back to top
DIY

6 Easy Holiday Gifts You Can Give Everyone In Your Squad

For when you want to send people good cheer without losing your damn mind.

Posted on
Amy Sefton / BuzzFeed Life

Confession: I really love giving presents. But sometimes that ends up taking more time and money that it needs to.

Gifting is my ~love language~! I can't help myself! But there are also a lot of people who I care about, and who I want to send good holiday cheer, but who don't really require a pricey customized gift.

These days, I make the holiday season less stressful (and less expensive) by giving everyone at a similar friendship level* the exact same thing.

*For me, this is coworkers and sorority sisters; for other people it might be their kids' teachers or all of their cousins.

When putting together these gifts, I rely on a few tricks:

- I don't try to make everything; I opt for DIY...ish gift. That means most of it will probably be store-bought, but overall it will feel homemade/custom.

- I always look for things I can buy or make things in bulk and then dole out in smaller portions. This saves time and money.

- I keep an eye out for recipes and DIYs that don't require a ton of expensive ingredients/supplies, or incorporate things I already have.

- Cute, festive, and/or punny packaging is great for elevating gifts, especially store-bought items. I try to keep the packaging under $2 and I usually have the best luck at dollar stores and Michaels.

Here are six ideas to inspire you:

1. Egg Nog Pound Cake

This is an incredibly easy but very delicious homemade gift! I made it using this recipe; you just buy boxed cake mix and then add store-bought egg nog and a little fresh nutmeg. One boxed mix makes four mini loaves. (Note: The recipe says to bake for an hour and 15 minutes, but I baked for 45 minutes in since the loaf pans are smaller, and the cake came out perfectly.) Prepare the batter, pour into mini loaf pans (I bought these at Michaels for $1 each) and bake for 45 minutes. Then tie on a little twine and/or a tag to let people know what it is. So simple!
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

This is an incredibly easy but very delicious homemade gift! I made it using this recipe; you just buy boxed cake mix and then add store-bought egg nog and a little fresh nutmeg. One boxed mix makes four mini loaves. (Note: The recipe says to bake for an hour and 15 minutes, but I baked for 45 minutes in since the loaf pans are smaller, and the cake came out perfectly.) Prepare the batter, pour into mini loaf pans (I bought these at Michaels for $1 each) and bake for 45 minutes. Then tie on a little twine and/or a tag to let people know what it is. So simple!

2. Glittery Poop Emoji Ornaments

The best way to tell all your people "I think you're the shit."
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

The best way to tell all your people "I think you're the shit."

Here's how to make them:

1. Roll out 8 ounces of brown oven-bake clay until it's about about 1/8-inch thick (this will yield five ornaments). Cut the ornaments out using an emoji cookie cutter and punch a small hole out at the top using a straw or a wooden kebab. Bake according to the package instructions. 2. Once the ornaments have cooled, spray them with a light spray adhesive and then sprinkle with brown and copper glitter. (FYI Martha Stewart's set comes with really good brown glitter.) 3. Clean the cookie cutter with dish soap and water and dry it. Then use it to cut just the eyes and the mouth out of white oven-bake clay. (It will likely punch out more than that, so use a small knife to trim out just the eyes and mouth.) Bake all the pieces according the package instructions. Once they've cooled, use a black Sharpie to add the pupils to the eyes. 4. Attach the eyes and mouth to the ornament with a hot glue gun.5. Tie a piece of ribbon through the hole so the ornament can hang on a tree.
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

1. Roll out 8 ounces of brown oven-bake clay until it's about about 1/8-inch thick (this will yield five ornaments). Cut the ornaments out using an emoji cookie cutter and punch a small hole out at the top using a straw or a wooden kebab. Bake according to the package instructions.

2. Once the ornaments have cooled, spray them with a light spray adhesive and then sprinkle with brown and copper glitter. (FYI Martha Stewart's set comes with really good brown glitter.)

3. Clean the cookie cutter with dish soap and water and dry it. Then use it to cut just the eyes and the mouth out of white oven-bake clay. (It will likely punch out more than that, so use a small knife to trim out just the eyes and mouth.) Bake all the pieces according the package instructions. Once they've cooled, use a black Sharpie to add the pupils to the eyes.

4. Attach the eyes and mouth to the ornament with a hot glue gun.

5. Tie a piece of ribbon through the hole so the ornament can hang on a tree.

3. Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub

You don't want no scrubs... but you do want a body scrub that feels and smells nice! This recipe uses coconut oil, white sugar, and peppermint essential oil — ingredients that I ran by dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, and he said were safe for skin. (Note: I skipped the red food coloring the recipe calls for because I wouldn't want it to look like there had been a Diva Cup mishap every time someone tries to exfoliate.) I added the "no scrubs" text with a Cricut, but you could easily do the same thing with sticker letters, or just write it on a label.
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

You don't want no scrubs... but you do want a body scrub that feels and smells nice! This recipe uses coconut oil, white sugar, and peppermint essential oil — ingredients that I ran by dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, and he said were safe for skin. (Note: I skipped the red food coloring the recipe calls for because I wouldn't want it to look like there had been a Diva Cup mishap every time someone tries to exfoliate.) I added the "no scrubs" text with a Cricut, but you could easily do the same thing with sticker letters, or just write it on a label.

