Homemade for the Holidays: How to Save Money This Christmas

Over the years, I have received some amazing homemade holiday gifts from the members of my family which I truly treasure. Today, I want to show you some of those and perhaps give you some homemade holiday gift ideas.

Moreover, I want to talk about all things homemade for the holidays: not just gifts, but also homemade holiday treats, food and fun activities. Let’s dive in!

1. Gifts

There is so much more meaning to homemade gifts than purchased ones. Whether it is something made by a child or a crafty adult relative, these gifts always become my cherished possession. Let me show you some of the things that I have been gifted over the years.

When my middle son, who just turned 37, was in school, he made me a plaster rat with a big pink tail Christmas ornament with a Santa hat on it. I treasure that because it reminds me of his sillier days when he was really young.

Homemade gifts

These painted pine cones are a super easy craft project to do with your kids and then gift to grandparents. They are absolutely beautiful, and with me living in the country and being a farm girl, I love these things.

They're on my tree every single year. Just take some pine cones, paint them, perhaps add some glitter and put a pretty ribbon on top. I've even seen these sold at craft fairs and people just snatch them right up.

Homemade gifts

Another awesome idea is smashing a pop can and painting it to make Santa’s face or a snowman on the front. Put in a little piece of wire to hang on your Christmas tree, and you have an adorable homemade Christmas tree decoration.

Homemade gifts

A grandchild’s handprint made into a Santa's face with the grandchild's name and the date that he made it on the back is a true treasure.

This is so easy and inexpensive to make, and as a parent or a grandparent, you will cherish these forever.

Homemade gifts

Even now that my kids have grown up, I still get homemade gifts from some of them and I absolutely love them. My oldest daughter is very crafty, for one.

She has gifted me some gorgeous potholders, themed for various holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

She has also made me some cross stitch tea towels. These are so beautiful and precious that I hate to use them, so I hang them up for decoration around the holidays.

Homemade gifts

When I got married, my sister-in-law gave me a few beautiful embroidered tea towels as a gift. I still have them 40 years later, and they have held up and are still so pretty.

Homemade gifts

This adorable apron was given to me by my youngest daughter. It has a giant turkey on it, and I always wear it on Thanksgiving.

Homemade gifts are truly treasures that mean so much. These are something you can always remember this person by, and something that I am so proud to own.

2. Food

Let’s talk about some of that homemade food that I grew up with. I had Depression era parents. We made everything at home, and this is what our meal would look like when I was growing up in the early 70s and the late 60s.

We never had eggnog. My mom would make hot chocolate on the stove and melt little marshmallows. We would have those little teacups and she would dip it out with a ladle.

Dad would always buy a 25 pound turkey in the supermarket and he would have the butcher cut it in half with a saw and we would freeze half for Christmas and have the other half for Thanksgiving for our huge family.

Mom would make about three jello salads, homemade noodles which is a family recipe, homemade hot rolls, fried potatoes, yams, and one vegetable, like corn or green beans, nothing fancy. Then we would have a limited amount of pies and cakes. There was always the Depression era chocolate pie made on the stove, a coconut cooked icing sponge cake which is still a huge family favorite, and of course pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving was not a huge meal, but it was a good meal.

I think that once people's standards rise in the things that they do each year, it is hard to bring those standards back down, and each year we are trying to make everything bigger and better.

However, we should always remember that the important part is not the food or the fancy gifts, but the fun that we have together and the memories that we will cherish for years to come.

3. “Homemade” fun

On Christmas Eve, we would get one of our own socks from our drawer, instead of a special Christmas stocking from the store. I would always pick the longest knee sock I could find because in my mind Santa would have to put more in it. I would get those large peppermint sticks, and mom would beat that up with a hammer into a small dish so it would last me longer.

We also got shelled peanuts in our stockings, and we loved them. The stockings had no little gifts, no chocolate, and it was always the same things, but I was still excited every year.

On my most memorable Christmas, my dad was teasing me about the gift, and said I was getting a rubber ducky. I kept bugging him, and he persisted, so in the end I bet him five bucks that I would not get a rubber ducky.

My dad had a devil of a time trying to find a rubber duck for me, and in the end he gave me a balloon with a rubber duck on it, just so he did not lose the bet.

The entire time before Christmas I thought I was going crazy, because I was shaking my gift, and it was super light one day and then very heavy the next day. Turns out, my dad unwrapped it every night and added or took out a brick, just to mess with me.

This is the thing about memories: they can be such small things, but they mean so much. We got the same things every year: a doll, pajamas, new underwear, but Christmas was still fun, and that rubber ducky was the year I remember the most.

Homemade for the holidays

Do you have any special Christmas memories from your childhood? What are your family’s traditions for Christmas? Share in the comments!

Join the conversation
  • Gail Jackson Gail Jackson on Nov 30, 2023
    Your family sounds exactly the way I was raised. From sawing the turkey to never had a fancy stocking. But we turned out great with wonderful memories as well. Happy Holidays to you and yours.
  • P P on Dec 01, 2023
    We put shoes out not stockings since that was my French grandmother's tradition, & it was pretty much same every year, nuts in the shell, an orange, an apple, gelt- chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil - just a few! - and a few Hershey's kisses - can't fit much in a shoe! we still use the handmade 'craft' ornaments too!