A Canadian family's journey to financial independence

The Frugal/DIY Gift Guide

The Frugal/DIY Gift Guide

Ahhh, gifting. I enjoy giving a gift that I know will be appreciated and used. That is why I refused to buy my nieces any clothing as a gift for the first few years of their life – they received SO MANY new outfits, as well as hand me downs, that I know that they didn’t even WEAR all their gifted items. Little girl outfits are all kinds of adorable so everyone loves to gift them. Me, I was the aunt buying books and other requested items.

So I began this blog right around the time that my day job, side hustle, AND life got super busy, hence the radio silence over the past few weeks. To apologize, here is my small guide to gifts I’ve DIY’ed in the past and a book-buying hack I’ve discovered.

DIY Gifts

Play Silks

Play silks are a great gift for babies through children. These are colourful, dyed silk scarves that promote open-ended play since they can be used as anything: costumes, forts, napkins, doll blankets, and more. To purchase ready-to-use, they usually cost $10+ depending on size. However, they are simple to make, it just takes some planning and time. I made some a few years back for my children and nieces and nephews and they were a hit.

I purchased Habotai white scarves from Dharma Trading Company (be warned Canadians, you get hit with customs). I used a process similar to the one outlined in this blog post, except I used gel food colouring. Be warned – it is very difficult to get a true red, #pinkisthenewred.

Best for: the babies and kids of your crunchy, Waldorf-inspired friends


The actual paintings my kids’ made for Mr FNB on Father’s Day 2017, proudly displayed in his office.

Relief Canvas Paintings

This is a great gift your kids help create, and grandparents, dads, aunts/uncles, etc love them in my experience. You pick up cheap canvases from the dollar store, then make designs on them with masking tape – depending on how old your children are (and how much of a perfectionist you are….) they can be involved in this or not. You could do geometric shapes, random lines, letters or words. Then let your kids go nuts painting. Pull the tape off BEFORE the paint is dry, and you have an original piece of art. As long as you trust your kid not to eat paint, this can be done with babies up to older children.

Best for: people who will appreciate your kids’ artful, loving messes and proudly display them in their houses or offices



Simple Charm Necklaces

Time to spill the beans: my side hustle is an Etsy shop (though I believe mine pre-dates Mrs Money Mustache’s, so I did it before it was cool, justsoyouknow). I sell on Etsy but I also buy a lot of supplies on Etsy, too. Many people don’t seem to realize that there is a large section of sellers on Etsy selling craft and art supplies.

Here is my insider secret: if you want to gift someone a simple charm on a necklace, but want to save money, it is much cheaper to buy a chain and a charm from a supplier and then take 30 seconds to put them together yourself. If you have jewellery pliers and cutters you can buy clasps, jump rings and chain in bulk, then make even cheaper chains. But if you don’t it is not worth it to buy the tools for just one or two chains and you might as well buy finished chains instead.

If you want to gift sterling silver or gold-filled necklaces (which last much longer than plated or brass necklaces, yes I’m a jewellery snob, thankyouverymuch) this is definitely the way to go.

If you have a local beading shop (probably not Michaels but you can check), go there are see what they have in terms of charms and chains.

If you’re looking online, one of my favourite Etsy suppliers is Fabulous Rocks in the US. They have a TON of items to choose from. If you’re shipping to Canada, this would only make sense if you are buying a few items, unless you don’t mind the shipping costs.

As an example, I would take a chain like this one ($6.96 CAD for an 18″ sterling silver chain) and add any of these charms to it:

Lotus charm, sterling silver, $9.62 CAD
Labradorite pendant, sterling silver wrapped, $10.61 CAD
Moonstone pendant, sterling silver wrapped, $11.94 CAD
Add a sterling silver disc initial charm, $7.30 CAD

My Secret Place to Find Gift-able Books

books-1245744_1920I looooove to give books as gifts, especially to kids. How does one gift books frugally? Thrifting.

Hear me out.

I love to go thrifting. It is actually dangerous since I find it hard to not purchase some of the “hidden gems”, the Good Deals. In the past I’ve scooped these up to resell on local buy/sell/trade groups. However I realized that this usually only nets me maybe $5-$10, and depending on how busy life is at that point, it is sometimes not worth it.

So now if I do drop in I always look at the books, specifically the children’s books. I have found amazing, brand new books for only $1-$2. The key is to skim the tops of the books to see the ones that have obviously not been opened, loved and enjoyed yet. For my own children, I will buy them ones that don’t look pristine as gifts because a) they don’t care, and b) I don’t care. But as gifts for other kids I only give ones that look brand new.

Is that cheap? I prefer frugal, thanks.


There you have it. My favourite frugal gifts. What are your favourite DIY gifts, or frugal gift hacks?