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Ideas for inexpensive, stress-free gifts

Melissa Erickson, More Content Now
Ideas for inexpensive, stress-free gifts
Make a Christmas village with assorted wooden birdhouses. photo: courtesy Jo-ann Stores

Gift-giving can be expensive and exhausting. It should be fun, rather than an obligation, and with a few tips we can take back the holidays and save some cash too.

“The holidays provide us with an excuse to acknowledge who and what we are thankful for and we can openly express it. These are the moments that define the holiday spirit. These are thankful moments,” said Kim McDonnell, founder of

The holidays can be full of stress and anxiety, some of which we put on ourselves.

“We set such high expectations trying to create the most magical and perfect experience, that sometimes we forget to take the moment to enjoy the experience. We try so hard to find or afford the perfect gifts for our loved ones that often we are too exhausted or stressed to enjoy the pleasure of giving it,” said McDonnell.

If you’re too busy trying to make it perfect, you may forget to identify the moments that define what the holidays mean to us and our family.

“Gifts will come and go, but teaching our children compassion and kindness will last a lifetime,” McDonnell said. Hugging and spending time with your children and family, or picking up the phone to call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to recently, helping a stranger, forgiving or apologizing, telling the people who mean the most to you just how much you love them — these are the holiday gifts we can all create and share, and they don’t come with a price tag. These are the gifts that will most often be remembered and cherished.

Homemade with love

Gifts don’t have to be pricey to be extraordinary.

“Gifts made with love will always be more meaningful than the gift with the most expensive price tag,” McDonnell said. “Write a love letter to your partner, gather the kids and make jam to give as gifts to your friends and family, bake cookies and personalize them with messages of thankfulness for that person, or give a voucher of ‘time’: for example, ‘This voucher gives you my undivided attention for five outings to the park,’ or ‘This voucher gives you five 30-minute foot rubs to be used at your discretion.’ Time is, after all, the most cherished gift.”

Some of the best gifts are homemade. Check out this Christmas village craft that only requires wood birdhouses, paint, glue and basic craft supplies.

Christmas Village with Wooden Birdhouses

  • Assorted shapes and sizes of unfinished wood birdhouses
  • Assorted colors of acrylic paints
  • Brushes
  • White glitter
  • Mod Podge glue
  • Assortment of embellishments such as jingle bells, chenille stems, pom-poms, felt, washi tapes, ribbons, clothespins, gems, buttons
  • Craft glue


1. Using a photo as a guide, paint wood birdhouses. Let dry completely.

2. Add embellishments using craft glue.

3. Drizzle white paint to resemble snow onto roof edges and sprinkle with glitter.

4. Brush Mod Podge onto rooftops and sprinkle with glitter.