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Homemade Holiday Gifts
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Hi creative BPNers. I'm looking for inexpensive ideas for xmas gifts. We have about 20 relatives to give gifts to and we just don't have the money (or inclination) to buy ''stuff.'' I have a 2 year old and was hoping to involve her in the gift making, but I'm short on ideas. Last year (and the year before...) we gave people framed pictures. I think we need to give something different this time. Or some variation. So can you please share your ideas on what and how to make for presents and how to make it look more expensive than it is? I'm more interested in actual objects to give than coupons I'll probably never honor or donations in someone's name (not my style). Thanks! Also - what have you received that was homemade that you loved or loathed? I really appreciate your thoughts! creatively blocked
To make them, she got hollow, glass ornaments (some round ones and some bells). They dripped and swirled paint inside of them (red, green, blue, white and may be some other colors...we have about 1/2 dozen of them and they are each unique). Once the balls dried, they put tops on them and tied ribbons around the top...
I have no idea where to get the hollow glass balls/bells, but I am sure you could find them on-line. Good luck!!!
Some ideas: Knitted or crocheted hat/scarf/mittens/booties/afghans/coffee holders (yarn from Michael's or Beverly's)
Reusable bags with cute design (Toys R Us, Target, etc.) -- good for everyone and the environment
Reusable water bottles or travel coffee mugs (Starbucks has coffee mugs you can buy and decorate -- not super cheap, tho)
Homemade jam (sweet fruit or savory (caramelized onion jam)
Ready-to-make mixes in mason jars -- chocolate chip cookie or oatmeal cookie dough, soups -- buy ingredients in bulk and wrap with ribbon and instructions
Homemade peanut brittle/kettle corn wrapped in cute boxes or bags
Coffee mugs with tea/coffee/cocoa inside
Flavored sugar/vinegar/oils -- look online for recipes
Homemade quick breads -- banana, lemon, ginger, etc. -- buy ingredients in bulk
Coffee table books -- usually these are in the sale/clearance section of the bookstore A fellow crafter
I'm mostly handy in the kitchen, so what I make tends toward food gifts. ''Cookie mix in a jar'' (google that for images and instructions) is one that I like to make. I make a few for myself at the same time, since they come in handy when you want to quickly make a small batch of cookies for a snack or to take to a potluck. I make other baked goods as well (like biscotti or coconut macaroons), but people can get so overloaded with sweets this time of year. Jams, jellies, pickles are good, but they kind of feel more like hostess gifts than something you'd put under the tree.
Best homemade things I've received: my mother-in-law sewed a construction-worker orange vest for toddler son, which he still loves 2 years later (now a preschooler). She also made a counting puzzle/educational toy out of yarn and plastic canvas. There are lots of toys that could be handmade for a young child - I would have adored natural wood building blocks or a handmade toy clock for learning to tell time, or alphabet letters made of something tactile - wood, fabric, felt, etc. I look at etsy from time to time for ideas but the things I love the most are (sigh) far out of my skill range, which is probably why I love them.
Oh, and the number one homemade gift I've received (possibly the best gift of my life) was when some friends drove 40 miles and delivered a table-ready home made chicken dinner complete with side dishes when my son was about 10 days old. Seriously, it brought tears to my eyes then and still now when I think about it. Best gift ever for a new mom, but not something you can wrap up and put under the tree for Christmas. L
1. (Ages 2-teen) Make bookmarks. Have your child decorate one side and put a small photo of the child and a handwritten message with a date on the other side. Laminate (if you don't have access to one, go to a copy place and put several on a sheet, leave room around the edges, then trim later). You can punch a hole on one end and add ribbon with beads, if you want to get fancy. This makes a nice addition to a gift of a book or bookstore gift card.
