This year, why not make holiday gifts yourself?

By
December 8, 2008

Whether you are short on cash this holiday season or prefer to give presents a personal touch, homemade goods are a popular option. You can probably think of people who got knitted scarves, beaded jewelry or fresh baked cookies last year, but how many people unwrapped their own marshmallow gun or homemade snow globe?

There are plenty of simple but unique crafting ideas available online, and you don’t need to be Martha Stewart to do them. So, why not give one of these gifts a try?

Just click on the links for more detailed instructions.

Old Clothes, New Gifts

You do not need to buy new fabric to make great decor. Use unwanted clothes to make practical gifts.

Microwavable Pillows

You just need a bag of rice, some needle and thread, and two strips of fabric that are long enough to wrap around your neck.

According to Residence Director Megan Frost, who sold these bags at the Mills Craft Faire on Nov. 19, you sew the two fabric pieces together, leaving one end open.

Then, fill it with rice until it feels heavy on your shoulders. Leave some room so that the rice can move. Sew the open end closed.

To use the relaxation bag, a person pops it into a microwave for three to five minutes to soften the rice, then recline with the bag around their shoulders.

If you are uncomfortable with sewing, you can also use a large men’s sock instead of the fabric pieces. Just tie the end off when you finish with the rice.

No-Sew Shaggy Pillows

These are cool twists to a pillow. Pin two sheets of fabric one on top the other. Trace a shape and cut it out, making sure that the two sheets are still stuck together. Cut ten or more slits parallel to the edge of your shape.

Next, cut your remaining fabric into long, thin strips. Put these strips through the slits and then tie them off so that the excess fabric hangs off the side of your shape like a tassel. The more slits and ties you put, the shaggier the pillow will look.

Leave the top edge of your pillow open and stuff it. You can use store-bought filling, but cotton balls, plastic shopping bags, napkins and old clothes work just as well. Tie your stuffed pillow closed, and voila, you have your own shag pillow.

Yummy Gifts with a Twist

The Marshmallow Shooter

While sticky food may be fun to eat, it’s ten times better to play with it.

This site provides a simple blow-dart design for the marshmallow shooter. Just cut off 10 inches of PVC pipe, which you can find at most hardware stores. Decorate the pipe, add a bag of marshmallows, and then your gift-receiver will be ready to start a confectionary war.

If you want your shooter to have more power, this site offers a more complex version that involves 3 CPV pipes and two pipe elbows. It includes a video tutorial.

Single-serving cake in a mug

If you always wanted to give someone baked goods, but you are a disaster in the kitchen or your dorm is not equipped for making desert, this is the recipe for you.

Take a mug. Add in one packet of hot cocoa mix, flour, water, cooking oil and one egg. Mix them together and microwave for three minutes or until the cake looks fluffy. Presto! You now have one ready-to-serve chocolate cake.

For added creativity, try personalizing the mug by writing or drawing on it.

Non-traditional Ornaments

If you are environmentally conscious, you can turn used Lightbulbs into ornaments. Just use paint, permanent marker or stickers to decorate them. Then, attach a wire around the metal base, so your friend or family member can hang it.

Another option is to buy clear ornaments from a department store. Senior Amanda Page sold her bulbs at the Craft Faire. She put Christmas-themed confetti inside them and then stenciled images like Christmas trees and snowmen on one side.

Page recommended that people use paint sealant like Etch Cream to prevent the designs from rubbing off. Paint sealants are available at most craft stores.

Snow Globe

Take a jelly jar, a figurine that can fit inside it, and use waterproof glue to attach it to the lid. Fill the jar with distilled water until there is half an inch left at the top.

Sprinkle in glitter and add a little glycerin to make it fall slower. Screw on the lid and seal the edges of the jar with hot glue, if you can.

Homemade Mental Health

These are simple gifts that are perfect for college students.

The Stress Ball

Squeeze these malleable balls and your tensions melt away. Give your friends and family the same feeling for almost no cost.

All you need is a balloon and flour. A funnel would be a good idea, too. Pour the flour into the empty balloon until the flour nears the brim, but make sure it is not so full that the flour cannot move. Tie the balloon closed, and it is ready to be squeezed.

Words of Wisdom Bandages

Buy regular bandages from the store and paint them different colors. Then, add sayings. You can use inspirational quotes or playful comments.

The goal is that the next time the gift receiver has an accident, they’ll be smiling instead of thinking about the pain.

Homemade Bath and Body

Soap a la Mold
To make your own soap, buy a mold from your local department store or craft store. Take a pot and melt a bar of soap. When the contents become a thick liquid, toss in scented oils or loose tea to create added aroma.

Then, pour your soap into the mold and let it sit until the soap has hardened. Wrap your new soap in cellophane and give it to someone special.

This idea comes from the Mills Crafters Collective.

Homemade Lip Balm

Make sure you have a container to put your lip balm in. Take petroleum jelly and fill a small container with it. Microwave it at 30-second increments until it melts.

Once the balm is melted, you can add flavorings. Use cocoa powder to make chocolate lip balm, or Kool-Aid to make berry or citrus balm. You can also add lipstick shavings to color the balm, but shave from an area that hasn’t contacted saliva to avoid bacteria.

Put the lip balm into individual containers and let it harden.

E-Presents

Not all crafts have to be done with your bare hands. Your computer opens up a whole range of possibilities.

Electronic Puzzle
Using Electronic Puzzle, you can design your own puzzle based off images you have saved to your computer. Just select how big you want the pieces to be, tell the site where to find the image and send the link to your family and friends. The puzzle will be up for an entire month.

Love Coupons
You can print out service coupons and give the booklet to your significant other. Each coupon is a promise that you will perform some service, like a message or serving breakfast in bed.
Find Love provides naughty coupons. You can also use the templates at this site to create your own coupons for friends and family.

Pet Projects

Don’t forget Fluffy and Fido. You can include your animals in holiday festivities by giving them one of these treats.

Catnip Mouse

Take a child’s sock and cut off the foot part. Cut a teardrop shape out of a plastic milk jug and place it in the mouse so that the mouse retains it’s shape. Fill the sock with catnip and sew the open end of the sock closed.

Using the top of the sock, cut out two semicircles to make ears. Glue them on the topmost sides of the mouse. Draw two dots for eyes and sew or glue yarn to make mouse whiskers.

Dog-Bone Wreath

Make your puppy proud with this tasty decoration. Cut an eight inch ring out of cardboard and wind ribbon around it, securing the ends with tape.

Next, alternate tying free hanging ribbon pieces with those that have attached dog treats and/or chew toys. The result should be a pretty and edible wreath for your dog to play with.

Links to other recycling related craft sites:

CD Coaster

Canning Jar Lamp

Faux Wood Checkers

Recycled Denim Rug

Denim Organizer


This year, why not make holiday gifts yourself? was published on December 8, 2008 in Features

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