7 DIY Holiday Gifts That Won't Break Your Budget

The hands of a person holding a brush and a jar, while they paint a flower on it.

The holidays are such a festive and joyous time of year. Don’t let a tight budget turn you into Scrooge! All you need to do is recalibrate your thinking from “gift buying” to “gift making,” get some supplies, and fully engage your creativity. We’ve rounded up some great inexpensive, easy-to-make gifts for everyone on your list. Your friends and family will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and your budget will thank you for your thriftiness.  

Spice Blends for the Kitchen or Grill

Custom-made spice blends presented in a pretty bottle make for an easy – and inexpensive - DIY gift. The trick to keeping expenses in check is buying your spices in bulk. You can do that online or by shopping your local ethnic market. The other item you need are glass bottles, which you can find online or at your local craft or thrift store.

Give some thought to what kind of blends you’ll be creating before making any purchases. There is no shortage of interesting recipes on the Internet. Here’s one to get your started, and it’s perfect for the grillmaster in your life. You can give it as a stocking stuffer or combine it with a gift basket featuring other grilling essentials, like an apron featuring a very bad pun! An individual jar of barbeque spice rub can be put together in ten or so minutes, making it perfect for a last-minute gift. Making multiple jars, of course, will take more time.

Barbeque Spice Rub Recipe

Mix the following ingredients for a 1 cup yield. Place in a jar, add a bow, and voila, a homemade gift ready for giving. Have more time? Consider making a jar label.

  • ⅓ cup sea salt
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar or maple sugar
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 2 TBSP black pepper
  • 2 TBSP dried oregano
  • 1 TSP garlic powder
  • 2 TSP dried thyme
  • 1 TSP dried mustard
  • ½ TSP cayenne pepper

Pampering Presents

Show the special people in your life – and your wallet – a little love with handmade gifts like bath bombs, spa baskets, or these easy-to-make items.

Hand-sewn Foot Warmer

Materials: 12″ x 12″ pieces of flannel, white rice, a sewing needle or a sewing machine and thread, optional drops of essential oils

  1. Fold 12″ square in half to make a 5 ½″ x 11 ½″ bag. If you’re using single-sided flannel, make sure you fold so the soft sides face each other.
  2. Sew along the long side of the rectangle.
  3. Roll the fabric until the seam is in the middle.
  4. Sew along one of the short sides. For best results, use a ¼″ seam allowance.
  5. If you used single-sided flannel, turn your bag inside out. For a decorative touch, add top stitching with a ¼″ seam allowance.
  6. Now it’s time to fill your bag with the rice. Measure out 1 ½ cups of rice, adding in a drop or two of essential oil if you want to make the rice aromatic when it’s heated.
  7. To finish, tuck the seams in and pin them. When you sew along the pinned side, your end seams will match perfectly.

Extra touch: Include a pretty tag with handwritten instructions for use – "Use microwave to heat rice bags for 1 to 2 minutes. Enjoy!"

Homemade Beard Oil

Epic beards require epic care, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Beard oil is a must-have to tame unruly facial hair and add luster to all beards. For best results, use both essential oils and carrier oils. Carrier oils serve to dilute the essential oils, which are highly concentrated and can lead to skin irritations. Certain oils can even promote beard growth. Using at least three carrier oils will produce great results.

What You’ll Need:

  • Carrier Oils - These oils stimulate hair follicles to give a boost to beard growth: argan, jojoba, and sweet almond. Grapeseed, castor, and fractionated coconut oil are also classified as carrier oils. These oils have different elements that contribute to healthy skin and a dandruff-free beard. Some of these oils can be found in grocery stores. You can also find plenty of online sources.
  • Essentials Oils – These oils also encourage hair growth. Popular choices to create masculine scents include rosemary, frankincense, clary sage, cedarwood, and bergamot.
  • Small Funnel
  • 1 oz. Tinted Glass Bottles with Droppers

The following recipe will produce a pleasing scent and include oils that will promote both hair growth and healthy skin. Once you get this one down, you can experiment with different oil combinations to create your unique signature beard oil. Just remember that you should use no fewer than three carrier oils. Mix each batch directly into the glass bottle. Important! You must use glass bottles. Essential oils are potent and can leach impurities out of plastic bottles. Use a funnel to add the carrier oils, then a dropper for the essential oils.


  • 1 TBSP fractionated coconut oil OR grapeseed oil
  • 1 TSP jojoba oil
  • 1 TSP argan oil
  • 1 TSP castor oil
  • 1 TSP almond oil

When you venture into your own blends, just make sure you have between 20 and 25 combined drops

  • 10 drops of bergamot
  • 5 drops of rosemary
  • 5 drops of lavender oil
  • 3 drops clove oil

Extra touches: Tie a tag with instructions to the bottle. Instructions can be as simple as “Before going to bed, apply a few drops on your beard and massage them into your beard.” And speaking of that bottle, let your creativity run wild and design your own beard oil label.

