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The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy! Merriment! Singing and dancing and magic!

But for some of us the weeks approaching the holidays (yes, there are mere weeks now!) are a little stressful, if not downright scary. Why? Holiday shopping of course!

Nobody should have to deal with department stores, window-shopping, Internet shopping, or, even worse, the M Word during the holiday season. I mean, who wants to make a trip to the… M-m-mall during the holidays? I’ll tell you who: thousands of other last-minute shoppers who are equally impatient and in a rush as you are—probably most of them with screaming babies. It’s terrifying.

Shopping online is a little better, because you don’t have to face the crowds; but there is always the question of whether the product will be shipped on time, undamaged, and correctly. Besides, shopping online can be just as expensive, if not more, than shopping in a store.

So what should you do if you want to avoid shopping and the costs that go along with it? Well, you should make a gift yourself, of course! You’ll save a bundle, your gifts will be so much more personal, and you won’t have to face the holiday hordes!

With these ten inexpensive, homemade gift ideas, you’ll bring back the joy, merriment, singing, dancing, and magic of the holiday season… I’m not sure how; but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?

1)   Baked goods: It’s hard to go wrong with cookies, cakes, pies, or breads around the holidays. Just bake your best and fancy it up by putting it in a gift basket, a nice holiday tin, or a beautiful platter.

2)   Cookies in a jar: With this one, you’re not giving the actual cookies, but all of the ingredients for someone else to make the cookies. It’s not lazy—it’s fun. Just layer the ingredients in a mason jar, like you would with colorful sand, and to top it off, decorate the jar with ribbons. Attach the recipe with one of these ribbons, and voila, you’ve got yourself a present! Check out some recipes here.

A jar full of cookie ingredients isn't lazy-- it's a great gift!

3)   Biscotti or chocolate spoons: These are perfect for the coffee-lovers in your life. Click here for some great biscotti recipes, and here for the spoons. Pair these gifts with a hand-decorated coffee mug or an inexpensive bag of fine coffee beans and you’re in business!

4)   Jars of homemade bath salts: These are luxurious, relaxing, inexpensive, and easy to make. Check out thisvideo tutorial.

Bath salts are as luxurious as they are easy to make.

5)   Mini Garden: Go to a vintage store and pick up some inexpensive but pretty teacups. Fill it with dirt and plop an ornamental bulb or even a small oregano, rosemary, or basil plant in there, and you have a tiny, little garden. It’s inexpensive and this gift will keep giving.

6)   Book of coupons: I’m sure you’ve seen those clever little books of coupons at the bookstore, for things like “One Free Massage,” “One dinner in,” “One day of laundry,” etc., that you are supposed to give to a loved one. Well, those clever little books can be expensive! Why not make your own? You can make the coupons more personal, the pages can be decorated however you want, and it is cheap!

Your own book of coupons can be as unique as you'd like it to be.

7)    Create your own “Of the month” club: Just like the coupons above, this is creating something yourself that is often overpriced when you buy it. You know those “beer of the month,” “fruit of the month,” “pretty much whatever you can think of… of the month” clubs? Create your own! Give a certificate for one _____ of the month, and each month, give that person a different variety of said _____.

8)   Paint a picture: This is pretty self-explanatory. If you have a little bit of artist in you, paint, draw, print out, or just somehow create a picture of something meaningful to a person you love. I do this almost every year for my parents and they say they appreciate those gifts more than anything I could buy. And I do too—because they save me a lot of money.

You have tons of options if you paint a picture as a gift.

9)   Frame a photo: If you’re not so artistically inclined, just borrow your gift recipient’s favorite photo, sneak off to any Walgreens or CVS, get the photo enlarged, and then slip the original back in its place. Pick an inexpensive, simple frame, or even a blank one designed for decorating—I’d go with Michaels for either—and there’s your gift!

10)   Create a scrapbook: This is along the same lines of framing a photo, but probably just a little more involved. If you have the time, though, a scrapbook can be the perfect and most thoughtful gift. I got one from my best friend once for my birthday and it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten!

Scrapbooks are a great way to preserve your best memories.

What are your crafty holiday gift ideas?

Sources: AllRecipes.comTasteOfHome.comFoodNetwork.comSpecialtyJava.comYouTube.com,
TheFrugalShopper.comMNN.comMichaels.comMangomoney.com

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