Gifts For The HoliDIY: Expand Your Gift Giving Dollar

When the holiday season rolls around, many family budgets become strained. With a long list of family and friends, finding enough money to go around may be challenging. To help reduce the stress of this holiday season, try Doing It Yourself (DIY) instead of purchasing them. Here are some things to consider when doing it yourself.

Is it feasible?

Consider first if this is the next Pinterest fail or the perfect homemade gift. Make sure to keep it simple and don’t try to do something that you don’t know how to do, like arm knitting. It looks so easy right?

Is it Safe?

When making gifts from the kitchen, food safety is crucial. Always buy fresh new ingredients, because you never know how long the gift may sit in the recipient’s pantry. Be cautious of allergies such as; milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat, and eggs. Label with the date made, list of ingredients, and storage and handling instructions. If you choose to give a home preserved food be sure that a USDA tested recipe was followed. Foods made with gelatin or Jell-O cannot be stored at room temperature because the sugar content is not high enough to slow growth of bacteria. Breads and cakes baked in canning jars with lids tightened on are unsafe. You may package ingredients in canning jars and ensure they are baked in a traditional dish.

Is it Budget friendly?

Make homemade mixes in a jar. Mixes for soups and cookies are popular gift items that are fairly inexpensive to make. For example make a decorative hot chocolate snowman (directions below) for just $2.78 per gift compared to a $10 candle or hand lotion.

Use 3 baby food jars to create your snowman. In the bottom jar fill it with your favorite mints, like peppermints or Andes mints. The middle jar is for your favorite kind of hot chocolate mix. Save money by making your own. The top jar is filled with marshmallows. Decorating is free to your imagination.

Create gift baskets. For the family member who loves movies, make a “night-in” basket. Get a large bowl for popcorn to use as the container. Add packaged popcorn and a coupon for a free movie rental.

For parents with young children, provide a homemade coupon good for free baby-sitting. Other ideas include coupons for helping walk the dog, painting or cleaning.

Fill a holiday mug with packets of flavored tea, hot cocoa or coffee for those who enjoy warm beverages.

Homemade gifts aren’t just good for the pocket book they are good for keeping everyone in the holiday spirit. Most importantly have fun because the possibilities are endless!

Purdue University is an equal access/equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

Monica Nagele is the County Extension Director and educator of health and human science for the Montgomery County Purdue Extension.