Short on disposable income this year and would prefer to do something lower cost and creative. I make fudge and horse cookies every year for my horsie friends already-which is time consuming and has to be done the last 7-10 days.
I have a friend that does bead jewelry, so I am going to make jewelery for my SIL's-but I am not very creative. Does anyone have designs?
Aside from that, any other ideas? Did I mention that I am not very creative.
Things like banana bread can be made well in advance and frozen.
There are TONS of cookie recipes that freeze well. Make ahead and pull them out a few days before. Get the festive holiday plates (in one of my rare jaunts through Walmart the other day I noticed they have plastic plate chargers in festive colors and designs for 98 cents that would be great food-gift trays) and bring everyone some food.
I just got out of college and have been there (lack of money) for gifts before. I MUCH PREFER getting some sort of food item that I can chow down on vs. little arts and crafty stuff. (Unless someone is truly talented and makes me a personalized horse ornament or something.)
In the past I have purchased the taster sets from coffee and tea shops. Haven't priced them recently but no doubt the prices are much higher now. An option is to purchase 2-4 "larger designer coffee bags" and/or designer teas, divide them into 3-4 size servings and then package for your family and friends.
As someone suggested to me one time, give them an IOU, to babysit kids, help with house work, help with yard work, sit with an ill family member so someone can have time away or whatever your family or friends need or would appreciate.
"Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
Courtesy my cousin Tim
The best gift that I think I've ever, ever gotten (that wasn't horse related) was one of those no sew blankets. They are super easy to make, durable, and pretty cheap if you go pick out the fabric yourself. It's lasted me almost 10 years and I bring that thing EVERYWHERE.
My sister made one for each of my girls and the older one is just as obsessed with hers.
Mason jars filled with cookie base, pancakes, hot fudge, etc. Tie with a pretty ribbon. Sometimes I even cross stitch a topper that goes between the lid a screw top (glue it to the lid). There are some really easy single color patterns you can do like snowflakes or monograms.
I have a great hot fudge recipe I can post if you want it.
My go-to cheap gift is vanilla sugar. People love it and will think of you every time they use it in their coffee, oatmeal, baked goods, etc. And it's the gift that keeps on giving because they can keep topping it off with new sugar. To make it, get yourself a big bag of white sugar, some vanilla beans, and cheap jars (either upcycled from your other food, or a flat of one-cup Mason/Ball jelly jars). Put a bean or two in each jar. Pour in some sugar. Put on the jar lid, shake, and leave to sit. In theory you can use it 5 minutes later, but to get the full-force effect, let it steep for 2 weeks. If you're feeling fancy, put a beautiful ribbon around each one. I usually add a little piece of card stock explaining what it is and how to use it. http://bakingbites.com/2007/05/how-t...vanilla-sugar/
If you have a good kitchen mixer, like a KitchenAid, or you don't mind a serious arm workout, maple cream aka maple butter is another variation on the vanilla-sugar theme. It's just whipped maple syrup, but it tastes divine, and people rarely think to make it for themselves. http://ohsheglows.com/2013/01/29/pur...read-on-earth/
Yet another variation on this theme: cookie butter. Speculoos Cookie Butter, from Trader Joe's, is all the rage and not that hard to make at home. There's also Oreo cookie butter if you don't mind having stuff in your teeth. http://chicagoist.com/2012/02/15/how...ok.php#photo-1
Finally, there's that holy promise land of cheap cute ideas, Pinterest. I had these two links pinned on my Life Hacks board. 25 Handmade Gifts under $5, Parts I and II:
My SIL sent us a mason jar filled with pretty layered cookie mix about 9 years ago. Chocolate chip oatmeal. Very pretty and tasty. Apparently it made an impression on me as my mouth is watering just thinking of it.
As for hand made gifts that people loved AND used / wore, in the past I've made:
horsehair bracelets and keychains
hand painted silk scarves
hand painted pottery
Of all the above the hand painted pottery is the easiest and quickest, if you have a place nearby that provides the plain pieces and fires them for you. I've painted tiles that I then set in wood, to use as trivets, and then of course mugs, platters etc. It's a lot of fun to paint, too!