Cheap and Easy Presents for the Holiday Season

The holidays are a time of joy, love, happiness and family connection, but for many, it can be the most stressful time of year. For many families, and especially teens, affording gifts for loved ones can be very difficult, especially if you plan on buying gifts for your friends as well. Trying to not exclude any of your friends can end up being a very pricey endeavor, so here are some ideas for how you can lower the bill this holiday season.

Making you own gifts may seem like a daunting task, but it can actually be very simple and fun. For example, one fun, cheep, and easy present you can make is lip balm. There are many ways you can do this, and here are a couple. Probably the easiest way, though not the highest quality, is to just heat up Vaseline, add Kool Aide, and poor it into small containers to cool. If you want to go the more natural route, here is a recipe from crunchbetty.com:

Sure to make your lips and wallet happy, this homemade and natural lip balm recipe is a win-win! Source: http://www.crunchybetty.com

Luscious Lavender Lip Balm Recipe

• 4 Tbsp jojoba, almond, or olive oil

• 1 Tbsp grated beeswax or beeswax pearls

• 1 tsp honey

• 1/4 tsp vitamin E oil (or 3 punctured, squeezed out liquid vitamin E capsules)

• 7 drops lavender essential oil (or other essential oil)

• 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional)

• 1 tsp colored, natural lipstick (optional, if you want it to have a hint of color)

Warm the oils, beeswax and honey in a small, stainless steel pot or bowl. Be sure to warm it on VERY low heat. (You can use a double boiler, if you’d like.) Stir until the beeswax is completely melted. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the essential oil, vitamin E, cocoa powder, and colored lipstick. Place the bottom of the bowl into a shallow pan of ice water and continue whisking quickly as you add the honey. Once the honey is incorporated, quickly transfer the balm into your lip balm container (tube or tin) and allow to set for 3 hours.

Another fun and cheep way to participate in gift giving this holiday season is to have your group of friends do secret santa or white elephant. For those of you who do not know the rules, secret santa is when everyone is randomly assigned another person in the group to give a present to. In white elephant, each person also only supplies one gift, but the twist is that all the presents go in a pile, and everyone gets to either pick an unwrapped present, or steal a present from someone who has already opened theirs. These fun games can be very kind to your bank account, and fun to participate in!

Baking is also a fun way to show love and appreciation, plus, it’s super yummy. Cookies are pretty easy to make on a low budget, and if you follow the recipe correctly, pretty hard to mess up. Here is a sugar cookie recipe from allrecipes.com that is sure to please the taste buds:

Make your cookies more festive by decorating them and putting them in festive packaging. Source: allrecipes.com
Make your cookies more festive by decorating them and putting them in festive packaging. Source: allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

2 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Sadly, our society can make the holidays a stressful time for a lot of people. Gift giving, which is meant to show your love and affection, has turned into a warped tradition shrouded in consumerism. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many ways that you can spread the holiday spirit with cheap and easy gifts that don’t leave your wallet sad and lonely.

-April Martin-Hansen

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