Is money a bit tight this year? Relax! We will show you how to head into the holidays stress-free! Here are 15 unique DIY gifts that even the most difficult-to-please person on your list will LOVE!
EASY + UNIQUE = DIY GIFTS
We are all faced with the rising costs of everything these days. Whether filling my car with gas or grocery shopping, I am shocked daily, and the holidays are rapidly approaching! No worries! Rather than spending your hard-earned money on a gift someone “might” like, why not just spend some time and energy to make heartfelt gifts instead?
We are sharing 15 wonderful DIY gift ideas for the special people on your list this year. It doesn’t matter if you are a talented artist or rather the “handicraft-impaired” type like me. You can easily make these presents that are great to give and fabulous to receive!
DIY WITH LOVE
Not only will you save money, but homemade gifts reflect the love, time, and energy invested by the creator. The commitment and effort required to make these not only demonstrate a deep level of care and affection for the recipient, but also will be a reminder of the giver’s thoughtfulness for years to come.
GIVE THE GIFT YOU’D LOVE TO GET
Let’s start with some of our favorite DIY gift ideas – the ones that say “Open me immediately!” Who wouldn’t love a box of goodies to enjoy right away? Our recommendations include some delicious recipes for gatherings, bath items, a coffee liqueur – and much more.
MAKE EXTRA FOR YOURSELF
Let’s start with the DIY gift that I’ve made and given the most. My homemade Kahlua has pleased numerous friends and family members through the years. Some want it for their coffee and some want it for their cocktails, but all agree that it’s a great gift to receive!
It’s an easy recipe that always turns out smooth and delicious. Every time they enjoy some, they’ll be reminded of your personal effort and kindness. Here’s my tried and true recipe.
2 1/2 cups strong and hot fresh brewed coffee*
2 1/4 cups Rum OR 1/5 Vodka
4 cups organic sugar
1 inch vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise OR 3 tsp vanilla extract
Glass bottles or jars
Begin by stirring sugar into hot coffee until dissolved. Let cool.
Next, add the Rum or Vodka and vanilla pieces and stir.
For vanilla bean version: Cover and let bottles sit upright for 20 to 30 days in a cool place to allow the vanilla time to infuse.
Finally, strain and remove beans. Pour into glass bottles jars with secure closing.
Vanilla extract version: Follow directions above. However, this method can be consumed immediately after mixing. The longer it “rests,” the deeper the flavor.
* I’ve made it several times with 1/2 cup instant coffee instead of brewed coffee. No complaints!
Kahlua is yummy by itself over ice, mixed into a cocktail, or used in dessert recipes.
DIY AND THEN EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY!
Of course, DIY edible gifts are extremely popular. During the holidays, friends and family stop by and I like to have something ready to serve as we visit. This Pineapple-Pecan Cheese Ball was gifted to me years ago from a dear friend and it always disappears quickly. Once you’ve made and given it to someone, they’re going to want the recipe.
–PINEAPPLE PECAN CHEESE BALL–
3 cups broken pecans
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple (juice packed), drained
1/4 sweet red pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped green onion
1 tsp. seasoned salt
Crackers and/or bite size fresh vegetables
Start by spreading nuts in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350 F oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until toasted. Cool. Coarsely chop 1 cup of the toasted nuts and set aside. Chop remaining nuts until ground.
Next, in a food processor bowl or large mixing bowl, combine ground nuts, cream cheese, pineapple, red pepper, onion, and seasoned salt. Process or beat until well-blended.
Then, cover and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Shape into 1 large ball or 2 smaller ones. Roll in the coarsely chopped nuts.
Lastly, wrap and chill until serving time. Serve with crackers and/or vegetables.
(If preferred, label and freeze. To serve, thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator.)
NO FIGHTING OVER THESE NUTS
Not only am I blessed with several wonderful friends, but I’m also lucky that so many of them are fabulous cooks! One such friend gave me some of these pecans several years ago, and now I have to have some every holiday season at the very least. Warning: They are amazingly addictive!
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 (12 oz.) pkg. pecan halves (about 8 cups)
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
First, melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in cumin and red pepper and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and add pecans, sugar, and salt, stirring to coat.
Next, spread pecans in a single layer in two jelly roll pans (or cookie sheets.) Bake at 300 F for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finally, cool and store in an airtight container or click on gift bags below.
