The average adult will spend a whopping $882 on gifts this holiday season, according to estimates by the American Research Group. Don’t make the same mistakes you made last year — spending more doesn’t always make for a better present, but it is guaranteed to make for a stressful beginning to the new year.
To cut down costs without compromising on thoughtfulness, consider going the do-it-yourself route for at least some of your presents this year (no one is expecting you to suddenly become Martha Stewart).
You may think that handmade gifts take an exorbitant amount of time and effort, but this list of 15 DIY gifts are simple and fun to make and all cost less than $15 — in some cases, even for multiple batches. Compare that to the $141 average amount spent per gift this year and your wallet is sure to thank you.
DIY Gift Ideas Under $15
Cost: $0-$10 (varies based on what you already have at home)
- Sugar: $2
- Coconut oil: $5
- Mason jar: $2
- Twine or ribbon:$1
Give the gift of a pampering spa treatment. These DIY sugar scrubs are quick, easy, completely natural, and use ingredients that are likely already in your pantry.
The best part? You can get creative with them. From coffee grounds to lemon zest, you can personalize your scrub to best suit who you’re gifting it to. Check out this list of recipe ideas from Treehugger for inspiration.
2. Chalkboard Mug
Cost: $15 for a set of four mugs
- Porcelain mug: $1 apiece at Dollar Tree
- Painter's tape: $3
- Porcelain chalkboard paint: $7 on Amazon.com
- Paintbrush: $1
Revamp a simple dollar-store mug into a personalized gift that’s easy to make and customize! Use craft patterned scissors to cut the masking tape into special designs, and then coat the exposed area with chalkboard paint. Once it's dry, add a handwritten message or design and fill the inside of the mug with chalk, hot cocoa mix, or any stocking stuffer of your choosing.
For a complete DIY guide to making homemade chalkboard mugs, visit Wit and Whistle.
3. Utensil Ring
- Small silver spoon: Check thrift stores if you don't have a nice one you can spare.
- Wooden block: $2 at Home Depot
- Mandrel: You can find one on Amazon for $7, or use a piece of round wood or piping that is comparable to your ring size.
These rings sell for upwards of $30 on Etsy, but you can make them yourself for less than $10, given you have basic tools in your home. It's ideal for moms, friends, sisters — anyone that would appreciate owning a piece of hand-crafted jewelry.
Watch this instructional video for a step-by-step tutorial. If you’re feeling extra crafty, try your hand at making another one with a fork and gift them as a matching set (the knife might be trickier).
4. Homemade Bread and Jam
- Homemade bread
- Fruit of your choice: $3-$6
- Lemon juice
- Small mason jar: $2
Optional Decorative Items:
- Ribbon or twine
- Decorative basket: Check your local dollar store for one you like, or purchase a plain one and decorate yourself with ribbon!
- Parchment paper
- Tissue paper
To make this gift, simply follow Trent’s tutorial for making homemade bread using staples you likely already have in your kitchen. I outlined the basics for making jam, but you can take a look at this list for specific fruit recipes and ideas.
Once these basics are covered, the rest is up to your imagination! Decorate in candy-stripe, a la the The Couture Contessa, or pick any other pattern you enjoy (or can find a good deal on at the craft store) and run with it.
5. Personalized Holiday Bottle Labels
Cost: $10- $15
- Wine of your choosing
- Sticker paper: $4.50 for a pack of 8 sheets
- Color printer
Wine makes a great gift for just about anyone (of legal age), but this holiday season, take it one step further and personalize your bottle by making your own labels. Not only does this let you buy a cheaper bottle of wine (here’s a list of great wines that are under $15), but all you really need to execute this project is sticker paper and access to a color printer.
You can use the pre-made labels found on The Elli Blog or you can make your own. Try a Web-based design site such as Canva.com: Insert the custom dimensions of your label (about 3.25 x 3.8 inches) and choose from hundreds of icons and designs to make a one-of-a-kind gift.
Tip: Pair your wine bottle gift with a set of taper candles and it can double as a candleholder centerpiece after the wine is gone!
- Clean soil: $3-$4 a bag at lawn and garden stores or Home Depot
- Gravel: Send the kids on a pebble hunt
- Succulents, moss, an orchid, or any plant of your choosing: Check your backyard, or pick up a cheap, small plant at the local garden center.
- Small glass bowl: $1
- Spray bottle with water
- Pencil or chopsticks
This handmade plant arrangement is simple to make and serves as a beautiful accent to any home or office space. If you already garden, it’s likely that you have most of the materials on hand already. If not, visit a local garden shop, home improvement store, or even the grocery store to pick up the plants necessary to execute this gift.
This how-to guide from PopSugar will provide you with a tutorial for making your terrarium, as well as care and maintenance tips to keep your plant alive and thriving for longer. You can also make mini succulent magnets with whatever you have left over.
Tip: Worried your terrarium may not make it through a long holiday journey? Make a “Build Your Own Terrarium” kit instead: Compile the necessary materials into a mason jar and give the gift of a thoughtful project instead. That way, you don’t have to stress about any damage during transport.
7. Monogrammed Plates
Cost: $7 - $11
- Set of plates: $1- $5 (check the dollar store, TJ Maxx, and Wal-Mart for a good looking set of cheap plates)
- Porcelain marker: $6 on Amazon
- Paper, pencil, and scissors for stencil
All you need to make this classy and personalized gift is a set of china (you don’t have to limit yourself to plates, either) and a porcelain marker. Make and cut your own stencil, or, if you’re not calligraphically inclined, find one you like on Pinterest and print it out.
After painting, set overnight to dry. The next day, bake your creation at 300 degrees for 25 minutes and voila! The only thing left is the wrapping.
