Although the holidays can be exciting it can also be a time of overindulgence, over drinking, overspending and just excess in general. At the end of it all you’ll feel like you’ve been on a one month bender, broke, disillusioned and unhappy.
Why not make this year a year that you choose to give from the heart instead of the pocketbook?
I’ve got a list of brilliant Christmas gifts under $20, often times only costing a few dollars or free that I guarantee your friends and family will appreciate, because you will have given a piece of yourself.
Brilliant Christmas Gifts Under $20
#1 Write A Letter
One of my most treasured gifts is a letter my Mom wrote to me a couple of years ago. When I’m having a bad day or just want give myself a boost I’ll get out that letter and reread it. My heart grows three sizes each time.
Your letter doesn’t need to be long, or too detailed, but it does need to come from the heart.
Although you could type it, (it would be fun on a vintage typewriter) but ideally handwritten is best.
Tell the person what they mean to you and how they have impacted your life.
If you’re still stumped, recount your fondest memory of the person and tell them how you felt at the time.
I recommend drafting the letter on your computer first, and then copying it by hand onto paper to avoid mistakes in spelling or autograph.
If you want to learn more about the art of letter writing, Kristian has a great series with sections on how to write love letters and how to write letters of appreciation.
#2 Make a calendar or photo book.
I do this every year. I get family members to share some of their best photos from the past year via DropBox and then I go through Blacks a digital photo shop and make the family calendar. Yes it takes a bit of time, but not as much as it used to when I scrapbooked them all myself. Now all I do is choose the calendar I want, choose the photos, upload them all and then go and pick up the five calendars 10 days later, all professionally printed. Some places also offer to ship them directly for you. This had become a family tradition. I’m thankful since most of us never print our digital photos. Cost per calendar starts at $19.99.
Don’t like the idea of a calendar? Make a pillow…a coffee cup…heck even a shower curtain from your favourite photo of your friends or family. Society6 offers this service but I see that Staples and Blacks also offer this service.
#3 Bake Or Cook Something Homemade
Yes it takes a little time, but like everything in life, when you put love into it…it’s so much better!
I created this recipe last week of no bake cookies/mini bars that are ready to eat in less than 20 minutes.
Suzanne’s No Bake Salted Chocolate Nut Delights
It is so simple!
600 grams of 70% chocolate melted with 1 tbsp of olive oil (I did it in the microwave in 1 minute on high and then stirred, repeat as necessary until it is all melted) Yes, this is lots of chocolate! I LOVE chocolate ; )
1 cup of unsweetened coconut lightly toasted ( Just toast on a cookie sheet for about 5 minutes in 350 F oven, keep an eye on it because it browns quickly.)
1 cup of cranberries (Unsweetened are the best! I get mine in the health food aisle they are by a company called Central Roast.)
2 cups of sliced almonds toasted ( Toast on a cookie sheet for about 5-8 minutes in 350 F oven, again keep an eye on it.)
10 wafers graham cut into small pieces ( I used low fat)
Malden or course grain sea salt for sprinkling on top if you like a bit of salty with your sweet.
Toss first five ingredients into a big bowl, stir and then spoon into mini muffin tins. Sprinkle with a bit of the Malden salt. Pop into the fridge and they are ready to eat in about 5-10 minutes.
You don’t need to go crazy with the wrapping but putting a little bit of effort in goes a long way to showing off what you’ve taken the time to make. You can simply use a brown paper bag with a ribbon tied on top and handwritten tag that shows the name of each cookie.
This is how I wrapped mine last year… I used a stamp on metal rimmed tags that I bought at Staples. You can buy the clear wrap at Michaels.
Here are some other easy cookie recipes that I plan on making this holiday from the lady that knows how to do cookies (and everything else) well…Martha Stewart.
#4 Offer Yourself
Everyone does something well. Maybe you are good at cleaning, accounting, looking after kids, dog sitting/walking…whatever. Offer your services to your family and friends. When I last visited my parents I cleaned and organized my Mom’s closet and bought her all new hangers. She was elated.
