- During the holidays you’ll see a lot of advice about DIY gifts being cheaper than store-bought ones.
- I can say from experience that this usually isn’t true, in terms of both material costs and time.
- DIY gifts are fun if you like crafting, but if you’re trying to save money, just go for store-bought.
- Read more from Personal Finance Insider.
It feels like every holiday season there are bloggers, content creators, and publications offering countless lists of gift ideas. I look at several each year to make sure I don’t miss the perfect thing for someone on my list.
However, many of the popular bloggers and content creators curating these gift guides suggest that do-it-yourself gifts are a good, less expensive alternative to store-bought products — especially in posts directed at women. These guides will then often include links to instructions and patterns for crafts that you can do at home.
Homemade gifts are said to be more eco-friendly, more thoughtful and personalized, and less expensive. I don’t really think that last point is true.
Crafting a DIY gift still costs money, and it also costs a lot of time
I’m a moderately crafty person. I can sew, knit, crochet, bake, and wield a glue gun. I’m not notably talented at any of these things, but I have the basic skills that would make it theoretically possible to make something for my family members and friends rather than shopping for them.
I’ve attempted that in past years, and I always notice how much I end up spending before I begin working on the project itself.
For example, if I want to knit a scarf for each of my friends, I’ll need several skeins of yarn, which — if they are good quality — can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 each. Hopefully I already have the needle size I need, or else I’ll need to buy those, too.
Festive jars of homemade brownie mix? I’ll need to purchase the jars themselves, ingredients for brownies, as well as ribbon and decorations to make the jars look like a gift, and not something I found in the back of my pantry.
A customized beaded bracelet will cost the price of the beads, the chain or cord that holds them together, as well as needle nose pliers and a magnifier to keep me from straining my eyes.
Not only will these DIY gifts cost the same as or even more than their store-bought equivalents, but I also end up spending a lot of time making them. And as a parent during the holidays, time is a limited resource.
I’m sure for some very talented people, especially people who craft professionally, this won’t be such an issue. They buy materials in bulk, have all the tools they need already, and also have the skills to pull it off without too much stress.
But there’s a reason we don’t receive a quilt from every talented seamstress we know: The cost of materials — as well as their time — may be worth more than they would normally spend on a gift.