Money Smarts Blog

Are DIY gifts worth it?

Dec 13, 2017 || Sarah-Beth Floyd

Christmas DIY

Sure, crafting a DIY Christmas gift is cute, but is it worth it? This holiday season, we’ll get to the bottom of the DIY Christmas conspiracy.

What would they rather have?

Think about the person you’re giving the gift to. Do they want something made from scratch or would they rather you buy something from a store? Are they sentimental about homemade things or are they more materialistic?

That’s for you to decide.

For example, my grandma makes me an apron every. Single. Year. Which may be great for people who cook. But here’s the catch, I can’t cook! Nor do I like to cook. Some people (like me) would rather you buy a gift than make them an apron they’ll never wear because they never cook (sorry, Grandma).

Is there a major price difference?

Buying all the supplies for a DIY project can be expensive! You could double your expenses buying the supplies compared to buying a premade gift from Target.

Another thing to consider are return policies. If somebody doesn’t like a gift you gave them they can return it to Target with a gift receipt. You can’t return the craft supplies you’re probably never going to use to Hobby Lobby.

Let’s look at a sad Christmas tree DIY and take an estimate of how much money could have been saved.

DIY Christmas tree fail

According to Hobby Lobby and Walmart, this is an estimate of how much supplies would cost for this project.

Green wire for the tree: $4.99

Christmas ornaments: $4.00-$10.00 (and that’s only for one color)

Garland: $12.00

You could spend all that money on supplies, or you could just buy a cuter version for around $15.00. Overall, you could save yourself approximately $12.00 and you won’t end up bald because you pulled all your hair out. More money in your pocket, hair still attached: that’s a good day.

This project is a perfect example of the, “This Pinterest DIY looks so easy!” which will set you back around $30. In this person’s case, mistakes were made. They wasted their money, probably lost some hair and ended up with a bad looking “tree”.

Here’s a good rule of thumb, if anything on Pinterest looks easy: IT’S NOT. Best idea after reading those posts is to just delete the Pinterest app off your phone.  

Will the quality be the same?

Yeah, I can hot glue things together. But is it going to be as high quality as something you would buy at Target? In most instances, no. And if my Aunt Carol* (note: Carol was used to protect the names of my real aunts. We don’t aunt shame around here.) is putting it together it will probably end up broken because she likes to think she can craft well but she can’t.

Knowing this, are you willing to put in the time, money and effort into something that’s probably going to break (or just be ugly)? Like in the photos below, the quality difference is clear:

Glitter candle failGlittery candle

This looks like my Aunt Carol found an “easy” DIY craft on Pinterest and ended up dipping two candles in green glitter. I’m sure this wasn’t the look she was going for. Learn how to fail at your own glitter candle DIY here.

What’s the time difference?

One last aspect to think about is the time it takes to buy the supplies, assemble the gift and wrap it. Next, consider the time it will take you to go to your local mall and buy a present.    

Remember, time is money. And it takes time to put together crafts. Think of it this way, you make $10/hr, you spend 1 hour shopping for supplies and another 3 hours making various gifts. That means the $40 is an extra cost on top of what you already spent on all the pieces for the gifts, assuming you don’t enjoy making crafts.

Personally, I would procrastinate and make 10 string art boards at 10 p.m. on Christmas eve. Not exactly how I want to spend my time.

Is it worth the extra time to make something? People are usually short on time around the holidays as it is. There are dinners to prepare for, children’s Christmas programs to attend and family get togethers to plan.

Just look at the intricacy of this project in the expectation and guess how long that would take someone. Answer being, a long time.

Shadow candle fail It looks like my Aunt Carol threw a bunch of black pieces of paper in a jar and then set it on fire. I swear, she really does have good intentions, but reality speaks so much louder than her expectations (as does for a lot of people.)

Now, I know you’re all curious as to where I stand on this DIY issue.

It's a no from me dawg

I have to be honest. It’s a no from me dawg. In my opinion, it’s not worth it to make DIY gifts for people.

I can’t justify spending that much extra time, money and effort when the holidays are already a stressful time. This perspective is also coming from a student who has finals leading right up until a couple of weeks before Christmas, so even if I wanted to make gifts there isn’t any time to do so. Add 6 more hours to my day and I can maybe get 1 DIY gift knocked out.

Time to get serious for a minute. Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones and not who gave or received the best gift. Don’t stress yourself out, and please, don’t be like my Aunt Carol.

If it’s a no for you too and you need some extra cash check out the IHMVCU 11.9% APR Cash Back credit card this holiday season. Not only can you buy that Hatchimal your kid has been begging you for, but you can also get cash back for buying the stupid thing! Win, kinda win?

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