2. (Ages 2-8) Make pencil/pen cups. Collect empty soup/bean cans. Cut a nice sheet of paper (colored is nice) the right height and an inch longer in circumference width than the can. In light pencil mark off 1'' of space on one edge (this is for overlapping the paper, and you don't want to loose any of the drawing). Have your child make a drawing or sticker collage and sign and date it. Use double stick tape to attach the paper to the can. Buy some self- adhesive laminating sheets and cut to size, again with some over lap, and wrap around the can to protect the illustration. Add pencils or pens to the can; if you're the type who plans ahead, you can get them super cheap at Target after school starts in September.
3. (Ages 5-teen) Make soap, wrap it in pretty cellophane, put an Avery label with your kid's photo on it. You can get supplies at Michael's or Juniper Tree on San Pablo in Berkeley. I don't actually do this, but my best friend and her daughters have been making soap for their huge family for holiday gifts for years.
4. (Ages 3-teen) Make keychains. Buy the rings, plastic beads and charms (with jump rings) at JoAnn's or Michael's. If you don't have a round nose pair of pliers, pick one up. Buy a small spool of wire at a hardware store--not too thick, not too bendy. Cut a 6' piece, curl one end a few times and attach ring, ''thread'' beads for 3-4 inches, curl a small loop at the end and add a charm. We usually make the ring/wire pieces ahead of time and go to a nice bead store to pick out beads that fit (most don't have big enough holes) and fun charms to match the recipients' personalities.
5. (Ages 8-teen) Make glasses chains. You'll need rubber ends, crimp beads, tiger tail (the ''string''--actually thin wire coated with plastic), small flat nose pliers, and a supply of seed beads and slightly larger accent beads. Cut the tiger tail (hold it around your neck and add an inch), attach a rubber end with two crimp beads (make sure to squish them good!) and begin beading. My son, who has limited patience, usually uses random beads in a color scheme (e.g., blues & greens, browns & black). Finish off with another rubber end.
6. (Ages 6-teen) Make tye-dyed socks. Buy the Jacquard kit at Michael's, and pick up extra rubber bands. Buy white socks with the highest cotton content you can find (I get the gold toe 6-packs from Target--usually the men's socks size 4-10 as these fit most men and women). Follow kit directions. I usually help with the rubber banding as it must be tight for white lines to show up, and my son does the dying. Make sure to cover everything with plastic. FYI: the Jacquard dyes are the brightest (of the kits), but you need wrap each item in plastic wrap for 24 hours before rinsing and washing.
7. (Ages 8-teen) Make reusable grocery bags (to use instead of the plastic ones used for fruits and veggies). Buy a few yards of thick netting and ribbon (to cinch at one end) at JoAnn's, cut to size (use a plastic bag as a model). Sew on a sewing machine.
Most handmade gifts require an initial materials investment, but once you find your thing, you can keep doing it for years! Looking for new ideas, too!
We've also made non-edible things: coasters, bath salts, candles, etc.
Our most popular gift was also the one where we got in a bit over our head... We sewed a set of four coasters with gorgeous fabric (not cheap! but maybe you could plan ahead, as we did not, and find a deal). It ended up being a HUGE hit, but way more $ and energy than we planned. However, I would do it again when the kids are older... I'd start sooner and shop around for a deal on fabric.
The best one for you for this year would be the bath salts. The only pricey part was finding little canisters to put them in. I forget where we ended up finding ours. But making the different scented bath salts was fun and easy - perfect for kids and craft-challenged adults alike. Mailisha
I did salt-dough ornaments w/ my daughter - she enjoyed helping me mix and cut them and then, of course, painting them! (Don't forget to poke holes at top before baking them...) Hope this helps! happy holidays!
