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.


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

Halloween Costumes

Halloween was one of the best holidays when we were younger, then we hit a stage where we felt to old to dress up, then we got to college and decided it was okay again. Costumes can be expensive whether you buy them from the store or online. Online costumes can risk the chance of not fitting or arriving on time then your left with out one. If you get creative you can most definitely save money and be original.

Here are some costumes that don’t cost a lot to make and you probably wont see duplicated very much.


Kelley (undergrad classmate) is featured as a gift for Halloween. What you will need is

  • gift bag
  • tissue paper

optional item is ribbon (featured on head). The whole costume could be done for under $20.

Angel & pebbles

Above is Me ( angel)  & a friend Pariss (Pebbles from the Flintstones) our freshmen year on Halloween night. I made my Angel costume around a white dress I had bought on sale during the summer. What you would need for any angel would just be

  • wings
  •  halo out of pipe cleaners

Wings will be the most expensive part of the costume. You can be an innocent angel, bad angel (wear black and red) or Victoria Secret angel ( some version of lingerie)

Pebbles requires

  • Any type of cheetah print shirt or dress
  • Bone (for hair)

It doesn’t have alot of compartments to but the high pony tail and bone usually gives it away.

3 blind mice

The blind mice costume can be achieved with

  • mouse ears
  • bow tie
  • black or gray attire
  • sun glasses
  • walking sticks or cane (both can be made; Michaels have long wooden sticks that can be wrapped in duct tape)

More ideas are below with links to the blogs I found them on. Happy Halloween


rock paper scissor