As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there are a lot of great alternatives to material gifts – volunteering/donating, giving experiences, spending quality time together, travel, etc. However, if you are choosing to give a material gift, there is something you can do to make it far more meaningful and extra special: Make It Yourself. Sound scary? It’s not! I promise. Let’s start with the warm fuzzies of why you might do this before moving on to tips and ideas.
Reasons to Make Homemade Gifts
- They’re Gifts of the Heart: Let me tell you, making gifts is not a quick feat, but they mean more. Not only does the recipient appreciate the item, but they’re appreciating the thought, creativity, time, and work that went into making them something extra special – what a great way to show you care during the holidays! I love hearing the shocked “Auntie you MADE that?!?” when a gift is unwrapped. It’s so much better than any “wow!” from a store-bought gift.
- They’re One of a Kind Gifts: When you’re making your gifts, they are absolutely one of a kind. Which means making a gift for that person who has everything and needs nothing may be a lot easier than finding the perfect gift for them.
Even if you’re making the same thing for two people, chances are they’re slightly different! If the gift is a common item, such as a hat, it’s not just another hat. It’s going to hold a special place in their collection because it was made with love (see reason number 1).
- They’re Personal Gifts: If you’re willing to take time to make a gift for someone, chances are you’ve put thought into it ahead of time and chose that gift because you know it’s something they’ll love. Beyond that, making gifts allows you to personalize every detail. In homemade gifts you have the luxury of choosing the style, size, colors, type, fragrance, flavors, etc., all ensuring it’s just right for that special person.
- They Can Be Fun & Relaxing to Make: Notice that I said “can” – which is addressed in number 1 below. Many times, people find a lot of joy and relaxation in the actual making of a gift, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved! I’ve found making no-sew blankets while I watch a movie with my husband or listening to an audiobook while I paint decorations for kids’ rooms to be oddly therapeutic.
- Reuse & Upcycle: Making gifts gives you the perfect opportunity to turn old things into new, helping us reduce our environmental impact. Recycling or fabric scraps can be used in many kids’ toys, old house hold items like jars could be used in home decor, old clothing could be turned into new fashion. Get creative!
Important Tips for Success
- Use Your Skills. The year that I decided to make pillow beds for my nieces and nephews was far from relaxing. That’s because I didn’t know how to sew or use my sewing machine. Subsequent years of gifts that involved sewing were much more relaxing once I figured out what I was doing. The stress of the holidays is NOT the time to try to learn a new task.
Use the skills you already have! My brother (who has questionable artistic skill but is awesome with wood) made me this beautiful set of frames and put photos of us as kids in there. What a great idea!
- Consider Your Time. Make sure you budget in enough time to make your gifts so you don’t cause any stress! For instance, even if you’re inspired by this blog, it may be unreasonable to make meaningful gifts for every family member for THIS holiday season. This should be FUN! If you’re determined to hand knit everyone in your family a sweater – that’s great! Maybe start in June. Or work on one project a month throughout the year. Or maybe just pick 1 or 2 people a year to make a hand-made gift for, rotating through friends and family over the years. Whatever works for you to eliminate stress!
- Stick to Your Budget. I urge you not to think just because you’re making something that it is going to be cheaper. While I have made gifts that cost me $0, I’ve also made gifts that have cost over $50. There certainly are wonderful things you can make while on a tight budget, but thoroughly think out everything you need ahead of time and come up with a budget. (Mostly, everyone should have a budget when entering any sort of craft store. Or at least I should. And a chaperone.)
Ideas for Homemade Gifts
If you’re not sure where to get started, the internet is your new best friend. Just type in “DIY holiday gifts” into a google search and you’ll be sucked in for days. I personally like to keep a Private Pinterest board for things I’m considering as gifts. Here’s a list of a few categories and ideas, as well as some of my creations from over the years (just to prove you don’t have to be an artist)!
- Kids’ Toys: My favorite thing to make! Kids toys have become so complicated, but they don’t need to be! Some of my favorites that I’ve made are recycled Tic-Tac-Toe game boards, pillow beds, family photo match, indoor hopscotch, a toilet paper tube hot wheels garage, block sets, and mermaid tails for swimming. You can find tons of great ideas online like here or here.
- Food related: Who doesn’t like simplified meal times? Jars of mixes for soups, baked goods, dips, etc. with instructions, the dish you’re “famous” for making among family and friends in freezer form, recipe books or boxes, or coupons for home cooked meals (great for college kids!). My nephew made me a set of “Alex’s Awesome Spices” on year that included Taco Seasoning, Chili Seasoning, and a few of his other favorites – get ideas here.
- Home Decor: Another favorite category for me. Paintings and signs (you’re more artistic than you think and yes, it’s okay to use stencils), candles, vases, flower/decorative arrangements, decorative pillows, blankets, personalized calendars, shadow boxes for a specific event/memory, photo mementos, and so much more!
- Personal: This is out of my wheelhouse, but some of my favorite gifts from others have been in this category! It could be clothing, jewelry, personal care/bath products, or something completely unique! I’ve received knitted hats, bracelets, necklaces, lotions and soaps, and even my own personal “happy box” filled with adorable kid-written reasons why my niece and nephew love me.