‘Tis the season to be thoughtful, and though shopping certainly has its place for many, there’s more meaning behind handmade gifts that come from the heart. Here are a few of our favourites for DIY giving this year.
Food In Jars
Giving a tray of cookies may not seem like much, but a beautifully handcrafted mix – with all the ingredients artfully layered in a mason jar like colourful, edible artwork – is definitely something sweet and special. Food mixes can be easily personalised; from soup to cookies, bread and hot chocolate, there are endless recipes and options out there. Looking to give something a little bigger? Make a basket of mixes, all following a theme like drinks or desserts.
Chalkboard Serving Tray
You’ll need to be just a little bit handy to pull this one off, but the beauty of this chalkboard serving tray is that it’s not only deceptively simple to make, but it’s classy, fits in with most decor styles, and can be used for any number of different purposes thanks to the write-and-erase feature. We even like it hung as a wall sign when not in use.
Beauty In Jars
Upgrade the standard “body lotion and shower scrub” beauty gift by making your own. Give generous jars of chocolate soufflé body butter, personalised tins of luscious lavender lip balm, or mint-hued sugar scrubs pure enough to eat. Homemade body care gifts are as pretty as they are useful, not to mention naturally healthier due to the purity of ingredients (namely a lack of chemical preservatives and dyes), and surprisingly easy to make.
You can’t go wrong with candles – everyone loves a luxe scent and a cosy flame. Make tea lights as stocking stuffers, votives as small office or coworker gifts, or go a little bigger for close friends and loved ones. In most cases it’s a simple matter of melting pre-made candle wax (available at craft stores) into molds, but more complex recipes are available for the ambitious gift-giver.
Thanks to social media, photos of friends and family are constantly streaming past us at lightning speed, but much like handwritten notes, there’s still nothing quite like giving concrete “hard copy” photos as a way to express love and keep memories alive. Easy to make via any number of photo-editing websites (search “photo gifts” or “order photo prints”), today’s online software programmes make personalising everything, from books to calendars and coffee mugs, as easy as a few clicks.
Everyone can use fresh towels, and while we especially love these fern-printed tea towels, the possibilities are endless in terms of what and for whom you can make. Use stencils or rubber stamps to create patterns or images, a brush to freehand an abstract design, or (especially perfect for men) use rugged lettering and simple colours to stamp towels with initials, a last name, a nickname or favourite quotes.
Ornaments as gifts are an annual tradition for many, and DIY versions make for a more personal heirloom since they can be tailored to any person or event – and as they come out for display during the holiday season, the special sentiment is re-lived year after year. There are many ways to make ornaments (see a fun list of ideas here), but we especially like this easy wood slice version for its ‘modern rustic’ appeal and easily customised message.
A plush throw blanket is a holiday gift classic that’s always useful and appreciated, plus it’s one of the fastest and easiest DIY projects to complete if you go with this no-sew-fleece method. Make small ones for kids, larger ones for families and adult friends, and personalise each to fit home decor, favourite colours, movie characters, sports teams and more.
Gifts of time are increasingly valuable in today’s busy “already have everything” world, so consider giving yours in the form of coupons. Craft or print coupons (there’s a template available here), fill in with “favours” that will be most meaningful to your loved one (see this list for ideas), and then secure together with twine or ribbons and present in a keepsake box that can be repurposed after the coupons are gone.
Secret Stash Book
This is a fun one that works for almost anyone. Besides being an interesting addition to a bookshelf and a handy place to keep precious small goods out of sight, secret stash books also make great nightstand storage for delicates like watches, jewelry and eyeglasses. Choose a classic story you know your recipient has read and liked (so they’ll be happy to have it on display) and give with candy or a small treasure tucked inside.
[Photo: Wicker Paradise/Flickr]
Article by Rigel Celeste
Handmade gifts sound fun, but they require a degree of competence. How confident are you?