Doing "it" yourself has always had its rewards, regardless of the economic climate or your level of craft.
While flowers, candles and photographs are all items you're sure to have lying around the house, having a bridal shower really allows you to think outside of the (gift) box. Brides everywhere can make this intimate event even more personal by using a little of their own imagination or using readymade favors that they can customize themselves.
If your friends are into projects, give out plantable seed favor packets - even better if you know their favorite blooms. While they're timeless keepsakes in whatever form they come in, photographs can be taken beyond their usual contexts when you turn them into coasters. As for candles? Customize your lighting arrangement with a haphazard collection of tea lights, or, if you're feeling ambitious, buy the materials to make your own candles.
You can also consider buying plain little boxes that can be decorated with ribbons and hand-written thank you notes. If you're feeling more useful than sentimental, write down favorite recipes that your guests can use - they'll feel the gratitude all around when they're gorging themselves on resplendent cuisine.