Growing up in a family of six, I had to either slog through the aisles of the dollar store or go the Do It Yourself route to give something nice to everyone at Christmas. I found that DIY gifts are a genuine labor of love, and even though I’m no Martha Stewart, my family and friends have appreciated the heartfelt gifts I’ve given them over the years.
1. Framed Pictures
Have your family and friends picked up the decidedly-21st-century habit of storing all their pictures on their phones? Mine have. So, startle them this year with a framed photo of yourself or the dog or the grandkids in an affordable picture frame from a thrift store, the dollar store, or Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Decorate an old picture frame with buttons.
Once you have the frame, get the picture printed at CVS or Walmart. Did you find a whole slew of photos to print? Put together a photo album!
2. Family Cookbook
No one made chocolate chip cookies like my mom. That is, until I discovered her secret ingredient: Crisco instead of margarine! Quietly gather recipes from your family members and put them into a special family cookbook. Maybe your grandma has a whole box of handwritten recipes you can throw in!
Create a digital version online or put together your own hard copy. Free and low-cost templates and software are available if you want to do it yourself.
3. Baked Goods
I was amazed at how joyfully my family members responded to the old family gumdrop cookies I sent them last year. It’s so true that the fastest way to someone’s heart is through their stomach…especially when the flavor evokes childhood Christmas memories!
Make holiday cookies with cookie cutters and sparkles, and play with seasonal flavors like peppermint and ginger. Pumpkin bread is always a winner during the holidays.
Bake your goods in large batches and deliver them to family and friends in reusable holiday tins (they’ll be sure to return them to you to refill for next year!).
Tired of getting flour in your hair? This year, surprise them with a homemade ornament using paper, glass, precut shapes or wine corks, popsicle sticks and bottle caps.
Make a list of recipients and spend a Saturday crafting them all yourself, or get the kids involved. It’s too cold for them to go outside and play anyway, isn’t it?
Start a tradition and create a new one every year.
5. Framed Child Art.
If the kids weren’t interested in crafting holiday ornaments with you this year, here’s something they can’t resist: painting.
Assemble non-toxic paints (maybe finger paints?), glitter, and large pieces of posterboard for the kids to craft their masterpieces on. Turn them loose! Once they’re dry, cut up the paintings into strips and reassemble them in colorful combinations like a true piece of modern art. Have the kids sign and date the bottom like true artists. Voila! Frame the newly assembled works of art and give them out as gifts.
6. Knitted Objects.
I’ll always cherish the blanket my grandma knit me, and the stocking my mom knit for each and every new member of our family as they joined the ranks over the years.
Something simple like a hat or scarf will be meaningful forever, especially if you add a tag with your signature on it. The only thing these projects really cost is time, which makes the finished product feel more valuable.
Knit while you’re watching Netflix, or during your commute on the subway. Find like-minded people at church and form a knitting group. Give yourself plenty of time…because this is not a new hobby to take up 10 days before Christmas!
7. Pressed Flowers
Pick flowers on a walk, or save flowers from a baptism or wedding and use them to create a piece of art.
Press the flowers with a book or iron and then display them on paper, as a bookmark, between glass, or matted onto a candle holder or key ring. There are dozens of pressed flower projects to try.
The art of flower pressing takes time, but the elegant final product will be worth it.
Now that you’ve saved hundreds of dollars by crafting DIY Christmas gifts for everyone, it’s time to put that extra money to good use: you deserve a mani-pedi and a massage! Merry Christmas, everyone!