Create Your Own Unique Gifts This Christmas (and Shop Locally for the Goods!)

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Sam Jones is a digital marketing expert, social media and branding consultant and guest blogger for various publications, including Business2Community, and EZSiteBuilders. In her free time, Sam is an avid traveler, foodie and lover of all things technology. She's also a fitness fanatic (in the making). 

Families in Metuchen and other parts of the Garden State are hitting the stores to buy holiday gifts, as retailers and mom and pop stores alike are offering great deals.  But what about families who don't have much money to spend this year? No matter how great a discount is, the cost of gifts can really add up - especially for those with long recipient lists. So, how CAN Jersey families who don't have much money this year afford to buy gifts?


Here are some ideas:


Mystery bags with cheap items - Mystery grab bags can be really fun. You never what kind of goodies might be inside. Who cares if the items inside are all from the dollar store or Ebay's Wholesale section? For kids, you can throw in toys, candy, and tiny puzzles. For adults, you can throw in bath fizzies, lip balm, chocolate, soap, etc. As for the bags themselves, there are usually cheap gift bags or boxes available as well as stockings at your local dollar store.


Cookies or candy - Cookies that you bake yourself make great gifts because of the care and time you put into baking them. Cookie dough is usually inexpensive and the only other items you really need are sprinkles or Hershey's candy kisses to put on top. Speaking of candy, peanut butter squares are a holiday fave. However, you might want to make sure you have enough peanut butter and vanilla to work with, since it might take a bit of practice to get just right. Turn this into a family project and let the kids help!


DIY mint sugar scrub - Give loved ones the gift of homemade aromatherapy by adding peppermint extract and 1 ½ cups of sugar to a bowl of coconut oil, after it has been softened in the microwave (high 15-25 seconds). Don't forget to add green food coloring to give the mixture a nice minty, Christmassy appearance. When finished, simply spoon the scrub into mason jars or other air-tight containers. Complete the gift with a ribbon or twine.


Homemade soap - As long as you are careful and follow instructions carefully, you can make some quality soap at home. Martha Stewart offers some helpful tutorials. For the cheapest, most basic soap possible, all you need is 1 cup of grated bar soap (just use a stainless steel box grater), 10 cups of filtered water, 1 tablespoon of glycerin, and 1-2 teaspoon(s) of your choice of essential oil. If you want to turn it into a family project, make sure the kids handle the ingredients carefully and safely. Keep the younger kids away from the stove during the flakes-dissolve process.


Tote crafts - Plain canvas bags are pretty cheap. You can usually find them for under $5 each. Decorate the bags with pretty templates. Adhesive templates are available online for you to print out. Cut out the template and use it as a guide to cut and iron on fabric to the tote bag.


Picture frames - You can make your own picture frames or buy them. Frameology is a great place to start, as the online store offers some affordable, quality frames in a variety of sizes and materials.


There is no reason why families in Metuchen and surrounding areas can't enjoy the spirit of giving this year. These gifts are not only practical, they are also meaningful. It can be fun for the entire family to create their own gifts. 

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