SPREAD S’MORE CHEER
Now that you’ve made the adults some goodies, let’s not forget the kiddos! Neighborhood friends, classmates, fellow scouts – even teachers love to receive this yummy treat when it’s made “especially for them.” And talk about an easy, inexpensive, and delicious DIY gift to make!
You don’t need many supplies for this present, either. For the teens, I use a mason jar and tie colorful ribbons on them. For younger children, I love the Christmas plastic tubs that are everywhere, but you really can use whatever you like. Here’s how to make this terrific treat!
S’MORES HOLIDAY SNACK MIX
Golden Grahams dry cereal
Holiday M & M’s (green & red)
Mason Jar or plastic container
To begin, mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust amounts of each as desired. Some years I’ve added other goodies such as pretzels or peanuts, so you can really get creative.
Now fill your containers. Cute tags and labels can be made on your computer with cardstock. (Many parents like to see the list of ingredients in case of allergies.) This treat won’t last long!
D-I-Y FOR YOUR D-O-G
While we’re sharing some recipes, we must include one for the family dogs! Above, Bailey is waiting patiently for the tasty bones to bake so she can give them to her close friends. Dogs love “finding” them under the Christmas tree!
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup powdered milk
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp beef bouillon granules
6 Tbsp bacon grease or meat drippings
6 slices (approx.) of bacon
1 cup ice water
Dog bone cutters
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Then, combine all dry ingredients. Cut in drippings and then mix in egg. Add enough water to form a ball.
Next, place in the refrigerator for one hour. (This makes the dough less sticky and easier to roll out.)
Then, roll out to approx. ¼ inch thick and use dog bone cutters or roll them into balls. Hint: It’s a good idea to spray cooking spray on countertops and rolling pins. This keeps the dough from sticking to everything.)
WHAT’S IN THE OVEN?
Now you’re ready to bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Just check to make sure that the dough is free of moisture. Thicker bones will require longer baking time. Let them cool before giving them to your dog. 😊
EVERYONE LOVES A SWAG BAG
Because most of us have a coffee fanatic in our circle, a goodie basket is another fun idea to make. Whether you start with a couple of holiday mugs or colorful paper cups, you can add any number of items to fill a basket. The main ingredient is the special coffee (tea or cocoa product!) that your friend will love. Then, choose holiday beverage napkins, peppermint and/or cinnamon sticks, marshmallows, chocolate spoons, local honey, sweet wafers or cookies – the possibilities are endless!
Another inexpensive and easy DIY gift to make is this Shower Sugar Scrub. A dear friend made some for me a few years ago, and now I look forward to more every Christmas. While I could buy some for myself, it’s just not the same. I love a good tradition!
For one reason, I know there are no harmful chemicals added to extend the shelf life. It’s made of all natural ingredients, and it shows that my friend knows how much I love pampering products for the bath. Do you have someone on your list that does, too?
THEY’RE THE BOMB
Similarly, these Bath Bombs are unique, simple to make, and loved. As they are popular these days, they can be quite expensive in the stores, so why not make them yourself with ingredients that you may even already have in your pantry! Be sure to make a few extra – for your next bath. They’re delightful.
ORANGE BATH BOMBS
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 cup epsom salt
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
16-20 drops of orange essential oil
Food coloring (optional)
To start, combine baking soda, citric acid, corn starch, epsom salt, and orange zest in a mixing bowl. Whisk together until no lumps remain.
Next, in a separate bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave. Then add in the orange essential oil and food coloring, if desired. Add the oil mixture to the dry mixture and mix well with your hands. Lightly spritz with water to make the mixture barely hold together. Don’t add too much water!
Lastly, press the mixture firmly into bomb molds using your hands. Let them dry for a minimum of 4 to 5 hours. Carefully remove the molds. Once the bombs are completely dry, they are ready to use! They’ll fizz in a hot tub and the aroma is fabulous.
DIY WITHOUT NEEDLES
In the past few years, knitted throws and blankets have been extremely popular. Using high quality chenille yarn, crafters can “hand-knit” these beautiful pieces using only their fingers! No needles or other supplies are needed. There are plenty of helpful tutorials on YouTube. Find easy instructions here and here.
Also, these can be made in just a few hours – and fought over for years to come.
DIY FAVORITES FRAME
Another personalized present we like is a “repurpose” idea, and it’s inexpensive, easy to make, and always a favorite.
I started with an old picture frame I picked up at Goodwill. Next, I bought inexpensive handles from the hardware store to attach so the frame becomes a serving tray.
