Americans plan to spend an average of $648 on gifts this year, according to the National Retail Federation — quite a sum when considering that, thanks to supply chain chaos, Black Friday and Cyber Monday didn’t shape up to be as awesome as usual in terms of discounts. Consumers looking to put their dollars to other use — or to just spend less in general — might want to consider tapping into their crafty side and DIY’ing certain holiday presents.
If you’re worried that making your own gifts will only end up costing more in both money and time than simply ordering something off of Amazon, fear not — we talked to crafty folks to learn their favorite DIY presents, and how to create them quickly and cheaply.
A scented candle collection can cost hundreds of dollars. And even one large candle can cost upwards of $20 at the local mall. You don’t have to spend all your hard-earned money to purchase fancy candles for the people on your list. You can make your own for about $7.50, estimated Johan Liebert, founder of DazzDeals.
“All you have to do is melt some soy wax and add your choice of essential oil to it,” Liebert said. A five-pack of such oils can run you as little as $6 on Amazon. And a bag of candle wax will cost about $20. So you can make lots of candles for the price you’d pay on just one.
Here’s exactly what the process looks like, Liebert explained:
- Melt soy wax in a pot over low-medium heat.
- Once melted, add 80-102 drops of your favorite essential oils. For the holiday season, you can use scents such as cinnamon, pine, fig, and chestnut.
- The amount of essential oil you use depends on how potent they are.
- The next step is to anchor wicks to the bottom of a mason jar using a bit of wax.
- Tape wick upright to a horizontal chopstick or pen.
- Pour the melted wax into a mason jar.
- Let stand until solid (about 1 hour).
- Cut the wick to the desired length.
Sea Salt Body Scrub
A sea salt body scrub helps to smooth the skin, remove dead skin, improve circulation and soothe dry skin — and it’s super easy to make according to Alison Angold of Beauty Taming The Beast, who broke down the process.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A glass container
- Sea salt
- Almond oil
“Simply add a mix of sea salt and sugar to a jar,” Angold said. “Add oil to soak gently through the sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Add a little more oil on top.You could add a few drops of essential oils, if you have them to hand, to give the body scrub a nice scent. Grapefruit is good for an uplifting aroma, Lavender for soothing and relaxing. Ensure the lid is tightly secured Add a label tied around the jar with some colored ribbon.”
Angold estimates that the entire thing costs about $8, but could be much cheaper if you already have some of the supplies at home. Sites like Goop sell these types of scrubs for around $40.
Seed bombs are small clusters densely packed with wildflower seeds. They’re meant to bring a splash of color to urban areas where there’s not much in the way of landscaping detail. You can buy seed bombs for cheap on sites like Etsy — one listing boasted 25 seed bombs for $25. From there, all you have to do is dress them up a bit to make them picture perfect for presentation.
“Simply purchase ribbon, jars, and download free tags, if desired,” said Linda Smith
Owner at burlap+blue and all crafty things. “Fill jars with seed bombs, attach the tags with ribbon and that’s it.” The seeds are now ready to be planted! You can personalize your gift by writing out the instructions by hand. (There aren’t many — find a place with good soil and drop the bomb halfway in, leaving the top uncovered.)
Smith estimates that you can DIY these thoughtful gifts for under $10, whereas stores will hike the price up to around $25 per jar.
The only caveat is that this gift may be a little bit better for warmer climates. If you’re giving the seed bomb at the height of a cold winter, inform the recipient that they should keep the jar tightly sealed and keep the seeds in a dry, dark place until they’re ready to go out into the world in the spring.
Of course, the seeds don’t have to be planted at all! They make a beautiful decoration all on their own.
Painted Mason Jar Succulents
“It’s always a safe bet to give succulents as a gift,” said Shiv Gupta CEO of Incrementors Digital Marketing. “That’s because they’re low-maintenance and almost self-sufficient. A tall mason jar with some nice colors painted on it makes the ideal DIY present. Simply fill the jar with river rocks, carefully set a succulent pot inside, then paint the outside with bright colors.”
This gift shouldn’t cost you much to make. All you need are the rocks — which you may be able to obtain for free — a mason jar and a small succulent plant which often go for under a buck at stores like Michaels. The greatest investment is the paint, but even that you can score cheaply at craft stores.
You can find similar gifts on Amazon — but they’ll often run you over $20 for just three plants.
A Jewelry Frame Organizer
“A jewelry frame organizer is a cute and original DIY gift for any fashion lover,” said Maria Juvakka, founder of Chic Pursuit. “It’s much cheaper than buying a jewelry organizer, plus you can add personalized touches for your recipient.
“Start with a small photo frame that you find in a thrift store or laying around your house,” Juvakka said. “Take out the glass part and decorate the frame with a fresh coat of paint, pearls, crystals, or anything else your recipient might like. Then, cut out a piece of chicken wire and attach it to the back of the frame. Place a piece of fabric or canvas over the chicken wire. Finally, add hooks for hanging necklaces and bracelets.”
This gift should only cost a few bucks to make, whereas a new jewelry frame organizer goes for at least $30 on Amazon.
“A great, super easy gift to DIY this holiday season is a potpourri jar,” said Dorothea Hudson, a DIY crafter with Expert Insurance Reviews. “You can find many of the elements already around your home or even outside, so the cost will be minimal. But the special touch of a DIY potpourri means everything.”
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
“First find a jar, preferably clear glass so you can see the ornate arrangement you will make,” Hudson said. “Then you can find common ingredients you might already own around the house, like cinnamon, cloves, oranges, lemons, and apples. Slice the fruit. Place them on a metal cooking rack. Use your oven’s dehydrate setting. This will cook the fruit slices until they are fully dried so they retain pleasant aromas, but stay preserved. The cloves and cinnamon will not spoil.”
Next, Hudson says to find some pine cones outside for anesthetic touch. You can clean them by soaking them, then letting them air dry. “Then you can bake them in the oven, which adds a nice touch because the sap will glaze over leaving a pleasant shine,” Hudson said.
Now it’s time to mix the ingredients.
“The apples and cinnamon will especially go nicely together, so be sure to sprinkle extra cinnamon on the apples,” Hudson said. “Arrange the pine cones so they are visible and place the dehydrated fruit slices against them in even distribution.”
DIY’ing this gift is sure to be a lot cheaper than buying pre-made potpourri, which Hudson noted can range from $15 to even $40, or more, depending on quantity and specialty of ingredients.
A Canvas With Your Children’s Handprints
“One of my favorite DIY gifts is a canvas with my kids’ handprints on it,” said Michelle Keldgord Co-founder of BakingHow. “I strategically place their hands to look like a reindeer, Christmas tree, Santa Claus, or any other holiday-inspired character or decoration. This one is very exciting for grandparents and other family members, and it costs about $3.”