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Budget Gift Ideas

Gifts don't have to cost a lot of money. Here are some great gift and craft ideas sure to create lasting memories this holiday season.

by Michelle Donaghey

Great gifts don’t need to cost a lot of money! Here are some thoughts:

Creative ideas for gifts for kids to make and give

With the price of gas, milk, heating and other necessities, many budgets are being stretched to their limits making it hard to even think about holiday gift giving. Credit cards can be an answer, but it is only temporary when the bills come in after January 1st. Why give yourself  that kind of stress when there are PLENTY of  creative, inexpensive possibilities for everyone on your gift list including family, friends and kids!

Relatives including grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles

Heirloom magnets:
Relatives, especially ones that live far away, appreciate family pictures. Most families have plenty of pictures laying around the house that are gathering dust. What about flat business magnets that come in all sorts of sizes that are on your refrigerator or in your junk drawer? If you don’t have magnets you can recycle, purchase a sheet of magnetic paper. Take the pictures, cut them to fit and use gel glue or craft glue and make your own refrigerator magnets! If you have a sheet of clear shelf liner, cover the photos before gluing them to the magnets!

Decorated coffee cans filled with goodies:

Do you have a budding artist? If you have saved artwork during the year that you can part with, take it down off the fridge or out of the drawer and double stick tape it to a coffee can! Cover with clear shelf liner if you like to protect it! If you don’t have art, get out the crayons, colored pencils and other art supplies! Cut the paper to fit first  in this case. Fill the can with homemade goodies! (See section on “Gifts for all!”)

Family and or children recordings

Take an old tape player or your computer with a microphone and add a child or two or the whole family and you have a hit recording that will be played over and over again for years to come! Get cheap tapes  or recordable discs. Decide on what you or your child will say or make it a family sing along of musical hits! If you or your child plays an instrument, add this as well. Add greetings to the recipient for a special touch, telling them how much you miss and appreciate them and about special memories!


Cut colored paper or heavyweight white paper into strips. Have your kids decorate them for each recipient according to their interests or for the holiday. If you want to personalize and you have a picture of the person, glue it on! Cover with contact paper. Cut a hole if you like for string, ribbon or yarn. For a special touch, tie beads from the ribbon!

Jar or can filled with love

Take a jelly jar or any other jar with a lid. On a nice sheet of  paper, write down several things that are special about the person you are giving it to and or special memories that you have spent with them. Cut each memory into a paper strip. Fold, roll or just place the strips whole into the jar. Make a label out of paper and attach it with double stick tape or use indelible markers.. You can label the jar, “Holiday Love for you”, “Special things I love about .. (grandma, auntie, etc.), 
“Memories made with love” or “Wanted you to know” or just “Jar of Love.” Grandmas and Grandpas really love gifts like this! If you wish, the whole family can take part in making this one!

Gifts for Kids

Take two empty coffee cans of any size. Make the following gifts for kids!

High walker stilts- Take two equal size cans. Punch two holes in each near the bottom of the can, about two inches down from the side directly across from one another with a screwdriver or ice pick. Spray paint the sides or cover with decorated paper or contact paper making sure to note hole locations. Measure the length of your child’s hand from the top of the wrist to the ground. Cut a piece of heavy string or light rope at least twice as long as that measurement. Thread through the holesand tie tightly.

Drums- Get three cans, different sizes. Cover with contact, paper or paint. Use old wooden spoons, dowel rods or ask dry cleaner if they have hangers with heavy cardboard tubing you can take off to use for drumsticks. Very crafty sorts can take empty thread spools and attach with super strength glue to pencils instead.

Shakers- Get some rice or dry beans. Place in coffee can. Cover coffee can with decorated contact paper, paper or paint.

Doll furniture- Take all sorts of boxes and cover with contact paper.  Use imagination to make beds, couches, refrigerators and the like, using magic markers to make more realistic. Old fabric scraps can be sewn to make blankets and pillows. Make large boxes into dollhouses and swimming pools!

Gifts for Teachers:

Cookies- One of the easiest and YUMMIEST recipes you can make is from  a regular cake mix. Just add two eggs and a half cup oil. Mix together,  let set in frig for a couple hours, then take out and roll into one inch balls, placing them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Great with ANY cake mix! Add chocolate chips, chopped nuts, cherries or raisins to make them your own creation!

Hot cocoa mix- Take 4 cups dry milk, 4 cups non dairy dry creamer, 4 cups sugar and 2 cups cocoa. Mix all together. Take 2/3 to 12 ounces of water. Make this large batch and separate into small baggies with labeled directions. Add a tag, “To someone dear,  warm holiday cheer.”

Michelle Donaghey is a freelance writer and mother of two boys, Chris and Patrick, who are her inspiration. She lives in Bremen, Indiana just south of South Bend, home of Notre Dame. When she isn’t writing, Michelle can be found in her perennial flower garden or working on small home improvement projects. Michelle has written for parenting publications including Metro Kids, Atlanta Parent,Dallas Child, Great Lakes Family, Family Times and Space Coast Parent and websites including

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2006

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More4kids Inc.

More4kids is a parenting and community blog established back in 2015.

About the author

More4kids Inc.

More4kids is a parenting and community blog established back in 2015.

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