Ideas for DIY Christmas gifts?
November 17, 2006 9:38 PM   Subscribe

What are some good ideas of DIY gifts I can make and give to family and close friends for Christmas? I'm a poor college student, which means it has to be very cheap, but meaningful.

I made a tshirt for my boyfriend for his birthday, which he really liked (painted a big bass on it), so something along those lines (not cheesy, shows some effort, and is somewhat meaningful). I need to make about 4 or 5 gifts, so the more ideas the better. I am pretty artistic, computer savvy, and willing to give almost anything a shot, but I can't knit, and only have a needle for sewing (so nothing that requires a machine).
posted by pontouf to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Are you handy with metal working at all? For example, these really cool skewers [uncommon goods] would be relatively easy to make. These things made from bicycle parts also wouldn't be too technically difficult.

Or perhaps a DIY Secret Hollow Book (I'd make some wood & nut&bolt clamps, then a drill press on the four corners of the hollowed out part, then a hacksaw instead of the extremely tedious xacto knife).

A quick google suggested the DIY (Do It Yourself) Network - seems like a reasonable place for crafts ideas.

See also MakeBlog.
posted by porpoise at 9:49 PM on November 17, 2006 [2 favorites]

There are some good ideas in this extremely similar thread.
posted by miss meg at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2006

How cheap do you want it to be? Less than $20 per person? $15? $10? $5?

When I was in college I made my mom a really pretty wreath out of a $4.99 plain wreath and $10 in artificial flowers and leaves. She loved it since it was personalized to match our home's colors. The only tool you need is a glue gun.

For my dad, I went to a paint-your-own-pottery place and made him a bowl for his spare change. I got a couple of hours of great entertainment out of it, plus a really cute, unique present for $15.
posted by gatorae at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2006

Picture frame with a good picture of you and them in it. If you're artsy you can paint some little details on the frame.

A well-chosen good book/documentary/etc about one of their interests, that they've never heard of. You can find a lot of obscure stuff on the web that your parents (or other older relatives) may not realize is available. $20 plus a bunch of research can go far.

Food. A lot of the ideas in that previous thread are for food items.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:22 PM on November 17, 2006

You could try making jar gifts. Basically, you can get some large mason-type jars at a crafts store, and decorate them using colored paper (wrapping paper), ribbon, etc. Inside you could try making a baking mix to make cookies with, or even something as simple as hot chocolate powder.

One of my friends also recently made a recipe box for someone else using a neat little metal tin box (you can also get these cheaply at a crafts store), and decorated it. She made some b lank recipe cards using index cards and stamps.
posted by tastybrains at 10:33 PM on November 17, 2006

If you're musically-inclined at all you could try writing something. Or, you can perform your own covers of some songs the person in question likes. I've done both, though I have to say that my songs that great...
posted by Aanidaani at 10:35 PM on November 17, 2006

How about candied citrus peel?
posted by owhydididoit at 11:28 PM on November 17, 2006

For some people in my family I make personalized calendars and since you're computer savvy this should be easy for you. You can buy calendar blanks or use a template from a program; add pictures of things or people meaningful to the recipient; add in important dates (birthdays & anniversaries of family & friends); and maybe a special note or quote every once in a while. For parents/students you can add in the school schedule; for homeowners you can add in a home maitanence schedule; etc for sports fans, astrology followers, on & on.

To make them extra special I sometimes add little treats - a couple dollars taped to a summer date for an icecream treat; a coupon for free babysitting on a weekend; video & popcorn night, etc.

Scrapbooking items are great for decorating if you want to go that far. Stuff can be found cheaply at the Dollar Store.
posted by LadyBonita at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2006

At a lot of bead stores, you can pick out a few beads to string on a simple necklace and they will finish it (put the clasp on) for free or for a small charge. If you go and explain what you want you can probably make several gifts for female friends/relatives easily.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:28 AM on November 18, 2006

You can also get T-shirt transfer material at the office supply store, print out a picture, and make pillows, tote bags, etc, with meaningful photos on them.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:30 AM on November 18, 2006

Another bead idea: get memory wire (a spiral of wire that looks kind of like a slinky) at the craft store, string beads on it, and finish by making loops at the ends of the wire to keep the beads from falling off. You can make fairly cool and funky bracelets that way.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:31 AM on November 18, 2006

Not fiber-related, but: A few years ago I made a two-CD set of uncommon Christmas songs for all my friends -- not a "Jingle Bells" or "Frosty the Snowman" in the bunch. The CDs were separated into festive and cozy selections. I made the cover and back-label art in Photoshop. People loved these.
posted by CMichaelCook at 9:57 AM on November 18, 2006

You might want to check out the Holiday Gift thread on Craftster for gereral ideas/inspiration. If you want to try embroidery at all, there's this tutorial on tattooing towels ( and Sublime Stitching for more pattern ideas).

Marble magnets are always a cute/cheap gift, or button earrings.

If you want to make some cute (easy to hand-sew) stuffed creatures, there are patterns here and here (and hundreds of other places on the internets).
posted by logic vs love at 10:43 AM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

How about photos? If you're interested in photography at all, you could take some photos of places or objects that might be meaningful to them, and make a frame up too. I did this a couple of years ago with some photos I took at Yellowstone, framed them up and gave them to parents and friends. You could also do something fun and arty on the computer with image manipulation, and make something unusual.

The calendar idea above is also great, and has more potential for easy personalisation than just a photo. Depending how much time/craft skill you have, you coudl even make somethign really cool like a pop-up book type calendar.
posted by Joh at 2:28 PM on November 18, 2006

Give the gift of your time. Scan all the old family photos and make everybody a cd. Put family photos in albums, and put info on pictures for posterity - my mom's photos were unlabeled, and labeling them was a big project that was much appreciated. Mix cds of favorite holiday or other music. Cookbook of family favorite recipes.

My mom had an artist paint our house onto a large glass globe ornament, which we all loved.
posted by theora55 at 3:47 PM on November 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

nthing the jewellery idea. I did this one year and bought all my supplies in bulk. I think it averaged out to about $7 per gift. It could also work for guys, with wooden or shell beaded necklaces and bracelets.
posted by cholly at 6:25 PM on November 18, 2006

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