Photo illustration by Mathias MacPhee

Homemade holidays

HIPSTERS, LET YOUR inner Martha Stewart shine this holiday season—make gifts for your friends and family. Warm up your creative genius, dust off those scissors, and get crafty—you’ll be proud to give a gift that you created with your bare hands, and what could be less mainstream than that? Here are some original homemade gift ideas that are sure to impress.

Easy fleecy blanket
The hardest part about making this blanket is navigating your way to Fabricland. Once you’re there, the rest is a piece of cake. Buy 2.5 metres each of two different patterns of fleece, making sure that the patterns complement each other. Go home and lay the two pieces of fabric on top of each other. Cut strips no longer than the length of your iPhone into the edges of the fabric—making sure to cut through both pieces—until the blanket looks frayed along all four edges. Then tie all the corresponding strips from each piece of fabric together in a simple knot, and voila—you have a cozy throw blanket to give to your mom or sister.

Total time: 30 minutes. Static-y hair for the next hour: Priceless.

Candy-cane infused vodka
To the LCBO! Buy some vodka, then get some mini candy canes from the grocery store. Put 15 to 20 mini candy canes in the bottom of an airtight glass jar. Pour the vodka over the candy canes, close the jar tightly, and let your homemade booze infuse for three days. When it’s ready, tie a ribbon around the jar and give it to your cocktail-loving friend.

Total time: Three days. Fresh breath AND a buzz? Worth it.

 Aww-dorable art
If you have the talent—either on paper or via Photoshop—show it off! Find a nice picture of you and your gift recipient, or just an image you think he or she would like, and recreate it in an artistic way. Sketch it out, make it look like a comic book, use watercolours—whatever you want! Just make sure you have a close relationship with this person, or else this gift could come off as creepy.

Total time: around an hour. Being seen as an artistically gifted hopeless romantic: Guaranteed.

 P.S. All of the above gifts pair beautifully with some homemade chocolate chip cookies. Just saying. My address is 631 King Edward Ave. Just kidding. Sort of.

—Maclaine Chadwick

Cheap tricks

Rideshare it home
It’s cheaper than the Greyhound, and only marginally sketchier. Make sure to text people with the license plate number of the car you’re getting into, your expected arrival time, and updates along the way. This is best attempted with a friend from back home.

Total savings: $30 to $60

Use copies of the Fulcrum to wrap your gifts
No need to buy bags or wrapping paper!

Total savings: $5

Go in with a group to buy presents
Often you can get a recipient something much nicer by pooling with lots of people.

Total savings: $10

Order an appetizer or dessert
The holidays tend to mean lots more dining out, and dinner bills can add up quickly. Eat a cheap meal at home beforehand, but leave room to order something small to nibble on so you don’t feel left out.

Total savings: $10 to $12

Use websites like Cardswap.ca
­ —to sell gift cards you won’t ever use and buy ones you can give away at a profit.

Savings: lots

 Visit thefulcrum.ca
—for tips on how to decorate your dorm on a broke-ass budget.

Savings: $20

 Pick up a part-time seasonal job
Lots of places are hiring just for the holidays, and you can earn quick cash. A bonus is that if you get hired somewhere good, you can save lots with your employee discount.

Savings: 10 to 50 per cent off gifts.
Earnings: $500 to $800

—Ali Schwabe

How to not get caught re-gifting

‘Tis the season of re-gifting. Let’s face it, for every amazing gift you receive there are two more that just, well, suck. Who needs five sets of dishwashing towels, another frumpy Christmas sweater, or an especially pungent perfume? Thankfully, there’s a solution for all this: re-gifting. But you’ve been warned. The road of re-gifting is a perilous path. There’s nothing worse than your friend or office-mate finding out their present is but a sloppy second. Follow these tips to keep things from getting awkward in the gift-giving season.

Keep track of who you’re re-gifting to
This tip may seem obvious, but it’s fundamental to re-gifting. There’s nothing more embarrassing than giving a present back to the person who gave it to you. Also, don’t recycle gifts in the same circle of friends—they’ll know if it’s a re-gifted present.

Ensure the gift’s in good condition
Don’t ever re-gift used gifts. If things are a little worn to begin with, chances are they will be even more worn by the time you pass them on. No one wants to get a present that looks—or smells—like it’s been in the back of your closet since the day the house was built.

Don’t re-gift randomly
Would your friend really enjoy a book all about insider trading if they couldn’t tell the stock market from the fish market? The same goes for those Justin Bieber mugs sitting in your cupboard—only true Bieber fans would appreciate that as a present. Just because you have it and want to get rid of it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a bit of thought into whom you are dumping it on.

Things you don’t re-gift
Lingerie, food, makeup, personal hygiene products, and more—these are just some of the things you should never, ever re-gift. Not only will the gift receiver be very unimpressed, but you might just get a pre-used bar of soap in return next year.

—Sofia Hashi