Tag Archives: homemade presents

Thoughtful, Practical and Inexpensive Gifts

Handmade and practical gifts are once again acceptable as the economy continues to put serious strain on household budgets. It’s not about how big or how expensive your present it, but how much thought and attention you put into it. Truly this is the way gift-giving for any event should be and as households struggle, the focus is once again on what makes a present special, not how much you spent on it.

Not every thoughtful and practical gift requires special skills and talents or a lot of money. Here are just a few ideas:

Microwave Cozies-Microwave cozies are a great way to spread the warmth! Literally! One bag of special cow corn, a few yards of fabric and straight stitch sewing will yield gifts for dozens for less than $30!

Coffee Basket-Give your favorite coffee lovers a gift bag filled with homemade flavored coffees! You can easily make up flavored coffees and maybe even find small, inexpensive jars or containers at a local dollars store to place the coffees in to (thinking ahead on this and watch at flea markets and tag sales for small containers or canning jars and even saving small jars at home that you can wash and hand label will work).

Mixes in a jar-Trying to find a use for those old canning jars? Consider mixes in a jar! You can print up labels and color them in with pencils. Add a bit of ribbon and colorful fabric and you’ve got a beautiful, easy and delicious gift!

The Mason Jar Soup-To-Nuts Cookbook: How to Create Mason Jar Recipe Mixes

Frozen Cookies Logs-Make up batches of your best cookies recipes BUT instead of baking them off, roll them into logs, then wrap in plastic wrap and then place into freezer bags. Keep them frozen and then arrange them in baskets last minute to give as presents. People pay big money at the grocery store for cookie dough in the fridge or freezer section because they’re craving the smell and comfort of home baked cookies. All they have to do with your logs is defrost and bake off. Include a nice handmade recipe card with the cookie logs with baking directions.

Your Best Recipes-Are you the one that always bakes and cooks great dishes and has everyone asking for your recipes? Well, now’s the time to give them; as presents! You can find recipe books at dollar stores and other shops for very little. It will be your time and effort of writing down those recipes and organizing them for friends and family that will be the real gift!

Chores Coupons-Do you have a skill or talent that you think others would love to utilize? Maybe you have a chain saw and you know a friend that has a tree he’d love to take down. How about a coupon for a day’s worth of chainsaw work? Maybe you are a great baker? How about giving friends coupons for a loaf of homemade bread when they present the coupon (with notice of course)? I know my neighbors covet my homemade bread! Perhaps you have a friend who could use an extra hand with housekeeping or grocery shopping? How about a coupon gift for that? You’ll think of something.

The idea is that presents don’t have to be pricey. They can be homemade and from the heart but not be hard to make or require special skills either. With so many people getting back to the basics of life with this economy, your homemade and practical present will be welcomed more than ever before.

This article is by Tammy Paquin, owner and publisher of Frugal-Families.com.  It is available for reprint with ALL links active.

Microwave Cozies

What IS a microwave cozie? A cozie is a filled cloth bag that you can heat in the microwave and use to keep you warm and cozy! They are excellent for heating sore muscles, acting as bed warmers at night, and keeping your toes warm while you read a good book on the couch. They make fantastic and inexpensive gifts! I’ve seen them selling at fairs for $15 each but they can be made for about $1 per bag if you use inexpensive fabric.


You can use any 100% cotton fabric that has NO METAL THREADS! Do NOT use any metallic fabrics. Yes, it’s important enough to repeat! These need to go in the microwave and you know how microwaves and metal are. The same applies to polyesters and any other fabrics. 100% cotton only.

More tips about the fabric you choose: If you are actually going to buy fabric, go for the least expensive cottons you can get. I hit the big box store for their $1 and $2 per yard stuff (apologies to my hometown quilt shop) when I’m making them for gifts. If you have a fabric stash, don’t use your $12.99/yard batiks unless you really want to. Personally, I save my good stuff for my quilts. Use what you have! If you have an old flannel shirt with worn elbows, then use that! Old flannel sheets, the legs off a pair of old flannel pajama bottoms? Use your imagination.


I use what is called recleaned corn. I’ve also heard it called denatured corn (go to the feed shop and tell them what you’re doing and they’ll smirk but be happy to help you). Basically, it’s corn that has been dried so much that it won’t pop in the microwave. Normal corn will! 50 pounds cost me about $10.50. Trust me it will make LOTS of bags! The bags do come smaller, but cost almost as much, so even if you make fifty bags and end up feeding some to the local squirrels, it’s still cheaper. I have friends who have also used uncooked rice with great success. I don’t know about cost, but if you live in the city, rice might be more easily obtained than cow corn.


