Secret Santa DIY budget gift ideas

With the holidays coming up it is time to start planning those gifts for friends and family. Gifts on a budget can still be fun and creative. Here are some Christmas gift ideas that are pocket friendly.

The videos for most can be found on our YouTube play list

Personalized Coffee Mug

Avid coffee and tea drinkers have their favorite mug that they use in the mornings and don’t want anybody else to use so why not personalize a mug for that family member or friend. With a few simple steps this item can be paired with candy or packets of their favorite drink inside and its just 3 simple steps.

1. Decorate ceramic mug (light color) with Sharpie (permanent marker):Darker colors stay truer to actual color and some colors may darken or change. Make heavy lines and avoid smudging.

2. Bake mug in the oven at 425 for 30 minutes

3. Turn off oven and let cool inside so it doesn’t crack. Check with finger to make sure color is baked on and isn’t coming off.


Custom canvas picture

Pictures can be great gifts for people who like to decorate and have sentimental items around their home. To turn your regular photo into a large canvas portrait all you need to do is follow a few steps.

1. Pick a picture. You want to try to use one of good digital quality so that when you take it to be blown up and reprinted it won’t be of bad quality. Take the picture to any photo shop and ask for the size you want. The photo example is 4 feet by 3 feet (the largest they could make it).

2. Buy a large foam board. You can purchase it from Home Depot or Lowes (the kind used to insulate houses)

3. Measure the picture against the board and cut off extra. You will need a sharp knife. A mat knife was used for this example but the author said an electric knife (used to cut turkeys) gives a cleaner edge.

4. Attach the picture to the board. Use craft paint or duct tape on the edges, spray glue to adhere the whole picture. Do NOT try to spray paint the board it will eat away at the styrofoam, or use mod podge or flimsy paper it will cause it to wrinkle.

For more in depth instructions go to Sugar Bee Crafts page


Hand Painted Ornament

Personalized ornaments are a great way to be creative with Christmas tree decorations. Some people even have ornament parties where you make your own ornaments and have fun with all your loved ones at the same time. You can make any design you want but Little Gray Fox has a couple ideas.


  • Clear ornament bulbs that can be purchased at most stores, plastic or glass. (Warning one year we used glass and my Yorkie has a habit of taking them down or going under the tree to sleep and accidently knocking them down big mess when glass breaks)
  • Paint (acrylic will be thicker)
  • Paint brushes
  • Any other decoration ie glitter, yarn, pearls

Just be creative. Below is a Penguin from above link to Little Gray fox blog



You can find a traditional stocking in most stores to decorate  and give as a gift but you can also very easily make a stocking with any type of fabric. If you buy a plain stocking just go crazy with glitter, paint and anything you can get to stick on the material to personalize it. Thrifty Ninja made a stocking out of a pair of old jeans.


  • material for stocking
  •  scissors
  • sewing machine, needle and thread or fabric glue
  • old stocking to use as template or template of some sort
  • paper for stencil


1. Trace the template you want to use whether it be a stocking you already have or the shape you want and think the stocking should be.

2. Next you want to cut out your stocking shape.  Cut just slightly bigger than your pattern for the seam allowance.  Cut one then flip the pattern over to cut your second.  You want your pattern to line up correctly when you sew, if you forget to flip the pattern over, you will have one side that is inside out!

3. Place your two stocking pieces, right sides together.  Pin the pieces together.  Sew along the edges or glue. If you use glue let it dry then  turn right-side out and you are done!  How easy was that.

Get creative with the patterns used and to make a hook just cut a thin piece and attach to the side.

Beginners guide to thrifting

Thrift store shopping has become popular recently. No longer are thrift stores associated with your grandmas closet full of things you would never wear or reject clothes people drop off because they’re beyond ugly. For beginners it can be over whelming to start thrifting because you walk in and see junk. I found a video that broke how to thrift into simple steps just to get started.


larger cities will have larger variety of items because they are being donated by different types of people. If you don’t live in a big city you can still find good places and not rely just on chains by simply exploring hidden shops associated with hospice, hospitals or mission thrift stores.


Don’t be self-conscious about the size of an item. Look through everything close to your normal size because something may be stretchy or slightly baggy but still fit and look nice. Small alterations can also be made to make things fit like you want later.


