Making gifts for your loved ones is a great way to spend less. You can pick a project you know you’ll enjoy doing and that you know your recipient will love to receive since it was custom made just for them.
Best all-around tip: Be wary when visiting crafting stores for your supplies—it’s very easy to go overboard and buy more than what you need for your current project. Like we love to say, be prepared with a list!
Below are our favorite seven of the many DIY gift ideas we've found and want to share. From Instagram to Pinterest to Google, the Internet is ripe with ideas. Be sure to keep a rein on your budget and your time as you tackle your favorites.
1. Host a baking party with friends
If you love baking, chances are you have a few friends who do, too. Build in some quality together time by hosting a present-baking party. Everyone can bring a few ingredients to share. Get some crafting or food-storage supplies for packaging as well. Wrap baked goods in cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon, and put them in a decorative tin or basket along with hand-written recipes cards for each item.
An alternate idea for those of you who prefer to cook savory food: craft menus for your three best meals and print them on nice paper to present to your friend. Include a response card where they can choose the menu of their choice and a mutually convenient date for you to cook just for them. Be sure to take photos so you can use them in future gift-giving efforts.
2. Make spa-quality gifts at home
There are tons of tutorials for great, spa-worthy body scrubs, soaps, lip balms, and more online. Here are some we like, though we can’t vouch for all the steps, so allow yourself plenty of time to plan, prepare, and package.
- Bath fizzies from Martha Stewart
- Lip scrub and body scrub from Deliciously Organized
- Candy cane sugar scrub from The Idea Room
- Tea soaps from Cucumbersome
3. Offer your time, brain, or muscles as coupons
You can make your own coupons for pretty much anything. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
- One month of lawn mowing
- Snow shoveling on the next wintry day
- Child-care or pet-care services
- Carpool rides
- Round-trip airport rides
- Tutoring young cousins of siblings (everything from educational to entertainment to skill building)
4. Create a family recipe book
Create a scrapbook-like collection of recipes, which would make a great gift for grandparents or anyone in your family who loves cooking. Contact all of your relatives well in advance to get their favorite recipe along with a story, quote, or photo. Be sure to ask for year-round flavors and a variety of tastes and temptations.
You can customize the book further by asking for recipes of a specific type or a recipe that reminds the sender of the gift recipient. If you go with the latter, definitely ask them to share a quote saying why the recipe reminds them of the recipient. It will make for a fun gift you definitely can’t buy in any store.
5. Make a family calendar with birthdays and photos
Create a custom calendar for a member of your family with big family photos for each month and birthdays and events pre-populated. You can do this for groups of friends as well. If making more than one, it might be easier and more economical to use an online service that prints photo products.
6. Record your own audiobooks
Do you have young ones in your family who love when you tell them stories? Whether for older family members challenged with small print or young readers learning to read, record yourself retelling a few of your favorite tales. If it's a favorite book in print, you can burn it to a CD or save as an audio file, which you can send on a flash drive along with the book. If you have multiple kids in your family, this is an easy one to replicate for all of them!
7. Give the gift of time together
This gift could also be given as coupons—for a one-time deal, or a month-long or even yearlong agreement. Promise to spend more quality time together with your significant other or best friend. Whether that means waking up early to go running together, leaving work on time more often for dinner dates, or carving out an hour or two every Saturday for board games, use this “extra” time to reconnect and enjoy the gift it’s much too easy to waste.