Young woman in her home in Christmas time

By: Alyson Peabody, Staff Writer

For students living on a budget, the holiday season can feel like an extra expensive time of the year. However, it can also be a time for make creative and unique gifts for friends and family. To help take away some of the stress of the gift giving season, The Free Press asked USM students and faculty about their tips for do-it-yourself (DIY) holiday gifts.

Megan Grace, Junior, Elementary Education:
A pair of pjs with fuzzy socks and hot chocolate
An inexpensive pair of fuzzy socks with some hot chocolate packets tucked into them will keep the recipient toasty warm this winter. Customize your gift by using a mason jar, a bag of hot cocoa mix, marshmallows, and candy canes, or any other hot cocoa fillings, to make-your-own special hot chocolate recipe! People always need socks and who doesn’t love chocolate?

Damir Porobic, Lecturer of Art:
Homemade tree ornaments
Ornaments can be made out of almost anything as long as you have yarn, thread, string, or fishing line to hang it from the branch with. Use recycled materials or popsicle sticks to craft snowflakes. Try taking pipe cleaners and twist them together to make candy canes.

Luis Del Valle, Senior, Theater:
Poems are good, cards are always amazing
Put your writing skills from class to good use and craft your own holiday cards to give to friends and families. You can personalize them with poems or messages and paint or draw your own design on the cover.

Letitia Hodgkins, Senior, Studio Art:
Handprint wreaths
Using non-toxic paint, make handprints forming a circle onto paper (or canvas) to form a wreath. Then cut out around the handprints and a circle in the middle. Attach paper ornaments or holly for decoration. This is a great activity to do with kids.

Sarah Fitzpatrick, Senior, Studio Art:
Soap with a surprise
With countless recipes online, making soap at home is easier than ever. When pouring the soap into molds, put toys, like small plastic dinosaurs, bugs, or figurines, in.

Natasha Shacklett, Studio Art:
Baked goods make a yummy treat.
Sugar cookies and peppermint bark are easy recipes found online. Are you gluten free? No problem! There are peanut butter cookie recipes online that only use three ingredients: eggs, peanut butter, and sugar. Why not top the cookies with Hershey kisses?
For people who don’t consider themselves bakers, there is no shame is using boxed mixes. Making a batch of brownies and sprinkling crushed candy cane on top before putting them in the oven can give the treat a holiday twist.

According to Housebeautiful’s writers, Caroline Picard and Sienna Fantozzi, there plenty are fun DIY gifts for everyone to try that won’t break the bank. All instructions for these ideas can be found at

Watercolor terracotta plant pots
Peppermint oreo truffles
Homemade sugar scrubs using olive oil, sugar, and essential oils (follow instructions carefully online)
Christmas trees painted onto mason jars using acrylic paint
Rudolph hot chocolate gifts (hot chocolate, M&Ms, and marshmallows in a plastic baggy)
Pom pom penguins

Do you like making gifts with company? Student Activities at USM is hosting a Mug Decorating event on Dec. 12 in Lower Brooks at 8 p.m. Let creativity brighten the day for friends and family this holiday season.


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