8. Printed Candles
- White candles (tapers or pillars): $1 apiece at the dollar store
- Ink pad: $5 on Amazon
- Large rubber stamp: Check Michael’s or your local craft store for one you like on sale.
This incredibly simple craft project takes just minutes to make, but the results look professional. Not only that, but you have complete creative control with whatever stamped image you choose. For a variation on this DIY project, take a look at My Craftily Ever After’s tutorial on transferring any image onto a candle.
Tip: If you use a pillar candle, you can use a flat drill bit to drill a tea-light sized hole into the top and gift along with a package of tea-light candles. That way, your candle still burns without melting away your creation!
9. Personalized Poster
- Semi-gloss photo paper: $4
- Color printer: If you don’t have one at home, visit Staples and print for less than $1
- Frame: $10 or less (try the dollar store, Wal-Mart, or Michael’s to find one on sale)
Make a meaningful gift for a significant other, friend, or family member with just paper and a printer! Write a list of memories and shared experiences, select a color scheme and font, print and frame, and you have a perfect present at the ready.
For help picking a color scheme, check out Adobe’s color wheel, where you can search for anything and see hand-picked palates created by other users for free! Use a free Web-based design app like Canva to lay out text. (Hint: You can copy and paste the color HEX values from Adobe's color wheel directly into Canva to use any color you wish.)
I recommend planning ahead and trying to make it yourself, but if you’re crunched for time, you can purchase a custom-made PDF for a printable poster from Homemade Gifts Made Easy for $14.99. All purchases come with a 100% ‘love it’ guarantee, so if you’re not completely satisfied with your product, you can get your money back with no questions asked.
10. Scrabble Ornament
- Scrabble tiles and tray: Check eBay or the games section at Goodwill -- I found an unopened Scrabble box for $4!
- Hand saw
- Hot glue gun
- Power drill with a small drill bit
- Twine or ribbon: $1
If you’re a seasoned crafter, it’s likely that you already own a glue gun. Put it to work by making these fun and creative ornaments using Scrabble tiles! Make inside jokes, people’s names, winter themed terms — whatever you have the letters for! This is a perfect project to make with kids (with the added bonus of practicing spelling words). Visit My Sweet Savannah for complete instructions.
11. Business Card or Recipe Holder
Cost:$0 - $3
- An old hardcover book
…and that’s it!
If you don't have a handsome hardcover book to spare, visit a used bookstore or check Amazon for a used classic. You can also check any thrift store or consignment shop in your area and you’re guaranteed to find an old book.
Remove the binding, fold each page in half (save yourself the hassle and stick to books under 300 pages), and the book automatically opens up and becomes a semi-sphere. It makes the perfect literary addition to any desk — use it to keep business cards, recipes, or holiday cards!
12. Handmade Soap
- Melt and Pour Soap Base: $2.50 at Bulk Apothecary
- Almond oil: $5 on Amazon (or substitute coconut oil if you already have some on hand)
- Dried flower petals: Lavender or marigold work well, and are easy to dry if you can find them fresh.
- Twine or ribbon: $1
We’ve featured a handmade soap recipe before, but this one from Country Living doesn’t call for the dangerous ingredient lye, which can be a huge relief (we’ve all seen Fight Club). Plus, this recipe is incredibly easy to make and uses all natural ingredients that are great for your skin. One batch costs less than $10 dollars and yields six bars of soap -- bundle them up with twine in sets of two or three, and you can cross off a few people from your list in one fell swoop.
13. Spiked Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix
- Latch-top seal proof jars: $1.25 apiece at Hobby Lobby
- Hot cocoa mix: $3 (check the bulk foods section at your grocery store for better prices)
- Mini marshmallows: $2
- Mini candy canes: $1 at Dollar Tree
- Chocolate peppermint squares: $5 on Amazon
- 50mL bottle of Kahlua (optional): $2
- Hot glue gun
- Linen fabric
- Paper labels
Give the gift of comfort in a jar by making these decorative holiday hot cocoa mixes — peppermint bark and Kahlua add an invigorating and jolly spirit to a wintertime classic, and the mini candy-canes and linen add the perfect finishing touches. The best part? With one batch of these ingredients you can make up to six jars... all for less than $20! Check out Hey Gorg for a step-by-step tutorial (complete with pictures).
For another variation of this gift, take a look at Nothing But Country’s Hot Cocoa Snowmen!
14. Wine Cork Wreath
- 22 wine corks
- Red jingle bells: $4 at Hobby Lobby
- Floral wire: $2 at Wal-Mart
- Power drill and small drill bit
This DIY idea from Good Housekeeping can easily be recreated with just upcycled wine corks (turns out there was a reason you were saving them!), floral wire, and craft-store bells. Keep in mind that you should aim to pick wine corks that are similar in size to preserve the symmetry of the wreath.
The result? A sure-fire hit for any wine-lover.
15. Glitter-Painted Glasses
Cost: $11 for a set of six glasses
- Stemless wine glasses: $1 apiece at Dollar Tree
- Glitter glass paint: $3.50 at Jo-Ann Fabrics (or other craft stores)
- Rubber bands
- Foam brush: $0.50 apiece at any art supply store
- Parchment paper: $1 at Dollar Tree (optional)
Turn dollar store glasses into a festive and fun gift that’s perfect for Christmas and New Years with just a little bit of glitter paint and some rubber bands! They’re food and drink safe, and dishwasher safe, too. Just bake them in the oven at 300° degrees for 30 minutes to allow the paint to cure. Wrap them up nicely, pair with a nice (inexpensive) wine or other libation, and win Christmas this year.
For more holiday DIY projects, visit our Pinterest page. You can also find out how you can be a pinner to our boards!