Gift for Anyone

These two gift ideas make perfect presents for anyone. Who wouldn’t love a monogrammed key chain or a batch of cookie cutter fudge?

Personalized Clay Key Chain

This simple concept – adding the recipient’s initials to clay – yields stunning results. You just need to go the craft store to pick up a few items, then follow these instructions to create personalized key chains anyone would appreciate.


  • Clay in black, white, and granite 
  • Rolling pin
  • Parchment paper
  • Clay cutters
  • Clay embossing kit (the circle and rectangle cutters come with this)
  • Toothpick
  • Assorted jump rings
  • Keyrings
  • Two pliers
  1. After you’ve first covered a cutting board with parchment paper, form a clay ball and roll it flat with a rolling pin.
  2. Use a clay cutter to make your preferred shape, then remove the extra clay, and then the cutter.
  3. Find the letters of your recipient’s name in the embossing kit, load them into the tray, then press into the clay. If you’re artsy and have a steady hand, you might be able to freehand this step.
  4. With the toothpick, make a hole to attach the ring to the clay piece. Move the toothpick around a little to enlarge the hole.
  5. Cut the parchment around the clay piece and place the paper on a baking sheet. To harden the clay, bake at 230 degrees for about 40 minutes. After cooling, the clay is ready for the next step: adding the rings.
  6. Get your pliers and two small rings. Use the pliers to open one of the rings, then slide it through the hole. Don’t close it just yet! Hook on another small ring and then close up the first ring.
  7. Slide the whole ensemble onto a key chain, and that’s it! A nifty monogrammed key chain with a classy look that belies how inexpensive it is to make.

Two Gifts in One – Fudge in a Cookie Cutter
Make your favorite fudge recipe and spoon it into a prepared cookie cutter. The results? A delicious little treat that doubles as a durable gift.

As the fudge heats up and melts, prepare the cookie cutters. Take some aluminum foil and place it around the outside of the cutters so the fudge doesn’t run out. Next, spoon the fudge into the shapes – you need to work quickly so using two spoons is best. Press the fudge in place and add your toppings.

When all the fudge is cooled down, wrap the treat-filled cookie cutters in cellophane and add a cute gift tag.

Just for Pets 

You can make these for the pet-loving hoomans on your list. And if you ARE a pet-loving hooman, share these with your fur-babies and you’re sure to get a lot of lovin’ back.

Purrrfectly Simple Salmon Treats

Just three ingredients are in these delectables kitties will love. Here’s how to make them using canned salmon, egg, and flour. For extra cuteness, get a cookie cutter in the shape of small goldfishes.


  1. Open a can of salmon – don’t drain it – and place it in a food processor. Pulse it until the salmon is finely chopped.
  2. Combine the salmon, egg, and flour in a stand mixer until it becomes dough.
  3. Flatten the dough until it’s about ¼″ thick on a floured surface.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. They should be a light brown color and crispy.

Peanut Butter "Pupcakes"

These festive little treats are super easy to make from a few healthy ingredients. This recipe yields 24 “pupcakes,” if you use a mini-muffin baking tin.

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • ¼ cup peanut butter (Make sure you choose xylitol-free peanut butter.)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a min-muffin tin.
    Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
    Add agave, peanut butter, and applesauce. Stir until well-blended.
    Fill the tin so that it’s ¾ full and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  2. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.
    1 cup boiled sweet potato
    ½ cup coconut cream
  3. Peel and cube the sweet potato.
    Boil in 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan until very tender. Drain and cool.
    In a medium bowl, combine the potato and coconut cream. Beat until smooth.
  4. After the cakes have cooled completely, add the frosting and they’re done.
  5. To give as a gift, you can place the pupcakes in plastic tumbler cups. Wrap with cellophane and add a gift tag.

Crafting your own gifts will save you a lot of money over purchasing, but you’ll still need to buy materials. When shopping, why not give yourself the gift of cash rewards by using our Founder’s Rewards Card? You can earn 2%* or 1.5% cash rewards with our credit card, and you won’t pay an annual fee. To apply for the card, visit psecu.com/founders. Not a member? Join us today to get this as well as other money-saving perks.

Apply for our Founder's Card Today*You can earn 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. You can earn 2% cash rewards on purchases if you maintain a PSECU checking account and qualifying monthly direct deposit(s) of at least $500. See theVisa®Founder's Card and Visa®Alumni Rewards Card Rewards Program Terms and Conditionsfor full details.

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