In tough economic times, it pays to be frugal, resourceful and even a bit crafty.
Check out these seven DIY household items that are easy, affordable and even a tad fun.
1. Customized wrapping paper. If you’re a magazine junkie, recycle the pages into gift wrapping—Vogue is perfect for your fashionista
friend, Travel & Leisure for the adventurer and Gourmet for the foodie. An alternative? Blank newsprint (buy 500 sheets for under 5 bucks) looks super-chic paired with a gorgeous bow. If you’re artistic, personalize with signature doodles or paint.
2. Luxe hostess gifts. People are entertaining at home more than ever, and you can’t show up to a dinner party empty-handed. My fave go-to gift is homemade chocolate truffles, which can be created with as few as four ingredients in under an hour with a recipe that gives you 60 pieces of heaven. Give a dozen and freeze four dozen for future parties.
3. Swanky sugar scrubs. Seriously, this can’t get any easier. Take two parts brown sugar to one part natural oil (olive, almond, pure sesame, you name it). Mix. If you’d prefer your exfoliator scented, add a splash of vanilla extract or your favorite essential oil. For extra hydration, add vitamin E or fish oil from a gel cap, or honey.
4. Power-packed laundry detergent. Name brand detergents can make a serious dent in your grocery budget, especially if you’re washing several loads a week. A simple less-than-10-minute recipe for the powdered variety includes: one part baking soda, one part Borax and one part washing soda (which can be substituted with a grated bar of soap). Two tablespoons will clean an entire load. You can always add a cup of vinegar to the machine to brighten whites and colors or a drop or two of your favorite essential oil for fragrance.
5. Your own mini farmer’s market. Who needs a supermarket when you’ve got Mother Nature? To grow herbs, onions, leafy greens and tomatoes indoors, all you need is a sunny windowsill, a 6- to 12-inch-deep container, three inches of soil on the bottom, some seeds, and a green thumb. For the gardening challenged, we like a garden in a bag. For $24, you get seeds, soil, containers and foolproof instructions, everything but the finished product.
6. Heavy-duty household cleaner. For a super-fast, one-step house cleaner (that is also way cheap), crack open a bottle of vinegar. It’s eco-friendly, powerful and void of harsh chemicals. Sure, it may make you wrinkle your nose, but just add a splash of aromatherapy oil to take the smell down a notch. You can also dilute the cleaner with water, for lighter jobs like windows or mirrors. You can use the solution on just about anything in your house.
7. Natural air fresheners. Store-bought scented plug-in gadgets and aerosols can make your home smell, well, fake. You can sweeten the air more naturally (and cost-effectively) by using ingredients from your garden or the grocery to create your own sachets and potpourri. All you need is a bowl or a thin fabric pouch filled with your favorite dried herbs or flowers. Some suggestions that you’ll likely have at home: dried bay leaves, basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and nutmeg leaves. Crumble and mix. Then breathe deep.