When I had my first child I quit my job to stay home with him. As we made the adjustment from two incomes to one we had to find ways to reduce our spending. Making homemade gifts was a way I found to significantly reduce my spending but still be able to give meaningful gifts to friends and family. An extra bonus was that while being newly unemployed I particularly enjoyed having creative projects to work on and accomplish (this was key to me feeling like I actually accomplished something each day other than simply keeping my baby alive.)
Over the years I found a lot of joy in deciding what to make and making the gifts, then it became extra special when my kids were able to help me with the process. Here I’ve compiled a list of many of my favorite gifts we’ve given over the years, many of which take very little time and DIY ability.
Homemade Gifts for the Family
1. Ornaments. One tradition I have is to gift a homemade ornament to our close family members each year. Before I had kids I would do things like the easy hand-sewn hearts or bird pictured above. Now, with children, I like to do ornaments they can help with. A few we have done over the years are the standard salt dough cut outs, bird seed shapes, beaded candy canes, hand-print snowmen and fingerprint reindeer.
2. Gift baskets. You can go with all store-bought items and just arrange them, or you can do a gift basket made of homemade ingredients. A few of my favorite themes are a Bath Basket, Sundae Box, Breakfast Basket or Movie Night Basket.
3. Family signs. Even the most beginner DIY-er can put together one of these signs for a family to hang on their wall.
Homemade Gifts for Him
4. Note pad. These are so simple. All you need is a cheap note pad cube and some markers, then let the kids draw their own creations on the side to make a unique and personalized notepad perfect for a desk.
5. Mug. I have done a few versions of these over the years. When my kids were babies I did handprint and footprint mugs. As my kids got older I ordered special markers and followed these instructions to let the kids draw their own creations on mugs to create the perfect homemade gift.
6. Photo cube. To make these, I cut cubes out of scrap wood (or you can buy wood blocks already cut), then I printed out pictures of my kids and decoupaged them to the block (making sure to seal with a top coat) for a desk paper-weight.
7. Monogrammed glass. It’s easy to use etching cream to make a classy monogrammed beer mug or bourbon glass.
Homemade Gifts for Her
8. Tote bag. This Monogram Doily tote is super easy and cute. I’ve also bought fabric paint and markers and done the kids handprints on tote bags one year. A different year I let them color their own creations using the fabric markers.
9. Jewelry. I am not a jewelry maker so I stick to really simple designs like these Birds Nest Necklaces, Flower Earrings, Stamped Initial or Word Necklace, Leather Earrings or Tassel Earrings.
10. Kitchen towels. I have used fabric paint and done handprints with the name and year on cheap flour sack towels or I have also done hand-embroidered designs of my kid’s art work on heavier hand towels. There are lots of options here, you could even applique a monogram on a bath or kitchen towel.
11. Fabric key chain. With basic sewing skills and scraps of fabric these are super easy to put together.
12. Set of homemade note cards. Make your own cards or buy sets of blank card stock and envelopes, then decorate with a monogram, doily or inspiring phrases for a one of a kind set.
13. Macrame wall hanging. These have become all the rage lately and this is a very basic beginner design.
14. Key chain chapstick holder. Just a few fabric scraps and basic sewing skills needed for this cute yet functional gift.
15. Kitchen magnets. If you have older kids, they can probably do these on their own with a little supervision from you.
16. Painted kitchen spoons. These make a great hostess or housewarming gift, particularly when packaged up with a cute dish towel.
17. Headband. This assortment of headbands can be made with just a little fabric and some basic sewing skills.
18. Decorated flower pot. There are so many cute designs on this list, but I’ve also jusst given the kids a terracotta pot and paint to make their own creations for Grandma.
19. Etched glass dish. An easy project for a beginner requiring just stencils, a dish and etching cream.
20. Apron. There are so many styles to choose from on this list from no-sew, minimal sewing, to more involved projects.
21. Casserole carrier. This is a simple sewing project that can also be packaged up with one of the etched glass dishes listed above.
22. Candles. These are an easy beginner project that make universal gifts.
23. Bath products. Assorted bath products make great gifts and are simple and inexpensive to put together. You can give them individually, or make several and wrap them up in a basket with a bath loofah, eye mask or candle. A few of my favorites to make and give are; bath salts, sugar scrub, a natural lip balm and body butter.
Homemade Gifts from the Kitchen
24. Soup mixes. There are so many you can do here, but the idea is to layer dry ingredients into a bag or jar making for an easy future dinner. A few of my favorites are Curry Lentil, Bean Soup and Spicy Black Bean Soup.
