I love the holiday season, primarily because I love, love giving gifts! My mother is the ultimate gift giver: Christmas morning in our house was like waking to a magical wonderland of toys and gadgets. However, I will admit to breaking out into a major sweat upon approaching the registers. My fingers tremble as I pull out the credit cards: should I do the Amex? The Visa? How can I juggle this so it doesn’t seem like I spent quite as much as I actually did? The credit card shuffle, I call it. The only thing that gives me more anxiety is the worry that I didn’t buy enough! I never want someone to feel like they’re missing out on gifts at the season.
Massive consumerism aside, there are few things I love more than homemade gifts. My mom and I were chatting this morning and both agreed that some of the handmade quilts and ornaments gifted to us when my daughter was born-or just because-make the most memorable items.
But, holiday DIY. I mean, what if you’re not able to make amazing quilts? Are there projects that you can create that have just as much meaning and won’t make you do the credit card shuffle? Indeed, there are! I have included five of my favorite DIY holiday gifts. These gifts are easy and fun to make-have your friends, family or kids join you in the creation process! Not only will you be giving something heartfelt at the holidays, but you’ll make memories in the process. And, the best part? When you’re finished, you will be proud to hand them out!
1.Bird Seed Wreath
Isn’t there something magical about seeing a bright red cardinal pop into focus in an otherwise white landscape? The juxtaposition between the red and the white and the beauty of the bird never ceases to stop me in my tracks. In fact, there’s something so warm and peaceful about birds in winter scene-that despite the cold, there’s still life playing and living. And why wouldn’t you want to share some of that magic? This is my favorite DIY gift project because it is so simple to make, (include little ones in the prep process!) and often brings the recipient such joy.
You Will Need:
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons of corn syrup
- 1 package of plain gelatin
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Bundt pan or cookie cutters
- 4 cups of birdseed feed
1. Spray the bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. If you are using cookie cutters, place them on a baking sheet and spray the sheet and the inside edges with nonstick.
2. In a medium sized bowl, mix the water and gelatin together until gelatin dissolves.
3. Add corn syrup and flour. Whisk together until your mixture becomes a paste.
4. Pour the bird seed into the mixture and continue to stir.
5. Scoop the bird seed mixture into the bundt pan or cookie cutters and pat it down with a spoon to ensure it is even.
6. Let the gelatin bird seed mixture dry for 24 hours.
7. After twenty four hours, flup over to release the wreath or ornaments. Let dry for an additional 24-48 hours.
8. Tie a ribbon or string so that it can easily hang.
2. DIY Lip Balm
Winter is filled with many a splendid thing: warm coats, hot chocolate, lights, store windows, decorations, sledding, skiing…so many fun activities! Unfortunately, many winter activities can also wreack havoc on your lips. So, why not warm up inside by making a special treat lip treat! Not only will you save money, but part of the fun is in hunting for your own unique containers and scents. This is a fairly standard recipe; so don’t hesitate to experiment with other oils in order to create your own, unique gift balm. Craft stores will sell a wide range of small bottles you can use to store your lip balm; buy something standard and add a personal touch with your own labels and ribbons or buttons….
You Will Need:
- Lip balm containers (this recipe will make between 4-6 small containers)
- 3 ounces of beeswax
- 2 teaspoons sweet almond oil
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 10 drops of peppermind oil or your chosen scent
1. Make sure all your containers are thoroughly washed. If you’re using glass containers, run them through the dishwasher once.
2. Melt the beeswax over a low heat, preferably in a slow cooker or Dutch oven.
3. Once the beeswax is melted, add the almond and coconut oil. Mix them together.
4. Fragrance. Add your peppermint oil, (or desired oil) to the mixture and continue to mix the ingredients together.
5. Pour the melted mixture into the individual containers and let the mixture cool and harden into a balm.
6. Close up and decorate.
3. DIY Chalkboard Mugs.
Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate! Three of my favorite drinks during the chilly winter months. But what’s better than a piping warm mug of hot chocolate after a romp in the snow? A personalized mug with sweet nothings written on the front!
