Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas for Family

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A man applying ink with letter stamps onto a piece of kraft paper.
A man applying ink with letter stamps onto a piece of kraft paper. (Image: Vico Images/Alin Dragulin/FogStock/Getty Images)

The holidays are drawing near but the only red you're paying attention to is the color of your bank statement. Indeed, many Americans go into debt in order to fund their Christmas shopping. Trying to find the right gifts for everyone in your family is daunting enough, but doing so on a limited budget is even more overwhelming. By making your gifts from scratch or by transforming inexpensive household items like napkins and mugs, you'll be able to impress everyone on your list without going into Christmas debt.

Photo-Themed Gifts

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it will only cost you a couple bucks. Using your computer, design a DVD slideshow of photos from a family event and make copies for each person in your family. You'll only have to pay for the DVDs -- a pack of 15 is under $10. Watching the slideshow together with your family on Christmas Day can be a real treat. If you are more hands-on, go through your family's attic and find old family photos to put into collages, or scan the photos and create collages digitally without altering the actual pictures. Finally, turn digital photos into tangible gifts by getting them printed in various sizes and then placing them in frames found at a second-hand or dollar store.

Holiday Treats

Food-themed gifts are great for the gourmands in your family or those who spend time in the kitchen. There are a number of unique homemade holiday treats besides the traditional frosted cookies and fruitcakes. Choose from any of the following: chocolate-dipped pretzels, caramel corn, peppermint bark, granola, small bread loaves, meringues, sweet or salty roast nuts and gourmet marshmallows. Serve in decorative Christmas-themed tins, boxes or bags. Homemade canned preserves, mustard, pickled veggies or flavored salts also make great holiday gifts. Infuse liquor, honey, olive oil or vinegar with fresh and dried herbs and spices. Similarly, you can fill jars with the dry ingredients for things like soup, hot chocolate or pancakes and attach a recipe to the jar. Decorate jars, boxes and bags with red, green and white ribbons and bows. Your only expense will be the ingredients, jars and boxes.

Bath and Body

Wow your family with your innovation skills with some DIY bath and body products tailored to their specific needs and tastes. With simple ingredients found around your home and at your local grocery store, you can make pungent sugar and salt scrubs, bath salts, massage oils, lotions and balms. Does your dad have a shaving cream that he really likes? Is your sister crazy for a particular perfume? Research how to make comparable products yourself from scratch using cheap, nontoxic ingredients. This makes your DIY bath gifts thoughtful as well as economical. Store your products in clean mason jars and seal them with decorative cloth or ribbons.

Personalized Gifts

Apply iron-on, painted or stenciled monograms to just about anything you can think of to personalize your gifts for each member of your family. Monograms can be applied to mugs, napkins, wooden hangers, tote bags, handkerchiefs, shot glasses, candles, cloth diaries, tablet cases and even ties. You can also use a rubber stamp and colored paint to stamp on initials or holiday-themed patterns such as leaves, wreathes, snowmen, Christmas trees and others.

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