Simplify the Holidays With Homemade Gifts Under $5

A few years ago my husband’s family decided to forgo the adult gift card exchange, the Secret Santa and the white elephant and instead decided to do a homemade gift exchange. (Don’t worry the younger kids/great grandchildren still got their regular gifts.) There were a few rules: Each family unit made a gift for the other family units. Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles, Cousins, Siblings and Parents all included. The cost was to stay between $2-$3 per item. The results were fun, entertaining and delicious! 

The majority of the items were consumables. I liked this, as it was something that could be used and enjoyed, and not take up too much space in your house. Most gifts were packaged in mason jars, or other fun, festive packaging and a tag with cooking/baking/enjoying instructions was included. 

Pinterest is a definite starting place for a lot of things homemade/DIY, but that can get overwhelming. So, here is a list & some links to get your homemade holiday gifting started.  


Hot cocoa mix– an easy winter favorite just needs unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, and a pinch of salt. You can also supply add-ins like marshmallows, candy canes, or peppermints.

Amaretto– I have to admit, I was excited about this one. It was a surprising and tasty gift.

Limoncello- this one takes a bit of time and preplanning.


Homemade Bread- bake in small batches or cute little tins for a festive gift.

Homemade Apple Butter- apple or other flavors infused in butter was a fun treat given along with the bread.

Pancake mix– No boxed mixes here, this is the only pancake/waffle mix we use now. We always have all of the basic dry ingredients on hand and will usually make several batches of mix to store in our pantry. 17 thousand reviews don’t lie!

Drop Biscuit Mix– This is a great base recipe that can be customized: sweet, savory, baker’s choice. 

Jam/Jelly- this was one that we did. I took the super convenient and easy route and used my bread maker. It has a jelly/jam setting. Using frozen mixed berries and a somewhat shocking amount of sugar; I just followed the bread maker instructions and in a few hours, jam!


Soup starter- this was a popular gift idea. We got taco soup mix, rainbow bean soup mix, and a chicken noodle soup starter. Layer the ingredients in a jar for a colorful and classic gift. 

Dip Starter- think fiesta, ranch, or Italian herb. These were gifted in plastic ornaments much like the ones here.

Pizza Dough Mix & Pizza Sauce- the dough mix was store-bought, but the sauce was excellent. I couldn’t find the exact recipe, but a quick search and tons of recipe options were at my fingertips.

Subscription Box Meal Recipe/Ingredients (without the protein)- Think HelloFresh/Home Chef-style recipe/ingredients. This was a really inventive gift option. The gift-giver gave everyone portioned out ingredients for a chicken and potato dish (including the small potatoes). It was nice to have a dinner idea planned out just after Christmas. We just had to add the chicken. 

Cookies/cookie mix- this is probably the most common “mason jar gift,” but that is for good reason! There are so many options when it comes to cookie mix in a jar. Customize it to your intended recipient.  

Snacks/Other Food Related Items

Infused Olive Oil- we got these a few times each year was a different infusion, rosemary, oregano, and garlic. Place a piece of the fresh herb in a glass bottle and then fill with olive oil. 

Homemade jerky- I guess they had a food dehydrator? My husband really enjoyed this spicy, meaty gift. 

Nut/Bar Snack Mix- think nuts, cereals, crackers, and cheesy snacks. 

Sundae in a box (without the ice cream of course!)- This was so much fun. It had waffle bowls, sprinkles, and other classic ice cream toppings. 

Granola- another classic gift in a jar that can be made with countless ingredients.

Other Gifts

Christmas décor- one family member did yarn art, another used a cutting machine to place decals for a Christmas theme candle holder. 

Plant- Clippings from a family succulent were shared with everyone.  

Homemade Soap- A soap base can be purchased at craft stores. The base is melted in the microwave, then scented with essential oils and poured into a mold, and allowed to harden. 

Family Recipe Keepsake- One favorite family recipe was etched on a decorative plaque. Other ideas include creating a family recipe cookbook or printing a recipe on a tea towel.

Hopefully, this list will help you simplify the holidays a bit, and if you’re a DIY-er check out 12 Days of Christmas Crafts. Happy Homemade Gifting!

A native of the New Orleans 'burbs, Melanie has lived in Baton Rouge since starting her bachelors degree at LSU. She earned her BA in Mass Communication and a master’s degree in Social Work both from LSU. In her professional life Melanie focuses on women’s mental health. Melanie and her husband Adam have been together for almost two decades. They have 2 bright and curious kids who keep them on their toes. When not working or moming Melanie can be found exploring yet another new hobby, trying to “get organized” and avoiding the laundry. She loves sitcoms, traveling, iced coffee and carbs.


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