With the high cost of living today (and the heavy load of student loan debt), DIY wedding gifts are becoming a popular solution to the recurring, unavoidable expense of attending these important rites of passage.
But some weddings get a little out of control. Guests are expected to travel to destination resorts, attend multiple events requiring expensive outfits and give lavish gifts. Even going to weddings held in a couple’s hometown can get pricey for those who live out of town. Plane tickets, hotels, car rentals — it can add up to thousands.
Plus, it’s not uncommon for couples today to shamelessly shake down guests for monetary contributions to fund their extravagant honeymoons or down payments on a house. Don’t let this bold solicitation impact your choice. You can still give a DIY wedding gift.
If you aren’t the crafty type, you may be panicking now, envisioning a paper craft with uneven edges, covered in hairy strings from the glue gun, looking every bit as if it was made by a third grader. Don’t worry!
We’ll give you some ideas for thoughtful gifts you can assemble for little money and with zero handiwork.
Check out our DIY wedding gift ideas below — we’re sure at least one of them will work for you! And even if it’s only one, use it over and over; it will only get easier.
1. A Recipe for Love — Choose one of your favorite recipes for the happy couple. It can be for creative cocktails, a tasty appetizer, a romantic dinner for two or a decadent dessert. Type up the ingredients and directions, then print them out in a fun font on card stock. Maybe even make a border of fun graphics, like chili peppers or martini glasses. Here’s an example: Suppose the couple likes to talk about how they went to a Mexican restaurant on their first date. Get a bottle of margarita mix and some tequila. If you really want to save money, get nips instead of a pint.
Glasses aren’t expensive, but you can find tons of barware that’s never been used in thrift shops. Your gift recipients will never know the difference. While you’re in there, see if you can pick up some quirky salt and pepper shakers. Fill the salt shaker and include it in the gift to put on the rims of the glasses. (Just throw the pepper shaker away.)
Then assemble the ingredients in a nice box with the recipe and wish them happy cooking together!
This will not work if you give them a recipe for roast beef. If you choose a recipe with ingredients that can expire, it’s best to pre-arrange a day and time to deliver your gift to their home.
2. A Romantic Candlelit Evening — This isn’t as cheap as a DIY wedding gift, but it’s much cheaper than a traditional gift. First, get some candlesticks. Not crystal. They could be a set you got as a gift but never used or ones you got on sale at Target. Next, buy lots of pairs of different colored 12-inch tapered candles. This really looks beautiful in the box, and they’re only a buck each!
3. Precious Time Alone — Millennials today are more likely to have children before getting married. These couples won’t appreciate the danger the open flame on a candle would bring to their home. In this case, give the couple the gift of peace and quiet and alone time. Offer to babysit their kids — overnight! Make the gift special by trading spaces. Chances are their home is a bit chaotic and messy, which doesn’t lend itself well to romance. If you have a nice, clean, kid-free home, suggest you trade for the night. Pack your jammies and some games and movies, head over to their house and hand them your keys when you get there.
Set your place up with some soft music and lighting. Put on fresh sheets and set out fluffy towels in the bathroom. Put out some of the nice soaps you won’t let your family use. Set up the coffeepot so all they need to do is flip the switch in the morning, and leave them some croissants and fruit. This is an amazing gift they will love that will hardly cost you anything.
If trading spaces isn’t practical, get them an overnight in a local hotel. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get it for less than $100. If this isn’t possible, take their kids to your house.
Find photos online of beautiful people enjoying a romantic evening at home, make a small collage, and wrap it up along with an explanation of your gift. Put a title on it — something like, “A Romantic Evening for 2,” or “A Chance to Unwind and Reconnect.”
4. Lasting Reminders of Love — Remember those plates you decorated as a kid with some lame drawing you did? There are better versions of that now. You can order a plate with the couple’s picture emblazoned in the center for eternity. You can do the same with mugs. If you’re the whimsical type, you can write on the mugs — His and Hers, Mr. and Mrs., or some cute nicknames they have for each other.
These are precious items that just can’t be bought in stores.
5. A Gift that Keeps on Giving — Do you have a green thumb? If the couple owns a home, offer to go over and plant some perennials. Lavender is beautiful and smells wonderful. Black-eyed Susans and daisies are perfect for a country feel, and lilies and hibiscuses are great choices for a showier look. Or get some hydrangea or azalea bushes. These are hard to kill, which is important because you don’t want to give a gift that is hard for the new couple to care for or stresses them out.
Choose what you think would look beautiful, then print out some pictures or sketch your plan to put in a box to wrap up for them.
6. Some Good, Clean Fun — This idea was inspired by my daughter, who as a little girl asked me to drive her to our local outlet for all things hippie so she could buy some flower essence. She then sourced a glass soda bottle — these can still be found — washed it out and added ingredients for homemade bubble bath. Browse recipes online and choose your favorite. For the lid, she used one of several fancy wine stoppers our family had received as gifts, but you could use a cork if you don’t have any of these. She presented her creation to me on Mother’s Day and I still keep the empty bottle in the bathroom, hoping one day it will be refilled. You can do yours the same way, or you can use dry ingredients and a latch or apothecary jar. These can be had for a dollar or two at various outlets. Pack it in a box with two fluffy new towels and some votive candles with holders. This is a very economical, thoughtful and practical gift.
7. Getting Personal with Home Items — When a couple gets married, the newness of their titles of man and wife brings them excitement. For the first year anyway. So gifts they can use around the house with their name on them will probably make them smile. (Remember: This idea only works if the woman is changing her last name to the man’s. If you get this wrong, you will just tick them off). Some wooden items you can have emblazoned with the new couple’s name: a cutting board, cooking utensils, a plaque, a pizza cutter, and coasters.
Other items you can have personalized: a welcome mat, pillowcases, throw pillows, a clock or wall art.
And don’t make the critical mistake of putting an apostrophe in their name. If their name is Jackson, they are the Jacksons, not the Jackson’s. If your personalizer makes the mistake, refuse to accept the product until they fix it.
When you’re in your 20s and 30s, it can seem like every week is another wedding, and expenses can add up. The worst is when you’re in the wedding. The first wedding you participate in will seem exciting to you. The second one will be less so, and every one after that is just another occasion to have to shell out big bucks for a shiny dress that will hang in your closet for years.
Consider DIY wedding gift ideas to save you money when you’re invited to a wedding. Even as a casual guest at the wedding, you should still buy a gift (although there are always some people who don’t. Don’t be those people). The DIY wedding gift ideas we’ve presented are just some of many gifts you can make yourself, and a gift you make will be remembered as a heartfelt gift. So when the “save the dates” and invitations start piling up and giving you stress, relax and make a plan to give DIY wedding gifts.