Part of this post was featured on The Stir by CafeMom.
It’s happened again. Yep, your kid has another birthday party to go to this weekend, you have no time, and you don’t want to spend $30 on a gift. Or, Christmas is around the corner, and you have 17 nieces and nephews to buy for. Here are some easy, cheap DIY christmas gift ideas that look like they cost a lot, but they’re all under $8!
1. You Are Special plate
Did anyone else have these growing up?!? In my family, we had a beautiful You Are Special plate, and I celebrated so many exciting milestones with meals on that ceramic. My mom would bring it out on birthdays, first day of school, the day after I lost a tooth, etc. They’re a wonderful family tradition, a fun way to make a celebration out of the everyday and a great gift for the millions of kid birthday parties, and nieces and nephews you need to buy for! I made a bunch of these for my nieces and nephews for Christmas this year.
It’s personal, it’s special and as a parent, you love when your kid gets one of these because it’s not another toy they don’t need!
2. Hand-printed chalkboard paint wine glass
Perfect for a wine-lover, which my dad is, and he also happens to be the hardest person on earth to shop for. I bought a $4 tin of chalkboard paint (which I’ve used for dozens of projects) and a $1 wine glass at the Dollar Store. I used a foam brush to paint the kids hands with the chalkboard paint, and then just let them mark up the glass, freestyle! I wasn’t focusing on making perfect handprints (although that would be cute too); I really wanted the paint to visualize how “marked up” just baby handprints can make a piece of clean glass. After the kids were done, I painted the base of the glass, waited for it to dry and then wrote “Grandpa’s sippy cup” on the bottom.
At Christmas, I’ll fill it with his favorite candy, or even give it alongside a bottle of his favorite wine. Easy, simple, useable and personal!
3. Hand-printed chalkboard paint Mason jar
What can’t you do with a Mason jar?!? I mean seriously! It can be a vase, a vessel to display sweets or nuts on the counter, a water glass, the possibilities go on and on. And when you add handprints to any gift, it is automatically 1,000 times more special and meaningful.
For my mom’s Christmas gift this year, I used chalkboard paint to add a handprint from each kid on the outside of the jar. (And of course, you can’t forget to write who it’s from and the occasion on the bottom. Just another layer of personalization to make the recipient feel extra-special.)
When I give it to her, I’m going to add her favorite candies and some of her other favorite small items, like her favorite Dior lipgloss and some nail polishes. It’s personal, sweet and something she’ll love forever. And later, she can perch it next to her kitchen sink, and use it to display the beautiful flowers from her garden and think of her grandkids every day while she’s doing dishes.
4. Hand-printed table runner
This is a family favorite because it’s a way we feel connected for the holidays, even when we’re not all together. Can you get more special than that?!?
My siblings and I live in different states, so we started in October and sent this burlap table runner around the country, so that we could each add our handprints (in black $1 paint from Walmart), and then give it to my mom for Christmas. Those of us with kids added the kids’ handprints too.
It’s personal, and it makes her feel that we’re all close, even when we’re not all able to gather around the same table for Christmas dinner. Another perfect, sendable gift!
5. Hand-monogrammed hankies
This is an amazing gift for the guy who has everything. (Darn it, I should have included this in my Father’s Day gift ideas post!) I bought 8 white hankies at Big Lots for less than $1 each, and then I searched under Google images for “cross stitch alphabet” and found a font I liked.
After washing and pressing the hankies, it’s super easy. Just grab a needle and thread (I used cross-stitch floss because I already had it), and look closely at the weave of the hanky as you mimic the font on the alphabet you like. Basically, you pretend the weave of the hanky is the cross stitch fabric.
Simple, old school, classic, and it’s monogrammed so it totally looks expensive!
6. Homemade vodka sauce
Do you have any idea how easy this is to make?!? And how delicious? It is a home run every time, and it’s really festive because of the vodka in it!
I use this easy vodka sauce recipe, double the batch so I can freeze some for myself, let it cool, put in a cute Mason jar, and that’s it! The awesome thing is the ingredients are so simple, inexpensive and easy-to-find (butter, onion, crushed tomatoes, vodka and heavy cream), yet it feels like a very gourmet gift. And, it really is delicious.
Wrap a ribbon around it, or put a piece of burlap over the lid and secure with twine, then add some home-baked bread (or $3 fresh-baked bread from the bakery), or even a few vodka mini bottles for a few dollars each, and you have a perfect, cozy holiday gift!
7. Cross-stitched personal pillow
Yes, this takes a little time. In fact, each nautical flag took me about an hour. But I was so proud of it when I finished it, and it was the perfect nautical pillow to give my mom for her birthday last year. In fact, every flag on this pillow represents a letter that spells our last name.
My mom loves nautical and beachy things, so I searched online for the nautical flags alphabet and finally found this cross stitch pattern:
I picked cross stitch floss colors that would go with her house, and then just mimicked the pattern on the cross stitch to make the flags. After that, I measured and cut out pieces of oatmeal-colored linen to machine-sew to each side of the cross stitch, and then I sewed that whole front piece to 2 back pieces that would make up the pillowcase.
The great thing about this gift is it’s so easy to send! It’s just a pillowcase! My mom lives out-of-state, so it was awesome that I didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg at the post office as well.
Nautical, personal and homemade!
8. Hand-monogrammed house apron
My mom is a homemaker and she loves having this little apron to carry her cell phone, gardening shears and hand lotion with her around the house as she does her daily tasks. I love that I was able to make this out of a painter’s cloth from Home Depot and a tiny amount of green embroidery floss. (I originally bought 3 painter’s cloths for $12, to use for seating for my son’s shipwrecked pirate-themed 1st birthday party at the beach, and since then, I’ve cut them up for dozens of crafts like this!)
First, I used my rotary cutting board to cut out 3 fabric pieces: the back of the apron, the large apron pocket and the waistband. (If you don’t have a cutting board, just cut along the fabric weave to make the seams as straight as you can.) I don’t have a pattern. I just thought about my mom’s size and eye-balled it. First, I sewed the apron back to the waistband, then I hemmed all unfinished sides of the waistband and apron back. After that, I hemmed the top of the pocket, pressed the outer edges, pinned to the main apron, and sewed it on, adding 2 seams in the middle to create 3 pockets. (I even used my iPhone to make a custom iPhone pocket on the side!)
After that, I used my hand monogramming method (directions in #1) to cross stitch my mom’s initials into the pocket! (I did after I’d sewn the pocket to the apron back, but it’s probably a better idea to do it before you attach it.) The cool thing is, the painter’s cloth has a very visible weave, so it was very easy to cross stitch onto it.
This can be adapted for homemakers, who may want to fill the pockets with cell phone, baby wipes, a pen and paper and small items they pick up while they perform their tasks around the house. Friends with pets can use it to hold their house keys, cell phone, plastic waste bags and doggie treats when they take the pooch for a walk. Gardeners can fill with seeds, tools and cell phone while they’re working outside. Your husband can use as a tool belt when he’s hanging all those pictures he needs to hang in the hallway, or washing your car (hint hint, wink wink!). People who like to fish can put tackle, line and other small fishing items in it, so they don’t have to dig through their tackle box. Hairdressers can use it to hold their portable supply items, like bobby pins, hairspray and brushes.
Custom, designed just-for-them, and looks really expensive!
What are your favorite DIY gift ideas? Share in the comments section below.