Home Christmas Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas (Ways We Saved One Year When We Were Broke)

Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas (Ways We Saved One Year When We Were Broke)

by Kelly Crawford

And when I say “broke”, I mean looking-under-cushions-for-change-to-buy-gas broke.


I bought an old, torn quilt at our local thrift store for $5 and made 6 or 7 vintage-style, adorable stockings.

At the time I didn’t even have a sewing machine and sewed them by hand. It’s funny to realize how desperate I must have been because I do NOT sew. But they turned out quite cute.

Food Gifts


It’s the gift everyone can use, it’s thoughtful and it’s inexpensive. Our homemade, braided loaf bread with berry butter was a hit that year. Honey butter is also an easy, yummy addition.



You can do a lot with a printer. Everyone loves personalized gifts and a set of note cards with stamps in a basket is a great, useful gift. (Be sure to buy your printer ink on line for maximum savings.) We also watched Hobby Lobby for the sale on blank note cards.

Homemade skin products.


This is the actual basket I gave as a gift that prompted me to start our skin product business. The tile pot was inspired by a bunch of broken tile my husband had found on a remodeling job. (We also made some mosaic trays that year with the tile.)

Homemade Candles

Creativity isn’t utilized nearly as much as it is when you have no options but to use what you have. This candle was made from old, broken candles (I began asking if people would save them for me), an orange juice container for the mold, and leaves I collected in the fall, dipped in wax, and saved to make gifts. I brushed the leaves on with hot wax and a paint brush. We also did a few coffee bean candles that turned out amazing, after a bit of trail and error. (Hint: We used an oatmeal carton, and started with a round candle, poured beans around it, then poured more wax to fill it in.)

Homemade Coasters

Homemade coasters may be one of the most impressive, inexpensive gifts you can make. And there are so many options! My daughter made these and sold them in her Etsy shop for a while. She still makes them to give as Christmas gifts. One idea is to print each of your children’s photos and birthdays to give to grandparents for easy remembering. Here is a tutorial--they are so easy!


Bamboo Cutting Boards

Several years ago we started make these cutting boards and it also turned into a side business on Etsy–we are in our 4th year, I think! But these are simple to do from home. Simply print an image, backward, onto a piece of wax paper, and press it on the board with a straight edge, then seal with laquer or shellac. So fun and simple to make!

Gift Wrapping

We didn’t buy wrapping paper, ribbon or bows that year. We wrapped with brown paper bags, fabric, maps and newspaper. We garnished with pine cones, leaves, hand prints in paint, shapes cut from fabric, and anything else we could think of.

So, share your ideas for frugal gift giving!


You may also like


Cindy November 12, 2013 - 1:55 pm

Oh, to be creative. (I know, creative people always say that *anybody* can do this! But no, don’t say it. Sadly, some of us are actually quite handicapped in the making-up-stuff realm. ;-)) I wish I could! Somehow, it always turns out lopsided, stinky, ugly, or unusable. Baking I can do, thankfully. That’s usually what we do for Christmas for our family. I don’t even know how we’re going to do anything at all this year for the kids. It will definitely be an old-fashioned (read: scare) Christmas. I don’t mind at all! We’re so blessed with everything we need, I kinda hate the thought of bringing any more stuff into this tiny house anyway.

Cindy November 12, 2013 - 1:56 pm

Um, “scarce”, not “scare”. Proofread, Cindy. Proofread!

liz November 12, 2013 - 3:18 pm

I have heard those called those “Little House on the Prairie Christmas”. I am so glad our kids are young.We have tried to always make the stocking the center. They may receive a few other things from us. We have to ask others to only buy 1 item. The clutter itself is mind blowing and overwhelming to all of us.

We have an 8yr DS, 5.5yr DD,3 yr son and 20 month DS. Our daughter’s 6th birthday is in a week. Most of the time she gets a bunch of little things like markers and crayons. We stashed a bunch for her stocking. The same for our 3 year old son who had an August Birthday. We have Legos we stashed for him.

