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Looking for Nice, Easy Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

So as the holiday season approaches, I realize that this year we are really and truly broke. This will be a very small Christmas celebration for my family. I am thinking now about some of the other people in my children's lives that we need to buy gifts for - the three year old's preschool teacher and assistant teacher and the invaluable, amazing women who babysits for all three of my kids. I don't want to buy cheap, tacky gifts, but we truly don't have money for anything nicer. (BTW when I mean "broke", let me also share that my in-laws are actually paying for preschool and my parents are helping pay the increase in baby sitting costs since I went from one to three kids.) I was wondering if anyone has fun, easy ideas for homemade gifts that maybe my three year old could participate with. Thank You.

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Wow, thank you for all the responses and all the great ideas! It helps to know that I am not the only one who'll be struggling this holiday season. I love the idea of the painted flower pots that say, "Thank you for helping me grow" and I think we may do that one with an extra baked gift for my babysitter who has a large family. Thanks again to everyone who responded. It is so great to have this resource!

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have the kids to fingerpaintings in whatever colors you want, or use holiday colors. let them dry, then cut them up and paste them onto blank note cards with the artist name. you can get a pack of blank cards and envelopes at Michaels and just glue on the paintings. i do this all the time and send the note as thank you cards from the kids. my daycare has like 4 teachers for each class, so i may do the same thing. even a $10 gift adds up when there are 8 people to buy for.

K., I bought from Avon all the 99 cent items, like lotions etc . I put about five of them in a bag along with hershey kisses.

ok, you got lots of good ideas here, i have something different.... a few years, for my students, i went to one of those science/discovery stores and bought a bunch of stones that i had looked up the meanings of, i dont remember the meanings, but i do remember some of the stones with "good stuff" were hematite, tigers eye, and malachite. google it. they are pretty, and maybe $1 or $2 each, if that. and i printed out cool cards with the meanings of the stones on them and packaged them nicely in those little gauze bags (ebay!). i had students coming up to me years later with the stones in their pocket, telling me how they carried them for luck/protection/etc..... i think this would be a really nice touch along with a heartfelt letter. write the letter out on nice paper and roll it up like a scroll, tie with ribbon, etc.... and dont sweat it, we are all in the same boat, and we all have so much STUFF, anything from the heart is so much better. best of luck to you..... and by the way, i was watching oprah the other day, people talking about how they were trying to sell their houses, and a couple of people actually sold/bought houses on craigs list! dont know, it just popped into my head. again, good luck to you :)

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HI K.,

I've pretty much had it with all of the "stuff" of Christmas anyway, so I decided to do something different this year. I found a good sale on scissors (some nice and sharp, some blunted for kids) and I'm going to write a poem to go with them -- and I will give everybody a pair of scissors. The poem will have the theme "the gift of time" -- because I seem to spend a lot of time running around looking for scissors when I'd rather be talking to my kids or whatever. Plus,, on Christmas morning, everybody needs a pair of scissors. The idea is that having an extra pair of scissors on hand frees us FROM the crazy looking-around and frees us TO do the actually important stuff of life.

It may still sound cheap and tacky, but it comes from my heart. Also, Dave Ramsey (Financial Peace University courses) has this mantra: If today you will live like no one else, then later you can LIVE like no one else. Living a frugal or simple lifestyle baffles most people, but (also a Dave Ramsey quote) we shouldn't keep up with the Joneses, because they're BROKE! Good luck to you in gifting others and in caring for your household!

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Do you have a digital camera? Take some great shots of the kids and get inexpensive frames or even a pack of the christmas cards that are frames. Have copies made at WalMart or any store (check the size of the frame or card before rinting them) iif you can't print them at home. If you don't have a digital camera ask a friend who does to borrow it. Write a heart felt message to each and give that to them. Another idea I often use is I go to dollar general and they have great smelling candles for $1 each. grab a pack of pretty tissue paper and simply pull a square up and around and tie with string, yard, ribbon or raffia or anything you have around.

Just so you know your not alone in the "state of broke"!!! We too have cut Christmas back but I am looking more forward to it this year than many of the others. It will be a fun, simple Christmas celebrating Jesus's birth with cake and ice cream and a few gifts. Getting back to the true meaning of Christmas is proving to be more fun and less stress of other years. Merry Christmas abd God Bless!!! A.

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well how about an apple,and have your child draw a picture.

