One of the biggest stresses of the Christmas season is gift giving. It can be difficult to find the right gift for a person. Or the stores you shop in are incredibly busy or your wallet isn’t keeping up with your heart (especially for students and others on tight budgets). Gift-giving should be joyful though!
To help you out we have a list of a few meaningful, inexpensive and homemade presents you can give to your friends and family. You can easily put your own spin on each of these ideas. Some of them might take longer to make than others but it's still a great way to show someone how much you appreciate the gift of their life!
- Secret Hollow Book – Go to Good Will or a thrift store to find a large classic book. Glue the pages together by brushing the outside edges of the book lightly with liquid glue while the book is closed. Then use an Exacto knife to carve out the pages in the center to make the secret compartment. Make sure you don't go to close to the edge or the pages wont hold up. Next you should brush more glue on the inside to reinforce the compartment. Now you have a secret hiding place. This is a great gift for younger kids who like hidden treasures.
- Framed Colored Pictures – To do this go to a library and go through picture books and look for a cool picture that reminds you of the person. Maybe a page from Curious George or a Dr. Seuss book. Photo copy it in black and white and then color it. Add your own touch to the scene and stylize it a bit. When you think you have the best picture and you're happy with how you colored it, go pick out a frame for it. All you have to do is put it together and you have a meaningful Christmas gift!
- Personalized Calendars – If go online you should be able to find a blank calendar template to print off for the new year. Decorate it and make it personal. You can even add photos of you and your friends for each month. This costs almost nothing and just need a little bit of time to make it mean something.
- Tea Cup Candles – For this gift you need wax that you can melt down, candle wicks, a tea cup with saucer, and liquid scent if you want the candle to have an aroma. Teacups can be found at a Good Will or Salvation Army store. The other items are at a craft store. Melt the wax in a double boiler. Hold the wick in place as you pour the wax into the teacup. Let it dry and be careful the hot wax doesn’t crack the cup. After its dry, your candle is ready to be gifted!
- Affirmation Mirrors – You will need letter stencils of your choice, a small mirror, and etching glaze. All of this can be found from a craft store. Get whatever kind of mirror you want (pocket, desk, wall) and pick stencils that fit the size. Choose a word that you want the recipient to see everyday when they look in the mirror (honest, kind, beloved, strong) and put the stencils in place. Use the etching glaze to put the word on the mirror. You can go ahead and decorate the mirror if you want and then its ready to gift.
- Love/Kindness Coupons – If you are really on a budget, this is a great way to still be thoughtful. Make a small booklet stapled together. Turn each page of the booklet into a coupon (promise) for the person you're giving it to. They could start out really simple like 'free hug' and range to bigger ones like 'free hike together.' It's good to make sure they have special meaning to the person. If you struggle doing chores, have one be to mow the lawn.
- Memory Jar – What you need for this is a old fashioned jar, some paper, glue and whatever you want to use to decorate the jar (plastic jewels, real jewels, ribbon, buttons, etc.). It doesn't really matter how you decorate the jar so just be creative and have fun. The important part of this gift is the memories. Spend some time over a week thinking up all the great memories you and the person had together. Don't try to rush this and do it all in one day. Make this a good experience of being thankful for this person in your life. Keep track of all the memories in a journal or notebook over the course of the week. When you're ready start to write them down on individual slips of paper and place them in the decorated jar.
- Cinnamon Stick Candle – For this you will need a pillar candle at least 3 inches in diameter, 16 inch long cinnamon sticks, hot glue gun, strong scissors, and a decorative coaster/plate. All of these can be found at Michael's and shouldn't cost a lot. First, measure the candle and then cut the cinnamon sticks to the right size. Then use the glue gun to fix the stick vertically along the candle. When the glue dries you can start with the next stick. Fit them tightly together and be careful that the hot glue doesn't disfigure the candle. When the sticks are glued all the way around the candle you can place it on a decorative coaster/plate for the final product. This is a simple but classy gift especially for moms.
- Mix C.D. – Again this one is easy, personal, and not expensive. It's also another opportunity to show the person how blessed you feel to know them. The C.D. should not be more than 15 songs. Pick songs that have personal meaning for the both of you. They can be funny or sentimental and maybe even write something for each song explaining why you picked it. Most blank C.D.'s come with cases that have a slot for a cover. Put together a cover on your computer to make it a little more custom. If you've never burned a mix the easiest program will probably be iTunes. Take your time and let your friendship with this person shine through.
- Marble Magnets – These are great sentimental tokens that you can make a bunch of fairly easy. You will need silicone glue, clear flat glass marbles, small magnets (no bigger than the marbles and whatever pictures you want to use for the project (family photos, cool symbols, printed words). Cut the picture to the size of the magnets you are using. Use the silicone glue to stick the pictures to the magnets. Next put a very small amount of glue onto the top of the picture and gently place and press the marble over it. Let it dry and make as many of these as you want. Its really cool if you find a nice jewelry or gift box for the set to rest in. Have fun with all of it.
Hopefully these gifts help you dive more into Advent by allowing you to enjoy the time leading up to Christmas. This is a time to love God, not go bald from stress. Happy Advent!