Avoid knock offs / cheap made items

Cheap materials don’t last long. If you want longevity of your items them try to make sure they have a decent feel to them or that you’re at least getting a deal for what you’re buying. Buying a fake brand that may be in style now can also be a bad idea if it goes out of style and then you have an item you no longer want because you moved on to the next trend.


Women can wear men clothes

Some of the best finds may be in the men’s  section. Those graphic t-shirts or simple t-shirts from different schools, sports or events will most likely be in the men’s department. Over sized sweaters and boyfriend jeans (regular men jeans) are also items you can easily find along with sweat shirts and hoodies.

Know their promotions

Different businesses carry promotions for certain days, ages of customers or on special items. Knowing what sales are relevant to what your looking for can help you get items even cheaper.

Shoes & belts

If you think your interested in shoes bring a pair of socks so you don’t feel uncomfortable trying on used shoes. Belts are items that if they made it to the thrift store in decent condition they probably are made of strong material and will uphold for you for a long time.


There are so many videos on YouTube about how to make shorts from pants, cut shirts, basically how to alter anything so if you know what you want but cant find it you can probably make something similar with what you can find.

The video that inspired this post it on our YouTube playlist  titled Thrifting 101

Recycle summer wardrobe to fall chic

Just because it is getting cooler doesn’t mean that you have to tuck away those summer favorites. Fall is the perfect time to layer those summer staples with fall items transforming them to different outfit and saving money on not buying more clothes.

Blazer & Jackets

womens blazer men blazer

Layering your favorite t-shirt, dress or tank top with a blazer or jacket can give it a polished look while keeping you warm from the autumn wind. Above it also balances the pants to make them look light in color and weight. Lighter clothes are usually worn in the summer because of the heat. Check out my  pin board with more looks


If its not quite cold enough for a jacket layering with a cardigan can be an alternate option. Cardigans also dress up most outfits making them business casual for the office or presentations. Accenting a colored cardigan with your jeans, trousers or skirt is the perfect fall attire from the class room to work or dinner with friends. Heres my cardigan pin board


Pairing any outfit with a scarf, hat or boots can transform it from summer to fall. Women can wear tights with any skirt or dress making it season appropriate. Transforming from sandals and tennis shoes to boots, loafers and flats. Here’s the accessories pin board
So before you run out to buy more clothes remix what you have to make it appear to be a whole different outfit and save some money for the colder winter months.


With midterms, work or just life getting stressed out is easy. Decompressing is the hard part. Here are a few remedies Ive found that can make even the worst day better.

coffee candle

Coffee Beans and Tea Lights

Like the smell of coffee? The ingredients needed for this coffee candle are

  • small bowl
  • coffee beans
  • tea light candle

Pour the coffee beans in the small bowl, next insert the tea light in the coffee beans light the candle. The warmth from the candle will warm the beans and give off the smell.

Listerine Pedicure

Sometimes paying for a pedicure isn’t in the budget or you simply don’t have the time. There are home pedicure kits in dollar tree pedicureand most stores but to really get your feet free of the dead skin try this recipe

  • listerine
  • vinegar
  • warm water

All recipes Ive found say mix 1/2 cup listerine, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup warm water (1 cup in Naturally Nourishing recipe) , soak 10 minutes then scrub and dry off. If you don’t think there is enough liquid to get an effective pedicure double the ingredients and experiment.

Bath Salts


Taking a hot relaxing bath is the cure to any weekday blues. Just add in some home made bath salts to enjoy the soak and transport you to another place. To make any scent the base ingredients are

  • mineral and sea salt
  • oil features an easy recipe using extract  instead of oil but depending on the scent you want to make you can use either. By mixing the oil and salts the scent will be absorbed. The easy instructions from above also indicate food coloring can be used to change the appearance of the salts.

Face masks

Dear Crissy has recipes for 10 face masks that can be made from homemade ingredients for different skin types.


fall in love with fall

Fall brings cool air, warm treats and beautiful colors all around in nature. It gives you a break from the summer heat without frosting your toes just yet.

Pumpkins are a staple for fall and can be used for many different things. Near Halloween we use them for decoration as jack-o-laterns. That involves carving and scraping the insides out but recently people have been finding new ways to decorate them with less mess.


