How to Make a DIY Homemade Gift that won’t leave you broke

elderly couple holding bouquet of flowers while holding hands
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Looking for a heartfelt gift that won’t leave you broke? Try making your own. There are literally hundreds of affordable DIY projects that make great gifts. These sorts of gifts can make a major impression — in fact, taking the time to make them by hand is often more impressive than spending lots of cash.

Write a heartfelt card

When all else fails, this simple gesture makes a great choice for almost any occasion. While cards can be purchased at nearly any supermarket or department store, piecing together your own from craft materials can make a statement about the time and effort you’re willing to spend on the recipient. The most important part of the card, though, is the words you write on it. Try to be sincere and honest while writing something that your friend is going to find sweet or entertaining.

You don’t just have to write straightforward expressions like “Thank you for always being there for me.” Feel free to get creative — poems, limericks, jokes, acrostics, and even short stories can make a card really shine.

Make a deck of complimentary cards

This is sometimes also called “52 things I Love About You.” For this gift, you take an ordinary pack of cards and turn it into something special by writing compliments for the gift recipient on each one. You may want to brainstorm first so you don’t run out of ideas halfway through. When you give the gift, offer to use the cards to play your favorite card game together.

For this gift, you will need a full deck of cards, 52 blank sticker labels, and markers, glitter, and other supplies, if you want to decorate. Put a label on each card. If you can, leave space for the number and suit so you can still use the cards to play. Write something you love about your friend on each label. When you’re done, decorate the cards and the box how you wish.

Try making a scrapbook

A scrapbook isn’t just a great gift — it’s a way to remind your friend of all the great memories you have together. If you need a quick gift or you don’t have enough photos for an entire scrapbook, try making a collage on a single piece of paper or posterboard. In either case, you can decorate the photos and the border around them with cut-out quotes, stencils, drawings, and more.

To make a scrapbook, you’ll just need a few pieces of construction paper, some glue or tape, a skinny ribbon, a hole punch, and lots of photos of you and the gift recipient. Paste the pictures in any sequence you want on your sheets of paper. For example, you may want to begin with photos of when you first met. Decorate the pages with printed-off quotes, doodles, inside jokes, stickers, glitter, or whatever else you want.

When you’re ready, punch holes in one side of the stack of papers and tie them together with ribbon to make a book. Don’t forget to leave a blank sheet at the front for the cover.

Make friendship coupons

These are fantastic gifts for family members, boyfriends, and girlfriends. The basic idea here is to make a small book of cards or “coupons” from scratch. On each coupon, write a favor or an activity that you know the gift recipient likes. For example, if you’re giving the coupons to your boyfriend, you might write “I will give you one free back rub” on one of the coupons. When you’re finished, tie the coupons together with ribbon and decorate them as you wish.

Make a flower arrangement

This makes a great gift for Mother’s day. Pick a collection of flowers that you think look good together, then put them together in a vase or decorative arrangement. Try using objects from around the house for this. For example, an old rinsed-out wine bottle makes a great vase. Don’t cut flowers from your garden (or a neighbor’s) without the permission of whoever is responsible for taking care of it.

Make a gift basket

This is an excellent way to give the impression of a homemade gift even when some of the things you’re giving are bought in the store. A gift basket is exactly what it sounds like — a decorative basket filled with small gifts the recipient will enjoy. For example, if your friend loves movies, you might fill the basket with a selection of classic DVDs. Try combining a mix of store bought and homemade gifts in the basket for a personal touch.

Make a personalized candle

This is another good choice for Mother’s Day. To make the most basic version of this gift, grab a small jar, decorate it however you wish, and place a good-quality candle inside. For a more professional look, you can even fill the jar with liquid wax and put the wick in yourself. If you do this, try adding a small amount of perfume or fragrant materials like lavender to give the candle a pleasing scent.

If you have construction paper and paint, you can decorate your jar for a “stained glass” effect. Cut the paper into a shape or design that makes sense. Glue it or tape it to the inside wall of the jar. Paint the inside of the jar with a thin layer of paint and allow it to dry. Carefully peel the paper out and its shape will be imprinted on the glass.

Make clothes or accessories from scratch

Clothing that you knit or sew yourself can make the perfect gift — whenever your friend wears it, they’ll think of you. Knit hats, head warmers or socks can be some of the simplest projects for beginners since they can be knit by following the patterns on looped guides called “looms.” However, with a little sewing know-how, you can make more complex clothes. For example, a worn-out pair of jeans can become a stylish new jean skirt. There are many, many projects you can try — it’s up to you to pick one your friend will like.

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