Some of the best gifts I’ve received are those that cannot be purchased in any store. Here are some ideas for gifts you can make at home.
Like many people, I enjoy Christmas and gift giving. However, as Ms. Fiology put it, “What I don’t love is shopping and trying to find gifts for everyone. I don’t really like the whole consumerism side of it.”
After my first child was born, my step-mother started the tradition of making gifts. Every December, she would take him for an afternoon and help him make gifts for us, which she would wrap then put under our tree to open Christmas morning.
Now that she’s gone, my husband and I carry on this tradition.
I’ve never received a store-bought gift from any of my children. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmas, if they do give me a gift it’s handmade. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
So many people spend their money on unwanted gifts that are either given to charity or stuffed in a closet. Why not try something new this year and give a gift that came from the heart.
Here are handmade gifts that either my children have made for me or I have made for my friends and family.
1. Reindeer Portrait
This is one of my favorite gifts ever.
- paint: brown, red, black and white
- paint brush
- black fine-tipped marker
- a child’s feet
Paint the bottom of a child’s foot (including toes) with brown paint.
Note: Not so cute if you’re using an adult’s foot.
Carefully place the right foot on the left side of the canvas then the left foot on the right side of the canvas. Once the paint dries, use the red paint to create noses, add the eyes, and use the marker to draw the antlers.
2. Reindeer and Sleigh Made from Treats
This gift is obviously for the adults. Last year, I gifted friends and family with some vodka, candy canes, and Rice Krispy Treats made into a reindeer and sleigh.
Two small bottles came free with each purchase of a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka. Win-win!
- bottles of favorite drink
- 1 pipe cleaner for each bottle
- 2 small googly eyes for each bottle
- 1 red pompom for each bottle
- 2 candy canes for each bottle
- 1 Rice Krispy Treat for each bottle
- hot glue gun with glue
To make the reindeer, a pipe cleaner was tied around the top of the bottle and bent to create the antlers. Small googly eyes and a red pompom created the face.
An individually wrapped Rice Krispy Treat was glued to the back of the bottle using a hot glue gun.
The trickiest part is affixing the candy canes. After some trial and error, it became clear that they had to sit beside (not under) the Rice Krispy Treat.
For those who do not drink alcohol, we decorated a Rice Krispy Treat with large googly eyes and a red pompom for a nose.
For those who drink but do not eat sweets, save the treat for yourself!
3. Penguin and Reindeer Buckets
For years, I had these black and white miniature buckets sitting around from my sister’s wedding. I think they originally had candles. The first year I hosted Christmas, I turned these into favors for my family.
After creating the buckets, we filled them with candy.
- miniature buckets
- pipe cleaners
- small googly eyes
- red pompoms (for the reindeer)
- yellow, white, or blue felt (for the penguins)
- hot glue gun
Instructions for reindeer
Glue eyes in place
Glue the pompom on the bottom of the bucket (this looks much better than gluing it to the middle)
Cut a pipe cleaner in half and bend each piece to look like an antler, then glue in place
Fill with treats
Instructions for penguins
Glue eyes in place, closer together than you would do for the reindeer
Cut a triangle out of felt to use as a nose
Cut an oval out of felt to use as the belly
Cut a pipe cleaner into small pieces and fold to look like bird feet. Glue into place
Fill with treats
4. Personalized Mugs
Another one of my favorite gifts is handmade, personalized mugs. One year, we made these for each grandparent and aunt. I even got one for my birthday! The adults wrote a message on the front and my son colored on the back. The mug was then filled with the small gifts.
All this requires is a ceramic mug and some markers. These are often sold together at craft stores. I didn’t like the markers that came with my set, so I ended up using permanent makers we already had, which worked even better.
We made these 8 years ago. To this day, every recipient still has their mug kept in a special place.
5. Baked Treats
Peanut bars, fudge, and my personal favorite: buckeyes
Every year my husband and children keep a careful eye out for the mail. No, they are not awaiting a delivery of presents, but a package labeled “perishable.”
One year, a racoon got to the package before we did. As he started to carry it away, my husband chased after him and salvaged what he could of his grandma’s special treats.
One year, I tried to recreate grandma’s buckeyes as a gift of love for my family. While delicious, of course they could not complete with the original.
We delicately placed the buckeyes in beautiful dark blue and teal ramekins and wrapped them in clear baggies with a bow. This was my gift to my maternal family that year.
Another of my husband’s favorite gifts comes from his sister. Each year she makes him a Cherry Delight.
We are hosting Christmas this year. Just this morning he received a text from her asking if he’d like her to bring a Cherry delight for dessert. He had a questioning look on his face as he read the text. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “does this mean I don’t get my own this year?” Don’t worry, sweetheart, there will also be pies and ice cream cake. I can keep our guests away from your special treat.
Never underestimate the joy that can come from baked treats.
6. Ornamental Trees
I saved the best for last. My dear friend Alana gets the credit for this beautiful decoration (and today’s cover photo).
I couldn’t believe it when I learned that she made this. She said that it was a bit time-consuming, but very inexpensive and easy to make, and fun!
I think this would make a wonderful gift.
- foam core
- ornaments (can use old ornaments you have on-hand)
- bead necklaces (saved over the years from parades – I won’t ask how you got these Alana)
- scissors (to cut the bead necklaces)
- topper (e.g., plastic snowflakes, stars, or angels)
- hot glue
Remove the tops from the ornaments. Add hot glue to the area from which the top was removed then poke it into the foam core. Continue going around the tree affixing all the ornaments as tightly as possible. Then, use the hot glue and beads to fill the gaps between the ornaments.
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