4. Texas Ranch Rub

One thing I learned after four years living in Texas is that people outside of Texas love receiving gifts from Texas. In 2013, my husband and I basically did all our shopping for out-of-state family members at Central Market, and the gift shown here is a variation on the Texas-themed favors we gave out at our wedding.
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

One thing I learned after four years living in Texas is that people outside of Texas love receiving gifts from Texas. In 2013, my husband and I basically did all our shopping for out-of-state family members at Central Market, and the gift shown here is a variation on the Texas-themed favors we gave out at our wedding.

To make these gifts, I just bought a bottle of Bob Tallman's Steak Dust, which is amazing on meat, eggs, and veggies. (And yes, I wrote "Ranch Rub" on the label — clearly I was high on spray adhesive fumes.) Then I used a funnel to decant it into the glass bottles and sealed them with washi tape. If you want the gift to feel a little more robust, you could supplement it with other local-themed items; in the past I've given this spice mix along with honey from the Houston farmers market and mini bags of Lola Savannah Texas Pecan Coffee, which is THE TITS (and is available at Central Market and H-E-B). And if you don't live in Texas, you could make a similar gift by buying a local-to-you spice blend, a big bag of lavender buds from your local farmers market, or doing the aforementioned coffee.
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

To make these gifts, I just bought a bottle of Bob Tallman's Steak Dust, which is amazing on meat, eggs, and veggies. (And yes, I wrote "Ranch Rub" on the label — clearly I was high on spray adhesive fumes.) Then I used a funnel to decant it into the glass bottles and sealed them with washi tape.

If you want the gift to feel a little more robust, you could supplement it with other local-themed items; in the past I've given this spice mix along with honey from the Houston farmers market and mini bags of Lola Savannah Texas Pecan Coffee, which is THE TITS (and is available at Central Market and H-E-B).

And if you don't live in Texas, you could make a similar gift by buying a local-to-you spice blend, a big bag of lavender buds from your local farmers market, or doing the aforementioned coffee.

5. Sugared Cranberries

This is a great gift for people with Williams-Sonoma taste on a Wal-Mart budget. My coworker Jess bought a big bag of cranberries at the farmers market for it, but you could easily use cranberries from the grocery store.
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

This is a great gift for people with Williams-Sonoma taste on a Wal-Mart budget. My coworker Jess bought a big bag of cranberries at the farmers market for it, but you could easily use cranberries from the grocery store.

Here's how to make them:

1. Make a batch of simple syrup to cover the amount of cranberries you want to sugar (i.e., if you have 2 cups of cranberries, make ~3 cups of simple syrup). Let syrup cool. 2. Soak cranberries in simple syrup for at least 5 hours, or overnight. 3. Drain the cranberries (saving the cranberry-infused simple syrup) and then put them in a large zip-top bag with white sugar and SHAKE to coat. Start with a small amount of sugar and slowly add more until all the berries are coated. 4. Spread the sugared cranberries out on a cookie sheet to dry in the fridge for 1-2 hours. 5. Put the finished cranberries in small jars (we got the ones we used at Blick) and fance them up with some velvet ribbon.One of the secondary products that comes from making these is cranberry simple syrup, which also makes a nice gift and tastes delicious in cocktails!
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

1. Make a batch of simple syrup to cover the amount of cranberries you want to sugar (i.e., if you have 2 cups of cranberries, make ~3 cups of simple syrup). Let syrup cool.

2. Soak cranberries in simple syrup for at least 5 hours, or overnight.

3. Drain the cranberries (saving the cranberry-infused simple syrup) and then put them in a large zip-top bag with white sugar and SHAKE to coat. Start with a small amount of sugar and slowly add more until all the berries are coated.

4. Spread the sugared cranberries out on a cookie sheet to dry in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

5. Put the finished cranberries in small jars (we got the ones we used at Blick) and fance them up with some velvet ribbon.

One of the secondary products that comes from making these is cranberry simple syrup, which also makes a nice gift and tastes delicious in cocktails!

6. Nail Polish + A Festive Nail File

A new bottle of Essie is such a treat... and adding a glittery nail file (which you can find at drugstores this time of year for about $1 each) is a great way to make it feel a little more special. I also know that personally, I would really enjoy spending a half-hour in the nail polish aisle at Target, trying to choose the perfect color for each of my coworkers and debating which color nail file looks best with each polish. (Is that... not everyone's ideal Friday night?) These gifts end up being about $10 each, but you could easily buy cheaper nail polish to fit your budget. BTW, use tape, not hot glue, to attach the nail polish to the file before you wrap it in ribbon/twine. Learned that lesson the hard way!
Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life

A new bottle of Essie is such a treat... and adding a glittery nail file (which you can find at drugstores this time of year for about $1 each) is a great way to make it feel a little more special. I also know that personally, I would really enjoy spending a half-hour in the nail polish aisle at Target, trying to choose the perfect color for each of my coworkers and debating which color nail file looks best with each polish. (Is that... not everyone's ideal Friday night?) These gifts end up being about $10 each, but you could easily buy cheaper nail polish to fit your budget.

BTW, use tape, not hot glue, to attach the nail polish to the file before you wrap it in ribbon/twine. Learned that lesson the hard way!

Happy gifting!

Rachel W. Miller / BuzzFeed Life
The best things at three price points