Holiday gifts you should start working on now!

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We all have a great aunt Ethel who crochets toilet paper cozies from January through December, and has never experienced a microsecond of last-minute gift panic. The rest of us have a tendency to panic shop as soon as we’ve digested our last slice of Thanksgiving pie. Luckily, it’s not an either-or situation, as you can start your holiday gifts ahead of time.

However, some gift projects do require lag time, which makes now the perfect time to get started. Luckily, you don’t need great aunt Ethel’s crafty know-how, as YouTube’s got you covered. From the simple to the complex, there are how-to videos for just about everything under the sun.

With a little planning, these DIY gifts are great for the holidays

Here are five gift projects to get you started:

1. Homemade vanilla extract

You may have noticed that the price of vanilla extract has recently escalated. (Note that this photo is from Costco, a normally inexpensive source!)

Luckily, making homemade vanilla extract requires exactly two ingredients, vodka and vanilla beans (you can also substitute brandy, bourbon or rum). However, since the vanilla mixture requires a good long soak, you’ll need to get started on this project straightaway!

Bonus tip: Your recipients can later add more vodka as long as the bean is still in the bottle.

2. Forced blooms

December is a normally not a time for fresh fragrant flowers in the home, but with a month or two of foresight, you can trick or “force” bulbs into an early bloom. With nothing more than bare bulbs, pebbles and soil, you can put together some very welcome gifts to enjoy during the dark winter months.

Bonus tip: You can buy pre-chilled bulbs that are primed to be tricked into thinking that spring has sprung.


3. Any craft project that requires a learning curve

Unless you’re Martha McPinterest, you’ll need to schedule in some lag time to learn how to make the handmade gifts you want to create for your friends and loved ones. Let’s face it, your first couple of attempts aren’t likely to be so fantastic.

Fortunately, YouTube is rich with how-to videos that’ll hold your hand through learning to knit, crochet or almost anything else.

Bonus tip: Quality wool and cotton yarns can be quite pricey, but frugal knitters know to buy thrift store sweaters to unravel for the yarn.

4. Homemade soap

Artisan soap can be a luxurious but pricey addition to your holiday gift baskets. However, luxury doesn’t have to equate expensive when you take the time to turn your kitchen into a mini soap-making factory. Since homemade soap requires a 4-6 week curing time, you’d be smart to get started on this craft sooner rather than later.

Bonus tip: Check thrift stores for silicone molds that are perfect for creating individual bars.

5. Buying used

Some might consider it tacky to give used gifts, so this tip isn’t for everyone. However, thrift stores have the potential for incredible bargains on unique and high quality gifts for those lucky enough to be on your holiday list. Unfortunately, finding these bargains requires a bit more work than traditional shopping, as you need to sort through some rough to find that elusive diamond. The key to thrifting for holiday gifts is to start early. Plus, you might luck into a $190,000 painting for just $3, which is not going to happen at your nearby Target superstore.

The following YouTube video will provide all the inspiration you need to give your local thrift shop a second chance!


Bonus tip: Thrift store book sections are filled with thousands of cheap, often unread, books that make perfect gifts for the bibliophile in your life.

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