Cheap (…I Mean “Inexpensive”) DIY Gift Ideas

By Laura K. Garrison

The holidays are once again upon us! Aside from the bountiful good cheer and festive family gatherings, it’s the season of gift-giving. Now that you’re an adult, it’s time you start sharing in the burden. Gone are the days of mindlessly opening big boxes wrapped in fancy paper—now it’s your turn to do the wrapping. While watching your loved ones open their presents can be fulfilling (even more so than receiving), the holidays can cause your wallet to take a serious hit. This is never good news for the struggling college student, so here’s a list of fun ideas that are affordable, creative, and heartfelt.

For your hippie relative who lives in a commune
Make them a tie-dye shirt! Earlier in the year we held a tie-dye party on my floor, and I’ll admit I was skeptical due to my lack of artistic talent. I was surprised to discover that tie-dye is easy to do and really can’t be ruined. Not only will you be making something entirely unique, you’ll have a lot of fun in the process. You can tie-dye practically anything (think bed-sheets, socks, etc.) and a single kit can produce many gifts at once.

For your cool, music-aficionado relative
Make them a mix CD! Another idea taken from a floor activity, create playlists for friends and family and burn them on to CDs. Not only are you sharing something personal by creating a story in twenty or so songs, you can introduce someone to that new radical band or save them the cost of buying that song they always sing along to on the radio. You can create themed mixes for special occasions and bundle them up as a boxed set for year-round entertainment.

For that person you never know what to get
Bake a dozen cookies, a pan of brownies, or a small cake! Most people have a sweet tooth and can’t resist homemade baked goods. Though it may not seem like a lot, it’s a lovely gesture, especially considering your time slaving in front of an oven as opposed to picking up a generic gift card at Rite Aid.

For the friends you miss the most

You can’t go wrong with Christmas cookies

remind them of all the good times you’ve had over the year with a photo album or scrapbook. Put all that time you waste on Facebook to use by pooling pictures of you and your besties. Put the pictures in a nice photo album or invest in a scrapbook that can be decorated for an extra personal touch. There is nothing better than spending New Year’s reminiscing about the best moments from the past year.

For those relatives who live far, far away
Send them a nice handwritten letter. Chances are they haven’t heard from you in a while and want to know about your exciting life in New York. Invest in nice stationary and write out all your thoughts over the past year. Receiving snail mail that isn’t bank statements or credit card bills is a pick-me-up even in this digital age, and I often find letter-writing to be both therapeutic and more personal (because some things just can’t be shared through a Facebook thread). Include photos in your letter to give your loved ones the full story of what you’ve been up to.

You’re friends and family will be impressed with the care you put in their gifts and remember that it’s always the thoughts that counts. Embrace the holiday spirit and enjoy creating the perfect present for your loved ones.

Laura is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Photos courtesy of Vyxxan and L’étoile Restaurant.


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