6 DIY Projects That Save Money

Growing your own potatoes and making your own candles can lower your expenses and also serve as homemade gifts.

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As the holidays get closer, people often make time for baking cookies, creating homemade gifts, and wrapping presents. What if we took that DIY spirit one step further and delved into homemade projects that could save us money all year long?

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In Laurie Henzel and Debbie Stoller’s new book, The Bust DIY Guide to Life, two of the co-founders of Bust magazine dish out advice on everything from how to have a natural birth to how to make your own soap. Many of their projects come with financial payoffs, and a few of them might even double as impressive holiday gifts. Here are six of them:

Make candles from scratch: Candles are expensive, but making your own is almost as easy as baking cookies. According to The Bust DIY Guide to Life, you just need a handful of ingredients, including an empty milk carton, candlewick, wax, and wax dye coloring chips. (Many of the more difficult-to-find items in the book can be tracked down on craft supply websites or stores.)

To make your own candle, melt down the wax chunks (if you have old white candles, you can just use those) and pour the mixture into the empty milk carton with the candlewick. The dye chips let you create different colors. After the wax cools, your candle is ready for use—or to be wrapped up for a friend.

Pack an emergency kit: Before a winter storm leaves you without power in the coming months, consider creating a box of goodies to help you survive in relative comfort. Bust’s version of a survival kit includes food that will last in storage (such as protein bars and canned goods), water, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, and waterproof matches. The authors recommend storing your kit in a plastic container for safekeeping. If you’re the worrywart of the family, you can also assemble these and pass them out when you gather for the holidays.

Grow your own potatoes: While this project is best launched in the spring, now is the time to start gathering supplies and making space on your patio or other outdoor nook. The authors insist that you don’t need much outdoor space for these potatoes to flourish, so anyone with a fire escape or back stoop can try it. You’ll need a large plastic bucket or trash bin with holes in the bottom for water drainage, sprouting potatoes, and potting soil.

The Bust method involves cutting the sprouted potatoes into sections of three eyes each and planting them in the soil about two inches down. Once you see potatoes popping up, cover them with more soil, and make sure that the soil stays moist by watering it regularly. You’ll find grown potatoes in your bucket by late August to early October; in the meantime, the green, leafy potato plant will liven up your view.

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Keep your hands warm with old socks: When your favorite socks start to get holes, do you toss them? Bust recommends transforming them into stylish fingerless gloves instead. Just cut off the foot part of the sock, make a few other snips and stitches, and slip your hands into them. (Stoller is also the author of the Stitch ‘n Bitch book series, so she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to knitting.)

Turn your sweater into a scarf: If your wool sweater gets too small or too rundown to wear, Bust recommends transforming it into a winter scarf. All you need is an old, shrunken wool sweater, scissors, and sewing supplies. (You can cut the sweater, or multiple sweaters, into six-inch wide strips and then sew them together, mixing up the various colors of the sweater.)

Whiten your teeth at home: Want to look snazzy at holiday parties without forking out big bucks for whitening treatments at the dentist? The Bust DIY-method of teeth-whitening involves grinding up sea salt and fresh sage leaves with a mortar and pestle, cooking the mixture in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes, then using a toothbrush to brush your teeth with it.

Do you have a favorite DIY holiday recipe? Please share it below.

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