So, I am pretty obsessed with chalkboard paint. I have painted coffee tables with chalkboard paint and kitchen walls. Its uses are limitless; I’ve seen chalklobard paint used beautifully in wedding decorations, and I’ve even seen someone paint an entire refrigerator! So, why not mugs?
Bonus, mugs are totally cheap and easy to find! One small quart of chalkboard paint will probably run you about $10. (You can use chalkboard spray paint, but please only do so if you are in a warmer climate; most spray paint can’t be used below 50 degrees)
What a great gift for mom, dad, your kids, friends? Add a chalkboard front and write a cute message and fill with holiday candies. Easy, cheap and thoughtful
You Will Need:
- Ceramic mugs
- Fine sandpaper
- Painters tape
- Chalkboard paint
1. Determine your design
2. Use paint tape to outline your desired paint surface. If you plan on painting the entire mug, skip this step. Be sure just to paint the outside surface.
3. Run the fine sandpaper over the surface you intend to paint. This will encourage the paint to adhere.
4. Let the chalkboard paint dry overnight.
5. Run a piece of chalk horizonatal over the chalkboard and wipe off to create a nice layer.
4. Fabric Wrapper Plant Holders
As the season of open windows and pleasantly breezes, well, breezes past, we find ourselves spending more time indoors. Unfortunately, this can lead to cabin fever and sickness. Even more, seemingly innocuous household objects: cleaning products, appliances and even-gah!-nail polish, can emit harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so spending more time inside means more time breathing in the VOCs. But have no fear because the super hero of nature is here! Common houseplants help remove harmful toxins in the air. Many scientists and horticulturalists recommend adding a few houseplants around the house. Besides, who doesn’t love looking at a tropical plant after days of snow?
Most houseplants, however, are sold in plastic containers that are designed with a practical and not aesthetic purpose. Decorative flowerpots can be extremely pricy and bulky. That’s why I love adding a personal fabric touch to the pot; not only can you turn a standard flowerpot into a conversation piece, but it makes an excellent gift, as well: beautiful and thoughtful. Cheap and chic!
You Will Need:
- Flower pots (terracotta, plastic, clay)
- Fabric (I buy remnants of quarters)
- ModPodge Matte
- Paint Brush
1. Rinse the pots of any debris, and dry.
2. Wrap the fabric around the pot to measure. Leave roughly 1 ½ inches at the top and the bottom of the pot and cut.
3. Apply a liberal layer of Mod Podge® to the surface of your pot. Don’t forget to a apply adhesive to the bottom and the 1½ inch edge inside.
4. Tightly wrap the fabric around the pot and fold the edges together to create a nice seam. Press firmly to smooth out any air pockets. Then, fold the fabric over the top and run your finger along the edge to ensure it is securely glued. Repeat the same steps on the bottom of the flowerpot. If you are using this as a plant holder, make sure not to cover up the water hole on the bottom of the pot.
5. Allow the pot about an hour to dry. Apply a layer of Mod Podge® over the entire pot to seal.
5. Edibles in a Mason Jar
Did you ever look in your cabinet filled with food and sigh, ‘well, there’s just nothing to eat?’ It may be that your cabinets are full, but the concept of gathering round all the ingrediants to make something simple feels like, well, too much work? That’s why I love the idea of putting together soups and cookie mixes or drink mixes (hot chocolate complete with marshmallows?) and giving them as gifts! Soup mixes, cookie mixes and drink mixes make excellent gifts.
Craft stores, grocery stores and big box stores sell mason jars. Pick up some inexpensive wicker baskets from a thrift store and fill them with a variety of jars. Select five or six recipes and buy the ingredients in bulk and make multiple baskets.
Create custom labels and decorate with ribbons and buttons. This is a GREAT gft for someone that might live alone or work long hours; you’re helping them make homemade meals with less fuss and frastration. Fill a basket with hot chocolate mix and add a DIY chalkboard mugs for the perfect family gift!
Do you have any more fun DIY suggestions? Be sure to share them with us!