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Five DIY Gift Ideas

Let the rest of the world worry about Thanksgiving and recipes for pumpkin banana bread. There are more serious issues at hand – like what you are going to make this year to give as holiday gifts.

But it’s barely November, why fuss about this topic now? Isn’t that what the month of December is all about?

Here is a Crafty Chica secret: If you wait, my dear, for Thanksgiving to pass before you decide to tackle a crafty shopping list, you will suffer. Why? Because all the best shades of paint, glitter and fabric will be lonnnng gone. The prettiest glass beads will be cleaned out and there will be nada of those handy silver 6mm jump rings you’ve come to depend upon. That’s because the die-hard d-i-yers will have already been there. Do you know some people began making their holiday cards in August?

Anyway, you must go now – before Thanksgiving – to purchase your supplies, while most of everyone else is distracted with cornucopia centerpieces. Not to mention, you’ll need the extra weeks to work on finishing everything. Who wants to rush during December, there are cocoktail parties to attend!

Before we begin, we must acknowledge that giving handmade works of art is a tricky deal. It can be hit or miss. Not everyone will appreciate the hours, sweat, cuss words and tears you put into that sumptuous skinny scarf that you not only knitted with novelty yarn, but also embellished with hand stitched beadwork. For them, Target gift cards come in handy. Your one-of-a-kind creations not only consume a lot of your time, but also a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Don’t let that be wasted. Give to the grateful! I have a friend who made a beautiful item for his mom and found it months later at her house in the same box, still half wrapped. Heartbreaking!

So now that we got that down, let’s get organized. Sit down with a Quad Venti Mocha (OK, a cup of hot tea will do nicely as well), and a notepad. Create a gift list with three headings – first tier gifts (parents, spouse, kids, best friend), second tier (extended family, close friends) and third (hostess gifts, co-workers, etc). Now write down the names under the proper headings. Usually first tier gifts are specifically made to the person’s personality. Second and third, you can set up a little production plant in your home and adjust the colors to fit the recipients. My tip on first tier people on your list: Handmade items make wonderful starter gifts – they stretch out the climax to the opening of the main present! Plus, it’s just always fun to open multiple gifts.

Now that you have your list, come up with a list of projects to match. Think of things to make that are more clever than costly. Don’t overextend yourself. Take a simple idea and put your twist on it. Come up with three basic plans that can be tweaked to fit each person. Make that shopping list and spend pre-turkey day time collecting the supplies. Look for coupons in your local paper, as well as online ads, eBay, supply swaps, etc.

Don’t know where to start as far as ideas? Here are some of my favorites that fit well with anyone who is grateful for personalized handmade goodies.

1. Crafty kits with a finished sample.
Who doesn’t like to have artsy playtime? Think of a fun kit idea – like a little rock and roll shrine kit that comes with a cigar box filled with nifty art supplies and pictures that the recipient can use to make the project. Or maybe:

– a knitting gift basket for your sister who has talked about wanting to learn for the past two years. You could put a gift card for lessons from a local store (or from you!), plus yarn, needles and a book or video.
– A set of terra cotta pots filled with bottles of paint, texture creme, pictures to decoupage on and so forth.
– A beading kit. Paint a jewelry box and fill it with beads, string, findings and charms. –
– A card making or altered book kit that comes with the basics.

Remember though, the impact for giving a kit type of gift is to include a finished version. That way the person will be able to use their kit once they see how wonderful yours came out.

2. Personal accessory holders.
Knit, sew or glue together holders for portable music players, cell phones, pdas, notepads, checkbook, jewelry case and cosmetics. Hint: Mint tins make great ear bud holders. They also make a great mini sewing kit for the office, car or classroom.

3. Framed art sets.
Buy a box of cool note cards in an ooo-la-la theme, and then some 5×7 frames (I HEART those inexpensive ones at IKEA). You’ll also need to pick up some of your favorite handmade or scrapbook paper. Cut the scrapbook paper to fit in the frame. Use a glue stick to affix the note card in the center of the piece of scrapbook paper. I personally like to sew the pieces together for a more textured look. Insert into the frame. Do this with three other frames, so you have a matching set of four. Wrap these up or tie them together with a fluffy ribbon to give as a set!

Hey, instead of note cards, you could even print power words from your computer and frame them – like “mighty, wonder, grace, passion”. Personally, I’m a little burnt out on ‘hope, faith, imagine, laugh’ quips. There are zillions of juicy words to choose from. You could even put a weird word and then put the definition too. Or you could pick goofy slang words to conjure up smiles or words that describe the person you are giving it to. You get the idea!

4. Decorated journal set.
Buy three blank journals in three different sizes. Embellish the front of them differently, but in a way that they are still coordinated. If you are up for it, paint some bic ballpoint pens with acrylics and varnish them (yes, I’ve done this before), and then add them in the gift set. Paint or decoupage a big papier-mache box to hold them.

5. A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That gift card pocket book.
Make a mini book that has pages with pockets, so you can insert gift cards – like $5 from Starbucks, $5 from Michaels, $5 from Barnes & Noble, $5 from the movie theater, etc.

These ideas are just to get you thinking. The most important item on your agenda right now should be to score your supplies early before it’s too late.

What ideas do you have? Post them here so we can all share!

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