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The Daily Illini

Homemade, low budget gifts

Isabella Jackson, Supplements editor

The holidays are an expensive time, and it can be overwhelming – and hard on your wallet – to purchase gifts for all of the people in your life. So instead of buying them gifts, try making a unique, homemade present that will make them think of you every time they see it.

Painted canvas

Search for coupons or other deals to purchase the canvas from a craft store such as Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, as the materials can sometimes be a little expensive. Canvases range in size, so plan how you are going to decorate it before purchasing one.

To paint a canvas, simply use acrylic paint to paint scenery or write a favorite quote. If freehand painting isn’t on your list of talents, try finding a stencil to guide your hand, or you can just ditch the brush and make a photo collage. Printed out photos, magazine clippings or any other paper can be glued to the canvas using Mod Podge for a unique creation. For college friends, this gift is a great way to remind them of inside jokes, showcase photos of good times and give them a decoration for their apartment or dorm room.

Hot chocolate bags

Search Goodwill or other thrift stores for unique spoons from silverware sets. Purchase one for each gift you’re making. Bring them home, wash them and allow to dry completely. Melt white chocolate chips or almond bark in the microwave, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take each spoon, dip it in the melted chocolate and sprinkle crushed candy cane onto it. Let dry on a sheet of waxed paper.

Buy a large tin of hot chocolate mix and separate into plastic baggies. Add mini marshmallows and place a spoon, chocolate-covered side down, in each bag. It helps to put the spoon on the outside of the hot chocolate mix so it can be seen from the outside. Seal the top of the baggie, but make sure to hand out the bags right-side up so nothing spills.

Ceramic coasters

Although putting a coaster under that drink may not be of top concern for all the college students on your list, coasters are easy to make and are functional, cute decoration. Go to a home improvement store such as Menards or Lowe’s and purchase ceramic tile pieces. While they come in a variety of sizes, the two inch by two-inch squares is the best size for coasters. At most stores, these run under $.25 each.

To decorate the coasters, choose scrapbook paper in a pattern that you like or print out pictures of you and your friend. Cut the paper or photos into a square that will fit on the tile, leaving a small border around the outside of the tile. Glue the paper or photo on with Mod Podge. Let dry and coat in a second layer of Mod Podge. To make sure the colors on the paper do not run if they get wet, spray with a waterproof sealant. Lastly, glue a square of felt or cork on the bottom, so the coasters will not scratch the surface where they are placed.

Home-cooked dinner

Last but not least, don’t underestimate the value of a good home-cooked meal. During finals week, cooking a big meal isn’t on the top of my to-do list, nor any other student’s I assume, and I’d be thrilled if someone offered to cook me dinner. It doesn’t need to be fancy — just cook your friends their favorite dinner and enjoy your time together before everyone goes home for break.

Isabella is a junior in LAS.

ijackso2@dailyillini.com

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