My biggest saving thing is Mom to Mom sales. I bought a bunch of stuff that will be given as gifts to my kids a few days ago. Fleece PJ for my daughter for a $1. Skirts and leggings for $1(she LOVES clothes). I always find videos and books for $1 for stockings so i stash those throughout the year. I have found dress up clothes, tu tus etc..

For the “baby” we go shopping in the toy bin we rotate out. For him it’s something new.

For others we usually give a framed pic of our family taken at Thanksgiving and a box of cookies we make. When they had growing families we would give an ornament with their kids names on them.

For my in laws we invested in a Nativity scene so contribute a small amount of money that goes toward a piece or two from all the kids and grand kids that year.

The neighbors get fudge and bark. the easy kind that you just melt chocolate chips and mix in cashews and voila! Bark! Many many many different combos. The fudge is just a can of sweetened condensed milk and melted choc or white or PB chips with mix ins. A favorite is S’more fudge. Choc fudge with mini marshmallows and crushed graham crackers!

I asked my DS who is 8 if we wanted to buy him a gift what were some ideas…he said “tracing paper”. I think so far homeschooling has helped tame the consumer beast..lol

Kim @ living Holy Joy November 12, 2013 - 3:39 pm

I love this! The past few years we have been simplifying more and more at Christmas and teaching our kids that Jesus is the real reason for the season and that we should celebrate his birth. While it’s nice to see all the fancy schmancy decorations and gifts and all at the stores and everywhere you look we have really enjoyed the Christmas season more every year not having all that. We put up the tree and simple decorations around the house and have a FEW gifts under the tree but are not taking part in all the madness and going into debt buying gifts because you feel guilty or want to keep up with the Jones’s {shopping on Thanksgiving or black friday….no thank you!}. This year I am making more homemade gifts for our family and friends and loving every second of it. It’s so peaceful and lovely. We also do devotions as a family every day and at Christmas the past couple of years we have done the one that Ann Voskamp has on her website A Holy Experience that comes with free printable ornaments. You should check it out, I’m going to share it on my blog this year with a link to her website. Point: Less IS more, especially when it comes to Jesus because He’s all we really need!

Velvet November 12, 2013 - 5:22 pm

I love those ideas. We do lots of food gifts, donations, etc. Shopping is kind of my job, so it’s nice to make at least part of the things we give instead. The leaf or dried flower or even paper decoupage also works on soaps. Standard bar soap, or homemade, either one.

(your lurking friend, Rachael)

Laura(yet another) November 12, 2013 - 6:13 pm

I tried something once that worked quite well. You take wide mouth pint jars and bake cake or quick bread in them and as soon as they come out, pop on fresh, hot, lids and bands and screw down. They will seal and keep for a few months (i think it’s like four months). They pop out easily and can be sliced. Use any good recipe and simply do not fill more than 2/3 full(maybe a little less even).
Homemade pickles or applesauce, or other things are also a treat in an age where many do not make their own stuff anymore.

Kelly Crawford November 12, 2013 - 6:19 pm

Wow–I love the bread idea!

Cathy November 15, 2013 - 8:24 pm

I don’t think that I am familiar with the pint jars to which you refer. Additionally, do you bake the cake/bread batter/dough in the jars and put them in the oven? At what temp do you bake them?

I’m intrigued.

Laura(yet another) November 12, 2013 - 8:00 pm

Maybe this year, I’ll give away bags of marigold seeds… We planted them everywhere last summer to keep rabbits out of the gardens, and have millions of seeds and seed heads.

tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations November 14, 2013 - 10:14 am

great idea!! We saved a bunch of marigold seeds too. I still have marigolds in my garden, if this morning frost didn’t kill the last ones!

