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Friday, December 19, 2014

Spread holiday cheer without draining your bank account

Homemade GiftsThe holidays are upon us – time to spread our joy…and open our wallets. Thinking of the amount of money that will be coming out of my bank account gives me some anxiety. But not much, because I am fabulous on a budget and ‘tis the season to save. Read on for some glad tidings of savings and more.

I am girl who loves technology, so I stay on top of the latest and greatest apps, websites and toys. When I found out about the Christmas Gift List app and Honey (Google Chrome extension), I was jumping with holiday joy.

Christmas Gift List helps me stay organized and on budget as I contemplate holiday gifts. Set a gift budget for each person and mark the gift as purchased as you do your shopping! This app is Android-based, but there are similar apps for all mobile operating systems.

Calling all online shoppers! Have you heard of Honey? Install this extension to your chrome browser and it will automatically apply coupon codes to your shopping cart. This service is a holiday miracle. I could spend a lot of time trying to find coupon codes on various sites, but Honey saves me that time! #SAVING

My favorite way to save money, though, is to get my craft on! Sites like Pinterest and Buzzfeed will help bring your inner elf out. (Warning: It can be a challenge to tear yourself away from these sites/apps and actually do the work.) If you can make the same gift for several people, you can save a little more. You can buy your material in bulk at your local wholesaler (i.e., Costco). Here are some of my favorite crafting gift ideas:

  • Personalized CDs for your friends.

  • I love to make my own “best of” edible items: Everyone loves some yummy holiday snacks or sweets, so whip up your favorite batch of cookies or snack mix, and share with your friends and family.

  • Goodness in a jar: Mason jars are quite popular right now, and using a mason jar to hold the ingredients to cookies, drinks or a family recipe. You can decorate the jar and include the recipe for the goodie inside for a wonderful and inexpensive gift.

  • Gift kits: These can be inexpensive and witty. Select a theme and two or three items that go with it. Decorate the package and add a printable label to give it your personal touch.

  • Homemade decorative mug/cup: Bring out your inner artist and make a custom print coffee mug. Buy a plain mug in a single color and decorate it with porcelain paint pens. Simply bake the mug and, just like that, you have a unique gift for someone special.

  • Homemade candles: Candles are a simple gift that everyone uses; choose from the many scents available, or you can even make your own unique fragrance.

  • Candleholder: If you want a gift that will last longer that a wick, you can make a decorative candleholder. You can decorate a holder using a process similar to the one for a ceramic mug or make your candle in a mason jar.

  • Hand-warmers: To warm a person’s heart, start with their hands. This craft does require a little sewing, but that lets you have fun with the shape of the warmer. You take two pieces of fabric, such as flannel, and sew them together with a gap so you can add flax seed, rice, barley or hulled corn inside and then finish stitching the warmer up.

  • Homemade ornaments: These can be made by people of all ages and for anyone, so they make a great family project. Simple and priceless, and any number of designs can work.

The possibilities of homemade gifts are endless. You can find these ideas and many more, as well as other holiday saving tips and free printable labels, on the ‘Tis the season to save Pinterest board:

Enjoy the season!

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