DIY Holiday Gift Guide!

DIY holiday gift guide

Gifts. Saving money, living frugally, and not spending excessively can be a struggle around this time of year. The societal expectations to give (and at all costs) are all over the place! Don’t get deeper into debt (or back into debt) to give material objects to others.

The massive DIY holiday gift guide…

I’m going to be making all of the gifts I give this year so I thought I would share with you some of my favorite DIY’s. I have about 20-25 people to give gifts to this year and my goal is to not spend over $30! Most of that $30 will be spent on supplies to make the gifts so I will be needing to make that money stretch as much as possible. Along with creating gifts I will be re-purposing items I already own to make new items, and some re-gifting will also be happening (re-gifting isn’t bad it’s just got a bad rap). Here are Wise Bread’s rules on re-gifting.

Re-think how you relate to gift-giving and gift-receiving. Think about why these beliefs are held, and know that those old ideas no longer have to be true for you!

All the gift projects that have been selected for The Gift Guide are stylish items because being frugal doesn’t mean you lose your love for pretty things.

Another thing to remember is that making gifts takes time so be sure to give yourself plenty of time if you go for the DIY route;)


DIY Gifts For Just About Anyone: Husbands/Friends/Siblings/Parents/In-Laws

♥ Oversized Knit Cowl If you have basic knitting skills you can do this one. Knit a scarf and then stitch the ends together. Depending on the color of yarn you chose it can be made to look masculine or feminine. Tip: make sure you make it large enough. For the cowl to be cute/usable it can’t be too tight. Looks like this. Pro/amazing inspiration by Yokoo. And, a hipster t-shirt scarf is another option.

Frech Press Cozy Round up some sweaters that aren’t being used (or get one from the thrift store) and make a cozy for the coffee lovers. Stitch up the edges with embroidery floss so the edges don’t fray and add some buttons. Have any of those extra buttons in your junk-drawer that come with clothes (I know I do)? This is a good chance to use them. Here is a how-to. Or, if you’re an advanced knitter here’s a guide on knitting one up yourself by Design*Sponge.

♥ Heart Map Art For the explorer in your life. Here’s a how-to over at Apartment Therapy. (Thanks to Katharine for the lead on this one)

♥ Monogram Mug Round up some old mugs from the thrift store (do it on a 1/2 price day- Bonus!) and get yourself a Porcelaine pen (found in craft and/or art supply stores). The options are endless! Plus, it looks just like Anthropologie’s super popular initial mugs. Here’s a how-to by the amazing Design Mom. Pro/amazing inspiration.

image via design mom


DIY Gifts For The Little Ones

Paint Swatch Heart Garland Whenever I’m in the hardware store and pass by the paint swatches those color swatches holler at me and I just want to create something with those card stock color samples! So much potential there! Make a colorful heart garland for your nieces, nephews, friends kids, your kids room. It would add cuteness anywhere. Here’s a how-to. (Also, these could easy be cut by hand if you don’t want to buy the cut-out stamp). Another super cute one. Wall art idea. Another cute one. More ideas for paint chips. And even more here. Super cute garland ideas here by Elsie (she’s the grand master of DIY) over at A Beautiful Mess.

♥ Wood Blocks I love the idea of painting on wood blocks for kids. (Note: make sure the paints are non-toxic/child-safe) Pro/amazing inspiration.

Bathtub Paints Made with cornstarch, food-coloring, and soap. This is an easy and inexpensive idea. The how-to. Put them in cute little plastic containers for gifting and they’re good to go!

♥ A Tent What kid doesn’t love a little hide-out? Here is a how-to for an A-frame tent, a pvc pipe kids hideout & Another tent idea.

image via 69 vintage

DIY Gifts For Your Fashionable Friend, Sister, Sister-In-Law

♥ Glitter Shoes These are too cute! Find some shoes that are in good shape at the thrift store (and in the right size) get started. Here’s the how-to by Mini Penny.

♥ Painted Vases Lovely. How-to by Sugar and Charm.

Pillow Cases When I saw these on Oh Joy! I knew I wanted to make some as gifts. Find inexpensive (or thrifted) pillow cases and use fabric paint to apply your design. I like the polka-dots, and might do some with hearts too! Here’s a template for the heart. Cut the design into freezer paper, iron the freezer paper onto the fabric (shiny side down) and then dab the fabric paint onto the desired area with a sponge brush (be sure to put something under the fabric so it doesn’t bleed through to the other side. Follow the directions on the paint bottle for setting the paint. For the paint I’m using it simply says to let it dry and then iron on the reverse side for the specific fabric heat setting.

