This is Day 12 of the 30 Days of Giving: Making Christmas Meaningful campaign, which is designed to bring the community creative and practical ways to cheerfully give this holiday season through gifts, relationships and charity. Come visit the 30 Days of Giving Advent Calendar each day in our countdown to Christmas for intriguing and original ways to help you to experience and spread the spirit of joyful giving that God intended throughout the holiday season.

Before your kids start making out the 10th revision of their Christmas gift wish list, help them to better understand the principle of “giving is better than receiving” by making homemade gifts for friends, relatives and neighbors.

This form of relaxation, bonding and entertainment will give them something to do during the “I’m bored” times and will provide a fun family activity that will also give them a sense of pride and accomplishment. Just don’t go too big on your plans, as that will just add more stress to your busy days.

Here are five simple ideas for gifts that others will actually appreciate, are simple to make and won’t break the bank:

Pine Cone Ornaments

This is a simple, but slightly messy project for little ones. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Cinnamon-scented pine cones
  • White school glue
  • Small paint brushes
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon Baking racks

Pour the glue onto small bowl or plate (the leftover will wash off just fine). With the brush, “paint” glue on each of the pinecone tips. Over a large bowl, shake glitter onto the glued pine cones and then place on a baking rack to dry. Pour the leftover glitter back into the shaker for the next pine cone. When dry, tie a ribbon on the stem.

Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies Mix in a Jar

You’ve seen these at craft shows and stores – layered ingredients for cookies in a canning jar. They are pretty to look at and a lot less expensive than you would think. 

For each gift, you’ll need the following items:

  • 1 large canning jar with lid
  • 2-1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar 
  • 2 cups chocolate mint chips

In one bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, mix the sugars. Then scoop about one third of the flour mixture into the jar. Shake the jar gently so that it levels out. Then scoop half of the sugar mixture into the jar. Shake gently. Pour in half of the chips. Then repeat the three layers again. Top with the remaining flour mixture. Screw on the lid and you’re done! Print out the following instructions and tie with a ribbon on the outside:

To make cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour entire contents of this jar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of softened butter, 2 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour into the bigger bowl and stir. Place rounded tablespoons of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes.

Dollar Store Gift Baskets

Visit a local dollar store or chain store like Target or Walmart. Have your kids pick out small baskets for whomever the gifts will be for. Then, together as a team, shop the store to find inexpensive items to fill each of the baskets. Many stores offer nice and tasteful items that will make the baskets special. Items could include tea, small packages of cookies or candy, votive candles, mugs, cocoa mixes, photo frames, candy canes, etc. You can even go with a theme like pasta, spaghetti sauce, olive oil and biscotti cookies or a basket with hand cream, lotion and soaps. Stop by the craft store and pick up some raffia to use as bedding for the baskets.

Little Lanterns

Keep your leftover cans from the kitchen for this one. Using a fine-tipped permanent marker, mark up a design around the sides. Then punch holes onto the sides using a hammer and a large nail. When finished, spray paint the outside of can with either gold or silver spray paint. Viola! You have a little lantern. Deliver with a votive candle.

Stepping Stones

Sure, you can buy kit to make stepping stones from your local craft store, but you can make your own for a fraction of the price.

You’ll need the following supplies: 

  • Round foil baking pans
  • Quick drying concrete mix
  • Items to decorate with like glass beads, rocks, ceramic tiles, etc. 

Mix the concrete mix per instructions on the bag or about 1 part water to 5 parts of the mix. Pour the mix into the foil pans. You may need to let it sit a few minutes before decorating. Wait until the mix is no longer “soupy.” Push each decoration into the mix but not too far or they will sink. However, you’ll need to push them into the mix somewhat or they will not stay in the stone when dry. When finished, let dry completely for one day. Then, pull back the foil. Presto!

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