According to a recent survey, Americans spend an average of $1500 per family on holiday gifts. While consuming is surpassing baseball as our national pastime, you can spread a little holiday cheer this year without breaking the bank or running the risk of your carefully chosen bauble ending up in the “REGIFT” bin. This year, why not put a little more effort and a little less money into a thoughtful and fun handmade gift? With a little patience, a nudge of creativity, and a few inexpensive materials, you can give something more interesting than a stale fruitcake and a(nother) coffee mug.
Here are five projects to try:
1. Frosted glassware – Good for people who have a lot of parties or somebody who has just moved out on their own. Amaze your friends when you present them with a handmade monogrammed set of bar glasses.
A plain set of glassware ($2-$8 at variety stores, yard sales, etc.)
Contact paper or stickers in desired shapes ($2 at office supply stores)
Etching cream and a small all-purpose paint brush ($5 at craft/art supply stores)
Newspapers and scissors
Spread out newspapers on work surface. Either cut out desired shapes or use stickers and apply to glass. (Try using small star stickers or cut out shapes from the contact paper.) Apply etching cream to glass according to package directions. Rinse, dry, and wrap attractively. Add a bottle of wine or other liquor if you wish.
2. Crochet scarves – Good for people with cold necks. People will not believe you when you tell them you made this scarf. Very easy. Takes about an hour or two in front of the TV.
2 skeins of yarn in whatever color you like ($4 – $10 at craft shops)
1 crochet hook ($2 at craft shops)
Scissors ($2 at craft shops)
Learn two basic crochet stitches: chain stitch and double crochet. Check out a book from the library or see online sites devoted to this new old craft. Your friends will be so impressed.
3. CDs: Good for sharing your taste in French bohemian rap or Brazilian samba. Remember how cool mixed tapes were in high school? Know a friend who lost her entire Beatles collection to an ex boyfriend? Here’s your chance.
CDs (various prices)
CD cases (various prices)
Assorted decorative devices (markers, stickers, paper, glitter)
As you like! Introduce new music to your friends and family. Don’t just photocopy the insert, either. DIY CD covers and wrap attractively to make this a personal gift. Personal copy of High Fidelity optional.
4. T-Shirt quilt: Good for people with serious sentimental attachment to all their old concert tees.
9 cotton t-shirts (washed, of course)
Quilt batting sized to match desired quilt size
A piece of backing fabric
Cut out the design part of the t-shirt in roughly 9X12″ rectangles. A basic sewing machine stitch works perfectly here to sew the shirt blocks with a Ã?Â¼ – Ã?Â½ inch seam allowance into a 3×3 rectangle. Apply batting to back of t-shirts, apply backing fabric to front, sew inside out, leaving a gap to pull quilt through. Pull through, sew closed. Wrap and include a photo of the recipient in one of the t-shirts.
5. Fabric painting: Good for kids of all ages. Sweet dreams all year round.
Standard white pillowcases ($5 – $10 wherever bedding is sold)
Assorted fabric paints and markers ($2 each at craft stores)
Piece of cardboard
Wash and dry pillow cases. Spread newspapers on work surface. Insert cardboard into pillowcase. Lightly mark desired pattern or pictures on case with pencil. Write a poem, draw a silly picture. Fill in with paint. Let dry according to package directions. Nighty night!
With just a tiny bit of motivation and a few easy supplies, you can create a one-of-a-kind gift with a lot of meaning and a small price tag.