Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Fathers Day… all have gift giving in common. Often the price of gifts add up and overwhelm many into non-participation. I’ve found that you can turn a hobby or project into a gift for a relatively inexpensive cost.

For example, every once in a while, I get a craving to work with my hands (instead of writing code all the time). So, I’ve made some gifts out of wood and other items. Once I created a large Towers of Hanoi puzzle for my father for Christmas. I learned about the puzzle from a computer science algorithm sorting technique page. I figured this would be a great gift. The materials were inexpensive, the labor was free, and though it took quite a while, I wanted to work with my hands anyway… so I didn’t consider the time poorly spent.

Now, I’m working on a special yin-yang project with nails. This one actually costs more than it should have since I had to buy a HUGE sheet of plywood, but normally you can buy a smaller piece of wood. Then its just nails and a little paint… and about 60+ hours of work. But again, I enjoy the work. I made one of these a few years ago for my brother who gets constant compliments on it. Its a one of a kind (except now I am making another for myself – a little bigger).

This above picture is my partially completed project. When complete, it looks absolutely striking, and when I gifted it last time, it was very meaningful, with my brother knowing how many hours I spent on it.

What other things have you created of your own craft and given an inexpensive gift?