25 Handmade Gifts that are FREE (Almost)


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Have you approached the holidays in fear because of low finances?  Instead of spending money this holiday season, spend time. Get creative and make handmade gifts that cost nearly nothing. Source things around your home, check the recycle bin and ask the neighbors--then make things that are unique, thoughtful and free!

25 Handmade Gifts that are FREE (Almost)

The holidays bring excitement and cheer--but sometimes they are a reminder of one's financial situation. They can add a burden to those that want to give gifts but cannot justify the expense. I've been there.

My husband and I have been married for 20.5 years. It seemed like the first 10 years of our marriage, we were very poor during the holidays. Several times we had lost jobs right before Christmas, leaving us with no money to pay our rent, let alone gifts.

Instead of despair, we got creative. We used the things we had around us to gift to our family. One year I spent some time painting rocks and my husband made custom boxes with scrap wood to present them in. 

When our baby boy was 2, we couldn't afford gifts at all. We felt a little dejected as parents, but again, got creative. We found this giant box at my dad's house and convinced him to give it to us. Then my hubby and I cut a hinged door, open windows and a pitched roof. Then we wrapped it carefully in some wrapping paper we took from my in-laws. 

It took us time, but no money. Guess what!? He was thrilled! He and all his cousins wanted to spend all Christmas morning playing in Danny's house--and didn't care about any other presents. It was wonderful--and the favorite gift of Christmas that year!

When our baby boy was 2, we couldn't afford gifts at all. We felt a little dejected as parents, but again, got creative. We found this giant box at my dad's house and convinced him to give it to us. Then my hubby and I cut a hinged door, open windows and a pitched roof. Then we wrapped it carefully in some wrapping paper we took from my in-laws.   It took us time, but no money. Guess what!? He was thrilled! He and all his cousins wanted to spend all Christmas morning playing in Danny's house--and didn't care about any other presents. It was wonderful--and the favorite gift of Christmas that year!

It would be fun to make a cardboard house for my 18 year old Danny now. Maybe it would be the most memorable if we crafted it as a family.

Have you approached the holidays in fear because of low finances? 

Instead of spending money, let's spend a little time and get creative! 

I've got 25 ideas for FREE or almost free gift ideas. Look around your house, check the recycling, ask neighbors, think outside the box and see what you can come up with!

Hopefully these 25 ideas get you inspired! Which is your favorite? Which one will you make this year?


Cereal Box Refillable Notebooks

These awesome notebooks hold paper folded in half--and they are made of old cereal boxes. The biggest part is the elastic...1/4" flat elastic from Walmart is under $3, so if you can't find anything around the house, you can purchase some and make several. 

I asked my neighbors if they had any cereal boxes, because I don't buy cereal in boxes very often. I got exactly what I needed! Any lightweight cardboard box will work if it's big enough, check the cupboards and rock what you've got!
Cereal Box Refillable Notebooks  These awesome notebooks hold paper folded in half--and they are made of old cereal boxes. The biggest part is the elastic...1/4" flat elastic from Walmart is under $3, so if you can't find anything around the house, you can purchase some and make several.   I asked my neighbors if they had any cereal boxes, because I don't buy cereal in boxes very often. I got exactly what I needed! Any lightweight cardboard box will work if it's big enough, check the cupboards and rock what you've got!


Get creative with this scroll art! I used some scrap wood in the garage, but you can upcycle a wood ruler or yard stick...or even use multiple layers of cardboard glued together. 

Have the kids draw a picture, paint their hands and stamp them on paper, or paint your own creation and then finish it off as the perfect gift.
Make a hanging scroll from recycled materials. This elegant and simple painted floral scroll makes a great gift or gorgeous home decor. This great scroll-like technique works for any type of art--including the kids doodles.


Handmade cards and envelopes can add the perfect touch to top a gift, give a gift card or just write a heartfelt letter. Honestly, so many of us just need a sincere card with a heartfelt message.
Learn how to fold cute paper envelopes and matching cards using double sided paper. These cute cards can be sent through the mail and brighten the day of the recipient!

