With Black Friday quickly approaching, I’m sure many are debating if it’s worth it to wake up at 3am (or worse..pull an all-nighter) to wait on line in the cold for 2 hours to get that 60 inch television that’s been marked down to $200. It’s not.

I’ve only participated in Black Friday once, 2 years ago. A group of us woke up at 4am, trekked over to Walmart in our sweatpants, where the line was hundreds of feet long. Naturally we thought to get a cart. Bad move. It could barely fit through the various displays and forget about getting past the hoards of people. Only 1 of our group had something specific in mind..a flat screen TV that had been advertised for much less than the original price (I can’t remember the measurements or the price at this time). What they didn’t advertise (or at least advertised in illegible tiny print) is the fact that only the first 3 people in line get this TV. Tickets are handed out to the first 3 or 4 people in line and they can choose to buy the product or sell the ticket for what you would probably pay for the TV if it weren’t on sale. By 8am, 1 football was purchased within our group before we went home to get back into bed.

My advice? Skip the lines and take advantage of technology. Cyber Monday is the online equivalent to Black Friday, minus the crowds. Get all your shopping done from the comfort of your own home. Amazon is a smart shopper’s dream! Literally..I’ve had dreams about Amazon.

Or even better, make your own gifts! Wait! Don’t stop reading! Hear me out first. Some people hear “homemade gift” and think macaroni jewelry box. But there are several creative ideas that friends will love and the effort is so much more important than money spent.

Last year, Chris and I fermented vodka for friends. Find a unique corked bottle (think Genie in a…). Buy a bottle of vodka, a container of raspberries, combine and let soak for at least 2 weeks. Wrap in tissue paper and tie a ribbon on there and you have a creative, thoughtful, tasty present(if mixed right). On top of it all, the recipients get a decorative bottle that could be used for a number of things.

[From left to right: Red square bottle, $1.95; Floral ribbed bottle, $3.25; Pink bottle, $9.95]

A homemade snow globe is also thoughtful. Your boss or neighbor may not get teary eyed over this but if you have any children in your life (niece, nephew, close family friend) this will make their day. Find a photo (or several photos if you’re crafty) of you and the recipient (or recipient and child if it’s for a new mom). Save an old sauce jar (wash it out and peel off the label). Now combine corn oil and glitter in the jar, laminate the photo and stick it in there, and glue the lid onto the jar. This will mean so much more than if you bought a snowglobe and inserted a photo.

Last year Chris bought an ornament of a front door and had the salesperson write our names and the significance around the front door. It meant more to me than anything else I received that year.

Another unique but useful gift is homemade wine charms. When I first moved into my own place, I knew I had to have these. But many people don’t think to buy these for themselves or just don’t know where to buy them. It’s a practical gift for someone who likes to entertain. I found this how-to from years back over at Not Martha. She even made the packaging trendy.

So there you go, these are just a few DIY gift ideas that will go a long way. And no macaroni was harmed in the process. If you still choose to risk your life for that must-have gift that is “guaranteed to never be priced this low again,” read this Black Friday Survival Guide at Learnvest Living. Power to you and good luck!

**More DIY gift ideas to come throughout the month. Check back often!

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