DIY & Homemade Gift Ideas

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A great gift doesn’t have to come from a store or have a big price tag. In fact, some of the most thoughtful gifts are the ones you make yourself, from the heart. You can create many of the gift ideas below with items you either already have at home or that are readily available and inexpensive. This list will be updated as I find more unique, thoughtful gift ideas. Have a great idea for a DIY gift? Submit it now to have it featured with a link back to your site!

DIY Play Kitchen

Most children would be overjoyed to find a play kitchen under the tree on Christmas morning. But those things are expensive! Not to mention the fact that most are made of plastic. If you’re willing to do a little work, you can turn an old wooden entertainment center or desk into a homemade gift to remember!

Tutorials

  • More information on the kitchen shown at left.
  • Gorgeous play kitchen for a boy, complete with chalkboard doors.
  • For an older/taller child, consider making the kitchen from a corner desk (with very detailed tutorials).
  • Don’t have room for something so large? Make a small kitchen from a nightstand.

TIP: If you don’t have a desk or entertainment center lying around, check your local Goodwill, thrift store, or Craigslist. You can usually find them for $20-50 (or less, if you can find a great deal!).

Display Board Puppet Theater

Have you ever noticed that young children tend to be more interested in the box in which their gifts were packaged than in the gifts themselves? If there’s a child like that on your list, this simple homemade gift idea is for you.

There are lots of things you can do with a simple display board — and it doesn’t have to involve science projects or class presentations. With a little imagination, paint, fabric and glue, you can turn a large piece of cardboard into a playground for a child’s imagination. Click here for the tutorial with step-by-step photos!

Now, all you’ll need is some puppets to go with it. Check out these awesome, imagination-friendly puppets by Melissa & Doug.(aff)

No-Sew Tutu

I incorporated a no-sew tutu into my daughter’s homemade peacock halloween costume this year, and it is very, very easy to make. All you need is a few yards of tulle, satin ribbon and an hour or two to work. Bonus? Any little girl would be ecstatic to find one of these under the tree!

Organic Bath Salts

Know someone who is overworked or who could use a little relaxation? Mix up your own batch of soothing, organic bath salts.

You’ll Need:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Empty jar
  • Round scrap of cloth and a rubber band (if you don’t have a cover for your jar)
  • Salt (preferably Epsom salt for its muscle relaxing properties)
  • Baking soda
  • Organic essential oils (ex. lavender, vanilla, tea tree, ginger, sweet almond, etc.)
  • Moisturizing oil like olive or jojoba
  • Any other natural ingredients you want to add (ex. cinnamon, crushed dried flowers, etc.)

Combine 1 cup of salt with 1 cup of baking soda, and add several drops of essential oil. Feel free to mix several oils to get the fragrance you want, and add a little of your moisturizing oil of choice plus any extra ingredients. Let the mixture to sit and dry overnight covered with a cloth. Otherwise, it will solidify and be difficult to use. Put your mixture in a jar, and cover the jar with a round scrap of cloth. Secure it around the neck of the jar with the rubber band.

Sources: Eco-Chick, Photo from MarthaStewart.com

Mostly Organic Carrot Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes as a gift for my daughter’s teacher when she was in kindergarten. They are moist, delicious and incredibly easy to make. Trust me when I say that. I had NEVER made cupcakes from scratch in my life before I made these, and I managed to pull it off with delicious results on the first try! If you have kids, they can definitely get involved. Plus, they make really pretty gifts :)

Check out the video at left for step by step instructions. Want the recipe in print and more tips on decorating and packaging the cupcakes? Check it out at Green & Gorgeous!

Simple, Stylish Circle Scarf

American Apparel’s circle scarf is very popular, mostly because there are SO many ways to wear it. It can be a scarf, a head wrap, a shirt, a hood — even a dress. It works for women and men, and it’s easy to make.

Method 1: No Sew

All you need is a big t-shirt and a pair of scissors. The bigger the shirt, the longer the scarf, so XL-XXL are best. Feel free to use a well-worn shirt, but one that is in good condition. Cut straight across the shirt right under the sleeves. Do the same right above the bottom hem. The ideal dimensions of the center piece after cutting is about 36″ h x 25″ w. To avoid fraying, stretch the raw hems and roll them up. That’s literally it. This could also work with sweaters, and you can always get clothing cheaply at the thrift store.

