There’s a lot of pressure around the holidays to give gifts that are just right for the recipient. Over the years I’ve discovered gifts given from the heart don’t have to be complicated.
Here are fifteen ideas for creative semi-DIY gifts you can make this year, even if there is only a week or two left before the holidays. My nephews are still thrilled with Legos and Nerf Guns, but for the adults in my family whom I’m giving to, these gifts are sure to please.
Most of the ideas in this list are from my book, Creating a Simply Joyous Christmas: Ideas & Inspiration to Celebrate the Season with What You Have. The ebook is on sale for 0.99 this month at the major ebook retailers. (See the end of the post for all the links).
Humorous Side Note: The title of the first edition of Creating a Simply Joyous Christmas was Twas the Week Before Christmas: The Procrastinators Guide to a DIY Christmas. I am SUCH a procrastinator, always thinking I have way more time than I really do. So, as you go through this list, know that yours truly has been one of those crazy Christmas people who really do get it all done (with a lot of coffee and Christmas music) in a few days if I have to!
I hope this list inspires you to use your creative skills and gifts to make some homemade, heartfelt gifts this year.
Many of these gifts involve photos. With the advancement of the cameras in our phones, it’s become easier to take beautiful pictures. It’s funny because with the ease of taking pictures, most pictures don’t get printed anymore.
There are several options online for printing, but I’ve found that when time is getting short -and what I mean by short is that I procrastinated yet again– Walmart is a great place to print your photos and photo projects. They have hour printing for prints and a 24-48-hour turnaround time for projects.
Print Your Favorite Photos and Frame Them This is the most basic thing ever, right? But, if you’ve had special events or a family get together, there is nothing like memorializing special event with a picture!
Printed Calendar I know people who create elaborate calendars for the family members in a scrapbook style and I love, love, love looking through them. But I’m not going to make one because I never start early enough and it’s hard to mass produce. A printed calendar with family photos from the previous year is a fun and fast alternative to a complete DIY calendar.
Create a Chatbook with your Instagram feed photos. This is super perfect if you don’t want to spend a lot of time curating photos and uploading them. Chatbooks will take the photos from the feed you choose and create a book (softcover or hardcover) and send it to you. This is a perfect gift for grandmas who want a book to flip through, store, etc. They’re super cute. I’m putting together one this year; will let you know what I think of the result.
Mug with Photo We can never have enough mugs, right? Confession: I’ve been doing the printed photos in frames for a few years now and I think I need to move on to something new. We had some holidays where most of the family came together. Super special to share these memories with loved ones. And for the people who already have a bunch of mugs (can you ever have too many mugs???) I’m doing a few….
Photo Puzzles The stipulation with puzzles is there is a specific pixel size. Blowing up a picture from the camera to an 8×10 or 11×14 size might not come out well. I’m going to do a few different pictures. Will share how they turned out when they come back to me!
Share Your Art If you’re perusing The Creative Season, I’m guessing you enjoy painting and journaling! Share your art as a gift. I think many of us are hesitant to do this, we underestimate our own gifts and growing skill sets. The gift of sharing your art may be a sweet and priceless gift to a family or friend who admires your art.
Offer to Host a Create Night in Your Home This is the gift of energy and time. If you have friends and family who comment on your journals or painting (or knitting) as a gift throw a create party where you teach others a skill. This is a bit unconventional, but most of us don’t need more things, however, connection and learning skills is something we all enjoy doing. Experiences rewire our brains and memories in a way receiving a physical gift doesn’t and will be remembered for many years by the recipient.
Make a Candle I used to make candles every single year and people didn’t seem to get tired of them. Probably because candles are luxury + functional gifts. I have a link here to making your own candle. It’s not hard, but it does take an initial cost of the equipment and wax to get started (around $65). It becomes cost efficient gift giving idea if you do it several times over.
There is time involved too. When I got into a groove, I could make 10-12 candles in a day as long as I had the molds and kept turning them over.
I have a Tutorial on how to make candles. You can find that tutorial on how to make candles at home here.
A ‘Favorite Things’ Gift I like to do this for friends. I’ll take a few of my favorite things from this year: a book, my favorite tea and a lip gloss, bundle them together and there we go! A fun gift that’s easy and joyous to share (and easily replicable). The cost of my favorite things basket this year is $18 (the book, the lip gloss and the tea). The book was the majority of the cost, about $11.
Blanket or Canvas with Photos One year my sister gave my mom a blanket with several key pictures of us siblings. She loved it! It’s a practical gift with a strong scent of nostalgia and family. A few years back I took family portraits of my brother, sister in law and three nephews and gifted them a canvas of their family portraits.
I can’t Knit or Crochet to save my life, but I’ve sure enjoyed receiving homemade items from my friends who do! Can one ever have too many scarfs or headbands? Love these sweet gifts. There is nothing like a soft or bright colored scarf in the winter to liven up an outfit.
Mason Jar Mania
- Tea Jar
- Thankful Jar – You can check out the ‘Thankful Jar’ I made here. (formerly showed on a DIY art website I ran).
- Dry Soup Mix
- Candle in a Mason Jar
DIY Body Scrubs These are fun to make and so much less expensive than buying the fancy ones in the store! You can check out magazines like Willow & Sage (a magazine from Stampington that you’ll want to keep for a loooooong time) or doing a search on Pinterest.
Body scrubs don’t require too many ingredients and you don’t have to cook them (unlike candles or soaps) so it’s fairly easy.
Use a jam jar to put them in. Don’t forget to include a label with ingredients for people who may have sensitivities.
Speaking of homemade jam jars, my uncle’s girlfriend gave me Homemade Plum Jelly this fall and wowsers, it was delicious!!! I don’t consider myself much of a jelly or jam fan, but I ate this one up! She said it was easy to make and it is- for her. As someone who has never made jam or jelly, I feel intimidated of the process! It was a sweet gift to receive.
Again, those gifts and skills we have that we often undermine are often highly valued by others. Don’t underestimate how your handmade gift might bless someone else.
One year I made Christmas Lasagnas. They were my lasagnas with spinach layered in (Red and Green for Christmas, I know! It’s a little cheezy, but I had fun!), froze them and then gave them to each family.
A Family Recipe Book– I did this with Blurb and while it was pretty, it was fairly expensive for a short book. Also, a warning: it was a little more tedious than I expected. Blurb makes things fairly easy, but it wasn’t just ‘dragging and drop’. Additionally, have someone else look it over before you send it in. I was disappointed to see I’d made a few blatant spelling errors (grammar and spelling are not my strong suites) that were easy to miss on the preview section but were obvious when I pulled the cookbooks out of the box.
I’m looking for options to do this in an expanded all-family-recipe book for Christmas 2019. I’ll keep you updated on what I find. Family cookbooks have been one of the most appreciated and treasured gifts I’ve created in the past. I still get requests on when I’m updating it.
If you don’t want/need a lot of pictures for your family cookbook, you may want to consider using Draft to Digital to create a book and cover. You’ll need a bit more time to get the printed version ready, BUT you could do an ebook now and order printed copies later. Note: You’ll need an account with KDP, Ingram Spark or Barnes & Noble Press to get print books made. Again, this is a time and energy intensive project, but it is fun and rewarding. If this piques your interest, consider making a family cookbook your gift for everyone in 2019.
One last note: homemade gifts are costly. They cost us in time, effort, and resources. Sometimes they are less expensive than buying gifts, sometimes not. But if it’s in your heart to make some things this Christmas, I encourage you to set aside a few hours to do so. You’ll experience the joy of working with your hands and someone else will benefit from the gift.
Merry Christmas and Happy Creating!