You’ll need to have two squares of fabric the same size. I like mine to be at least 9” finished (so cut 9 ½” to give yourself a seam allowance) if you can make a bit bigger, then great, but I don’t do smaller. Simply place the wrong sides of the fabric together and sew about a ½” in, all around and leave at least a 2” opening to turn your bag right side out and so you can fill your bag. Fill your bag so that there is room inside for the filler to able to move around (like if you want to mold it over a sore knee). An overfilled bag doesn’t feel good. Once it’s filled to your satisfaction, sew up the opening! NOTE: I would NOT recommend using fabric glues or tapes when making these. They have to go into the microwave and I honestly don’t know if those would do well once they heat up.

How long to microwave? The fillers can burn (both the skin if too hot and itself), so opt for less time versus more and microwaves vary as far as power so I’d recommend starting with a minute but NEVER heating for more than 3 minutes. ENJOY!!!

Tammy Paquin is a work from home mom of 3 boys and the publisher of www.frugal-families.com, an online resource for frugality, budgeting and all things related to helping everyone stretch those hard-earned dollars.

This article can be used in your website with my bio intact with an active link back to Frugal-Families.  Thank you.

I Just Love It

You know the scenario. You’re sitting at the family Christmas gathering and your ten-year-old opens one of Aunt Martha’s itchy homemade sweaters. Or Uncle Bobby, who’s been swearing to lose twenty pounds for years, opens an exercise cycle. Of course, if Uncle Bobby follows the politeness rule, he’ll say, “Thank you, it’s just what I wanted.” (Then he’ll conveniently “forget” about it in the basement or storage closet.) your ten-year-old may not be as skilled at pretending as Uncle Bobby, but kids know enough to know that any answer other than “Thank you, Aunt Martha, I love it” will raise the roof.

There’s nothing wrong with pretending you like a gift that someone has consciously bought because they think it suits you, you’ll like it, or it will be good for you. The saying “It’s the thought that counts” is a truism. Unless you habitually don’t put much thought into your gifts. Have you stopped to look at other people’s faces when they open your gifts?

The excuse “I’m too busy” only goes so far, and your children know it. If you can take time out of your week to exercise (or not, in Uncle Bobby’s case, and who knows, Uncle Bobby might have a physical reason for not losing those twenty pounds), rent a video, go jogging, go to the movies, you can put some thought into the gifts beyond recycling last year’s “I love it” items or heading to the mall. It’s important to let kids know that regardless of the gift, sometimes politeness above and beyond the call of duty is required. However, you personally can create more honesty from your kids and with your kids when it comes to gifts.

Remember when your ten-year-old made you a clay ashtray? You don’t smoke, but you cherish that homemade gift. Or how about when your parents hung your macaroni ornaments on the tree and your pictures of Santa on the fireplace? You genuinely said “I love it” and meant it. Your children could tell. Your parents were sincere with you. You are what you give, how you give it, and how you receive gifts. It’s easy to moan that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost for our children. It’s harder to turn away from the traditional gift-giving grudge. Some tips:

* Start making homemade gifts of your own. Gifts of food, especially Christmas cookies, are always in season, and people genuinely love cookies.
* Start a Christmas cookie party or recipe swap with your family and friends. Get everyone involved. (Be sure to make some healthy alternatives for Uncle Bobby.)
* Make a donation in someone’s name, say to a breast cancer organization, a hospital, a homeless shelter, a nursing home.

* Be creative. Perhaps if you can’t buy everyone a nice gift, you can take friends out for a pre-Christmas dinner instead of everyone frantically buying gifts.

* How many times have you said, “Oh, I don’t want anything, I’ll love whatever you give me?” Kids are great at making requests. Take a lesson from them. It’s dishonest to expect others to read your mind and then be disappointed about the gifts you receive.   Encourage others to be honest about what they want. Even if you can’t afford it you can ask for some wish list items, or say that you make most of your Christmas presents.
* Always let your children know you love them regardless of any gifts that are exchanged.  Above all, remember that the first gift of Christmas is love, and that’s something no one can fake.

Kristin Johnson
Christmas Cookies Are For Giving

Mother’s Day Traditions: 10 memorable ways to celebrate Mother’s Day

A mother’s love is one of the most powerful forces in this world. Here are 10 ways to celebrate her love this Mother ‘s Day:

1. Create a Memory Jar. Fill a jar with slips of paper, each detailing a special memory you and your mother have shared. The more specific the memories, the better. Present her with the jar, and sit beside her as she reads each memory.

2. Interview the children in your family (both young and old) on what special things they love most about their mother. Record the sentiments on video or transcribe the thoughts in a special album. You could also record special memories, favorite family recipes, her best maternal words of wisdom…anything you want to remember about your mother.

3. Make a Blessing Book. Cover a composition book or hardbound journal with patterned papers and include photos of each of your mother’s children, as well as a special pen for her to record what she is most grateful for in this world. Here are step-by-step instructions for creating such a book here.

