Answer: a lot more than you think!

On a recent Friday afternoon, we held our annual Gift Making on a Budget workshop as part of the financial literacy group we run at the Louise Dean Centre (Youth Fair Gains). This is an opportunity for students to learn that they can make inexpensive (yet awesome) gifts for friends, family, baby etc., and they don’t have to go over budget. During the workshop we listen to festive music, eat good food (provided by our volunteer “Snack Mom”, Teri), connect with volunteers, and put our own creative twist on whatever it is that we’re making. Volunteers taught participants how to make the following gifts year: mini tile photo magnets, Epsom salt bath mix, jewelry frames, tree ornaments and a no bake nuts & bolts mix. A workshop like this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our Volunteer Coordinator, Ellyse, who spends a lot of time every year connecting with volunteers and making sure we have all of the support we need (and fun gift ideas) – thank you Ellyse! And thank you to the volunteers who made this event the success that it was!

Here is what one participant of the program had to share about her experience in the Youth Fair Gains program:

Before Youth Fair Gains I didn’t know how to save and the debt I had accumulated weighed heavily on me. Since completing YFG last May, however, I’ve been debt free and have money left over at the end of the month. Each month, I make a budget for groceries, rent, bills and other expenses, and I’m proud to say I’m also able to put money into an emergency fund. Having the skills to budget and save has decreased the financial stress I had experienced in the past. The financial literacy modules increased my awareness around how much I was spending on eating out so I started eating out less, budgeting better for food and making a weekly food plan; a plan I stick to and feel good about. I enjoyed the content of YFG and shared the new information with my friends and partner. Next Fall, I will be attending SAIT to be a paramedic. I’ve already purchased a laptop and printer for school with my savings and knowing that I have money to open an RESP for my son gives me a sense of relief; he’ll have money to pursue his dreams, too!

We suggest setting up your own gift making lunchtime session for your team in your workplace. It’s a good way to connect, learn new skills and be creative together. You can start with some of the ideas from our event below.

Business and paperwork are great…but as Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B, imagination will take you everywhere.”


Snowman Ornament: 


  • Clear Plastic balls from Michaels (on sale often $15 for 30).
  • Kids socks size small
  • ribbon asst’d
  • glue stick
  • white craft acrylic paint
  • black sharpie
  • orange nail polish (or orange sharpie)
  • Ornament hangar ($3 Michael’s for box of 50)

How to:
Pull out the ornament topper
Pour in white craft paint ~ 2 tbsp Or more swoosh all around the clear ball, coating it completely

  • pour out excess, place the topper back onto the ornament
  • cut the sock above the heel- you will use the top band portion of the sock plus extra for the toque
  • using a glue stick, glue the band of the sock to the ornament about halfway onto the diameter (covering the ornament topper)
  • tie the toque end with fine ribbon; add a tiny jingle bell optional
  • using the black sharpie make the eyes, lashes, and mouth
  • using nail polish or orange sharpie, make a nose
  • add a hanger thru the sock at the top

Glitter Balls


  • Clear plastic ornaments (Michaels)
  • Future floor wax liquid (acts as your glue)
  • Glitter
  • Funnel
  • Ribbon, bells

How to:

  • Open the ornament stopper
  • Place funnel into the top of the ornament
  • Pour in slowly approx. 2 tbsp of floor polish
  • Swoosh polish around making sure the entire inside is coated; pour out excess
  • Pour in glitter slowly turning the ball round and round coating the whole inside
  • Replace ornament stopper
  • tie multiple ribbons in colours to match the glitter around the stopper or thru the hanger, add tiny jingle bells thru the ribbon and tie

Homemade Bath Salts

What you need:

  • 2 cups Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 15 drops essential oil
  • Optional: food colouring
  • Mini mason jars or other cute jars


Mix salts and soda in a large bowl.
Add food colouring if you are using it. Use a spoon to pat down the clumps then stir the colouring in.
Add the essential oils and use a spoon to stir them in.

Add half a cup to a running bath and enjoy the benefits of bath salts: The epsom salts are good for fatigued muscles and relaxation, and the baking soda softens the water to soothe the skin.


If you are interested in volunteering for programs like this one, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Ellyse Lambie at 403-205-8549 or