Method 2: A Little Sewing

Start with a piece of comfy fabric that measures about 50″ x 36″. You’ll need matching thread and a sewing machine. There are several ways to close the circle, but this method uses a french seam. Fold the fabric in half with the right side facing out and sew a seam about 1/4″ from the raw edge. Turn the fabric inside out and fold it back in the opposite direction. Sew another seam about 1/2 inch from the edge (to overlap and cover the previous seam). Confused? Watch this video to learn how to sew a french seam. Again, stretch the fabric and roll the raw edges to keep the fabric from fraying. Done!

Extra tips:

  • Print a copy of this image and include it with your gift to show the recipient the myriad ways they can wear their new scarf.
  • Use a stencil, fabric paint, iron-on prints, etc. to embellish your scarf if you’d like.
  • To make it as eco-friendly as possible, use upcycled t-shirts, scrap fabric, or thrift store finds. If you must buy fabric, opt for organic cotton.

Sources: My Waking Memories; Images & “How to Wear” Guide from American Apparel

Sock Monkeys (& Other Animals)

Sock monkeys tend to be pretty popular amongst kids, and some of them are pretty cool (like the cute little stripey guy shown at right). No doubt you’ve seen them in Target or some other store. If you have a pair of socks laying around (who doesn’t?) and moderate sewing skills, you can make one yourself. This probably goes without saying, but if you’re giving this as a gift, be sure to use clean socks in good condition. Here are some links to step-by-step sock monkey tutorials:

Sources: Photo from Maribel Made

Upholstered Headboard

Want to show your spouse, friend or loved one how much you really care? Make them an upholstered headboard that will completely change the look of their bedroom. I made the headboard shown at left from wood cut in a fancy shape, but you can do a square, or use some material other than wood.

Stretched Fabric Art

This is a really simple project that you can do in literally 10 minutes or less. I actually gave the piece shown above to my mom for Christmas last year, along with a second matching one. I’m planning to do it again this year with some tea towels that I bought, but never used.

You’ll Need:

  • A canvas or wooden frame
  • Fabric worthy of being hung on the wall (large-scale patterns tend to work best)
  • Staple Gun
  • Scissors

Lay your fabric wrong side up on a flat surface. Lay your canvas or frame face down on the back of the fabric. If you want to center your pattern, be sure to align your canvas carefully. I didn’t, and I later regretted it. Cut your fabric at 2-3 inches larger than your frame or canvas so you’ll have room to pull it taut and staple.

Starting from the top, fold your fabric over the back of the frame or canvas and staple it in place. Place one staple in the middle, then pull it tight and staple the corners. Move to the opposite edge of your frame or canvas. Pull the fabric as taut as you can and repeat the stapling process. Finally, pull taut and staple the two sides. At the corners, fold and staple as cleanly as possible so that the canvas will hang evenly.

Recycled, Multicolored Crayons

If you’re a parent, a teacher or have any children in your family or neighborhood, chances are you have access to tons of broken crayons. Turn those broken bits into a unique gift or stocking stuffer.

You’ll Need:

  • A bunch of broken, unwrapped crayons
  • Baking dish or cookie sheet
  • Cookie cutters or muffin pan with fun shapes

Method 1: Cookie Cutters

Put all your crayons in a baking dish together. Cover the bottom of the pan with as few gaps as possible. Put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until they are all melted together. While they are still in their melted state, you use toothpicks or chopsticks to swirl the colors together if you wish. Cool until they are slightly warm to touch, then remove them from the pan. Use sharp (ie. metal) cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes. This works best when the crayons are still warm, but beginning to solidify. Then cool completely.

Method 2: Shaped baking dish

If you have a muffin pan with fun shapes, you can melt the crayons directly in it. Put several crayons in each cup. If you are using a metal pan, use the same method as above. If you have a silicone pan, bake the crayons at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the crayons are melted. Be sure to use a cookie sheet under the silicone pan. Cool for a few minutes, then put them in the freezer to harden. You should be able to pop them out easily once they’re done.

Extra tips:

  • You can sort the crayons so you have like colors if you wish, or you can use all crayons together for a tie dye effect (shown above)
  • Put the finished crayons in an empty glass jar tied with a ribbon, or a small basket or tin with a bow

Source: Photos from Daily Danny

MORE GREEN GIFT IDEAS:

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