Budget-friendly gifts

A reinbeer is an easy way to add some holiday cheer to your refrigerator. Miles Sanguinetti/PSU Vanguard

It can be difficult to afford holiday gifts for your friends and loved ones on a student’s budget. With that in mind, here’s a list of great gifts you can put together with common household items or cheap store-bought ones.

For video instructions:

Mason jar lid coasters
Coasters make for a great gift because you can customize them however you want. Using a mason jar lid as a base is a cheap and easy way to make a durable coaster using common materials that you can probably find around your home.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A mason jar lid
A thin sheet or circle of cork
A hot glue gun
A permanent marker
Scissors, a precision knife or other cutting implement
Stencils (optional)
Spray paint (optional)

How to make them:

1. Take the circular metal insert out of the mason jar lid and trace a circle around it on the sheet of cork.
2. Cut out the circle from the cork sheet.
3. Use the hot glue gun to glue the metal insert into the frame of the mason jar lid and let it dry.
4. (Optional) Spray paint or decorate the lid however you would like and wait for it to dry.
5. (Optional) Using stencils and a marker or a stamp, decorate the circular piece of cork that you cut out.
6. Use the hot glue gun to attach the round piece of cork to the bottom of the mason jar lid; let it dry.

Open terrariums
An open terrarium is an easy way to add some greenery to a loved one’s desk. Unlike closed terrariums, open ones cater best to plants that thrive in dry environments, like tillandsia (or air plants), cacti and succulents. Fortunately, this means that they’re easy to take care of—a number of species can survive with just the sunlight from a nearby window and a weekly watering.

What you’ll need:

A mason jar or other glass container (nearly anything will work, provided there’s enough room in the bottom for soil/pebbles/decorations)
A tillandsia plant (or a cactus or other succulent if you intend to put soil in the jar)

How to make them:

1. Clean out the jar if it previously had anything else in it.
2. Cover the bottom of it with pebbles, other small objects or soil in the case that you’re planting a cactus.
3a. If you’re planting a tillandsia, optionally mount it on something with hot glue (driftwood or stones work well for this) and place it inside.
3b. If you’re planting a cactus, plant it in the dirt, ensuring that its root-ball remains intact.

Habanero peanuts
Is there a spicy person in your life who might enjoy an edible gift with a bit of a kick? If so, check out this recipe for habanero peanuts; they’re super easy to cook up, keep well and get spicier the longer they’re in your cupboard.

What you’ll need:

20 dried, small habanero chili peppers (serrano chilis will also work; aim for about one inch long)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds salted peanuts (preferably without skins)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chili powder

How to make them:

1. Heat the chilis over medium heat in olive oil in a heavy pan for one minute, constantly stirring so that they don’t scorch.
2. Add the peanuts to the pan and and stir for about five minutes until they begin to brown.
3. Store the peanuts and chili peppers in a covered jar.
4. Add salt and chili powder and mix well.

While more of a stocking stuffer than a full-blown gift, reinbeer are a great holiday touch for the beer enthusiast among your friends or family.

What you’ll need:

1 or more bottles of beer (or any other glass-bottled beverage)
A hot glue gun
Brown or black pipe cleaners
2 googly eyes
A small red pompom

How to make them:

1. Tie a pipe cleaner around the bottle’s neck, ensuring that excess pipe cleaner length is evenly distributed on each side.
2. Cut two smaller segments of pipe cleaner and tie them around each of the pipe cleaner antlers so that they fork upward.
3. Attach the eyes and nose to the bottle’s neck using the hot glue gun.
4. Leave the bottle on its side to dry until the reinbeer’s eyes and nose are secure, then refrigerate it.


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