4. Help a mother in need by donating money, clothing, or other household items to organizations that help mothers and children.

5. Make a donation to your mom’s favorite charity, in her name.

6. Get together with your family and friends and create handmade cards for your mom. Make sure to include a heartfelt, handwritten letter.

7. Send flowers to a new mom in celebration of her first Mother’s Day.

8. Make a tablecloth memento. Start with an oversized tablecloth and some fabric pens. Ask each member of the family to sign the tablecloth with a special message to mom. Kids can make their handprints, too. This is a keepsake that you can add to each Mother’s Day.

9. Write a letter to your children about how being their parent has enriched you. Save these letters in a special journal or album to give to your children when they become parents themselves.

10. Spend some time looking through your scrapbooks and reflecting on the bounty of love that comes to you via family and maternal love.

About the Author:
Susie Cortright is the founder of momscape.com and Momscape’s Scrapbooking Playground – devoted to helping visitors record and preserve their cherished memories. Susie also trains and supports new scrapbooking instructors with a new and rapidly- growing direct sales scrapbooking company.

Thoughtful Christmas Gifts – 10 Cheap, Quick, Easy Ideas

By: Linda Kling

Do you want to give some unique Christmas gifts this year, but don’t want to spend a lot of money? You can find gifts that are both cheap and thoughtful. Here are ten easy ideas for inexpensive holiday gifts that are sure to please.

1. Fun, trendy watch. You can buy watches in all shapes and colors from around $8 to $20 at discount department stores and flea markets. Include a note in the box that says something like, “I always enjoy our time together”. If giving this to a teacher, you could thank them for all the “time” they’ve spent teaching your child.

2. Mini recipe book of your favorite recipes. Buy a small, inexpensive photo album that holds one 4 x 6 photo per page (usually just a dollar or two at craft stores). Print, type or write your recipes onto 4 x 6 recipe cards and insert in the sleeves meant for photos. After you’ve made the first set, make multiple photocopies of all the recipe cards. That way you can easily make more personal recipe books for other people this year or anytime.

3. Gourmet chocolate pretzels. These sell in specialty stores for $20 for around a dozen large pretzel rods. But you can make your own homemade version for a fraction of the cost. All you need is the pretzels, chocolate melts (most craft stores have these for under $2 a bag), and optional things like chopped nuts, mini chips or sprinkles. Simply melt the chocolate, dip the pretzels rods until about half of the pretzel is covered, then roll in the toppings and let them set upside down in a cup.

4. Handmade framed name print. Research the meaning of the person’s name from a baby naming website. Use your computer graphics or word processing program to type his or her name in large letters in a nice font. Put the meaning of their name in smaller letters under the name. Print it on pretty background paper, such as 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbook paper from a craft store. Trim to fit a small frame purchased from a discount department store or dollar store.

5. Night at the movies. You can make this inexpensive by just picking up a $5 gift card for a movie rental and a box of microwave popcorn. Or you can make it a bigger gift by adding a large bowl for the popcorn, a gift card for multiple rentals, and perhaps some DVDs.

6. Flashlight that doesn’t need batteries. This is a very practical gift that almost anyone can use. Depending on the model, you either shake the flashlight or wind it up. They really work and you never have to worry about dead batteries. The price range is between $10 and $20.

7. Photo ornament. You can find these in all kinds of stores, some are quite inexpensive and look like little holiday photo frames. Just insert a photo of your friend, their pet or children and you’ve got a very personalized gift.

8. Custom gift card from you. If you’re short on cash, but not on sentiment, you can print a gift card that promises babysitting, a car wash, running errands, lessons, etc. If you love to bake, but don’t have time around the holidays, give a gift card redeemable for your specialty in January.

9. Personalized giant candy bar. This one is so easy. Buy a big Hershey bar and replace the outer wrapper with your custom wrapper. You can print one of the many free Christmas chocolate bar wrappers found on the internet. Some of them even have places for you to put a photo and your own words. Or make it yourself by tracing the original wrapper and cutting it out from nice holiday paper. Then just tape or glue in place.

10. Personalized magnet, button, key ring or pocket mirror. For just a couple of dollars, this one of a kind little gift can’t be beat. There are companies on the internet that will put any funny or inspiration quote or your own message on one of their products. Whatever the person’s hobby, interest, or job, there is a saying or quotation out there that would be perfect for them.

A thoughtful Christmas gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or require hours of searching through crowded malls. All that is needed is your big heart and imagination.

Article by:

Linda Kling is the owner of Photo Party Favors located at Photopartyfavors which offers original personalized photo favors, photo Christmas cards, & personalized magnets, buttons, key rings, & mirrors that can be imprinted with your message. Check out her website for 5000+ quotes, free printable candy bar wrappers, recipes & tips.

Articles sourced from Ladypens.