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20 Low-Cost Gifts to Make this Holiday

20 Low-Cost Gifts to Make this Holiday

How is it December already? Weren’t we just pumpkining all the things, jumping in all the leaves and carving all the jack-o-lanterns? Oh well. The holidays are almost here whether I like it or not.  I’m not making all my gifts this year. The handmade holiday challenge that I did last year was kind of insane. But I’ll still make a few gifts and I’ll still try to stay under $100, of course. If you are a fellow nut and want to MAKE ALL THE GIFTS here’s a few (or 20) ideas for low-cost gifts to make this holiday.

For the fashionista:

  1. A knotted bracelet
  2. A clay beads necklace
  3. Polymer clay hair accessories
  4. A holiday crown

For the foodie:

  1. DIY vanilla extract
  2. Upcycle a rolling pin
  3. Low sugar nuts
  4. Infused liquors!
  5. A personalized mug filled with coffee or chocolates

Can you knit or sew? These projects are super fun

  1. A knitted baby cape
  2. A chunky, knitted scarf
  3. A knitted scrubbie
  4. A leather clutch
  5. A look-alike, handmade American Apparel circle scarf

For everyone:

  1. Beeswax candles
  2. Pillows!
  3. A toy for your furry friends
  4. A clay bowl for jewelry, change or paper clips
  5. A hand-painted and customized ukulele
  6. And last, but not least, make everyone’s favorite gift (cash!) a little more exciting with this cash mobile.

What gifts are you making this holiday season? Tell me about them in the comments!

love,
melanie

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas

We’ve been snowed in for the past couple days and things are getting pretty weird around here. Last night we screamed at each other just to scream. Not fighting, just yelling. My butt hurts from laying in bed for a prolonged period and I’m afraid we’ll run out of wine soon. It’s not the most romantic of Valentine’s Days, for sure. But tonight I’m planning on making dinner and maybe tomorrow we’ll get to venture out into the snowpocolypse for more romantic sustenance. Or at least sustenance that requires changing out of pajamas.

Here’s some ideas for tonight’s meal:

Baked Brie with raspberry jelly and walnuts This baked brie with raspberry sauce would be a great way to start your meal.

Pork Chops I don’t think it gets more romantic than bacon. Who’s with me? Check out the recipe for these bacon-wrapped pork chops.

Pizza with an egg on top!

Pizza is my favorite Friday night meal. It’s quick, easy and cheesy. Doesn’t get much better than that. Click here to learn more about my favorite way to serve pizza.

pudding2This rice pudding is a great way to end a meal. I affectionately refer to it as love puddin’.

how to make snow cream And since we’re snowed in, it’s only appropriate to serve snow cream! Learn more about snow cream here.

Are you cooking at home for Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments!

love and happy Valentine’s!
melanie

 

 

 

Handmade Holiday Challenge Roundup

Gorgeous handmade socks by Hedgehog Fibres on Flickr

Gorgeous handmade socks by Hedgehog Fibres on Flickr

I didn’t finish my holiday challenge or stick to my strict budget of $100, but considering everything I had going on, I think I made a commendable effort. Let’s take a look back, shall we?

  1. Mom: This year, I gave my mom homemade vanilla extract. I think she’ll enjoy using it in her baking. $1.49 for the bottles and $2.99 for the vanilla beans. I already had the bourbon and the vodka, so I didn’t count it towards the budget. how to make vanilla extract
  2. Dad: I didn’t get anything for my Dad because he told me not to, and well, I didn’t really have time. I still love him though and he knows it.  Handmade Circle Scarf
  3. Sister: I made this imitation American Apparel circle scarf for my sister. It cost $16 for the fabric. A little steep, I tried to get cheaper fabric online, but my order was cancelled.  handmade cat toy
  4. Sister’s cat (weird, I know, but we always give our pets gifts in my family): I made Franklin, my sister’s cat, this toy with stuff I had around the house and out in the yard! He loved it and it was free. Animals and children always seem to love the presents that don’t cost anything the best.
  5. Mother-in-law: For my mother-in-law, I ordered a book of our wedding photos. Our wedding was a year ago and I have yet to print out any photos. I suck sometimes. And although, I’m not considering it homemade, I did get a good deal on the book through Groupon. ($10!)
  6. Father-in-law: We just ended up getting him a gift card to a local gun store. He has done a lot for us this year. He’s helped us to fix up the trailer and let us live on his land. ($50) customized ukulele
  7. Niece: This was probably my favorite project of the challenge. We customized this ukulele for my niece. She may be too young for it. She’s only 2! She wanted to tear off the strings when she opened it! :/ But it’s cute enough to  just sit on a shelf until she’s old enough to learn to play. I can’t find the red model that I purchased on Amazon. It was $29.95. But a similar model is sold on Amazon for a bit more.
  8. Brother-in-law: We bought him wool socks. It’s what he wanted. $20.
  9. Sister-in-law: Like my mother-in-law, I also purchased a Groupon and ordered a large canvas photo of her daughter from our wedding. $12.
  10. Husband: My poor husband didn’t get anything from me this year. We decided not to exchange gifts. We combined our anniversary and Christmas gifts and right now are on a relaxing trip to Austin, Texas! Priceless. infused liquors
  11. Friends: Our friends all received infused liquors this year. They were pumped. To make it, I used ingredients we already had on hand.
  12. Co-workers: My lovely co-workers didn’t get anything from me this year. I just couldn’t do it all.

