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Salvage Your Holidays With 15 DIY Christmas Ideas

Salvage Your Holidays With 15 DIY Christmas Ideas
    Photo credit: poppet with a camera (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    A few years ago, someone I know sent out an email saying that he was cancelling Christmas that year due to financial constraints. He had gotten caught in the trap that Christmas was more about the expensive gifts than the time spent with others.

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    Being an “almost minimalist” by nature, I have always believed simplicity is the best solution for the holidays. With that in mind, I also feel that it is good to give gifts. I personally enjoy giving random gifts throughout the year, especially to people I don’t even know.

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    However, these gifts do not have to be expensive. In fact, I try to put together several “do-it-yourself” gifts to give on such occasions rather than spend a ton of money on gifts.

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    Here are some ideas for DIY gifts that can cause your family to say wow.

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    1. Cookies: My aunt’s favorite. While you are at it, host a holiday cookie baking party. Everyone makes their favorite cookies, and you all split the final results.
    2. Pine Cone Fire Starters: Just a little wax and pine cones. Perfect for fireplaces.
    3. Secret Hollow Book: Take an old book, a little glue, a knife and you have a secret box perfect for your friend’s car keys.
    4. Recipe Booklet: While subscriptions to food magazines are the norm in my family, I think a recipe book with your favorite recipes from the year is a nice personal touch.
    5. Themed Gift Basket: No need to go expensive, but find a theme they like and add some food or other small items related to the theme. Sports, Italian, Nature? The only limits to what you can think up as a theme are the limits of your own imagination.
    6. Memory Drawing: For the artistic folks, draw a picture of a memory you have of the other person.
    7. Gingerbread House: I don’t mean a set they build. Spend the time to build one and give it. Children love them!
    8. Personalized Calendar: If you have children, grandparents and other relatives always enjoy a calendar of them. Of course, you could also give a personalized calendar to your significant other or other important person in your life.
    9. Make An Ornament: It can be made out of salt dough, paper or anything you have around. Its handmade nature will make it unique and special.
    10. Volunteer As A Group: Setup a time to volunteer at a soup kitchen with them.
    11. Create An Experience: Do they like to camp? What about walking in the park? Take them out for the day; you can even make a picnic out of it.
    12. Start A Tradition
    13. Homemade Granola Or Trail Mix: Simple to make, and you can make different varieties for specific people.
    14. Mixed CD/DVD: Spend time crafting a mixed CD for them. Or maybe put together a DVD of your favorite pictures/short videos from throughout the year.
    15. Gift Certificates: Give them a handmade certificate for a service you can provide. Maybe you’ll do the dishes, give a massage, walk the dog, offer a special night out. It could be anything they would enjoy getting a break from — or having to do themselves.

     

    There are many options out there. Always remember: The time spent is more than the money spent. For those who still want to (or feel they must) give traditional gifts, just remember to keep a budget.

    What is your favorite DIY Christmas idea?

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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