Holiday Project Time!
November 7, 2012 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Hello crafty-folks! It's 2012 & once again I have realized that I have not learned to knit in time to give everyone handmade scarves for the holidays. So what new awesome projects can you suggest for holiday gift-giving?

I know the question's been asked before, and I loved the ideas that were put forth last time I asked, but it's been two whole years & I would love to see even MORE cool gift-giving ideas! What creative, fun, cheap, and specifically useful projects did you all get up to last year for your gift-giving occasions?
posted by Ys to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Last year we made awesomely-sticky fridge magnets from neodymium ("rare earth") magnets, bottlecaps, leftover grout, and a lifetime of half-used nailpolish. Cost: ~$10 for 100 magnets (thank you Amazon!)
posted by Ys at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2012

Most years I make some homemade alcohol type gift for people....this year it is Vodka infused with Raspberry and Blackberrys...but I also have a bottle of vanilla soaking away in the closet I plan to bottle as well.
posted by Captain_Science at 10:03 AM on November 7, 2012

Last year, I sewed tote bags like these plastic (singlet) bag style ones for my relatives, and they went down really well. I used Ikea fabrics and stuff from my stash, so it was inexpensive, and I didn't bother making them fold into themselves but lined them nicely instead. If you're using that pattern, consider making the handles an inch or two longer so that the bag can be carried when full.

This year, I'm making blank cards, which I'll package up with envelopes in sets of 10 or so. They're cheap and they're easy for people to use. I used to sell cards and have been craving some paper crafting time, so I'm doing a couple of hours here and there until Christmas to build up a nice mix of styles and techniques.
posted by carbide at 10:06 AM on November 7, 2012 [10 favorites]

you could still do the scarves with a knitting machine ... there seems to be a bunch on eBay
posted by jannw at 10:58 AM on November 7, 2012

Last year, my brothers got Spicy Guinness Mustard and pretzel rods.

This year, the ladies I'm gifting to are getting little spa kits:
-Lotion bars -- equal parts beeswax, solid oils (coconut, cocoa, or shea), and liquid oils (sweet almond, macadamia, jojoba, olive). Melt, add scent, pour into molds.
-Salt scrubs -- sea salt and liquid oils to a good consistency, add scent, scoop into jars.
-Scented candles -- Put wicks into jars from the thrift store. Melt some soy wax, add scent & color, pour into jars.

Other ideas I tossed around were rice heating pads, whipped body butter (a little more involved than the lotion bars, but still easy and can be done in ~1 hour), healing balm (basically a lotion bar, but with herb-infused oils), infused vinegar, and chai tea blend (very awesome if you buy the herbs in bulk).
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I made calendars for everyone a few years ago. You can use photos you have taken or collect up family photos from relatives. I printed them at a local shop on nice paper with a spiral binding for about $15 each.
posted by photoexplorer at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2012

I made these lace printed tote bags for all my friends in my knitting group two years ago. They're very practical and pretty--now we keep our knitting projects in them.
posted by zoetrope at 11:36 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can make handwarmers for people pretty quickly! Just sew a matching pair of palm-sized beanbags filled with cracked corn (available at garden stores like Southern States). Package them up with twine or cute ribbon and directions to microwave them for 1 minute and use them as hand/pocket warmers for cold winter mornings.

I made some for my mailman one year, and he (said he) appreciated them.
posted by shortyJBot at 11:58 AM on November 7, 2012

The area where you wait in line at JoAnn's (or is it Michael's?) has small calendars, with a pocket for each month where you slide in a photo. They cost $1, I think, plus whatever the photos run you. I have given one to my wife twice now, trying to select a picture taken in the previous year's month.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:23 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Knitted/crocheted mug cosies and teapot cosies!
Particularly nice for when you have only a little yarn and some neat buttons without mates.
posted by ergo at 12:41 PM on November 7, 2012

Just saw this in my newsfeed...Sharpie Marker Art!. Personalized mugs with permanent marker designs? I can see this on decorative plates, candle holders etc.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 1:21 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Glycerine soap. You can pick up the materials at Michael's--get molds in cool shapes like you'd use for baking (note: I wouldn't use them for food after this), buy a glycerine chunk, some scents and food coloring. You microwave the glycerine in little squares (a square or 2 or 3, enough to fill a mold) for a few minutes, dump in the scents/colors/glitter/whatever, pour it into the mold and let it sit around until it hardens. Easy.

Beeswax candles. Just get some wick, roll the beeswax around the wick. You can cut out other pieces of beeswax and press them into the other beeswax for decoration.

Wire wrap bracelets-- get the wire that comes in circles, beads big enough to string on, and some wire pliers. Make a small circle at one end to stop the beads, string them on, make another circle with pliers at the other end to stop the beads. Easy craft.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:09 PM on November 7, 2012

Definitely soap! It's easy, fun, and you can get simple soap-making kits at most craft stores for about $15. For simplicity and ease, I recommend the "Melt & Pour" process, which those kits are. And useful? Oh yes!
posted by chatelaine at 4:22 PM on November 7, 2012

Vanilla extract is always great, but you don't have time to make a good one for this year. I'm doing vanilla extract this year - I got Tahitian, Malagasy, Ugandan, and Tongan beans. I'll gift the set to my friends who are serious bakers and singles to everyone else.

I also made cherry vodka this year, which I'll package in small bottles and gift with 7up and fancy maraschino cherries. Infused alcohol always goes over well, especially if you include a fun recipe. You definitely have time for this.

I love for packaging this stuff.

Embellished tote bags have generally been well received also. The "freezer paper method" and fabric paint is really easy and inexpensive. Here's a good tutorial. For something more involved, there's Lumi's photosensitive Inkodye which is really awesome but not particularly inexpensive.
posted by tealcake at 4:53 PM on November 7, 2012

I recently saw this tutorial, which shows how to transfer photographs onto wood. Super easy, personalized, and they look great.
posted by karminai at 9:00 PM on November 7, 2012

Of questionable utility, but this year I am giving my sewing machine a workout and building pocket kites to give as presents:

making them is a lot of fun so far.
posted by primer_dimer at 5:47 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: [sound of scribbling notes]. Awesome guys! Bracelets is a real possibility --we have a backlog of beads & wire from busted necklaces & misplaced earings. And I know from experience that calendars & kites are great holiday projects (endemic bamboo & a thousand years of hoarded holiday tissue paper = fabulous, easy to ship kites!) Any more ideas more on the gluing/painting/building end of the spectrum? We here at Chateau Ys kinda stink at cooking, and so far my needle craft just isn't up for 17 tote bags (although I love-love-LOVE! the idea and may try one. Am trying to get Mini-me off to a better start with the sewing arts). Thanks again! I love hearing other peoples cool ideas :)
posted by Ys at 11:29 AM on November 11, 2012

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