I ended up going over budget at $142.43, but all considering, I’m proud of the work I’ve done. Next year, I’ll start on my projects earlier, so I’ll have time for unexpected things to pop up.

I hope everyone had the best of holidays. I’ll see you all in the new year!

love,
melanie

Books for Kids to Give as Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, so I started researching books to give to my own mama. In the process, I stumbled upon so, so many cute books for children to give to their moms as gifts. As a kid, I would have loved to give my mom a Mother’s Day themed book that I could read to her. Heck, I still might read her a children’s book and I’m 27, ya’ll. Who doesn’t love story time?!

Here’s my top 5 picks:

5.  what not to give your mom What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day
Martha Simpson (Author), Jana Christy (Illustrator)

A list-based book that tells the story of a child giving his mother Mother’s Day gifts better suited for animals.

Easy-to-read for the beginning readers, but this book may be a little childish for kids over 6.

4.  Mother’s Day Surprise mother's day surprise
Stephen Krensky
 (Author), Kathi Ember (Illustrator)

Violet the snake is stumped! Her forest friends are all making gifts for their mothers for Mother’s Day. But Violet doesn’t have any arms or legs or teeth! What’s a snake to do?!

Reptilian-loving kids will love this story. We all know those kids! But they may point out that snakes do have teeth (or fangs) and Violet’s teeth are showing on almost every page. A small flaw in an otherwise cute story.

the night before mother's day 3. The Night Before Mother’s Day
Natasha Wing (Author), Amy Wummer (Illustrator)

One in the many and well-liked “Night Before” series, this book shows dad and the girls setting up a spa day and making a cake for mom.

What mom doesn’t want a spa day?! ‘Nuff said.

happy mothers day! 2. Little Critter: Happy Mother’s Day!
Mercer Mayer (Author, Illustrator)

Mercer Mayer books are true classics. And this book is no different. This time, Little Critter has a special surprise in store for Mom. This interactive book encourages kids to lift the flaps of the pages to see what Little Critter has created for his mom. Fun for kids that need that tactile stimulation!

we love our mom

1. We Love our Mom!
Jan Berenstain (Author, Illustrator), Mike Berenstain (Author, Illustrator)

And for my number one choice, my sentimentality won out. I have such fond memories of my mom reading my sister and I Berenstain Bears stories when we were small. She even had a special voice for each bear!

In this recent addition to the Berenstain Bears collection, Brother and Sister look for a way to show their mom they care.

My mom is definitely getting this one for mother’s day. Maybe with a spa gift certificate as a bookmark?!

What are you giving your mom on Mother’s Day?

love,
melanie

Reclaimed Coat Hook

Coat Hook
Having very little money to decorate has forced George and I to get creative when it comes to the home items we need. I’ve shared my secrets to thrifting, so today I’m going to show you a little bit of how we reclaim items.

spigot

We desperately needed a coat rack for our tiny entryway. I hate the look of coats thrown over chairs and scarves hanging on doorknobs. We found a piece of old barn wood, a horseshoe and two spigots in (what else?!) an old barn at my in-laws house. All we had to do after that was screw the horseshoe and the spigots onto the piece of wood and instant coat hook!

Kinda looks like something from Pottery Barn, no?

Have you ever used something unconventional to decorate your home? I’d love to see it, so leave the links in the comments!

love,
melanie

Easy Glitter Feathers

glitter feathers One of the few DIY projects I did for our wedding was the table decorations. I didn’t want to pay very much for flowers and I have a black thumb. So, we decorated the tables with dried baby’s breath and feathers. To give the feathers a little pizazz, I painted the ends with silver acrylic paint and dusted them with glitter. (I got the idea here.) I also tied the feathers on twine to create garlands.

glitter feathers2

I am really happy with the way they turned out. Feathers never droop or die, so I’ll be able to have these in my house for years as a reminder of our wedding.

love,
melanie

Gifts for Male Teachers

gifts for male teachers

Being married to a male teacher and being around male instructors all day as a librarian made me think: Male teachers kinda get left out when it comes to gifting. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest for teacher gifts, but most of them are geared towards female teachers. So, I thought to myself, “Self! We need a good reference for male teacher gifts!” Here are a few gifts I’ve thought of that are a little more manly.

1. The mug above! I created it using a sharpie, a dollar store mug, and this tutorial. Then, I filled it with my husband/teacher’s favorite coffee beans.
2. Supplies! This is a no-brainer for teachers of any gender. Every teacher (and librarian) I’ve ever known would love to get a basket full of supplies, such as hand sanitizer, tissues and nice pens. Teachers (and librarians) often have to buy supplies with their own money.
3. Gift Cards! Gift cards can be for supplies, if you are unsure what the teacher needs. As an art teacher, my husband loved to get gift cards to Michaels and Hobby Lobby. As a librarian, I’d love to get a gift card to Amazon!
4. Money! It may seem a little impersonal, but teachers are underpaid. Money is always a welcome gift and can be used to buy much needed supplies.
5. Time! If you can’t afford a gift, but would still like to support a teacher, many of them would love to have your time. My husband would love to have a parent volunteer their time to help him clean his classroom. Art is messy!

Got any more ideas for teacher gifts? Leave ’em in the comments below!
love,
melanie