Handmade and Homemade Gifts for the Holidays

ornamentWe all want to avoid the rush this holiday season, but let’s face it, sometimes it seems easier to just go buy something for those on your list than to find another solution. To prove that idea wrong, I’ve compiled a list of easy and fun ideas for homemade gifts that will keep you out of the store, and at home with your family, where you belong this winter.

The first gift item on the list is my personal favorite. Tied blankets are warm and cozy, and super simple to make. First, go to a fabric store and pick up 2 ½ yards of two different types of polar fleece fabric. Lay one piece on top of the other, with the softer sides out. Cut 2-inch long strips into the fabric every inch along the outside of both pieces. Tie those strips together so that the two pieces are connected. Roll up your blanket and tie with a fancy ribbon. Now your loved one can be nice and toasty all winter long, without breaking your holiday budget.

Blankets are great, but what if you don’t have that much time to dedicate to selecting your gifts? No problem! There are even easier ways to show those around you how much you care. Cookie trays, for example, are a quick and easy gift for that sweet tooth on your list. Simply bake a variety of cookies, and arrange them on a plate or in a jar. A creative and eco-friendly gift, a spin-off of the cookie tray can be made with old, rinsed out Pringles chips cans, wrapping paper, and ribbon. Simply wrap the can with any type of wrapping paper, making sure to leave the open end uncovered. Fold the extra edges of the wrapping paper around the bottom of the can, and tape. Next, fill the Pringles can with any type of cookies that will fit. Seal with the lid from the can, and tie a fancy ribbon around the whole jar. Viola! You have created the coolest recycled gift around! Aside from that recycled spaceship over there, but I suppose that’s Corvallis for you.

Another really easy and potentially beautiful option is an ornament. Everyone has made an ornament or two during the holidays, but I’ve found two especially easy ways to personalize your ornaments and make them giftable. The first is an old classic – simply go to any craft store during the holidays, and grab a box of clear, glass ornaments, and some glitter or colored paint. Pour some of the paint into the glass ornaments, and roll them by hand until you have the desired pattern. Top them with the fasteners and hooks provided, and wrap in small boxes on cushions of tissue paper. Loved ones will especially love these gifts and they are perfect for kids.

Another type of ornament can be made from items you already have in your home. Craft clay ornaments are fun for kids, and can be painted with either tempera or acrylic paints. To make these ornaments, combine one box of baking soda with 1 cup of cornstarch and 1 ½ cups of water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring consistently, until it is too thick to stir. Cool for 15 minutes and then mold your ornaments. Flat ornaments will take one to two days to dry… but with all that waiting that comes with the holidays, it should be a breeze.

The holidays are a busy time of year, but don’t get bogged down. Making your own gifts will keep you away from the rush, and allow you to insert a little more of yourself into something of the gifts you give. While they may not replace the Tickle Me Elmo everyone is after (wait, which decade is this?), something thoughtful and from your own hands can go a long way.

by Kyra Young

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