You can paint them and make them colorful to still keep a colorful fall. Directions for these designs can be found on Funky Time blog. Jack-o-lanterns don’t have to be scary.  More ideas are featured on and HomeGoods

Cooking with pumpkins can also be fun. Want to make some cupcakes that will leave your home spelling like fall. Try this pumpkin cupcake recipe found on Food Network


Starbucks and many other coffee and shops have an array of pumpkin flavored drinks but no need to pay $6 dollars or more. Make one anytime you want with the pumpkin pie shake on My Recipe


Apples are also popular for fall. Oh, Bite It puts a twist on the traditional apple pie by making apple pie cookies. Another sweet alternative is Apple dumplings made easy with crescent rolls featured on Our Best Bites


apple dumplings

Yummy in your tummy

Being busy can sometimes get in the way of being healthy and making time to make sure we eat a nutritious meal. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day but the others are pretty important too.

Eating healthy can be fun I will give you guys a breakfast, lunch and dinner option I found on Instagram. All credit goes to a beauty named Dawn Archer. Her Instagram is @estellearcher (type in name only). She gives fitness and inspiration tips but doesn’t operate under such strict rules that may intimidate a beginner.

Dawn1 Dawn2

Breakfast: egg muffins

egg muffins Essential ingredients:

Optional ingredients (pictured):

low sodium ham

reduced fat cheese

Mrs. Dash roasted tomato basil flavor

fresh spinach

* feel free to substitute any ingredients for something else you like regarding produce or protein just make sure it wont spoil and can be baked

Directions according to @dawnestelle:

1. Drop ham into non-stick pan

2. Drop reduced fat cheese

3.  Sprinkle mrs. dash

4. Drop fresh spinach

5. Pour mixed egg whites (1 yolk for ever 3 egg whites & repeat)

6. Bake on 410 degrees for about 20 minutes or until little brown on top

She eats 2-3 reheating in the microwave 20-30 secs

Lunch: Turkey wrap

lunch wrapIngredients:



cream cheese



*feel free to substitute anything you want instead of cream cheese honey mustard, low sodium ham instead of turkey, roman lettuce in place of spinach, etc. just be healthy with choices

Directions (following the picture)

1. Get tortilla

2. Spread a serving of cream cheese

3. Add turkey

4. Place cheese on top of tukey

5. Add spinach

6. Roll and enjoy

Dinner: Lettuce Taco

lettuce tacoIngredients

ground turkey

taco seasoning

lettuce leafs

optional ingredients


sour cream




1. Cook ground turkey with taco seasoning

2. Select best looking lettuce leaf

3. Drop in turkey and prepare as normal

If you want more recipes I encourage you to check out Dawns website

All of her contact information is on her website but since I already gave you her Instagram handle her youtube channel can be found at

Pooh Bear isnt the only one who likes honey

Curly top

I have curly hair. I am natural (no perm or chemicals to make my hair straight) and have only been for almost 2 years. October 12, 2012 I cut all my straight hair off and started learning how to deal with my hair again after having processed my hair for 12 years to make it straight. In the quest to try new things I came across several hydrating techniques for curly and wavy hair. Honey!!!

Yes the stuff you put in tea, it’s in some brands of candy corn (yummy) and bees go crazy for it!!


MY favorite deep conditioner to hydrate my curls is simply a variation of this recipe I found months back. I dont measure I just gage how much I think I need then if its not enough add more. Apply to clean damp hair. All you need is

  • honey
  • extra virgin olive oil

Mix the ingredients in a bowl (may need to warm honey wont hurt to warm both) then massage into scalp. Then rinse it out. If you want to lightly condition (I do) after go for it but you can apply on already clean hair and just rinse. The official recipe is below.. there are many more honey recipes and other deep conditioner recipes for curls as well.

Honey Fanatic is a website I found that explains honey and all its benefits. Heres the link to her honey conditioning recipe for all hair types


The website also covers honey masks to improve the skin

Honey can be found at the dollar tree and every grocery store. I recommend getting the cheapest brand. Some dollar trees also have extra virgin olive oil. I have used regular olive oil it before but extra virgin is the purest form.