Sometime in the late 1970s, my mother’s friend, Wendy, gifted her a simple, handmade necklace. The leather strap is a bit worn, a bead is missing, and the single feather has seen better days in flight. But three decades later, I proudly am wearing the unique piece of jewelry on a weekly basis. Each time I do, a sea of admirers inquires about the place of purchase. “It was a handmade gift,” I tell them with pride.
From a simple handwritten card to the most elaborate piece of jewelry, receiving a gift made by a loved one is an incredible compliment. The time and energy one must dedicate to constructing a craft goes far beyond browsing at the mall, or taking the easy way out with a bland gift certificate.
A personalized item for that special someone allows the giver really to reflect on what an individual will appreciate and cherish for years to come. I’m sure Wendy didn’t predict her friend’s daughter would be wearing the necklace years later. Yet, the quality and love behind a handmade gift is exactly why these items override time, and avoid the trash.
Making something at home can be a little easier on your budget, too, but depending on supplies, the price tag on your homemade gift may not be lower than the Target version. Make a product of equal or greater quality with your own hands.
Eyeing your craft proudly displayed on the mantel, or noticing a friend wearing the hat you tediously constructed, is a return to the sense of accomplishment you had when mother hung your artwork on the family fridge.
Sit down, make sketches, learn a new craft, and clear your mind. Take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Relieve the pressure of giving your lover the “perfect” anniversary gift by doing things the old-fashioned way.
Search online through the millions of craft ideas, and find a project you realistically can tackle. Don’t be a perfectionist: Handmade gifts always are better with a few cute imperfections.
Here’s a list of some handmade gift ideas to get you brainstorming, drawing, gluing, sewing—and everything in between.
Ripping through the wrapping paper, and discovering Grandma’s latest creation, may have been either the most exciting present you received all year, or the least. It’s time to learn the craft yourself. Check out a few instructional knitting, weaving, and crochet how-to videos and tutorials on the Web. Pick out some fresh yarn, keeping it trendy with modern colors and patterns. Minnesotans always appreciate a new set of mittens, a fun hat, or a beautiful scarf as a midwinter fashion refresher.
Find a really old, slightly embarrassing picture of your friend or family member. Bring it back to life as the centerpiece on a mug or oven mitt. Take it a step further: Combine all your favorite photo memories together, arranging them into a fun scrapbook, with captions explaining a past moment’s inside joke or special memory. Make a calendar with appropriate photos assigned to each month. Or, mix it up, pasting the pool party photos on February for a nice tease.
Kid Stuff for Adults
Everyone should play with toys. Get out the needle and thread; cut up an old T-shirt or pillowcase; and pick up a handful of stuffing. Stitch them all together into a strange, organic shape; sew on a few buttons for eyes; and draw on a smirk. This cute little alien/blob/animal stuffed toy can accompany your friend when you’re not answering the phone.
If you’ve got ’em, flaunt ’em.
Grab the perfect photo and a cheap frame. Find a fancy pen or marker to write a personalized message or a motivating quote. Or, draw funny faces and thought bubbles directly over the picture.
No diamonds or pearls—think beads, leather, feathers, shells, hemp, and braiding, plus all sorts of odds and ends that sparkle, pop, or inspire. Get creative: Dig for gems at the local park or beach, hardware store, Ax Man Surplus Store, or Goodwill. Put them together for a tasteful assortment.
Premake a few animals, cups, and hats to use as a fun alternative to square cards. Or, surprise a coworker with a friendly folded critter on his or her desk. Cut up extra squares, print out some directions, and challenge your friends.
A thoughtful mixtape always goes a long way. It can say what you may be too shy or nervous to say yourself. Pay attention to lyrics and the order of songs. Decorate the disc.