Christmas is challenging for many people this year as they watch stock portfolios, housing prices and 401(k)s shrink and job security become a thing of the past. Determined to make the holiday season festive despite their economic woes, many people are being crafty, making their gifts rather than buying them.
Here are some ideas for gifts that can easily be made, even for those who might be less artistic:
GIFTS IN A JAR: Stephanie Nelson, the Atlanta-area founder of "The Coupon Mom" web site, suggests buying a Mason jar and layering the ingredients for anything from a cake to bath salts in the glass jar. The layers will look pretty and products should cost no more than $5, while a ready-made "gift in a jar" can cost $30.
BAKING: Baking cakes, cookies or pies for co-workers and neighbors could be a cheap alternative to gift-buying and is also thoughtful. Cookies and muffins can be made in large batches, and artfully placed in $5 baskets bought at craft stores, such as Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores or Michaels Stores.
PLANTS IN A JAR: Nelson also suggests filling two-thirds of a jar or mug with glass stones, placing a flower bulb on top and then decorating it with a bow and instructions to water it. It costs about $2 to make, but in a store it can run up to $20.
GIFT BASKETS: Ready-made gift baskets in a store can run from $30 to more than $100, even at places like Costco. But buying a $5 basket and filling it with a variety of candles, on-sale chocolates, crafts made for charitable purposes and other goodies can be done for anywhere from $15 to $20.
JEWELRY: Shops like Jo-Ann Fabrics and Michaels sell simple jewelry-making kits and bags or strings of beads that are enough for several items. For between $20 to $150, depending on the type and style of beads, simple necklaces, bracelets and earrings can be made for less than half the price of what's available in stores.
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