4 DIY Holiday Gift Ideas $25 or Less


Jacqueline Yoshimura

Big retailers are catching on to the trend of DIY homemade holiday gifts, such as this cookie mix in a jar.

Coming up with multiple gifts for your family, friends and coworkers while on a budget can be a stressful task during the holiday season. Whether funds are looking a little low this time of year or the person you have in mind is impossible to shop for, a small gift is always better than no gift at all especially one that is homemade and from the heart.

Here are 4 DIY holiday gift ideas $25 or less that are just as fun to receive as they are to make. Besides a little bit of cash, all that is required is creativity, a good attitude and the ability to follow directions.

1. Personalized Mug

The most expensive part about this project will probably be the markers or Sharpies if there are not any already laying around. Plain white mugs can be found for as cheap as a dollar at any thrift or dollar store and in bulk online. The most difficult part will coming up with an idea of what to draw or write. Impeccable artistry, however, is unnecessary since stencils exist in today’s world. What would be even better is writing an inspirational quote or inside joke the two of you share. Hopefully they’ll think of you or do a spit take every time they sip.

What’s needed: A plain white ceramic mug (preferably on the thicker side), oil-based markers or Sharpies, basic penmanship, an oven and a creative vision.

Perfect for: The avid coffee or tea drinker, or even water if they are fancy like that. Perhaps a loved one who works in an office all day and needs a dependable mug to drink out of.

Directions: Practice the design on paper before attempting the mug. Once ready, bring the idea to life on the mug and allow the design to fully dry for two hours. After drying, place the mug in the oven while it is off. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the mug in the oven. Once the oven is done preheating begin a timer for 30 minutes. When the timer is done, turn off the oven but leave the mug inside until the entire oven cools completely. Ceramic is prone to cracking or exploding when subjected to drastic temperature changes so keep oven closed. Draw over design and repeat the process again if the color is not saturated enough. Keep in mind darker colors stand a better chance. Give the mug a simple hand washing with soap to ensure the design has stuck.

12 Gold Rimmed White Stoneware Mugs – Dollar Tree $12

2pk Metallic Sharpie® Oil Base Paint Markers Medium Tip  – Target $5.39

2. Scrapbook

The most expensive part about this project will probably be the actual purchase of the scrapbook, photo album or journal itself. Used or new scrapbooks and photo albums can be found at any thrift or dollar store as well as online. Scrapbooking is a dying art thanks to technology, but it will definitely make someone feel nostalgic.

Materials needed: A scrapbook, photo album or blank journal, enough printed photos to fill it up, tape or glue, and enthusiasm. (Optional: Pens or markers to write and draw, and stickers or other scrapbook supplies to decorate.)

Perfect for: Anyone you have plenty photos of and with either physically or digitally laying around. Preferably a loved one or a close friend rather than an acquaintance.

Directions: There are few rules if any when it comes to scrapbooking. The more photos and decorations the better. Get creative and cut the photos out in different shapes and sizes as if making a collage. To increase the sentimental value use pens or markers to write notes, messages and inside jokes to go along with each of the photos. Use themed stickers or decorations to fill up any blank spaces.

8×8″ 40 Pages Blank Spiral Bound Unbranded Scrapbook – Etsy $9.19

3ct Metallic Sharpie® Permanent Markers, Fine Tip – Target $4.39 

30 ft. Christmas Holiday Themed Decorative Gold Foil Washi Tape – Etsy $1

3. Floral Bath Salts

Impress them with the gift of luxury this season by creating a homemade floral bath salt mixture. This unique idea is sure to please any woman or bath-loving person with its colorful floral petals. A bath with this homemade mixture rich in minerals and anti-inflammation properties will help alleviate bodily aches and pains for that special loved one.

What’s needed: Clear cellophane bag, epsom salts, essential oil of choice, and dried calendula or lavender flowers.

Perfect for: That person in your life with aches and pains, and those who enjoy being pampered or taking baths.

Directions: First, chop the calendula flowers until the flowers are half its original size. Second, combine 30 ounces of epsom salt, one ounce of chopped calendula flowers, and two drops of essential oil in a bowl. Lastly, carefully pour the salt mixture into the cellophane bag and tie with ribbon.

20 Clear Cello Favor Bag – Target $2.99

Merry Christmas Red Curl Ribbon – Target $3.00

8 lb Epsom Salt Fresh Bath Soak – Target $4.99

0.5 oz Peppermint Essential Oil – Bulk Apothecary $4.28

8 oz Dried Calendula Flowers – Etsy $8.45

4. Cookie Mix from Scratch in a Jar

With mason jars trending and cookies still in style, combining the two will make a trendy gift, and fun because there is a catch. Rather than gifting already baked goods the receivers will have to bake. The best part about this idea is that many of these these ingredients are already laying around at home, thus it is inexpensive to make several. The red and green M&M’s are obviously Christmas-themed but can be swapped for chocolate chips instead, or perhaps swap the entire recipe for your own beloved cookie recipe that everyone’s mouths water for.

What’s needed: 1-quart jar, funnel (or paper funnel), flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, M&M’s, and recipe/direction label. (Optional: Ribbon or bow to decorate.)

Perfect for: Cookie lovers or anyone with a sweet tooth that owns an oven and enjoys a little hard work. Perhaps someone who would love to bake cookies but lacks the knowledge of a good recipe from scratch.

Directions: The key to assembling the jar is to carefully layer the dry ingredients. First, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Second, carefully layer the flour mixture into the bottom the jar using a funnel or a paper rolled into a funnel. Third, lightly layer the M&M’s above the flour mixture as to avoid it from sinking in. Fourth, carefully layer the M&M’s with brown sugar. Fifth, use a spoon to slowly scoop the granulated sugar above the brown sugar as to avoid mixing. Last, seal the lid and decorate with a ribbon or bow.

One jar requires:

  • 1  1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup M&M’s 
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

In case of allergies it is courtesy to print or write a label with the ingredients and attach it to the jar along with a direction label on how to bake the cookies.

Direction label should say: Pour the contents of the jar into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add one-half cup of barely melted (not hot) unsalted butter, one beaten egg, and two teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir until combined and chill for 30 minutes. Make golf ball sized portions of dough and place onto lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for eight to 10 minutes until the centers of the cookies are just barely set.

12 Ball Regular Mouth Quart Mason Jars – Blain’s Farm and Fleet $9.99

Party Size 42 Oz M&M’s Holiday Milk Chocolate Christmas Candy – Walmart $8.98

30 Assorted Mini Metallic Ribbon Christmas Gift Bows – Hallmark $2.99