A Detachable Collar One of these would spice up any outfit. Super versatile. How-to by Rookie Mag. And, a Peter Pan collar version.

image via fasion gone rogue

♥ Also, check out P.S. I Made This For TONS of ideas.


DIY Gifts For Your Boss/Co-Workers

Goodies in Jars For bosses a safe bet is giving food along with a thoughtful (and free) note. Baking goodies or giving one of these is a nice idea. I’ve actually received one of these as a gift one time and it was great to be able to make some sweets when the holidays were over and my sugar-levels were running low.

Mini Bread Loafs It’s easy to whip up a bunch of these, wrap in aluminum foil, and tie with twine or yarn. Here’s a recipe for Apple Cinnamon bread. If you don’t have the mini-loaf pans you could use a sheet cake pan and cut the loaves into the desired size.

image via intimate weddings

BONUS: DIY Gift Tag and Label Printables

Oh, Martha

Wintery Tags

Design Lovers Set

Cute Reindeer


What are your favorite DIY gifts? Are you making any gifts this year? All, some or none?


17 thoughts on “DIY Holiday Gift Guide!

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  1. Nicki Fortier

    I've been making bookmarks for all my avid reader peeps! Just using some charms (picked up at yard sales over the summer and local craft stores), some jewelry findings (small metal rings) and some nice ribbon using whatever length you want for the bookmark. The great thing about this project is you can totally customize the charm for the person you're giving the gift too. Super special!

  2. Von

    I LOVE that you are making your own gifts. I was just wondering how did you begin the process of looking for DIY ideas for the people on your list? I'm having a hard time brainstorming DIY gifts for my brother…any suggestions on where/how I should begin the process? Thanks.

  3. Anna Newell Jones

    Hi Von, pinterest is an amazing site to jog your brain for ideas. Also, think about what you would like to buy him if you had the money and then turn that gift idea into a DIY project.

  4. Colette

    Wondering… how does one prepare the recievers of the your gifts for what is about to come? My husband and I have a large family and therefore many gifts to give. I have wanted to do something different from our traditional gift exchange especially when we already know that most of us are struggling to purchase so many gifts. Even at $10-20 per gift, they add up quickly! I have decided to give all homemade gifts this year, which I thought would be cheaper, but even homemade gifts can add up with so many trips to the craft store! (some were cheap, using materials I already have) But, I guess my dilemma is if we give a nice framed poem from my husband or a photo that I took or some other crafty craft and they spend big bucks and bought us something brand new, will they be offended?? How to change without offending… I don't know??

  5. Anna Newell Jones

    Hey Collette, what about telling your soon-to-be gift recipients that you'll be taking a "craftier route" this year in an effort to reel in the high-costs of gift-giving? I think most people would understand that that means "less expensive" & get the hint. Or, bring up the idea of either setting a cap on how much each gift should cost or drawing names & then you get that 1 person a nice & more expensive gift but overall it will cost less because you're not having to buy gifts for every family member.

  6. Pingback: Give DIY Gifts for the Holidays! | The Humble Foodie

  7. Kelsie Rae

    OH MY HECK, I just found your blog and I’m obsessed with it! Ever since I got married in 2009 we have been on a continuous “Spending Fast”. After graduating college last December and after my husband landed his first salary paying “real” job we have started spending more money and it’s totally stressing me out! We aren’t in very much debt but I already WANT OUT! Love your tips and insights, and will be exploring your site more and more. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    One thing I do for baby gifts is I shop clearance racks ALWAYS. Target marks down some of their Circo Brand items to $1.50 and I stock up!!!
    My motto is “Buy it on sale when you see it,or you will end up paying more when you need it!

  8. Gen

    Some good ideas on here! There’s a couple things you might want to know, though:

    1) In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new tutorial all over pinterest about using Sharpies on ceramic mugs – cheaper than Porcelaine pens! You just sharpie on your design, preheat the oven to 350, and bake for 30 minutes. I did these at my school and they came out awesome!

    2). This is regarding your painted vases project. I’m actually an artist who paints on vases for a living, and instead of using enamel paint, I just use regular acrylic and do a varnish topcoat. The varnish comes in an aerosol bottle for about $10, but lasts through quite a few vases. I’m not sure yet whether it lasts through the dishwasher, because I’m too terrified to test that theory, but it can certainly be hand-washed :)

    My artwork (in case anyone’s interested, wink wink!) can be found on etsy here: and on deviantart here:

  9. Kristina

    Love the website and this post. The paint chip links are helpful, since my mother plans on painting her room and got A TON of the paint chips, but people have been getting into trouble for collecting paint chips only for using them in crafts and not for buying paint. Stores have actually been losing quite a bit of money from this trend. Just thought I’d throw that out there.


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