Five of our favorite homemade holiday gifts

This holiday give a gift from the heart, not the pocketbook

This morning, December 3, we learned that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6% and wages increased by 2.5% since the same month last year. While this is definitely good news, for far too many military families these broad measurements of labor market conditions have no bearing on their day-to-day reality. According to the 2015 Veterans Economic Opportunity Report, roughly 1/2 of post-9/11 veterans will face a period of unemployment. We also know that the holidays can be a period of significant economic stress for those military families on the razor's edge of financial solvency. According to a recent report by the National Consumer Federation, 9 in 10 consumers surveyed admitted they could be convinced to spend an extra $25 this holiday season that they didn’t originally budget for gift giving.  

At Challenge America we understand it can be tempting to spend beyond your means during the holidays, but we also know that the most meaningful gifts are often the ones that come from the heart, not the pocketbook. It is in this spirit that we decided to share a few suggestions for creating your own heartfelt homemade gifts this holiday season. Not only will your friends, colleagues, and loved ones likely appreciate these gifts, but you can make these gifts without breaking the bank. 

Earphone Cord Management

1. Earphone Cord Holder For That Special Music Lover

At one point or another, virtually everyone has to cope with the frustration of a tangled earphone cord. This simple and thoughtful gift helps that special someone avoid this frustration and it does this with a touch of love! If you are planning to make this gift for a service member or veteran, you can always decorate your heart with a patriotic theme. Head on over to the good folks at Wahsosimple to learn how it's done. 

2. Bacon!

The team here at Challenge America LOVES bacon. We just can't get enough of the stuff! If you have a bacon lover on your gift list, we feel certain he or she will love this delicious caramelised onion and bacon jam. We know it may sound a bit odd, but it sure is yummy. The Good Housekeeping website has all the details for creating this culinary masterpiece. 

3. Solar Mason Jar Lights

If you have a few mason jars sitting around the house, you can make these attractive and useful lights in no time. If they are well sealed, these little lights can withstand some extreme weather. And best of all your friends and family will think you are a solar power guru! For straight-forward instructions, check out this link on This Old House

4. Chocolate!

If there is one thing better than bacon, it's chocolate. Mmmmmmm, chocolate! This is without a doubt our favorite chocolate treat around the Challenge America offices, and it's marginally healthy. Marginally. Our favorite recipe comes from the culinary masters at Thug Kitchen. Warning: the language is this recipe is PG-17 at best, but if you can tolerate a few rough words, the reward will be well worth the bits of crude language. Here is the recipe from The Offical Thug Kitchen Cookbook. 

5. Vanilla Bath Salts

Everyone loves to take a nice hot bath at the end of a long stressful day and everyone appreciates bath products that wash their cares away. These bath salts definitely do the trick. This of this as the gift that keeps on giving. For something so simply to make, this gift will get you more appreciation for buck than any other item on our list.  For quick and easy instructions, see the folks at hometalk.

Do you have a favorite homemade gift that didn't make our list?

If so, feel free to offer it up in the comments area below (especially if they involve chocolate!)