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I just made up some holiday spice freshners/ornaments. You take equal parts of applesauce and cinnamon, mix them together until it forms a dough (similar to playdough). Then you roll or pat out the dough, press cookie cutters into it and lay them on a wax covered cookie sheet. Let the ornaments/spice freshners dry for 3-4 days (turning them over once so the ends don't curl up during drying). They are awesome to hang or put in a dish any where in the house because they smell so good. You can use them year after year as long as you store them in a Ziploc after Christmas. I really like the dove, mittens, snowman, and tree (you can use a straw to make a hole in the tops to hang...or let them be and put them in a dish). Another tip: we bought the huge jar of applesauce and a huge plastic container of cinnamon from BJs for only a few dollars each. It's fun and they look and smell great.

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Having a large family, I need to be creative and make personal homemade gifts! I think they are so much better than store bought!!!
Here is what I have used in the past, and am giving to my son's teachers, aide, and therapists for Christmas.

Spiced Nuts

3 egg whites
2 tsp water
12 oz salted peanuts
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup walnut halves
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 TBS Pumpkin Pie Spice
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins

Beat egg whites & water in bowl until frothy. Add nuts. Stir gently to coat. Combine sugar, spice & salt, and add to nut mixture. Stir to coat. Fold in raisins. Spread onto 2 greased 15 x 10 baking pans (other size pans work, too). Bake uncovered at 300 for 20-25 min or until lightly browned ***STIR EVERY 10 MINUTES WHILE COOKING*** Cool and store in airtight container. Put into basic Wegmans (do you have this grocery store in your area) Food and Bread Storage bags, attach a recipe card with the recipe, and tie with a pretty bow!

Do the same for this recipe!

Cappuccino Mix (Yield 3 cup dry mix)
1 cup instant coffee creamer
1 cup instant chocolate drink mix (like Quik)
2/3 cup instant coffee crystals
1/2 cup sugar (I usually add less - too sweet)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients; mix well (I usually shake the container all around to make sure what is on the bottom gets mixed in); Store in airtight container. I usually make 4-6 batches so we have some tp keep for us. My husband loves this recipe.

Put into ziplock bags, with these instructions:
Add 3 TBS to 6-8 oz of hot water; top with whip cream

I have a cute tag/graphic that I made for this one year. I can send it to you if you would like. E-mail me your e-mail address.

Happy gift making!
C.

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Stained Glass Candy is awesome!

* 1 cup water
* 3 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
* 1 tablespoon almond extract (or any Loraines candy flavoring, or other flavor extract)
* 1 tablespoon food coloring

DIRECTIONS

1. Lightly grease one 12x18 inch or larger baking sheet.
2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the water, sugar and corn syrup. Heat over high, stirring constantly with a heat resistant spoon, until all sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and bring to a boil. Boil until a candy thermometer reads 310 degrees F (154 degrees C). Remove from heat.
3. When bubbling has ceased, stir in the flavoring and a food coloring. Spread into the prepared pan so that the candy is no more than 1/4 inch thick. Cool for 45 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator, crack into pieces and enjoy!

You can get candy thermometers at CVS, along with the candy flavoring, usually around the pharmacy area. They are really inexpensive.

Use different colors for each flavor.

Then put them in a canning jar or other decorative jar. If you have some plain (old candle holder jars work great, just clean them well) jars with lids, clean them well and put some ribbon and lace on them or decoupage them with Christmas paper. Put the candies in them with a little card, and you're all set!

Other hand made things:

Cookie Tray
Candles
Small scrap books
fruit Basket
Pot holders (buy inexpensive ones and put your kids' hand prints on them)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, K.! I'm sorry that I can't help you with any recipes, but if it helps, this year we are going to the dollar store and picking up a few whisks and whatever candy they have there, putting the candy inside the whisk, and writing on it "We whisk you a Merry Christmas".. Quick, easy, and cheap.. also my son loves to be the one to put the candy inside the whisk! I hope this helps! :)

Hi K.,

I buy a few red and gold gift bags throughout the year and store them away in my closet. If any one of us gets a "holiday" colored gift bag - I add it to the "holiday" gift bag pile.

If I bake organic cookies, I always dress the platter with some drk chocolate candies. The candies make the cookie platters so much more festive! If you have a dollar store close by - check out their holiday platters.

One year I recycled a holiday dish set that I never used - The new, never opened holiday dish set was a fabulous find - it was stored in my storage closet.

For others, I usually go to Trader Joe's and purchase pumpkin bread mixes and boxes of organic teas...

...Then, there's always a nice box of assorted teas...The tea drinking teachers appreciate this gift rather than receiving another mug.

For a few friends, I place 2 or 3 one dollar scratch off tickets in a recylced paper Christmas card. They look forward to this...and it's also better than buying extra gifts - yet, we're still exchanging "gifts" that cost less than five dollars each!

K. Colello

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