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Do you want to get a head-start on Birthday gifts this year? And do you also want to save a little money? Handcrafted gifts may be your answer. Your gift will be a double blessing because it shows that you care enough to spend time creating something special just for the recipient. And if you’re a careful shopper, you’ll also make your gifts inexpensively. Here are some ideas to get you started; you’ll probably come up with some of your own.

1)  Crocheted scarves:  Crocheting is an easy to learn and fun. It also has the benefit of working up quickly—you can make a scarf in one or two days. Because of the wonderful array of colors and textures in yarns these days, you can make scarves to please everyone. Look at these beginner’s patterns, pick up a crochet hook and some yarn and away you go.

2)  Homemade cookies and candies:  Most of us enjoy baking during holiday seasons, but some families are too busy to enjoy homemade treats. In addition, you may have a wonderful recipe that will be new to the recipient of your homemade cookie tray. Look at these ideas for cookies and candies that will be sure to please.

3)  Recipe booklets:  One of the best gifts my husband ever received was a little booklet of hand-written recipes. They were our daughter’s favorites from a time when she cooked for a restaurant. We’ve used them over and over again and we always think of her when we do. Gather your favorites and write them out in a gift booklet for someone you know who loves to cook.

4)  Beeswax candles:  Using sheets of lovely-smelling beeswax and a simple cotton wick you can create beautiful handmade candles. Decorated with a red or gold ribbon, they make perfect Birthday gifts.

5)  Calligraphy gifts:  If you have seen samples of 19th century handwritten letters or if you’ve taken a calligraphy class, then you know how lovely pen and ink can be. With a little practice you can create calligraphy poems, stories, cards or whatever you would like to create as a personal gift for a Birthday.

6)  Photo gift albums:  Have you taken a trip with friends and have some great pictures? Or do you have pictures of your grown children that would make a good gift now that they’re all grown? Gather them together into a simple photo album and you have a perfect Birthday or Anniversary gift. Pictures capture a certain time and place and the memories that go with them.

7)  Sweet sauces:  Save your empty jam, jelly and other small jars and refill them with delicious homemade dessert sauces. Hot fudge, orange, caramel, lemon, vanilla and more. Include a dessert recipe to go along with the sauce if you like. Most dessert sauces keep well when refrigerated.

8)  Easy sew blankets:  Sew a blanket for a new baby or adapt the pattern to suit a child or adult. This easy pattern with video to help you get started is both handsome and practical.

9)  Jellies and jams:  There’s still time to buy fresh fruit and make either cooked or freezer jam recipes. A small jar of homemade raspberry freezer jam is worth its weight in gold. You can put up dozens of these this winter and have them ready to give as the holiday gatherings begin to fill your calendar.

10)  Potted plants:  Plants bring the color of the garden into your home. African violets, simple ivy varieties, philodendrons and many more make easy-to-care-for gifts. If you have a green thumb, you may want to try rooting new plants from old by pinching off leaves and waiting for them to put out roots in water. Otherwise, visit a local nursery and choose healthy plants to repot into pretty containers. They make great gifts for your elderly friends as well as all plant lovers.

Whether you try one of the ideas above, or think up your own homemade gifts, your time and effort will shine through to those on your Birthday gift list. And you’ll have the satisfaction of giving personalized, thoughtful gifts to those you love.