Homemade Custom Gifts on a Budget with a Cutting Machine

Templates can be used for cutting machines, like the Cricut.I was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic — only three months before becoming a mother.

My husband would ask: How would you feel about staying home with the baby? I had a stay-at-home mom, and the experience was invaluable to me.

I thought long and hard about the prospect of not contributing financially to our new little family. Ultimately, I felt as though I had finally found my calling (and sooner than later, my passion) as a stay-at-home mom.

Fast forward, and our budget is considerably tighter than it was when we would vacation on a whim, splurge on impulse buys, and dine out regularly. How are we supposed to stretch a dollar to cover extra expenses like gifts? Enter: the Cricut.

At first, this machine sat in my home office, staring back at me. I felt intimidated and unsure of how to use it. Having been a design major in college, I had a ton of ideas swirling around my head. Bringing them to fruition was a different story.

The YouTube tutorials made it look so easy, but what the heck was “weeding” or “HTV”? With a little determination (and a lot of trial and error), I finally got the hang of it.

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From there, the hunt was on for budget-friendly vinyl and blank items (such as t-shirts, mugs, or anything that could be customized.) I was becoming a frequent window shopper at thrift stores, garage sales, and craft stores. To this day, when I see an enticing deal on blank items, I add to my stockpile. This way, I can create custom gifts on the fly, using materials I already have.

Keep reading for ways that you, too, can create thoughtful, custom gifts for your loved ones using a cutting machine.

If you can’t afford a Cricut machine, there are more affordable options out there. Chances are, you may know someone who has a cutting machine of their own. Perhaps you can ask to borrow it, and let your imagination do the rest. If you can dream it, you can make it!

Give Me a Sign

A hand holding up a homemade wooden sign made with a Cricut.Signs can be great gifts for any occasion — bridal showers, baby showers, holidays, and more. Just find an affordable blank (like this wooden piece from the Target dollar section), add your design using the cutting machine, and BOOM! You’ve just saved yourself $40 on an Etsy-worthy keepsake.

Join the Club . . . We Have T-Shirts!

Custom shirts can do it all, from showing team spirit to making fun announcements. Just follow these simple steps (and always keep an eye out for budget-friendly t-shirts).

My favorite money-saving “hacks” include checking clearance racks and buying multi-packs instead of individual shirts.

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That’s My Cup of Tea

Glasses, mugs, and insulated cups are great gifts that can be customized in virtually any way.

Celebrate the new couple, a friend’s birthday, or simply mark your territory with this simple technique.

Bag of Tricks

A leopard print wrist wallet, monogrammed in white, bold caps with black shadowing for depth

Totes, purses, and makeup bags can be a great option for affordable, custom gifts. Just remember to use iron-on vinyl for fabric (I like to read the tag before ironing to ensure I don’t burn or melt the material) and adhesive vinyl for plastic. I especially love monograms on bags for an expensive-looking touch.

Share your custom gift ideas in the comments!

Lauren Escobedo
Lauren serves as Beal Media Council member and resource editor. A transplant from New York, Lauren now lives on the border of Collin and Dallas counties with her husband and their two sons. On any given day, you will find Lauren working as a full-time mom, attending classes, storytimes, and yoga with her kids. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys cooking on a budget, crafting with her Cricut, and drinking mocktails with friends. Lauren hopes to support, encourage, and uplift other moms, as her closest friends have done for her.