This darling sign with hand lettering can be created with wood scraps from the burn pile...just add some watercolors, markers or even food coloring. Then add some hand lettering. 
How to make a wood slice hand lettering mantra sign in just 5 minutes.


This fun craft needs some clear glue, glitter and a jar. Most likely you have some of those things already. If not, head to your dollar store and pick up a couple things. It's surprisingly relaxing to watch the spinning glitter dance and swirl.
Make a relaxing glitter jar to help relax and calm emotions during this unusual time.


Color some coffee filters with food coloring and make a giant flower for a wreath--just add staples. This gorgeous flower used 115 coffee filters, but 100 would work too--and can be purchased at the dollar store easily. Mine has packs of 100 for just a dollar. Leave them natural and have a fabulous flower in white. Perfect for January decor.
Make a giant hand dyed coffee filter flower with just a couple of supplies.


When I was little I loved drawing flip books! Make your own notepad as the perfect gift. Invite the recipient to make a flip book or make one for them. A notepad is pretty useful too! Just needs paper--and some modpodge, which is available at the dollar store.
Make your own notepads to keep lists, memos and to-do's organized using paper and Mod Podge.


Create personalized notebooks for each person on your gift list. Use markers to color a galaxy or leave it blank for the recipient to embellish. This notebook just needs paper and one stitch with the sewing machine. Don't have a sewing machine? Ask a neighbor, friend or call your local library.
Personalize Galaxy Profile Notebook  Create personalized notebooks for each person on your gift list. Use markers to color a galaxy or leave it blank for the recipient to embellish. This notebook just needs paper and one stitch with the sewing machine. Don't have a sewing machine? Ask a neighbor, friend or call your local library.

Rocks are a fun gift! Make cute little rock pets or add magnets for the perfect tool. Add eyes or don't!
Rock Pet Magnets for Locker Organization back to school 5 minute craft DIY


This is the most tedious craft I've ever made, but it's gorgeous! Use scrap paper--old magazine pages or junk mail and roll them tight with some colored paper...or paper you color. Then hot glue them on a frame, ornament, or even as a necklace. Just fyi: this takes FOREVER!
Upcycled Rolled Paper Frame DIY Craft using colored paper and magazines, tedious DIY


Do you have a little one in your life that has a wonderful imagination? Make them a set of jet packs! My son has loved Mandalorians (specifically Boba Fett) since before he could speak. We whipped up these jet packs with old soda bottles, felt, webbing, cardboard, hot glue and staples...and a little spray paint 

This can be altered and adapted to what you have! They will love to put it on and zip around the house!
Jet Packs upcycled craft diy tutorial made from recycled 2 liter bottles and felt


Make a stunning decoration piece with some old buttons. I inherited a few button boxes in my days, so this one was easy for me. Packs of buttons can also be found at the dollar store. Find a simple frame, add some burlap and boom--perfection!
Jeweled Button Christmas Tree  Make a stunning decoration piece with some old buttons. I inherited a few button boxes in my days, so this one was easy for me. Packs of buttons can also be found at the dollar store. Find a simple frame, add some burlap and boom--perfection!


Make even the wrapping paper special by adding some hand lettering on it with a marker!
Hand Lettered Wrapping Paper  Make even the wrapping paper special by adding some hand lettering on it with a marker!


Again, rocks are an easy gift to give. Add a little paint in bright colors and they are perfect. Cheapest paint is Plaid Apple Barrel Paint at Walmart, just 50 cents a bottle. Get a few colors and mix them to create more!
Dot Painted Mandala Rocks  Again, rocks are an easy gift to give. Add a little paint in bright colors and they are perfect. Cheapest paint is Plaid Apple Barrel Paint at Walmart, just 50 cents a bottle. Get a few colors and mix them to create more!