Laura(yet another) November 12, 2013 - 9:24 pm

When we do Christmas cards, I break out the construction paper and poster board and we cut and paste christmas cards… with the kiddos. Sometimes if I am craving some drawing time, I’ll hand sketch a Mary and Jesus scene or something… but with the kids getting older, this is common. also, I’ll make htem standard post card sized to save on mailing!

shannon November 12, 2013 - 10:43 pm

I’ve done homemade stationary too and it was well received (I think I even got a card back, LOL). A couple of family members love their dogs so I’ve made homemade dog treats with a dog bone cookie cutter that were really cute. For grandparents I like to buy an 8×10 collage of prints of the kids from the previous year in an inexpensive frame and have gotten the collage for free a couple of times from walgreens.com (via their email notifications).

Kelly Crawford November 12, 2013 - 10:44 pm

Shannon-that reminds me that photo books are a fabulous treasure, and if bought on sale, can be purchased for around $14. Mine are priceless to me. And if a tornado ever strikes your home, well, someone has those favorite photos. 😉

Andrea November 13, 2013 - 11:25 pm

I LOVE the stocking idea! Going to start looking for old quilts!

tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations November 14, 2013 - 10:13 am

I saved those pretty jelly, peanut butter and maple syrup jars and sterilized them well. Then I filled them with simple syrup flavored with spices, homemade flavored whipped butter and cookies. Embellished them with ribbons or tags and gifted them away.

Drop and Give Me Twenty (7279-7292) | Vivienne's Process of Elimination December 1, 2013 - 11:43 am

[…] stumbled upon this website when looking for an infographic to illustrate my point about homemade […]

brandi edmonds December 12, 2013 - 3:04 pm

I work two jobs and am always broke…lol digging in couch cushions broke describes it perfectly at times. I cut back my list of people that i buy for a few years ago but i always want to give to neighbors, co-workers etc… so I make toffee coated chex cereal and give to lots people … it is delicious easy and shiny and pretty. I am doing small candles this year made from one of the products I sell Pink Zebra, and I am toying with the idea of making batches of french onion soup… i have a delicious recipe, think i can make it up put it in those short fat jelly jars and include cheese and bread and instructions on how to broil.. would only be doing these for my close friends though.. idk.. i am trying to get creative …def love the quilt stockings…wish i could sew 🙁

Kelly Crawford December 12, 2013 - 6:28 pm

Great idea with the soup, Brandi!

Ila December 30, 2013 - 12:25 am

Adorable gifts especially that stocking. Great idea to use an old thrifted quilt. I really LOVE your candle! That thing turned out amazing, lucky recipients! I would have never thought to use an old juice carton for a mold. 🙂 I’ve done glass etched mugs/glass sets. I always have the “Armor Etching Cream” on hand, so a few quick thrifted glasses turn into new beautiful things. I paint art. I stencil tshirts. I crochet afghans/hats/scarfs/dishrags and I have made handmade soap gifts as well.

Ila from http://www.hehasms.com

Laurie December 15, 2016 - 9:13 pm

For the I don’t sew folks, you can get a product to “glue” seams. I don’t remember the name of it…sorry, but it could help you out in some situations like this. 😉

Heidy Nabarowsky December 24, 2017 - 4:04 am

[…] Muppet Family Costumes […]


Leave a Comment

Facebook Twitter Youtube Instagram

Post Category

motherhood/family/parenting Uncategorized christian living homeschooling pregnancy/birth control marriage frugal living/saving money large families public school abortion feminism dating/courtship church/children's ministry entrepreneur pictures

Author's Picks

Why We Should Encourage Our Kids to Marry Young 220 comments Two Children are a Heritage From the Lord (After That, You Should Know... 173 comments Population Control Through Tetanus Vaccine 127 comments

Latest posts

The Power of Gathering Around the Table: Beyond Hospitality 0 comment Weddings, Getting Older, Navigating a Large Family & God’s Goodness 33 comments Help My Friends Find Their Child Through Adoption 0 comment The Shocking Truth About Education 2 comments

Copyright ©2023 Generationcedar. All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by Duke