10 Homemade Holiday Gifts You Can Start Making Now

Our family has a small vegetable garden, and each year we find ourselves with one or two things in abundance because they just happened to grow well that year. Over the years, we’ve found that the simple act of preserving those abundant vegetables in an interesting way transforms them into wonderful holiday gifts that are really inexpensive for us to make.

You don’t need a garden to follow this strategy, either. In past years, we’ve made all kinds of things to give away as gifts. We’ve made homemade vanilla extract, homemade soap, homemade beer, meals in a jar, and many others.

What’s the advantage of doing this? How does this save money? And why does it make sense to start now as soon as possible?

In this article

    A homemade gift usually costs far less than what it’s worth

    This is the good financial argument for making gifts for people. For example, you can make a jar of pickles for much less than a dollar, whereas a jar of gourmet pickles at the store will set you back several dollars. You can make a bar of fancy soap for perhaps $1 to $1.50 in ingredients, whereas a bar of nice soap will cost well above $5 in the store. This pops up repeatedly with homemade items — they tend to cost far less in ingredients than they do when compared to the final product you might buy in the store.

    Not only that, the idea that someone invested their time and care to make something for you creates much more value as well.

    This applies to almost any homemade gift made with any care or thought at all — it has value far beyond the comparable item from the store. 

    Why you should start making homemade gifts now

    For me, projects like making pickles are a perfect use for a low-key weekend or a low-key afternoon when there’s not much else going on. The same applies to almost any item you might make as a homemade gift for someone — it’s a really nice use of downtime.

    The catch, of course, is that the closer to the holidays that you start thinking about doing this, the fewer afternoons and weekends of downtime you still have available. If you come up with a plan in October, you still have 12 weekends until the holidays. If you wait until late October, you have eight weekends. If you wait until Black Friday, you have four weekends left, and they’re probably busy.

    That’s why it’s so valuable to start now if you’re going to make homemade gifts for people for the holidays. You simply have more time — more lazy weekends, more open afternoons — to actually make things. Plus, some homemade gifts require resting and aging (like homemade soap), so starting early gives them time to become ready for use by the holidays.

    10 homemade gift ideas for the holidays that you can start now

    Not only can you make homemade vanilla extract, homemade soap, homemade beer, meals in a jar, and homemade pickles for friends and family to gift during the holidays, but here are 10 more ideas for homemade projects that you can do at home. Choose ones that seem in line with what you might enjoy making and what people in your life might enjoy receiving.

    1. Stationery makes for a wonderful gift for people who enjoy sending handwritten notes and letters.

    2. Homemade vinegar is surprisingly easy to make and can be infused with all kinds of different flavors.

    3. Homemade dog treats are really easy to make and a great way to give a gift to the furry friends in your life.

    4. Jelly is surprisingly easy to make and can be made in tons of different flavors — even savory jellies!

    5. Loaves of homemade bread are wonderful gifts, but they work best (obviously) if they’re freshly made just before the event. However, if you want to make sourdough loaves, you can get started by making some starter right now.

    6. Handmade ornaments are simple and wonderful to hang on a rustic-style holiday tree. This is a great one if you have young children who want to help, and you can tie one around a bottle that contains another gift you’re giving.

    7. Preserved lemons are a great gift for foodies because they work so well in all kinds of dishes, from baked fish to potato salads.

    8. Fermented hot sauce is surprisingly easy to make and is a delicious gift.

    9. A crocheted blanket can make for an amazing gift for someone. It does require some investment in yarn, but once you know how to crochet, you can mostly make it while binge-watching shows on Netflix.

    10. A favorite spice mix assembled in a nice bottle makes for another great gift for someone who loves to cook at home. You can also make flavored salts.

    We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    Trent Hamm

    Founder & Columnist

    Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 and still writes a daily column on personal finance. He’s the author of three books published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press, has contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and his financial advice has been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Loans Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.