Time and money: Those are two things you might not have a lot of around the holidays. And that can pose some serious challenges when finding the perfect presents for everyone on your list. But with a little effort—and we really do mean just a little—even the least crafty people can whip up some fantastic homemade gifts with items they already have at home. These fabulously festive and thoughtful DIY ideas won’t cost you a thing, but they will mean a lot to the people who receive them.
The coffee lovers on your Christmas list will love this homemade scrub that will make them feel like they’re at the spa. It’s a great exfoliator to use anywhere on the body to brighten skin, increase circulation, and even reduce the appearance of cellulite. Plus, it’s a cinch to make with ingredients you have in your pantry. The recipe calls for fresh or used coffee grounds, brown sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla. Put the scrub in a clean jam jar, and tie a festive ribbon around it to make it look holiday-ready. For more DIY beauty gift ideas, here are 9 dermatologist-approved homemade skin-care treatments.
Oranges are inexpensive in the winter and make fun, aromatic gifts for the holidays. That’s why we love using them to make pretty little pomanders (scented, decorative balls for your home). For this creation, you just need firm, fresh citrus fruit, dried cloves, a toothpick, and an orange zester. Use the zester to make designs on the fruit. Then, poke a row of holes in the orange with a toothpick and push the cloves in. Or if you’d prefer another scent for the season, check out these 11 DIY ways to make your home smell like Christmas.
Salt dough ornaments
LYNNE ANN MITCHELL/SHUTTERSTOCK
This traditional Christmas craft is a kid’s favorite—to make and to give as a present. Just mix together 4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 and 1/2 cups water (more if needed) to form a slightly dry dough. Knead for about 10 minutes, then roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to make festive shapes, use a straw to punch holes at the top of the ornaments, and place them on a lined cookie sheet. Bake at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for one to two hours, or until the dough is completely dried through. Once the ornaments have cooled, paint them and/or add glitter with glue. Tie a colorful ribbon through the hole at the top, then gift away! And don’t stop there: Keep the kids busy with these 20 easy Christmas ornament crafts.
Hot cocoa mix
Who doesn’t love curling up with a warm mug of hot cocoa on a cold winter day? Exactly, and that’s why this recipe for homemade hot cocoa mix makes a perfect gift for nearly anyone. Using a few pantry ingredients—dry milk powder, powdered nondairy creamer, confectioners’ sugar, baking cocoa, and instant chocolate pudding mix—you can mix up a large vat of dry cocoa mix. Divide it into glass jars, add layers of mini marshmallows and crushed candy canes, top it with seasonal fabric, and tie a candy cane to the whole thing for a fun, festive touch. If you’re a chocolate lover yourself, you won’t want to miss these hot chocolate hacks.
Rustic twig hanging tree
People would pay good money for this unique holiday decoration, but all you have to do is forage in your yard for twigs to create it! Once you’ve gathered the materials, cut the twigs in graduating lengths and secure them with twine. Add homemade ornaments to the branches, and tie a flat dough-star ornament to the top. This little rustic tree is perfect for friends and family who love farmhouse decor. Add to the holiday ambiance in your own home by making these easy DIY decorations anyone can handle.
COURTESY AMY LATTA CREATIONS
This is a perfect last-minute gift for the person who has everything. And even better, the recipient of this gift will be able to take it out and display it year after year—and think of you every time that happens. Amy Latta Creations makes it super easy to create this custom, hand-lettered sign without actually needing to know how to hand-letter. Just grab her free printable and frame it. Yes, that’s it! Another thing that looks expensive but isn’t? These 14 free printable Christmas cards everyone will love.
Make your own mini tree by gathering fragrant branches in your own backyard. Clip pine, juniper, or other evergreen boughs, and place them in a pot or a lined basket filled with potting soil. Decorate the branches with dried oranges, apples, or other seasonal fruit, tiny golden balls, and/or DIY Christmas ornaments. This arrangement can be enjoyed for weeks as long as the soil stays moist.
Glittery snow globe
Upcycle glass jars into homemade snow globes! To achieve the look in the photo, secure a flat, felt ornament on the outside of the jar. For a more traditional snow-globe look, glue a waterproof ornament to the bottom of the jar. Set it aside to let it dry. Next, add clear glue to a bowl, along with warm water equal to the volume of the jar. Add glitter and stir. Place the lid onto the jar to seal. Embellish the jar with ribbon, and it’s ready for gifting!
Knitted wine-bottle bag
Did you get a few too many bottles of wine this holiday season? Regift one (or more) of them—but add a personal touch. This adorable wine bag is made from the sleeve of a sweater and requires very little sewing. To make it, cut off a sweater sleeve, and turn it inside out. Then, sew it across the bottom (the end with cuff is the top). Flip it right side out, secure the bottle of wine with a ribbon at the top, and you’re done! This is a great way to upcycle a sweater that’s seen better days.
Create your own gourmet salts with herbs from your garden. These salts are easy to customize and will look great packaged in little glass jars. To make them, you’ll need a handful of your favorite herb and a cup of kosher salt or sea salt. Pop both ingredients into a food processor and blend until the herbs are finely chopped. Spread the herb salt onto a cookie sheet, and let it dry overnight. You can add citrus rinds and fresh garlic to the salt, too!
COURTESY DEBBIE WOLFE
These little items do exactly what you think: They help get a fire going in your fireplace. But even better, they’ll also give your fire a lovely, cozy, seasonal aroma. You can create fire starters, like this one from Do-It-Yourself Garden Projects and Crafts, from items in your yard, pantry, and dryer vent. (Yes, you read that right.) First, combine dry pine cones, pine needles, cinnamon sticks, and dryer lint, and put it into cupcake liners in a cupcake tin. Then, melt down old wax candles, and pour the wax over the top of your mixture. Let the wax cool, and you’ve got a pretty present. You can even add a little homemade tag with these directions for use: Put one fire starter (cupcake liner and all) underneath kindling, then light. Here are some other clever hacks to make everything in your home smell amazing.
Transform sweaters you don’t wear anymore into this cozy and fun DIY gift. Use the body section of the sweater to make an easy pillow covering. (Cable knits are particularly great for this, though other types can work as well.) These sweater pillows are perfect for the colder months and make great hostess gifts. Bonus: You get to clean out your closet while making this. Talk about multitasking!
Share your family’s best recipes with friends. Simply compile all of your favorites into a notebook, and to round out the gift, make one of the dishes to go along with it. After all, there’s nothing better than sharing a home-cooked meal with your nearest and dearest. And while the meal will last only for a short time, the custom recipe book will last forever. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving. For other holiday cooking ideas, check out these 13 delicious Christmas food gifts that anyone can bake.
Gone are the days of the mixed tape, but you can still give the gift of music to a special someone. Create your own holiday playlist of your favorite Christmas tunes, and don’t forget to include a few songs that the recipient particularly loves, too. You’ll likely want to add some (or all) of these 20 best-ever Christmas songs.