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Holiday presents on the cheap

By By Ocean Gildee

By Ocean Gildee
Is your empty wallet preventing you from spreading the holiday love? Here’s the answer to your prayers: a roundup of awesomely cheap (but thoughtful) holiday presents for every member of your fam, all your friends… and even your crush.
Some of our cheap holiday presents are store-bought, while others have a DIY vibe — but no cash or special skills are required. Oh, and when it comes to supplies from the craft or fabric store, be sure to check newspaper inserts for great coupons. Your holiday shopping starts here!
Cheap Holiday Presents for the Guys in Your Family
This is an easy one. What do most dudes love? Sports, sports, sports. Usually anything NFL- or MLB-themed works for these guys. But “official” gear can be pricey, so try this instead:
Sports scarves: No, you do not need to know how to sew. All you have to do is grab a pair of scissors. Then hit the fabric store, and buy 2 yards of fleece in his favorite team’s colors. Many stores even have fleece with team emblems. It’ll set you back about $25, but it makes at least three scarves — that works out to less than $10 per person. Cut the fabric into strips, 3 feet long and 6 inches wide. Snip fringes at the ends of each strip for a frayed look. Done.
Who else? You can also make these in any color or pattern for women. Plus, this makes a great gift for that guy you’re only “talking to” casually. (Keep scrolling for more gift ideas for the not-so-serious crush.)
Cheap Holiday Presents for the Gals in Your Family
Picture frames are always a nice gift, especially when you include a photograph of you and your loved one. Many discount chains carry inexpensive decorative frames. Otherwise, you could give it a personal touch.
Hand-painted wooden frames: Most craft stores carry 5 x 7 wooden picture frames for about $4 each. Pick up a few, along with a pack of paintbrushes (around $3) and a few small bottles of acrylic craft paint ($1.50 each). If you have some artistic skills, paint a design around the frame. (Of course, remove the glass and backing before you start.) If you’re creatively challenged, go for a simple striped pattern: Paint your picture frame a neutral or light base color, then let it dry completely. Paint stripes around the frame in a contrasting color, but don’t fret about minor imperfections — they lend character to handcrafted projects. Let the frame dry overnight before re-assembling.
Who else? Framed photos also make a fabulous gift for friends. You can also take that great shot of you and frame it for the BF or GF. Snaps!
Cheap Holiday Presents for Distant Cousins and Hardly-know-them Relatives
You don’t know a thing about Aunt So-and-so’s tastes — but she’s joining you for the holidays and you don’t want to show up empty-handed. What to give that out-of-town family member you rarely see? Consider this for some gift-giving bliss:Holiday ornaments: Buy a box of clear glass ornaments (around $5 for a set of four). Take the metal hanger off the top and fill each ornament with something fun from the craft store: sand and mini seashells, small pearls or jewels, bits of confetti and curled ribbon. (None of these fillers should cost more than $3 per package.) You can either give them out individually or return them to the original packaging for a whole set.Who else? Anybody on your list! Who doesn’t love a pretty glass ornament, even if just to hang in a window as a sun catcher?Cheap Holiday Presents for Your Female BFF
She’s your best friend, so you want to give her something special. For $15 or less, you can create a pair of one-of-a-kind earrings:
Handcrafted dangle earrings: Hit the craft store for a pack of wire earrings (each pair usually costs about $3), a few bags of your favorite beads and a spool of 26-gauge stringing wire. Mix and match beads, stringing them onto a 2 1/2- to 3-inch piece of wire. (You’ll need a wire cutter.) Use needle-nose pliers to make a small loop at one end of the wire so the beads don’t fall off. Thread the stringing wire into the loop at the bottom of the wire earring, and then use pliers to bend the wire around the loop until it’s secure. Voila: unique handcrafted earrings for your best gal pal!
Who else? Your mom, sister or favorite aunt might like a new pair of earrings too!
Cheap Holiday Presents for Your Significant Other
Think a gift certificate is impersonal? Not if it’s handwritten and creative! “Certificates” good for sweet little favors are easy to make, cost nothing and can be as personalized as you want. Need suggestions? You could give your main squeeze certificates for any (or all!) of the following:
Breakfast in bed every weekend for a month
Two 30-minute warm-oil massages
Romantic home-cooked dinner
Manicure and pedicure with a foot rub
Light cleaning services or errands
Cheap Holiday Presents for the “It’s Complicated” Crush
How much is too much? We figure you can’t go wrong with food:
For her: Make a nice dinner, but keep it low-key and not over-the-top. She’ll love the effort, and it shouldn’t be hard to make a great meal for two for under $15.
For him: Bake something fabulous. (Duh, boys love brownies!) 
Ocean Gildee recently interned for Coastal Urge, an active lifestyle store, writing product descriptions for the company’s website. Ocean is also a Crossroads Peer Educator at University of North Carolina Wilmington for alcohol and substance abuse, as well as President of the UNCW Club Gymnastics team. Ocean coaches part-time at Port City Gymnastics and Dance.
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