Tag Archives: frugal gift ideas

Gift Idea: Altoids Survival Tin


With Christmas mere days away, the panic of gift-giving may be setting in.  It is unfortunate that a holiday meant to be about love and family and reflection has instead become a race through the mall and price-comparing online… but I digress.

For anyone who has a friend or family member who is “that guy” (or girl), you know the one, super hard to buy for, they have everything they already want, or they don’t really want anything, I have a solution that will make both them and you happy!

The Altoids survival tin.


That’s right folks, a harmless little $1 or $2 tin of mints can be transformed into an actually useful, potentially even lifesaving gift with just a little time and creativity.  Based on what you already have laying around your own house, it may even end up being a free gift!

And it will certainly be unique.  (Unless your giftee is a hard-core preparedness and/or survival expert, then they probably have a few dozen kits like this, and much fancier. But it is still the thought that counts, and I’m sure they are never mad about extra prepper gear!). You can get kids involved too, they love to come up with fun ideas for tiny, useful items, and tetris things together until they fit.  It becomes a game of how much can you stuff into this tiny box!


For these kits, all you need is a small Altoids tin (or any other small, sealable metal tin) and an assortment of survival related items. There are infinite sites around the internet with suggestions and recommendations on what to add to these kits, ranging from meds to tarps to fire starting equipment.  Some even show youtube videos on how to turn the tin itself into a knife or saw, which you should only attempt if you are educated on how to use the tools to do so.

It is best to take into consideration the personality of the person you are creating this kit for, and the likely scenarios in which they could need this.  It could be a beauty emergency kit for a female friend, in which case you would want to include things like hair bands, bobby pins, safety pins, oil blotting papers, Q tips, and maybe tiny samples of makeup or makeup remover pads.  It could be a “Bad Day” emergency kit, and contain things like a mini bottle of wine, pieces of chocolate, and uplifting sayings on pretty paper.


For the preparedness/emergency kit, you want to include things like pain medications, matches and candles, ways to collect or purify water, and items that have multiple uses like string.  Keep in mind that even things used to hold together other items, such as electrical or duct tape, string, or rubber bands, can themselves be useful too.

The kits shown above contain:

  • 3 matches taped together with electrical tape
  • 2 small birthday candles
  • 3 feet of string tied with a twist-tie
  • A toothpick
  • A safety pin
  • 1 antibacterial moist towelette
  • 2 Band-Aids
  • 200mg ibuprofen tablet
  • 1 ml of bleach in a sealed plastic tube
  • 1 small trash bag (to hold water to add the bleach to, or provide a tiny bit of coverage from rain or sun)
  • 1 stick of gum
  • 1 packet of lettuce seeds
  • A rubber band to hold it all together


The beauty of this kit is that it is tiny enough to fit into a pocket, so for something as simple as a road trip or a camping trip or going to work in the city, your recipient can know that they have a small advantage should the S hit the F.  Happy gifting!


Have you made a survival tin like this before?  Do you have other things you would add or take out?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

How to Make Infused Oils


Ever read a recipe that calls for a “garlic-infused oil” or  some such thing?  Thought to yourself, “That would be way too expensive to buy! I’ll just use regular“?  Have you ever tried something in a restaurant or cooked by a friend that had a little special something hiding in the other flavors?  It may have been an infused oil!  And guess what? They are so easy to make your own!

I had this idea originally because I had found some very pretty small glass jars at a garage sale. They were the perfect size for something you only use a little bit of at a time, or as gifts. This made them the perfect medium for experimenting with infusions!

Infused olive oil and vinegars

An infusion simply means that an aromatic is soaked in oil long enough that some of the aromas and/or flavors of the additions are imparted into the oil. The beauty of this method is that you can use pretty much anything you enjoy the flavor of and want to taste in your oils!

You can choose to blend herbs with the oil, or simply put some into the bottle and let it sit. This makes a lovely presentation, and since these were meant as gifts, that is what I chose to do. I also had made my own vinegars, so a nice set of one oil and one vinegar will make for a great gift in the coming months!


  • Oil to fill your container
  • About 2 tbsp flavoring per 1/2 cup oil

Step 1: Whether using garlic, fresh herbs, citrus, ground spices, or citrus fruits, make sure your produce is as fresh as possible and washed and dried.

Step 2: Heat your oil and your flavorings for about 5 minutes, to just bubbling. This helps release the flavors and smells into the oil. Let cool completely

Step 3: Filter your oil, or don’t, and pour into your jars. If you do include more herbs for looks, be aware that it will likely cause the finished product to look cloudy. This is ok.

Homemade infused oils and vinegars

You can try pretty much any flavoring you can imagine, and can get creative with combinations too! Try citrus and rosemary, cilantro and lime, lemon and black pepper, or basil and garlic. For the very brave, try infusing hot pepper for a spicy oil to fry your chicken in.

These infusions can now be gifts to a foodie in your life, who will likely be very impressed with your kitchen DIY abilities. Or you can use them to cook with of course, or as dipping oils served with crusty breads. Swirl into homemade hummus, or drizzle some on top of quick vegan tomato soup.

Have fun with it, & good luck!