It seems as if buying Christmas gifts gets harder and harder each year. Not only that, but it also seems to get more expensive! This leaves so many people resorting to giving impersonal gift cards because they are at a loss of what to do. These types of gifts may leave the receiver feeling like they were a last thought and nobody wants to leave that impression when giving a gift. I challenge you to give homemade gifts this season! They are personal, money saving and very special to the recipient. I will list some homemade gifts that I would like to receive:

1.) Picture frames. There are so many options here! You can either purchase plain, cheap frames new at the store or from second hand shops and rummage sales. I would then recommend sanding these down with some fine-grit sandpaper. Then you can either spray paint or hand paint these. You could also sponge on some interesting textures and patterns. A child can make these for a parent or grandparent with bright paint, glitter, rhinestones and stickers and put their own photo in the frame. This is also one of those gifts that an adult could make using more complicated techniques such as distressing, antiquing, and gold leaf for a more finished, high-end look.

2.) Baked goods or candies are ALWAYS a winner! These can be made in large quantities and anyone would be happy to receive them. You could have a child help you decorate the containers that you will give these goodies in. You can find so many delicious ideas on the internet, in magazines or in your own cookbooks that there are truly endless ideas for this gift.

3.) Customized towels, t-shirts, tote bags or aprons. You can find blank ones in most craft sections of your local discount store or any craft store! Then head to your stationary section of the store and pick up some printable iron-on paper. From there, you head to your computer and put anything you want on the item you've chosen. This could be anything from someone's name, cool clipart or even a child's photo! Grandma's especially will love this gift! If you get really creative you could make some truly fabulous stuff that anyone would be proud to display.

4.) Calendars. I have received one of these myself with my niece and nephew's pictures as each month's photos and it was the favorite thing I got that year. There are resources on the internet to create a custom calendar for free, also, many computers come standard with software that has this ability already in it. You can use photos, poems, or other art to make your calendar beautiful. If you were so inclined, you could even add family member's birthdays and anniversaries to the calendar! To bind the pages, you can use metal rings, ribbon or plastic binding strips. Whatever you do, have fun with this one and it could turn out truly great!

5.) One of the coolest ideas I found was for kids to make custom mouse pads out of craft foam. You can find this stuff in most general merchandise stores. Then just cut into any shape desired and let your kids go crazy decorating them with markers! I saw some great examples online that made me want to make one of these!!

6.) Then, of course, there is a classic favorite… the pet rock paperweight! Kids get such a kick out of going exploring to find the "perfect" rock for their pet. Then use paint, markers, stickers and stick on googley eyes to make these rocks stand out. My niece made me one of these and I was surprised that I actually used it at my desk and was wishing I had more!

7.) Homemade magnets are another great and fun gift to make. You can take bottle caps, paint them and glue all sorts of stuff to the inside of them. Then just get a sticky sheet of magnet paper (in the computer paper area) and cut them out in the same shape/size of the cap. Or you can use the round, puck-like magnets and glue them on for a stronger holding magnet. Don't stop at bottle caps, you can use your kids pictures and cut the magnet in the same shape as the photo for some very cute magnets. Let your imagination run wild on this one and you'll be surprised at what you can create!

8.) Finally, don't forget Fido! Kids will really get into making homemade dog biscuits for your pet. There are easy recipes you can find on the internet for these treats. Then let your kids either shape the dough by hand or use cookie cutters to shape them before baking the biscuits. Your pet will be pleased that you made time for him!

Whatever you decide to do, a homemade gift is always personal and special. It will not only save you money but could become a great hobby for you or your kids!