25. Sweet treats. This is what I tend to do for neighbors and friends. I make a large batch of one (or a few) sweet creations and package them up in festive bags or tins for an inexpensive gift. A few of my favorites are; Fudge, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Classic Sugar Cookies, Pumpkin Gingersnaps, Chai Bars, Peppermint Bark, Dark Chocolate Toffee or Cranberry Bliss Bars.
26. Dipped pretzel rods. These are so easy for the kids to help with. Simply dip pretzel rods in melted chocolate or candy melts, dust with sprinkles, let dry and package in gift bags.
27. Flavored popcorn. Another inexpensive yet delicious item. My favorite is this Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Corn.
28. Sauces. A few I have done are my favorite BBQ Sauce and Salted Caramel.
29. Spiced nuts. I like my favorite Rosemary Curry Spiced Nuts, but you could also go more traditional with these Spiced Nuts.
30. Jams, butters and jellies. You can give these on their own, or package them up with some homemade bread. My favorites are this easy Jam and Pumpkin Butter.
31. Spice rubs and mixes. You can give these individually or in a set with complimentary items like a grill utensil to go with a BBQ spice rub or salsa and chips to go with homemade taco seasoning. A few of my favorite spice mixes are Ranch Dip Mix, BBQ Rub, Taco Seasoning and Chili Seasoning.
32. Drink mixes. Package these in a pretty jar, or in a clear gift bag, perhaps with a cute mug. My favorites are Chai Latte Mix and Hot Cocoa Mix.
33. Baking mixes. The recipient will just need a few wet ingredients to whip up delicious baked goods with these easy homemade mixes; Cookies in a Jar, Pancake Mix and Muffin Mix.
34. Granola. Make a batch of inexpensive homemade granola and package in a cute tin. My favorites are Chocolate Coconut Granola and Pumpkin Granola.
35. Limoncello. Give a bottle as a gift or package it up with cute cocktail glasses and a limoncello cocktail recipe.
36. Flavored liquor or simple syrup. Either can be packaged alone, together, or with a shaker, cocktail glass, jigger or cocktail recipe.
37. Vanilla extract. Give a bottle of this to your favorite baker, possibly with a hand towel or whisk.
38. Flavored vinegars. These are easy and delicious.
Also, be sure to check out other Columbus Foodie Ideas!
Homemade Gift for Kids
39. Stuffed animals or dolls. You need a sewing machine and minimal sewing skills for this one, but they are fairly easy and can be put together from scraps of fabric you might already have on hand. A few of my favorites from over the years are these owls, monsters or dolls.
40. Memory game. Kids will love strengthening their memory skills while seeing pictures of their loved ones.
41. Puzzle blocks. Cut your own wood blocks from scrap wood or purchase pre-cut cubes, print out family pictures, then decoupage them onto the blocks making an easy puzzle.
42. Chalkboard mat. All you need is an old or cheap place mat and chalkboard paint to make this easy gift. Wrap it up with a box of colored chalk for some easy creative fun at home or on-the-go.
43. Playdough or slime. Make a few batches in assorted colors and package them in small tupperware containers. I like to wrap them up with some cheap rollers and cookie cutters from the Dollar Store for a fun set.
44. Felt masks. With basic sewing skills, a little time and a stash of felt you can put together a variety of fun masks. A couple of my favorites are superhero masks and animal masks.
45. Crayon Roll. This felt crayon roll was one of the first sewing projects I ever completed. It is super easy to put together if you know how to sew a few straight lines with a machine. Stuff this full of crayons and wrap it up with a coloring book and it’s one of my favorite homemade gifts!
46. Tool belt. Both this and this one are fairly simple to sew and can be packaged alone, or with a set of play tools.
47. Fishing set. This is a simple no-sew set, but if you know how to sew you could always do that in lieu of gluing.
48. Wand. This wand comes together in 5 minutes using 2 simple items.
49. Car caddy. This one requires a sewing machine and some basic skills making a fun, portable road and car caddy you can stuff full of hot wheels and gift to your favorite car enthusiast.
50. Cape. There are a few options here from a simple no-sew cape, to an easy sewn cape. Add an initial for an extra touch.
51. Apron. Sew an apron for your favorite kitchen helper.
52. Felt food. This involves very simple hand-sewing or can even be done with hot glue (as shown in the pancake tutorial). A few of my favorites I’ve made are Fried Eggs, Bacon and Pancakes.