Actions speak louder than words, and this holiday season they can also speak louder than gifts as well.  That’s something I’ve taken to heart in recent years. Working with a limited budget, I realized I could put my DIY skills to use and give my family home improvement projects instead.

 It’s a little off the beaten path, but we’ve come to really treasure these kind of holiday projects.  They give my children, my husband and I a chance to bond and while making our home more comfortable. The next time you’re wondering what to get your family, consider presenting them with a coupon for one of these projects instead of a traditional gift.

Paint Your Children’s Rooms Any Color They Want

The great bedroom redesign has become something of a tradition in my family. Every holiday season, I let my children design a new paint scheme for their rooms. They’re allowed to use two different colors any way they want, along with a border or wallpaper. I take them to the store, let them pick out some budget paint and then my husband and I spend a few days painting the rooms to spec.

Not every one of our redesigns has been a hit – like the lime green paw prints on a pink wall – but my two young daughters really appreciate the creativity and control they’re allowed to exercise. Though I’m sure they’ll grow out of it eventually, the experience has been more than worth it.

Build a Fire Pit for Your Significant Other

There’s nothing like sitting around a warm fire pit on a cool spring or fall evening. Though you can buy one in a store for around $50, building one yourself is easy – a lot easier than water heater installation – and the finished product is of much higher quality than anything you’ll find in the store. Though this is more of a summer project, you can present your significant other with all of the building materials for the fire pit over the holidays as a kind of gag gift.

The easiest way to build a fire pit is with bricks and pavers.  The materials should cost you less than $100 and you can get the project completed in less than a week. Of course, you can always use your imagination to come up with more elaborate designs. You can find some inspiration for your pit here.

Make Patio Furniture out of Wooden Pallets

This is going to be my gift to my husband this year. He’s been dying for some new patio furniture and after I read an article about turning wooden pallets into outdoor sofas and chairs online I decided this was one project we needed to try together.  Plus, it’ll be funny to see his reaction when I have his brother bring by 16 pallets in a pickup truck on Christmas morning.

Pallets are super easy and cheap to come by. Any warehouse in your area should have a surplus of chemical-free blocks that they’re willing to get rid of. However, you’ll need to put in some work before the pallets are ready to sit on. First you need to sand down any sharp edges. Then you’ll need to stain them or give them a coat of paint. Once that’s done, you should stack them with nails, screws or wood glue to form the base of the furniture and attach another one to the back as a backrest. Finally, you need to get some foam cut to size at your local crafts store, cover it with cheap weatherproof fabric and then use spray adhesive to fix it to the pallets. The finished product is patio furniture that’s sturdy, comfortable and unique.

Make Floating Bookshelves

This was a super easy project for my youngest daughter, who’s a bit of a bookworm. All you need to do is buy a set of sturdy metal L-shaped bookends. Punch a hole through one end and attach the bookend to a stud in the wall. Then place a large, book on the extended platform. Stack smaller books on top of it and voila, you’ve got a creative and affordable alternative to a bookshelf.

Don’t spend a fortune on holiday gifts this season. Give your family one of these projects instead. They’re good for your budget and a great way to build memories with your loved ones.