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8 cheap, tasteful homemade gifts

By Carrie Rocha ·
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Giving co-workers and holiday party hostesses a gift does not have to break the bank. These eight ideas all cost less than $5 -- some cost under a buck. Yet, they are all tasteful and thoughtful.

Even better, they are quick and easy to put together.

Candles as gifts

Taper candles. Pick up two taper candles at a drugstore or craft store for $1 or less. (I've seen them on sale recently for 15 cents each.) Tie them together with a coordinating ribbon and finish with a tag. If you feel extra crafty, cover a box of matches in paper. Then, use hot glue to affix a small pine cone or other decoration to the top.

Homemade candles. I've turned cheap taper candles into homemade candles by repurposing the wick and pouring melted wax into a small container. My favorite is to pick up individual drinking glasses -- especially those that have some character in a unique shape or color -- from the thrift store. Once the wax has set, glue a ribbon around the glass or attach a label.

Paper-based gifts

Personalized note cards. Use a laser printer to make personalized note cards with someone's last initial. Position a large letter on a single page, and then print it on card stock. Precisely cut it into a 6-inch-by-5-inch shape. Fold it in half to make a personalized 3-inch-by-5-inch note card. Make six cards per person and tie them together with a ribbon.

Recipe cards. Handwrite one of your family's favorite recipes onto a recipe card. Put it together with a small stack of blank cards. Tie them together with a ribbon.

Gifts in jars

Food in jars. Putting cookies or cocoa in jars and giving them as gifts is easy, especially when you use store-bought mixes. Wrap the jar's lid in fabric and attach handwritten preparation instructions.

Citrus-infused sugar. Fill a jar with a mix of citrus-infused white sugar and the dried citrus peels that give it flavor. Let orange or lemon peels dry on the counter for a day before sealing in with the sugar. Foodies might like citrus-infused vinegar as well.

Salt or sugar scrub. Make a homemade vanilla scrub using sugar or Epsom salt as the base. (You can buy Epsom salt at the dollar store.) Mix 2 cups of salt or sugar with 1 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons vanilla extract. Comparable scrubs start at $15 in retail stores.


Seven-layer bars. Years ago, a co-worker gave me a 2-inch-by-2-inch stack of seven-layer bars wrapped in clear cellophane, tied with a ribbon. At a small four bars per person, a single pan can go a long way.

What are some of the best gifts you've gotten from co-workers or as a party host/hostess?

Carrie Rocha blogs at and is author of "Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make" (Bethany House, January 2013). She helps people live within their means so they can get out of and stay out of debt. Follow her on Twitter at @CarrieRocha.

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1 Comment
Robbin H
December 21, 2012 at 8:56 am

Be aware that salt or sugar scrubs, while a fairly inexpensive and easy gift, should be used quickly (within a week or two) or have a preservative. Once a wet hand reaches in to grab some scrub, the germs and bacteria from the water begin to multiply. And not all of them make a visible warning appearance. :-(

Also note that sugar scrubs can be "softer" for older or tender skin. Salt scrubs are best for rough stuff like heels and elbows.