My husband and I have a lots of people to give gifts to during the holidays, and over the years have enjoyed making things to give that are easy and fun, and relatively inexpensive - bath salts & bombs, fruit-infused vodka, CDs that we burned, packets of bulbs for planting, fleece hats, etc. . . this year we're both out of ideas, and it's too late to learn how to knit. Any good ideas for gifts that can be sort of mass-produced, are relatively inexpensive, but are still sort of creative and nice to receive? Thanks! Stumped
Food is almost always a good one- those layered mixes seem to be really popular, truffles, chocolate dipped pretzels, etc. Have fun, virginia
I've also made candles with glass beads, preserved ferns or any holiday greenery pressed to the sides and poured into thrift store-found glasses. Tie ribbon, sprig of foliage around glass stem. A bit messy and you need to be careful of hot wax.
I also cover blank books. Just buy handmade paper or fabric and glue to outside of a blank book, (artists sketch books come in small sizes or go to Ross) using hospital corners. I trim at the binding head and foot. You can glue a flat-ish decoration to the front as well. Or use paper stamps to personalize. I made a book for household things (handyman, painting names, ''honey do'' lists, etc.) and put a house stamp on the front.
Martha Stewart, as much as I love to hate her, has some good ideas in past mag. issues. Gwyneth
You can also make tote bags or t-shirts using leaves and acrylic paints. You simply brush paint onto the back of the leaf (the side with the veins, not too much paint) and press onto the fabric. To get fancier, use masking tape to stencil squares or other shapes, paint in the block, let dry, then layer leaf prints on top.
Another option is buying fleece for blankets or scarves and going around the edge with yarn using a simple blanket stitch.
An incredibly easy craft, good to do even with very small children, is making beeswax candles. Supplies are easy to get at craft stores. Other types of candles are another option.
I'm interested to hear other ideas! Sima
Rolled beeswax candles were the favorite. I even made sets as favors for my wedding - I think it comes to less than a buck and a half a pair (for tapers). You can make tapers, pillars, or votives. Just order the honeycombed beeswax sheets and get the appropriate sized wick (thin for tapers and thicker facor thicker candles). Then you just roll them up. I have been ordering beeswax sheets from a company called DeDant for years. The most recent phone number I have for them is 877-432-3268. They are a beekeeper supply company but have small (10 sheets) and large (50 sheets) boxes of the nice honeycombed beeswax sheets in a ton of colors, and they will ship it to you either free or for very little. They have the best prices Iíve found.
Another favorite was small bags of mulling spices - I get requests every year. My recipe is: a lot of dried orange peel, a lot of whole, rolled cinnamon bark (maybe broken in half shortwise), a little less whole allspice, a medium amount of whole green cardamom pods, a small amount of star anise (I always pick out the whole ones for this mix since it's prettier that way), and very little whole clove (be careful because it can really take over). You can get most, if not all, of the spices in ethnic stores (especially Middle Eastern) or the Cheese Shop(?) on San Pablo Ave 1 block south of University in Berkeley. I haven't used dried ginger, bay leaves, or black pepper corns but I've seen them in store bought mixes. You can look at the store bought stuff for a general amount guide and specific spice ideas. And, as an added touch you can get nice sheer fabric bags at the Paper Plus Outlet on San Pablo Ave just south of Gilman in Berkeley.
We've done boxes of hand made (blank) card sets. You can buy the blank cards at almost any art supply store and do almost anything from watercolor to stamping. We always did paper collages and art using scraps of handmade, Japanese, and decorative papers on the front of the cards. You can also add ribbon, small twigs, pretty buttons, you name it. You can get ideas from browsing in a Papyrus or other fancy stationary store.
My husband once made stationary for my mom by scanning an image she was fond of onto a computer disk (from a scrap of nice wrapping paper from a special birthday gift), goofing with it a bit in Photo Shop, and printing it out in color on nice blank paper. He also did matching envelopes. She loved it and is still using it.
Finally, we also have done flavored vinegars (raspberry was a favorite but orange is good too), candies (Mmmmmm, truffles), beaded earrings (they doní t have to be elaborate), cookies and small loaves of quick breads or cakes (always a hit), and bookmarks.
Hope this gives you at least one idea you didnít think of. Crafty Girl
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