Make it Yourself Gifts
Keep the Costs Down

Make it yourself gifts are affordable
- and Good News! -
no advanced skills required.

A gift that you make yourself is usually inexpensive compared to the commercially manufactured version, or a handcrafted work by a professional artisan. Better yet, make-it-yourself provides a perfect opportunity to add personal touches so your gift is custom made for your recipient.

Here are four not-so-crafty make it yourself gift ideas that are affordable and not difficult to create yourself:

1. CD set of mixed music

Diane made me one a few years ago, and I love it. She burned CDs with some of my favorite songs and introduced me to some of hers. I keep them in the car and sing along on errands around town and highway trips.

The cost? just the price of blank CDs and cases or an album with plastic sleeves (do be aware of copyright issues if you download from the Net.) A very affordable gift from a frugal college student!

2. Photography

Photos offer plenty of make it yourself gift ideas. How about an album of something you and your recipient did together? Or you might enlarge and frame one great shot.

A photo is a good way to announce an upcoming gift. One Christmas, my son Mark sent a framed photo of a 13th Century monastery in Cyprus. What a nice way to learn that my gift was an airline ticket to Cyprus! A photo also works well to announce a service that you will perform for your recipient.

Parents and grandparents are always happy to receive candid shots of the kids. One set of prints, or even one good photo, can provide affordable gift ideas for several people on your list.

There are lots of ways to present photographs, either as art pieces or to decorate something functional. Photos can be applied to inexpensive gift ideas ranging from mouse pads to flower pots, coffee mugs to jigsaw puzzles, T-shirts… pillowcases… you name it.

The cost? modest to moderate to expensive: you have a broad range of options!

3. Houseplant

Plan ahead and root some cuttings from a favorite plant, so you'll have a new plant ready by gift time. This gift takes very little effort beyond monitoring its progress!

Keep it by the sink, where you'll remember to check on it daily. If rooting in potting soil, keep it moist but not too wet. If rooting in water, pot it in soil once roots begin to grow. Either way, present your gift in an attractive container after it has become nicely established.

Or, next time you go for a walk in the woods, you can gather a few small woodland plants and mosses to make a terrarium. This is a thoughtful and inexpensive gift for someone who is unable or too busy to provide regular care for a plant. Make sure the moisture level is stable before sealing the terrarium.

The cost? Very frugal to modest (free, if you have a container and potting soil on hand!).

4. Use your computer produce a variety of attractive make it yourself gifts, from stationery items to calendars, placemats, bookmarks. How about an illustrated family history, or a booklet of the kids' drawings and poems? You can make several copies and have an inexpensive gift for everyone. Just about anything that can be printed, or printed on, is a potential make it yourself gift from your computer.

For oversized items, you may need to take or send your work electronically to a print shop. There you can obtain other services, such as binding, laminating, padding, drilling.

Discuss your project with the printer, if you use one, and find out what s/he needs from you. Ask about frugal options for color, paper stock, and quantities; shop around for a printer who takes an interest in your project and offers choices. There are many tricks of the printing trade to help keep your affordable gift affordable.

The cost? Free to modest to expensive, depending on your equipment capabilities, materials on hand, and your printing choices.

One more suggestion: You'll find wonderful materials for make it yourself gifts at paper stores, art supply stores, and craft supply stores. They carry nice papers for items you print from your computer, scrapbooking materials and picture frames for photo gifts, attractive and affordable plant containers, and so on. Keep an eye out for sales!

Make it Yourself gifts will save you cash,
and your recipients will appreciate
the time you devoted
to custom making a gift just for them.

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Photo credits: Logo - Jane M. Sawyer; phonograph - Gracey Stinson;
photographer - "turtlehawk"; primrose - "chamomile"; computer - "ophelie,"
all courtesy of