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While the holidays are a time to get festive, it's also a time of year when it's easy to go overboard with your spending and fall into debt. In fact, it turns out that shoppers are still paying the debt they accumulated from last year's holiday spending. As you might imagine, suffering from a holiday debt hangover is something I do my best to avoid every year. Thankfully, this is easier to do with DIY holiday gifts.

Without nixing gifts altogether, I try to keep my budget for holiday-related spending as low as possible. Besides shopping in my closet for a festive occasion and taking on extra side hustles, I'm a big fan of DIY holiday gifts. However, you have to be careful about not getting too carried away by a crafty stocking stuffer and spending more than the store-bought version. Here are some tips on how to save money:

Take Inventory

Confession: I am not very crafty. It's only during special occasions when I get in the spirit and want to save some money. Before you know it, you may find yourself spending far more than you wanted on sundry supplies. While poking around online for DIY holiday gifts, I kept in mind materials, ingredients and supplies I already had lying around. I ultimately decided on three stocking stuffers:

  1. Spiced apple caramels wrapped in decorative washi tape (recipe here)
  2. Reindeer towels filled with goodies (link here)
  3. Candy cane bath salts (recipe here)

I chose these three because these projects seemed fun and easy. Plus, I knew these were goodies my loved ones would enjoy and I already had some of the supplies. For instance, because I already had Epsom salts and peppermint extract, I picked the candy cane bath salts. And instead of purchasing glass vials for them, I saved these cute glass bottles from another project and repurposed them. (Major score!)

Swap Out Ingredients

Another way I reduce the hassle of running around to different stores and looking for all of the supplies is by swapping out ingredients that are pricey or hard to find. For instance, while at the store I found that pear cider was on sale and the apple cider turned out to cost twice as much. So instead of making spiced apple caramels, they'd be spiced pear caramels. And instead of using bath towels for the reindeer stocking stuffer, I wrapped the goodies with holiday-themed tissue paper.

Shop at a Few Places

While I could save more money by shopping online and at a bunch of different stores, I wanted to be careful about spending too much time hunting around for everything I needed for these stocking stuffers. Besides shopping for ingredients at a local market, I went to a discount retailer for the rest of the supplies.

The Damage: How Much I Spent

All in all, here's the breakdown of how much I spent:

  • Spiced Apple Caramels
Pear cider: $3.00
Organic unsalted butter: $3.49
Organic heavy cream: $3.49
Total: $10.00
  • Reindeer "Towels" Filled with Goodies
Brown pipe cleaners/chenille stems: $1.00
Red cotton balls: $1.99
Holiday chocolates: $3.00
Total: $6.00
  • Candy Cane Bath Salts
Red food coloring: $3.19
Total: $3.20


If you have the time to spare to make your own stocking stuffers, creating DIY holiday gifts is a fun way to help lower your spending this holiday season. I'll be using these little goodies to gift to my neighbors, family and property managers. Plus, if you enlist the help of friends, you could turn it into an enjoyable bonding experience and potentially split the costs, saving you even more in the long run.


This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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