Tasteful Handmade Gifts

Reader Contribution by Lindsey Bugbee
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Saving money is easier said than done, especially when birthdays pop up all the time and the holidays leave most of us lamenting our empty pockets. Most people don’t realize, though, how easy it is to give quality gifts without giving up grocery money. Giving your friends, family and neighbors tasteful handmade gifts shows how much you care without breaking the bank.

You can whip together sugar scrub for next to no cost and your gift recipient will enjoy soft, sweet-smelling skin for weeks. Search for homemade body scrub recipes online or use the old standby formula: 2 cups sugar, 1½ cups apricot oil and a few drops of essential oil (I prefer lavender oil). Mix it all in a bowl and spoon it into a jar. I generally use recycled jars — an old vessel for jam or salsa, for example — and decoupage pictures of vintage screen stars on the lid. You can also decoupage an elegant, handwritten phrase on the front of the jar: for example, “sucre,” which is French for “sugar.”

Rice pillows also make very thoughtful, cheap gifts. Use any fabric you would like for the pillow cover; I generally use vintage quilt scraps purchased for pennies at auctions. You can personalize the rice pillow by sewing shapes or initials on it. Rice pillows can be heated in the microwave and used to soothe an aching back or warm the foot of a cold bed. Alternately, keep one in the freezer and use the cold bag to relieve a sore neck.

The Christmas gifts I gave last year consisted of glass magnets, glass magnets … and more glass magnets. They are very inexpensive to produce and make any refrigerator look chic and elegant. I prefer to make a letter out of each glass magnet to spell out a name or a phrase. You can also use fabric scraps on the back of the glass to make an interesting design.

It seems everyone is “plugged in” these days with an iPod or a laptop. Find out what size the recipient’s iPod is and sew an iPod cover. They will appreciate the protection and style afforded to their iPod, and you can feel good knowing that you gave a useful homemade gift.

Show your favorite people that you care about them by taking the time to make gifts instead of shelling out money at the store. You, your family and your friends will benefit from your creativity!

Photo by Lindsey Bugbee