having a photo album with developed pictures can be a unique and treasured gift. Spice it up by writing funny or special memories and notes in the margins.
6. Making handmade cards is something that might not be a gift replacement, but can definitely be a way to add a special touch to a present. This is especially useful if you are going the route of gift certificates for Christmas; putting a gift certificate in a personalized card will go a long way. Grab some cardstock paper and holiday stickers and get crafty!
7. If you’re not artistically-inclined, consider regifting any items you may already have that are not particularly used. Some good items include a favorite book or DVD, unused beauty products or clothing items you never use — shirts, scarves, a backpack. It’s an easy way to give a gift but also de-clutter at the same time.
8. Another option is to plan an activity or new experience to share with someone. Take your friend to that play they wanted to see, cook a meal for your significant other or spend the day at a used book store with your dad. Whatever it is, the person will likely be happy to just spend some time with you, and if you put extra thought into how that time is spent, it won’t go unnoticed.
For more homemade gift ideas, the Internet has a plethora of suggestions. The holidays can be stressful for students with cramming for exams, leaving little time to think about presents for friends and family. Gifts don’t have to be another stressor however, and taking some time to make homemade presents this year might just be easier than you think.
Naomi Zurevinski / Editor-in-Chief
Graphic: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor