I have had some successes in the DIY department. I have also cremated cakes, glued my fingers together and fallen down a heating vent while stenciling a floor. I love the idea of homemade gifts, but a lot of the ones out there are for people who are DIY queens. That I am not. Still, why shouldn’t I attempt some homemade gifts? They are generally cheaper, more personal, more unique and of course greener than anything you can get in the store. And while I adore Etsy, there are quite a few homemade gift ideas that you can tackle yourself without needing a PhD in Craftology.

So here’s my list of 25 homemade gift ideas for the holidays. Or really anytime – Birthday, teacher appreciation, kids birthday what have you. I’ve sifted through the ones that don’t require a blow torch or rare yarn from Scotland. In other words, I have vetted the tutorials and deemed them idiot proof. I’ve also skipped anything that requires sewing, because the only time I sewed, I sewed a shirt to my thigh by mistake.  Here we go then..THE LIST..I can guarentee (probably) none of these will set the house on fire.  Need some free printable gift tags for your presents?  Check out our list here of the best ones. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

1) Infused Vodka:  Why gift a bottle of wine, when you can gift a bottle of infused vodka?  Wine is nice, but a little ho hum and expected.  This is a great hostess/host gift or something fun for the stocking.  For vanilla, pineapple or jalapejno vodkas visit Real Simple’s easy tutorial.  I’d imagine you could use all kinds of flavorings.

Infused Vodka: via Real Simple

2.) Homemade Coffee Syrups: This is from the delightful  A Beautiful Mess blog.  Make your own coffee syrups. You could probably add these syrups to seltzer water as well for a refreshing drink.  For the easy tutorial, click through.

Homemade coffee syrups. Via: A Beautiful Mess

3.) Sundae In a Box:  From Mixing Bowl Kids is this no fuss gift.  This is a cute gift for families, kids, or for ice cream lovers in general.  Read: everyone.  All they have to do is add ice cream and they’re all set.  There’s even a recipe here for an easy chocolate sauce to include in the box.  BTW, large shoeboxes work great for this gift.  Just cover them with some nice paper and you’re all set.  Click through for easy recipe and ideas.

Sundae in a box! Via Mixing Bowl Kids

4.) Jolly Rancher Infused Vodka:  I know, there’s already a vodka infused recipe above, but I couldn’t resist because this one is a little less fancy and has an added cool/silly factor.  Jolly Ranchers in vodka?  Yes!  They even look festive.  For easy instructions, click through to Mix That Drink.


Jolly Rancher infused vodka? Don't mind if I do.

5.) Cowgirl Cookies (Recipe in a Jar):  There are literally hundreds of recipe in a jar ideas.  Just google “recipe in a jar” and you’ll find tons.  Here’s just one that I like becuase I am a sucker for pecans.  What’s so awesome about this recipe in a jar is that included in the instructions are free printable labels for your mason jars (you’ll want the non-embossed ones for this if you want to add a label).  For the recipe head on over to Bakerella.

Recipe in a jar: Cowgirl Cookies. Via Bakerella

6.) Soup in a Jar:  Again, there are lots of soup in a jar recipes.  Just hit up google.  This is one of my favorite.  Hearty with a bit of curry kick.  For the recipe and layering instructions, head to Good Housekeeping.

A great soup in a jar recipe for the chilly months. Via: Good Housekeeping.

7.) Homemade Caramel:  Simple recipe for homemade caramel.  Drizzle it over ice cream or a pan of brownies.  Find the recipe and directions at Betty Crocker.

Or, eat it by the spoonful!

8.) Fancy Popcorn Tins:  I like fancy popcorn, but whenever I buy it from the store, it seems a little stale.  You can make it yourself and gift it to friends.  Maybe even include a DVD for an impromptu movie night.  Or a gift card to a movie theater and make it a theme gift. For the recipes used in this pic  (chocolate almond popcorn and macadamia butter-crunch popcorn) click through to Martha Stewart.  You can generally find tins like these at a craft store like Michael’s.

Via:  Martha Stewart

9.)  Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix:  I would add candy canes to everything if I could.  Here’s a great mix to gift for friends. For ingredients and instructions, click through to myrecipes.com.


Peppermint stick hot cocoa. Img: My Recipes.

12.) Record Cake Stand:  I just got rid of a ton of records my husband had (with his approval) and I sorta wish I’d held on to some of them, if only for this simple DIY project.  There are a number of tutorials that call for acrylic circles to be cut out and sandwhiched over the records, but using a saw and cutting out a perfect piece of acrylic (not to mention how to find said piece of acrylic) is beyond me.  This one’s simple; click through for instructions.

Record cake/cupcake stand.  Img: 20goingon80.com

13.) Glass Magnets:  I’ve done this one before and it’s an easy one.  The trick is making sure you leave enough time for the glue to dry before you stick them to your fridge vertically (or glass will slide right off).  You can do alphabet letters (for kids) little quotes, pieces of scrapbook paper, old maps, comic books…really anything will work.  You can gift them in an Altoids tin that you can likewise cover (decoupage) with paper.  For the tutorial head over to Tripping Over Joy.

Cool retro magnets.  Img:  Tripping Over Joy

14.) Lemon Salt Scrub:  Three easy ingredients, easily bought while you’re picking up the week’s groceries.  Sea salt, lemon, olive oil.  For the directions and amounts check out thebeautydepartment.com

Lemon salt scrub. Via: thebeautydepartment.com

15.) Teacup Candle:  This reminds me of something you’d find in Anthropologie at a fraction of the cost.  You can often find cute teacups at second hand stores like Goodwill.  The easiest tutorial I’ve found is here at Maedae.

Teacup Candle. Img: Country Living

16.) Bath Salts:  Bath salts are an incredibly easy gift to make.  There are millions of variations, calling for dried herbs and flowers and special dead sea salts.  None of which you need.  Epson salts, essential oil and food coloring (if you want to color them) will do the trick.  You can get a big bag of Epson salts from Target or any drug store.  Essential oils can be found at Whole Foods or a health food store.  The best scents for a bath are lavender, jasmine and rose I think, though lots of scents work really well.  The ones below are in small glass jars, but I’d recommend using a plastic jar.  Bed Bath & Beyond have a lot of food storage containers that are plastic – that way you avoid glass near a slippery bathtub. For directions from Martha Stewart, click through (note her recipe calls for coarse sea salt in addition to Epson salts – in my opinion this is optional, but it does vary the texture somewhat in the jar which is pretty).

Img: Martha Stewart

17.) Homemade Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract is pricey for what it is – a vanilla bean and alcohol.  It keeps for a long time and for the baker in your life, this is a useful gift they can use all year.  Bethany Actually offers up this great tutorial.  Vodka, vanilla beans, love.  Just three ingredients.

Homemade vanilla extract. img: Bethany Actually

18.) I thought this was a very clever idea for a guy’s gift.  There are all kinds of tutorials for coasters on the web, but these comic book ones are my favorite – I like the cook retro look of them.  For the tutorial head over to Mod Podge Rocks.

Comic book coasters. via: Mod Podge Rocks!

19.)  Custom Belt Buckle:  My mom made one of these for my husband last year using a plain belt buckle she got off Etsy (supplies are here).  You can also find the plain leather belts that go with them.  You can use either resin for this or Mod Podge.  I like Mod Podge because I have it already and works just as well, but resin will give you a glossier, more substantial look, almost like there is glass over the design.  You can find both at a craft store.  For the design you can use scrapbook paper, some retro clip art, a vintage photo, whatever.  For instructions check out the steps here.

Customize a blank belt buckle. Img: Pinky Noodles Etsy Shop

18.) Reindeer Root (and regular) Beer:  Housewarming present?  Holiday host/hostess gift?  This reindeer six pack is more creative than a bottle of wine and much more festive.  Plus?  Way easy.  Looks exactly like what it is – pipe cleaners, glued on mini pom poms and googly eyes from a craft store.

Root beer for the kids, Guinness for the grownups. Img: Life of a Modern Mom

19.) Leggo Cufflinks:  The possibilities for custom cufflinks are endless.  Etsy sells the basic cufflink supplies for cheap.  I like the Lego ones but you can do whatever you like. You can find the supplies from Etsy here. For Lego cufflink tutorial (super easy) click through to Poppy Chick Designs.

Lego cufflinks! Img: Poppy Chick

20.)  Monogram Button Art: Glue, card stock, buttons.  That’s it.  You can get buttons from fabric stores obviously, but also from eBay as a lot or from Etsy.  The more mismatched the better, though if you like you can go for different sizes in the same color family.  Our Humble Abode has the instructions.

Monogram button art. Buttons and paper and frame (minus the glass). Img: Our Humble Abode

21.)  House Number Flower Pot:  This is really easy and uses only a flower pot (or pots if you want to use smaller post and do one number per pot) and a stencil.  You can make a personalized house number that doubles as a planter.  You could even plant it for your recipient if you’re feeling extra generous.  Instructions and links to printable fonts for your stencil, can be found at Martha Stewart.

Img: Martha Stewart

22) Silhouette Canvas Print: There are lots of online tutorials on how to make sillhouettes, but most are black and white and done with paper.  I loved this one done on canvas with a punch of bright paint.  The tutorial calls for vinyl paper, contact paper also works really well for this, and peels off easily when the paint around it is dry.  The tutorial is here.

Canvas silhouettes. Img: Land of Nod blog.

23) Fort Kit:  All the makings for a fort without having to strip the sheets of your bed.  Plus, clamps so the sheets don’t slip down in the middle of the tea party happening within.  Any drawstring bag will do, or even a colorful pillowcase tied with a ribbon at the top.  Things you’ll need are here.  

Fort kit! Img: Meg & Andy

24)  Homemade Play-Doh:  Play doh is both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because it’s fun to play with a curse because inevitably it gets left out and dries into a fossil like substance.  For what it is it’s pretty pricey.  So make it yourself and gift it to the little people in your lives.

Homemade Play-Doh. Img: Kristan Lynn

25)  Road Trip Activity Kit:  With the holidays coming up, lots of people will be traveling, either on a plane or by car. We all have a road trip horror story.  Most involve small children or dad shouting, “I’ll pull this car over right now!”  This activity kit is a great idea for mom friends or kids, especially ones who have a holiday trip planned.  No more Are we there yets??  No more He kicked me! No more staring vacantly out the window thinking, seriously, whose idea was this? For the perfect road trip check list, check out Stephanie Howell’s site.

Munchies, activities, games...everything you need for a stress free road trip. Img: Stephanie Howell

Got some more DIY gift ideas?  Feel free to add them in the comments.  As long as it doesn’t involve a blow torch, we’re up for it!

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  1. Rachel Mulligan says:

    You guys are awesome! Love your ideas….
    Happy belated Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
    xoxo Rachel M.

  2. All these ideas are genius. I’ve made raspberry and blackberry vodka (the recipe with pictures are on my blog – search on the ‘recipes’ tag) and can confirm it’s incredibly easy and ALWAYS well received. But I’m so tempted to do some of your suggestions….

  3. I love these ideas. I am definitely going to Goodwill for teacups. Just the thing old ladies like my friends and I!


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