Inside one frame, I added a collage of passages from a friend’s favorite books. In another frame, I added a collage of photos of the two of us from our childhood to the present. They both loved these DIY gifts and use them all the time. (Move over, Martha Stewart!)
OH CHRISTMAS TREE
This next idea is likely the easiest. My grandmother was unable to purchase and decorate a Christmas tree for several years. Luckily, a small potted fir tree was easy to find and I added 2 strings of battery-powered lights and some smaller ornaments. Voila! She could still have a festive tree.
Along with some treats, I delivered it in early December. Not only did she appreciate and enjoy it throughout the holiday season, but afterwards she removed the decorations and kept the living plant in her living room.
THE NEXT VERSE
In fact, she ended up fixing it up again for the following Christmas! Later on, the trees can always be planted, too.
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND
Actually, we like to give – and receive – the gift of time. So, we are sharing a few of our favorite (and most requested!) recipes for Christmas morning breakfast dishes. And while you’re making yours, how about making an extra one for your next door neighbor? They’ll LOVE the convenience and you may start a new – and alternating – tradition!
ALL TOGETHER NOW
Because the casseroles can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator, all that’s needed is to pop them into the oven. The appealing smells fill your home as everyone anticipates the meal – and most importantly, no one is stuck in the kitchen. The whole family can be together enjoying every moment. We know you’ll enjoy this recipe.
OVERNIGHT SAUSAGE AND EGG CASSEROLE
1 loaf bread, cubed
1 lb. sausage browned and drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 red pepper diced (or 1 small green and 1 small red)
12 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Optional: mushrooms, jalapeños, or broccoli
First, spread the bread evenly into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13″ casserole dish.
Next, sprinkle sausage and cheese evenly over the bread, followed by peppers and onions.
Separately, combine eggs, milk, dry mustard, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl.
Then, pour egg mixture evenly over ingredients in a casserole dish.
Finally, cover and chill overnight.*
The next morning, simply preheat your oven to 325 F. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until set. Cover it loosely for the first 30 minutes and then take off cover for the remainder of time. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
*Dish can be frozen instead of chilled if desired. Thaw out for 1 to 2 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator) and then cook.
TO HAVE & TO HOLD
Although I did not make this next item myself, one was given to my friend’s son and I saw first hand how much it meant. When his “Paw Paw” passed away, he was given a small pillow that was covered with the flannel material from his grandfather’s favorite shirt. He wore it all the time so it was familiar to everyone, and now the little boy has a piece of his Paw Paw to hold.
The sewing process is quite simple as it’s just 3 seams sewn inside out, leaving one side open to add the pillow. Then, that final side can be hand-sewn to close. The result is a family treasure.
Of course, there are many other ideas that with just a little outside “help” can be made into fabulous gifts.
For some very close at heart yet long-distance friends, I wanted a very special DIY gift. Since we are in 3 different cities, I don’t know their home colors and such. However, I do know something they both enjoy.
In particular, I used a recent photo I had of the 3 of us and created a customized label for wine bottles. I simply uploaded the picture and did the design myself online. Their wine bottles were delivered directly to their homes in plenty of time for the holidays.
Now they each have some bottles of their favorite wine, hopefully for our next get-together. In the meantime, the bottles are in the front of their wine rack to remind them of our valued friendship!
MY PERSONAL FAVORITE
No doubt many winemakers offer this idea, but I’ve personally used Windsor Vineyards in Napa Valley several times with terrific results.
Along the same lines, I can recommend another gift that turned out great – with a little assistance. While I didn’t make it by hand, it’s personalized, it’s easy to do online, and it became a family keepsake.
No doubt, you have some handwritten family recipes that were shared with you. These can be turned into a wonderful gift that will last. We have used a company called Smallwoods Home and they turned the small recipe card into a large framed print for the wall. This keeps the recipe safely in the family and at the same time displays the loved one’s handwriting. Those above are displayed proudly in my friend’s dining room.
WRAP IT UP
In conclusion, the true meaning of the holiday season lies in the heartfelt connections we share with our loved ones, and handmade Christmas gifts reflect that warm spirit. They not only showcase the time, effort, and thoughtfulness invested by the giver, but they also display the unique charm that mass-produced items often lack.
This holiday season, not only did you save some bucks by getting crafty with your gift-giving, but you created special gifts by hand, meaningful memories, and quite possibly new lasting traditions.
Some gifts are big-
Others are small.
But the gifts from the heart
are the best gifts of all!