Christmas is a fun-filled holiday, but it’s also stressful for WAHMs. You have to plan out your holiday hiatus from work carefully, budget creatively, and somehow find the time to spend Christmas with the people who matter to you the most. To help you with those tough demands on your energy, wallet, and time, here are some quick and inexpensive gift ideas for fun presents that might even land you some family activity time. Depending on the ages of your kids, they might enjoy helping you make a few of these gifts and you’ll get to spend some quality time together.

1. Teacup Candles

This gift is especially fun to make if you love going to antique stores. You can also try thrift shops – just look for inexpensive teacups with saucers that aren’t cracked or very fragile. Pick up some of the prettiest ones and use super glue to attach the teacups to their saucers. Next, find a few lengths of wick and some candle wax at your local craft store (or use old candles), melting the wax in a double boiler and adding fragrance as desired. Pour it into the teacups as you hold the wicks upright.  As the wax cools, you’ll notice indentations starting to develop – you’ll need to pour on more wax as this occurs to keep the candle’s surface level. Tie some pretty ribbon around your candles and give them as is or package them in boxes for anti-breakage protection.

2. “Spoil Me” Basket

You can get creative with the “basket” part of this – use a hand-woven one, a bucket, a colander, a large vase, a saucepan, or anything else that comes to mind. Once you’ve chosen your container, fill it with relevant items. For example, the hand-woven basket might contain spa items like a loofah and bath gel, the bucket could hold a chamois cloth and other car care items, and the colander could hold a jar of gourmet tomato sauce with a wooden spoon and package of noodles. Just let the recipient and the container guide you, and you’ll be able to fill up the basket quickly and inexpensively. Use festive bows to add Christmas spirit to your gifts.

3. Cookie Jar

Write out a few of your favorite cookie recipes on colored note cards, then layer the dry ingredients for each recipe in a mason jar. Punch a hole in one corner of the corresponding recipe card and use some pretty ribbon to tie it to the jar.

4. Personalized Calendar

Use a program or buy a blank calendar, marking important family dates for the whole year and including fun pictures. You can make this even more exciting by adding small gifts or messages to certain dates on the calendar. For example, you might tape folded messages of encouragement or jokes to specific days, or you could affix a few dollars for ice cream somewhere in July. Gift certificates and “coupons” for services like mowing the lawn or babysitting can also make this gift even more appreciated.


5. Creative Trivets

Make trivets out of old wine corks by gluing them to the cardboard back of an old picture frame. Just make sure that the frame’s edge is wide enough – you don’t want the corks to extend above the frame. You can also make trivets out of felt-backed floor tiles, which can be bought at your local home improvement or flooring store. Simply glue felt onto the backs of them, and they’re ready to protect the table from hot dishes.

6. Personalized Tote Bag

Find clip art images that would make good silhouettes, then print them onto transfer paper from your local craft store. Cut out the images carefully and arrange them on a plain tote bag until you’re happy with the configuration. Next, iron the images onto the bag by pressing the iron down onto the edges of each cut-out, lifting it, and pressing down again closer to the center of each cut-out until you’ve ironed each one down entirely. This makes for a pretty modern-patterned bag that will be sure to get some use.

7. Secret Treasure Box

Buy a large, old book from your local used book store. Glue the pages together, wait until they’ve dried, and then carefully cut out a large rectangle from the center of the pages using a craft knife. That’s all there is to it – you’ve made a secret treasure box that masquerades as a book. This is a great gift for kids or the young at heart.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where recently she’s been researching different online social work degree programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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