Welcome this week’s guest blogger: Heather Tenney Owner, InGodsEconomy.com and Heather Tenney Photography

From the moment Thanksgiving week begins, the countdown to chaos begins–we begin shopping and cooking and cleaning and crafting and cleaning and cooking and cleaning…as much as we love the holidays, they are a lot of work! As much as we talk about great deals and great sales, year after year we end up spending more money than we did the year before. Every year just seems to get crazier, and many of you are just trying to survive the dash to the great finish line: Christmas morning. For many of you, you are stressed out already. Just the idea of the holidays sends your shoulders into your ears, your ulcer begins churning, your palms sweat and you think “I wish it wasn’t like this.” This is what the holidays have become in America–a great race to a pseudo-perfection that none of us ever achieve. Well, maybe Martha Stewart does. But then, I’ll bet she’s got a few maids, cooks, gardeners and assistants helping her out along the way! Us average folks don’t have that, yet we try to achieve perfection each and every year. But the harder we try, the more chaos engulfs us. We end up finishing the holidays spent, wiped out, and unable to really remember why we did it all in the first place.

This year, I want to help you step off of the crazy train and back into what you always dreamed the holidays would be. Gifts don’t need to be expensive or store bought to be special. Stop fighting the crowds at the stores searching for the perfect gift. Handmade gifts cost less, they don’t take as much time to make as it does to shop for gifts in packed malls and stores–and the added bonus? No parking lot jams or crazy drivers! Even better, handmade gifts make a lasting impression on the receiver, showing them you valued them enough to make something one of a kind just for them. You save money and you save time, while staying sane this holiday season. I love to bring my kids in to help with making the gifts, making lasting memories with them as well. I love to make up gift baskets, with several smaller handmade gifts in them to really treat them for months to come. Over the years I’ve come to find that most people actually prefer the gifts made with love over anything you can buy in the store. Save money, save time and give a gift they really love? That’s a win-win in my book!

Several local bloggers have great gift ideas that are easy to make, for kids and adults alike.

Handmade lotion bars are

Lotion bars are always a hit and can be pricey in stores. This recipe is quick and simple, using just three ingredients, and makes a large batch–so you’ve got plenty to give away as keep a few for yourself! These cost about $25 to make a batch of 18 large all natural lotion bars. Heather’s lotion bar recipe keeps it short and sweet!

homemade tutu

Have a little girl on your list? This tutu tutorial from The Review Wire will make her giggle with glee! Even better? It is simple to make and a heck of a lot cheaper than if you buy a tutu in the stores!

homemade sugar scrub

Sugar scrubs are popular with women. Even better, there’s only a couple of ingredients, which you likely already have on hand! Total cost is about $12 for ingredients (plus containers) and gives you enough for 8-10 gifts in smaller jars.This tutorial from InGodsEconomy keeps it quick and simple to make this gift. If you’d like to see more beauty gifts you can make at home, check out Beauty Trix for Cool Chix in the library.

almondjoy5

Who doesn’t love a good treat during the holidays? A box full of a selection of your favorite cookies, candies and snacks can make an excellent clutter-free gift! This recipe for Almond Joy no-bake truffles from Erin at A Bird and a Bean not only is easy to make, but they’re healthy as well! They’re gluten free and Paleo diet approved!

Knitting looms make knitting simple and fast! Even kids can do it!

If you like knitting or crocheting but don’t have the coordination or time to knit the way you’d like, a knitting loom may be the thing for you! These looms are inexpensive, and whip up beautiful scarves, hats, socks and more in just a few hours. This tutorial from InGodsEconomy breaks things down so that even beginners can knit up a scarf in a few hours. They’re simple enough that even kids can do it! If you like loom knitting, I suggest checking out the book Knitting Board Basics to learn more great patterns and tricks.

napkins

Here’s a great way to recycle fabric scraps or make gifts out of inexpensive remnants from the fabric store–make cloth napkins! This simple project requires only the most basic of sewing skills and whip up really quickly–but they have a wow factor as a gift! Check out this cloth napkin tutorial from Katie at The Little Things Journal.

The Kenton County Public Library has tons of books and magazines filled with gift ideas. Stop by and check them out. Will you be giving homemade gifts this year?

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