You’re creative and on a budget. Here’s how to win on both counts.
The holiday season inspires anticipation, excitement—and sometimes a little too much mass consumerism. In theory, you want to buy lavish gifts for friends and family, but as special offers and holiday promotions fill your inbox, giving can start to feel more like a requirement rather than a meaningful act of kindness.
This year try making your gifts—giving you both the opportunity to save money and put a nice touch on your holiday giving. We spoke with experienced crafters and budget-conscious creatives, who offered their most coveted tips and practical advice on how they give during the holiday season.
Spend some time coming up with a fun idea.
Browsing websites and craft stores can help inspire you. Jo, of the crafting blog Chica and Jo in Lexington, Kentucky‡, was shopping when she saw plain, inexpensive wooden ornaments, and wondered how they would look spiffed up with swirling metallic paint. Answer: “I loved how they turned out! My grandmother loved them so much, I was forced to give my set to her.”§
Watch the cost of materials.
Victoria Huizinga†, creator of the Marion, Indiana-based lifestyle blog Snail Pace Transformations, recommends thrift stores and yard sales as sources, as well as using craft and fabric store apps, which often offer coupons, deals, and sales.
“Every once in a while, I’ll find brand new yarn at a yard sale or a thrift store for a really good price,” she says.
You can also pool expenses: Huizinga suggests getting together with friends—all of whom contribute materials they have on hand—and making an evening of it.
If you’re a newbie, you can still do this.
One entry level option is paper crafting: making cards, gift tags, gift paper, or scrapbooks. “We think it’s a great starter craft,” says Chica of the crafting blog Chica and Jo¶, “because everyone can cut and paste paper.”
With a roll of simple brown kraft paper, there are thousands of inexpensive stamps and inks you can use to produce unique wrapping paper at a low cost, but at a high volume.
As your skills develop, you can build up to complicated projects, such as phone cases or other complex projects on Chica and Jo’s list of paper crafts.
Repeat what you’re good at, with variations.
Kate Meyers, a Pittsburgh-born design editor now in Colorado, recently took up sewing, something she never thought she’d do—but totally loves. She focused on accent pillows and buys inexpensive, beautiful end-of-bolt and remnant fabrics.
By using the same pillow pattern and varying the fabrics, she crafts unique gifts for each recipient, saving time and money. “I’ve made dozens of them,” Meyers says, “and I’ve become so much faster with time.”#
The key idea is to keep things simple and let your creativity shine. With a little work and planning, you can create many treasured gifts for your loved ones to enjoy.