Generally speaking, frugal and homemade gifts do not have the “cheapskate” connotation they used to. Frugal is in and, for many families, necessary this holiday season.
Now that the stigma is lifted, get into the frugal holiday spirit with some of these homemade Christmas gift ideas.
Giving potted plants to your friends and family can be a very welcome gift, especially if it’s something useful and pretty. Green, living plants at the end of December are often a welcome relief from the darkness of winter.
Plants to consider might include air-cleaning varieties, such as English ivy or Schefflera, or herbs that can be used in teas or cooking, such as lemon balm, mint, or sage.
If you start this project in the late summer or early fall before frost, you can take cuttings of outdoor herbs and root them in containers.
Indoor plants can be cut and rooted at any time, but make sure you give the plants time to get established in their pots (at least three weeks) before giving them away.
A variation on this idea is bonsai trees. In the fall, you can often get very inexpensive garden plants that make great (and relatively quick) bonsai specimens. Juniper, cotoneaster, boxwood, Japanese holly, and rhododendron/azalea are just a few of the possibilities.
You will need bonsai pots and some instructions, both of which can be easily obtained online. Your local library will have books on bonsai basics as well.
Baked Goods and Candy
Who doesn’t love to get baked goods or candy for Christmas? Sometimes, though, baked goods are not necessarily frugal. An elaborate fruitcake or complicated candy and cookie recipes can get rather pricey. Try making something large that you can divide up, or make simple fudge or cupcakes from a mix.
A quick and popular gift you can make from relatively inexpensive ingredients is holiday bark. All you need are broken candy canes, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips.
Strew the broken bits of candy cane onto a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Melt the semi-sweet chips and the white chocolate chips in separate containers in the microwave. Use spoon to drizzle ribbons of melted chocolate over the candy cane bits until they are covered.
Sprinkle crushed candy cane or chopped nuts on top, freeze, then break into portions and place in glass jars to give away.
Cold Care Remedies
Christmas comes in the middle of cold and flu season. Give the gift of wellness by blending your own “cold care” teas. Mint, lemon balm, sage, dried ginger slices, and honeysuckle (you can cut and dry the leaves and vines of honeysuckle throughout the winter) make tasty and effective teas to help stave off colds. Put dried herbs in tea bags or pretty glass jars along with an infuser.
You can also make herbal honeys and syrups by gently heating the honey or syrup with the herb(s) of your choice, then steeping, straining, and pouring into bottles or jars for giving.
Homemade Cookbooks and/or Recipe Collections
Using a computer printer, hole punch, card stock, and yarn, you can print and bind a meaningful collection of family recipes. This is a great gift for friends at church or co-workers who may have tasted your cooking and would appreciate recipes.
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