How to Save Money on Gift Giving

Make them take notice with creative, crafty and unique gifts that cater to their personal interests. It’s not necessary to empty the wallet to get items their recipients will treasure long after the latest hot toy lies broken in the back of the closet.

Choose a medium and get to work. Here are just a few ideas:

  • photography projects;
  • home computer-generated items such as stationery and greeting card sets;
  • assembled and framed puzzles;
  • hand-decorated wooden toys;
  • piggy and other banks.

How To Create Photo Memories

Most people love photographs that remind them of folks they cherish or events they enjoyed. Show such snapshots in time ithrough personalized calendars, special scrapbooks, novelty magazine covers, collages, bookmarks and sports trading cards, for example.

Simplify such projects by using computer software designed for that purpose. Some templates are so simple it takes only minutes to produce professional-looking keepsakes.

Those who don’t want the expense of the software, color printer, ink and specialty papers will find any number of Web sites on which to design and order such gifts.

How To Make a Piggy Bank

Craft stores sell plain ceramic piggy banks and plenty of accessories to customize them. One new mother bought a white one already glazed and decorated it with sports-related stickers, her child’s initials, a doll-sized ball cap and faux curly red hair affixed with a glue gun.

She could have opted to draw on the designs herself or color the pig with markers made for ceramics. Or she might have purchased an unglazed ceramic bank and finished it with paints and a spray-on glaze.

Pre-assembled, unfinished wooden birdhouses can double as banks and be colored with acrylic paints and/or decorated with store-bought or home computer-made stickers. For best results, mix or match decorations according to a chosen theme and color scheme.

How To Choose a Project Theme

Here are a few examples of personalized projects that fit the recipients’ special interests:

  • a wooden, rocket-shaped birdhouse-turned-bank adorned with “Star Wars” stickers and character names spelled out in press-on letters;
  • a wooden, barn-shaped birdhouse/bank transformed with Thomas the Tank Engine stickers into a ticket booth/train station;
  • a wooden cigar box decorated with computer graphics of airplanes;
  • a jewelry or knick-knack box painted in a child’s favorite colors and accessorized with puffy stickers;
  • a home-printed picture of a new grandson displayed in a wooden frame painted baby blue that sports stickers of tiny hand- and footprints.

How To Turn a Puzzle Into Home Decor

Those who remember putting together jigsaw puzzles at a grandaprent’s knee may be surprised at how sophisticated puzzles have become. From Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” to 3-D globes, assembled puzzles never fail to draw lots of oooohs and aaaaahs.

Once the puzzle is put together, flip it over and preserve it with specialty glue, packing tape or clear contact paper. For easier flipping, assemble the puzzle atop a poster board, then place another poster board on top and simply invert the sandwiched puzzle. Puzzles with wooden or other snugly interlocking piezes usuallly can be flipped without poster board and may not have to be taped or glued before framing.

Many discount or department store sell inexpensive frames, or spend the extra cash for a custom frame and a more lavish look. Panoramic puzzles require the custom treatment; other off-size puzzles can be rimmed in black paper before being inserted into a too-large standard-size frame.