3 Awesome DIY Presents for Friends

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Managing Your Money
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The holidays are just around the corner. Tis the season to give – and to get! While the holidays can be a wonderful time to spend with friends and family, to travel back home, and to snuggle up in sweaters, they can also be a time of strain on your bank account.

I know it’s important for many people to participate in the season’s gift giving without waking up to an overdrawn account. It is for me!

Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can do that! Gift giving is all about giving from your heart. No one needs another useless present that takes up space in their home. No one wants more junk. What people want is a gift that means something to them, or is something they’ll use constantly.

Getting Creative With Gifts

I personally love the challenge of finding the perfect present for someone. My boyfriend is an excellent guitar player. He loves his guitar, but he talks about how much he wishes he was a better drummer all the time. He played the drums intermittently throughout high school and college, but doesn’t have the space in his apartment for a full drum kit.

So last year, I gave him a month of drum sessions! A studio in town has a full drum kit in a rehearsal room. You rent the space by the hour or by the month, and can go play the kit whenever you want. Bonus: a full month only cost me $45!

However, this year I plan to get him an even better present for less. DIY presents are almost guaranteed to save you money and they’ll increase the emotional weight of the gift. When you spend your time and energy on a gift, it shows. Friends love that more than they love the latest and greatest whatever.

Here are 3 DIY presents to get you started.

1) Homemade Candles (Total cost between $10-$24)

I saw this idea a few years ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Homemade candles are a great gift and easily personalized! They’re fairly easy to make, and you can make a large amount at once. You’ll need:

  • Pretty tea cups – Grab some tea cups from your local Goodwill. They’ll usually be around $1-3 per cup and you can find all sorts of patterns and styles. Mix it up – they don’t need to match at all!
  • Candle wax flakes – You can find colored wax flakes online by the pound. For a one and a half pound bag (which will make a bunch of candles), you’ll pay anywhere from $3-$10. Shop around Etsy, Walmart, and Amazon to find a color and size you like.
  • Wooden kabob skewer sticks – Or two pencils! You just need two things that are long enough to run the length of a tea cup. You’ll use these to make sure the wick stays upright when you pour in the wax. That’s also why you’ll need scotch tape and scissors

Other than that, you’re just heating the wax, pouring it into the tea cups, and letting it cool. For this part, you’ll need a shallow pan, a glass container you can melt wax in, and oven mitts.

Put water in the shallow pan and place it on the stove. Put the wax in your glass container and set it inside the pan. Heat it over medium heat and let the wax melt while stirring occasionally.

Once the wax is melted, pour it into the cups. Make sure the wick stays upright and isn’t covered by the wax! Wait for it to cool (usually a few hours), and presto – the candles are done.

2) A To-Go Party Bag, Remixed

When you were a kid, did you ever attend a birthday party that had to-go bags? At the end of the party, you were given a little bag filled with candy and some sort of silly trinket. It was a big thing in my childhood, and I cherished those bags. I’ve revamped the tradition in my adult life, with just a few twists!

Again, hitting up Goodwill is going to be our first stop. Search for small drawstring cloth bags. My Goodwill usually has some in the homegoods section. You can also go to a craft store and pick up some small gauze drawstring bags. You can get 48 of them for $10.65 on Amazon!

Next up, make a card for the bag. Use actual card stock and not construction paper. On the card, write a holiday note, but also include a time and date for an activity you want to do with your friend. Make a friend-date to go hiking or to your favorite happy hour in town. Keep the activity free to keep the gift cheap!

Some great free hang out ideas are a free exercise class, a movie night at home, or watching the sunset somewhere and catching up. Spending time with your friends is kind of the whole point of having friends, right? You don’t need to spend money to show you love your friends – spend your time with them instead!

After that, attach the card to the bag. Inside the bag should go small things, like candy, or maybe a nail polish. This is a gift that says, “Hey, I love you and want to see your face more!” and I promise it’ll be a big hit with your friends. Get all your gifts from dollar stores or places like Five Below.

3) Painted Kitchen Towels

I love this gift because it’s personal and useful! I always need kitchen towels at my house. You can pick up some plain kitchen towels anywhere – Goodwill should have some, but Target also has great ones for pretty cheap. You can get a four pack for anywhere from $5 to $11 there.

Pick a design or come up with one on your own. There are a million ideas on the internet! Pick up one color of fabric paint ($3.50 a bottle), and lay your design on the towel.

Use the paint to go over the cut out design or freehand it if you’re good enough! Let it air dry for at least an hour when you’re done, and viola! Another present ready to go.

Give with your time and your heart this season. Keep your wallet out of it. All of these gifts are frugal, and can yield a lot more than just one present. You can even combine them all into one mega gift if you want!

Are you a fan of DIY presents? What are some of your favorites to make and receive?

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