Santa’s Little Elf

Q: I’d like to save some money on gifts this holiday season. I’m very creative and I thought about making gifts instead of buying them, which can be very expensive. Could you offer some advice on the types of gifts I could make for my loved ones without the added expense?
–L. Horsey, Paulsboro, NJ

A: This is a great time to use your creative genius to make gifts at home. If you’d like to save some cash, all it takes is time, planning, and imagination. The result is gifts from the heart including candles, beadwork, knitting, and even babysitting services. Here are a few more ideas to get you started:

Bake sweets and treats. Cookies, cakes, and pies are always a hit with the family. To top off that sweet bread, wrap it in colored cellophane paper and tie it with fancy ribbons.

Fill a basket. You can fill baskets with all sorts of goodies, from herbal teas to fruits to satchels of sea salts for a relaxing bath. You can pick up baskets at local flea markets, drugstores, or even plant wholesalers.

Frame memories. Simply gather pictures from your favorite trips, graduations, and birthdays and frame them. Many crafts stores sell a “base” for a frame made out of paper or cardboard. Add paint, glue, trinkets, and glitter for that special touch.

For more tips, read 101 Crafts under $10: Easy-to-Make Ideas for Gifts and Home (Butterick Publishing; $14.95) and Simply Handmade: 365 Easy Gifts and Decorations You Can Make edited by Carol Field Dahlstrom (Meredith Books; $29.95). Also visit arts and crafts stores like Jo-Ann Stores ( for supplies and ideas.