Thank goodness DIY everything is still the rage this year, so we can all sneak in another year of homemade gift-giving without looking like the family cheapskate. And now there’s Pinterest.com, a social media hub where crafty fashion, food and decorating obsessives share their latest inspiration (Aaand now you will never get at least 4 hours of your life back… happy browsing!). The virtual pinboard is also a veritable font of DIY gift ideas we want to try this year. Here are 10:
1) You can hop on the raging Cake Pop trend and hand out holiday lollipops that are actually small cakes on popsicle sticks. What’s great about these babies is their novelty and versatility. People will certainly ask you, “Wait, so it’s a cake…pop?” but it’s mostly because they’re jealous they didn’t think of it first. The cake pop is your blank slate—red velvet with cream cheese icing and sprinkles, dutch chocolate with green candy coating and red sprinkles (festive!)… don’t make me do all the work here.
If you have less patience or fewer skills, you can go for the made-from-scratch cookie or cake kits. It’s a DIY-er’s go-to, but it serves the purpose magnificently. Turns out that layered dry ingredients look really cool, like those colored sand kits from elementary school. Layer ingredients in a mason jar, tie with raffia and attach a personalized note giving further instructions (2 eggs, 1 cup milk, etc.) Each one can be different—just like the cake pops, so don’t just go the plain sugar-cookie route. Oreo crumbles, sprinkles to bake in (makes Funfetti-style!), butterscotch chips or sliced almonds.
Who Would Want These?: Busy moms, aspiring bakers, cookie/cake enthusiasts, students, and for the mixes, anyone you’d like to one day bake you cookies (you see the segue: “Hey, do you still have that kit I made you?”)
2) Frosted vases or goblets. Create beautiful decorated glasses by strapping on rubber bands and then spraying with frosted spray paint. The glassware can be obtained for around $2 in thrift stores or $3-$4 at Michael’s, rubber bands are free from the office (or post office, in my case), and the spray paint retails for about $6, but the effect looks a lot more Pier 1 than USPS-sourced. These vessels can hold candles, flowers, or silver spray-painted coffee beans as filler.
Who Would Want This?: Friend decorating a new pad, generic older family friend who always comes to Christmas.
3) Hollow Book (aka Secret Keeper): Take an old tome from a thrift store, glue together the pages, cut out a middle portion of the book with a box cutter or X-Acto, and you have a secret, easy-to-store treasure chest.
Who Would Want This?: ME. Please make me one. Also: friends you suspect of being spies, stamp collectors, harmonica players, drug dealers.
4) Dog Bed. This is a pretty specific idea, but for the right “person,” it’ll be a smash hit. Take a small end table (depending on size of dog), turn upside down and fit pillow into hollow, paint and decorate the four “posters” of the bed, customize however you like.
Who Would Want This? : Dog/cat owners, also potentially child-owners (as toddler or doll beds).
5) If you’re less than artistically inclined, infused booze is the way to go and can cross a lot of dudes off your list (orange peel infused whiskey, anyone?). Get glass flasks, bottles, or large mason jars, whatever whiskey you can afford, and a few oranges. Other options include juniper-infused vodka (which makes gin), mulled wine, and whatever fruit can feasibly be steeped.
Who Would Want This? : Everyone you didn’t meet at AA.
6) Coasters. Tiles, personal photos or art that fits on said tile, and laminate, and bam—a thoughtful and one of a kind addition someone’s home. These are very easy to personalize however you choose—the recipient’s favorite passages from a book, favorite artists’ works, quotes, or family photos all make this a useful but sweet gift.
Who Would Want This? : Your water-ring-hating grandpa, your red-wine loving roomie who hangs out near the unfinished wood table, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa.
7) Hand soap. This is actually a lot less involved than you might think. Take a nice milled bar soap and essentially boil it, shredded and with glycerin, and you get a gallon of liquid hand soap. I used Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender bar soap to make the liquid soap, packaged it in nice jars with chalkboard paint nametags, and now have crossed a bunch of people off my list that otherwise were getting my standard gift of a hug. Time for an upgrade!
Who Would Want This? : All your girl friends; nice soap is expensive and this allows them to refill the fancy bottle with legitimate stuff!
8) Body scrub. Ridiculously easy to make, and with a snap jar, scoop, and some raffia, this looks like store-bought luxury bathstuff.
Who Would Want This? : See above. Also: any men who are confident enough to admit that they need some pampering.
Who Would Want This? : These are all great to give to your peers—friends who are in the same boat as you are financially, who will both understand and appreciate your DIY route for the holidays this year, since they’ll be able to do the same while also receiving unique presents.
Who Would Want This? : If you sew well, you probably have many, many friends who would like to benefit from this. Give at will.
If you like the element of surprise and just feel crafty, try the Random Tutorial Generator. If you never re-surface, we never had this chat.