Save those soup cans and turn them into pen holders! Add some paint or spray paint for the perfect galactic finish.
Galaxy Painted Pen Holders  Save those soup cans and turn them into pen holders! Add some paint or spray paint for the perfect galactic finish.


Make a fancy cookie cover with something you probably already have! Click for more details!
DIY Cloche Cover  Make a fancy cookie cover with something you probably already have! Click for more details!


Did you make starburst or gum wrapper bracelets before? I loved making these! Save those candy wrappers for the perfect upcycled gift.
Candy Wrapper Bracelet  Did you make starburst or gum wrapper bracelets before? I loved making these! Save those candy wrappers for the perfect upcycled gift.


More candy wrapper crafts! Make a flower headband using an old skittles bag. 
Skittles Flower Headband  More candy wrapper crafts! Make a flower headband using an old skittles bag.


My littlest boy used to collect pieces of metal that he found while we went on walks. We used scrap pieces of wood and make these little junkbots using his treasure trove of metal. We hung them on the Christmas tree as ornaments too!
Junk Bots  My littlest boy used to collect pieces of metal that he found while we went on walks. We used scrap pieces of wood and make these little junkbots using his treasure trove of metal. We hung them on the Christmas tree as ornaments too!


Make a phone charging station as a great gift, using something you probably already have!
Phone Charging Station  Make a phone charging station as a great gift, using something you probably already have!



Use an old cereal box and a sewing machine to make a little pocket notebook. This would make a great stocking stuffer too!
Cereal Box Pocket Notebook  Use an old cereal box and a sewing machine to make a little pocket notebook. This would make a great stocking stuffer too!


I love using my Cricut for custom shirts, but you can do it without a fancy machine too! You will need freezer paper, it's about $6 at Walmart and will last you forever. Just use a hobby knife to cut out your desired design. Then iron the shiny side onto the shirt...and this shirt we found "slightly irregular" at the dollar store. Then use the freezer paper as a stencil and add paint!

Great for tote bags, pillowcases, cosmetic bags, shirts and more!
Boba Fett Stenciled Shirt  I love using my Cricut for custom shirts, but you can do it without a fancy machine too! You will need freezer paper, it's about $6 at Walmart and will last you forever. Just use a hobby knife to cut out your desired design. Then iron the shiny side onto the shirt...and this shirt we found "slightly irregular" at the dollar store. Then use the freezer paper as a stencil and add paint!  Great for tote bags, pillowcases, cosmetic bags, shirts and more!



Find an old rock and wrap it into a pendant! This is actually petrified wood, but any rock will work! You just need some wire for wrapping. This wire is very thick, but thinner wire will work too, just as more wraps. 
Wire Wrapped Pendants  Find an old rock and wrap it into a pendant! This is actually petrified wood, but any rock will work! You just need some wire for wrapping. This wire is very thick, but thinner wire will work too, just as more wraps.



Make glass gem magnets using paper, glass marble gems and magnets from the dollar store. You'll also need some glue, I love E6000, it's $3 at Walmart and will last forever...but modpodge works too!
Make Glass Gem Marble Magnets with Snowflake Ornament for the perfect handmade Gift, great for neighbors, friends and family.


And of course, handmade cards! This year has been devastatingly isolating this year. A card is just the thing to bring a smile to someone else's face if you can't see them in person. Here's 3 ways to make a handmade card to get you started. 

I began my adventure in blogging and crafting by making handmade cards. It’s the perfect craft to make and send to friends to bring a smile to their face. Make a few to keep on hand and use when the opportunity arises. Here’s everything you need to know about getting started making handmade cards.

What do you think!? Which do you like the most?

I hope it gives you the inspiration to get started on some handmade gifts without worrying too much about money.

Like, Pin and Share!

Instead of spending money this holiday season, spend time. Get creative and make handmade gifts that cost nearly nothing. Source things around your home, check the recycle bin and ask the neighbors--then make things that are unique, thoughtful and free!



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