I don’t have any photos of her closet so I’m including one of mine. You can check out my full post on closet organizing ideas here.
#5 Shop Secondhand
If you are dead set on buying something rather than making it or offering your time I suggest you check out your local thrift/vintage/consignment stores.
Now before you get all…”Ewww! I’m not giving someone something used! They’ll think I’m a loser!” think about this for a minute…
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the U.S. generates around 25 billion pounds of brand-new textiles per year (around 85 percent of that eventually heads for landfills). – Huffington Post
As a consignment/thrift/vintage store connoisseur I can tell you that there are many items there that are brand new or have only been worn once. Scarves, handbags and jewelry are some of my favourite pieces that I often find in secondhand stores that I make wonderful gifts. Just make sure if you buy it in a thrift/consignment store that you launder it first.
I picked up this brand new stunning silk scarf at a consignment store for a Sylvia at 40+Style and I know she likes it because she wears it. (That makes me so happy!)
Get my best tips on how to shop at thrift stores like a pro.
Those are my top five suggestions for Christmas gifts under $20. You’re not opening your wallet as wide, instead you’re opening your heart.
Do you have any suggestions for gifts under $20? Or are you
burying yourself in debt buying expensive gifts this season? Do you feel stressed about the amount of money you spend during the holidays? Do you try to budget for the holidays?
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Linking up with: My Girlish Whims
Red Tag Chic Los Angeles says
These are the best gifts – thanks for the inspo Suzanne!!! Wishing you the best of the holidays!!!
Good suggestions all…and if that handwritten letter was beautifully written in cursive writing, all the better. Your recipe sounds yummy, too, I may have to try that one.
…and as for thrift store/second hand shopping…how many times have I been in a new shop and some dress has makeup on it, or a stain somehow from someone trying it on? Even new you can’t be sure someone hasn’t already worn it (i.e. those folks that like to buy things, wear for one night and take back). I’m with you 100% on the thrift store shopping.
I certainly don’t go crazy at Christmas; the kids know we’ll keep it simple and are fine with that, I always shop secondhand for people who are happy for me to do so, and seek out bargains for those who aren’t! Lovely ideas – a bit of thought and effort will always produce the best gifts. xxx
No Fear of Fashion says
Now this is the true Christmas thought. What a lovely heart warming ideas. Thank you very much. Number four I need so I cannot give it LOL
Theses are great ideas, I particularly like the handwritten letter, I think that’s beautiful – we definitely have a budget! we save cash for the season but of course I do like a little charity shop goodness, I have received some beautiful lead crystal beauties as gifts (as well as other lovelies) my Mum likes cold hard cash though haha! it goes to her ongoing holiday funds (she is a natural born traveller) x x x
Happiness at Mid Life says
One year when I was learning how to knit, I made scarves for my friends. My friends still wear there scares which makes me so happy. I have friends that make ornaments which looks so pretty too.
Gnome Lover says
I love all of your suggestions. And I also really appreciate the time and effort it took to write this post. It really shows. It is a beautiful post. It is better than any I have seen in a magazine. I am hoping to make my friends some cookies for Christmas this year, but I am not sure i am going to have the time. I do bake cookies for the elderly center next door every year and will still do that. imam going to book ark this page. I love it!
Rachel G says
I love that you make those calendars a tradition! We made them one year for my grandparents and aunts and uncles–they were a pretty big hit! I love looking at family pictures, a calendar is an easy way to see them all year long!
I’m flattered you linked to me! Also, thanks for sending me the message. Thought I’d subscribed your new site, but hadn’t been- well, that has been rectified!
These are beautiful suggestions! I can get totally on board with these. It is all about the thought and care, rather than the financial cost. Such a lovely message Suzanne. Bravo!!
Very good suggestions, Suz!
I write cards and letters always, so I also did for Xmas. Hope you received yours?;-)
Offering myself, as you call it? Check. Whole year round gift. It’s awesome to be able to be there for your friends and family!
I will leave the cooking up to you, since I ain’t no kitchen princess, as you already know.