Top Ten Handcrafted Gifts

Published: July 15, 2014

I firmly believe it is better to give than receive, but boy can it get expensive! Use the list of handcrafted gifts below to save money and gift a person in your life with a gift that they will actually value, because you made it yourself!

Most of these gifts need very little skill to produce, but always check out a few tutorials online before you start. 

  1. Preserves

    Making a person a jar of something you know they would like is a wonderful way to show you care. For example, your sister loves strawberries? Make her a jar or two of strawberry jam. Jam is surprisingly easy to make, just clean strawberries, add sugar and pectin (a gelling agent available from the grocery store) and boil! There is a little more to it than that but not much.

    Pretty up a typical canning jar by adding a fabric circle round the top, held in place with raffia or string, print your own label, or nestle in a basket with related goodies, perhaps a few scones and a packet of tea bags, and you have a lovely gift.

     

    Here's a tip, if your jam doesn't set, relabel it "Ice Cream Topping", add cones and sprinkles to the gift basket, they'll never know it was supposed to be jam!

  2. Cupcakes

    Cupcakes are so super easy to knock up as a gift but here is where your creativity can really come into play. First, find a really good cupcake recipe, perhaps go upscale and try a passion fruit cupcake or a coffee mocha cupcake. Be sure to use good ingredients and bake from scratch, it's so much nicer as a gift if you go that extra mile. Sure anyone can open a packet and if that's all you have time to do, go for it. But juicing a pomegranate? That's love right there. Or you could go the novelty decorating route, I made these cupcakes for a bake sale a while ago, every single one went. I just called them monster cupcakes, the kids loved them!

     

     

    The kids seemed to think these were ewoks, the eyes are rolos with a dab of white icing and a single sprinkle in the middle, the noses are just chocolate chips. I loved that some of them became a bit off center!

  3. Truffles

    Truffles are so incredibly easy to make, find a simple recipe online, it's really only chocolate and cream with whatever flavoring you like. Use rum for adults or vanilla for kids, whatever you like.

    Again, this gift is all in the presentation. I decided last halloween to make eyeballs and dipped them in white chocolate. The white chocolate wasn't really hot enough and so the eyeballs ended up with a fantastically knobbliness, like they'd been gouged out with a spoon which was kind of the idea!

    The irises are of course m&ms with a dab of black frosting. I sent these to work with my husband and they went within minutes.

  4. Cookies

    Of course cookies are a go-to as a gift around the holidays and so they should be, who doesn't love a christmas cookie with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, or at lunch time or in the afternoon, or for dinner? I made these cookies for christmas gifts last year and everyone loved them. Again the ingredients are really cheap, just a basic chocolate chip cookie. I went a bit above and beyond with the holly which is marzipan, dyed red for the berries and green for the leaves. Yes, it was very time consuming to cut out each holly leaf but when you are making gifts that's kind of the point isn't it? Anyone can buy a christmas cookie, but to painstakingly carve out 62 holly leaves? That is worth more than money!

     

  5. Cookie/bread/cake mix in a jar

    Putting together ingredients for a loved one to make their own holiday cookies/bread/cakes is also a really fun gift. All you need is a mason jar - available from grocery stores/walmart etc. and the raw ingredients for the cookies. You don't even have to bake them! Layer the dry ingredients for your recipe carefully in the large jar. For example flour, sugar, spices and chocolate chips/dried fruit/whatever your recipe calls for. Make sure to add a lovely personalized label, either stuck onto the jar or tied on with seasonal ribbon/thread/string with the instructions for making the cookies. Name the cookies creatively, "Sandra's Santa Cookies" or "Happy Birthday Banana Bread" is a nice touch. 

  6. Coasters

    This is one of the most simplest and most effective gifts I have ever given. There are several ways to do this but the simplest uses a stencil and spray paint. Just cut out a stencil in an interesting shape, in this picture I cut one out with my Cricut diecut machine but if you are good with an exacto blade you could do it freehand or go for something less fiddly, stick the stencil onto a 4 x 4 tile with a glue stick and then use spray paint to spray over. Remove the stencil and you have a really awesome gift! I used marble tiles from Home Depot, they were on sale at $1 each and this surface takes spray paint really well, shiny tiles don't work well for this. Once the tile is dry cut out a felt square to the apropriate size and glue it on the underside of the tile with tacky glue. This will protect furniture from the scratchy underside of the tile. Four of these tiles, stacked and tied with string is a wonderful gift. I really like the rough texture of the tile too. 

     

  7. Coupons

    Many people do not have enough time in their lives to do all the chores they need to. If you do have the time and access to their house/yard/kids/dog or whatever, this could be an incredibly thoughtful gift. I mean this isn't going to really work for a co-worker but an Auntie might love it. Offer to babysit/mow the lawn/cook a meal/do the ironing/walk the dog etc. Make the coupon a fun thing to receive, perhaps a menu of jobs on offer. Or a special of the month. But a big big caveat to this one, make sure you actually do it! I have so many coupons from my kid which he can never be bothered to fulfill. One year, he even gave them to me with an expiry date, for the day before Mother's Day, cheeky little blighter! I have a no coupons rule now.

  8. Knit a Scarf

    Everyone can knit a scarf, everyone! Go to the craft store and buy a really lovely couple of balls of yarn and a pair of needles, go organic or soft or whatever for the wool. Just don't buy that horrible acrylic cheapo stuff, no one wants that on their neck. If you are a complete beginner, check out an online tutorial and get going. Or ask the ladies in the craft store, they often have classes in store you could join. If you are a bit more advanced, try knitting other gifts such as gloves, hats, small bags or toys. I once spent a week knitting sushi for a japanese friend of mine. She loved it! Well she said she did, but she's very polite.

  9. Origami

    A simple small gift, ideal for casual friends or co-workers is an origami bookmark. A packet of origami paper is pretty cheap, check out your local Michaels or other craft store and then go online for some easy tutorials. Yes the first couple take a while and may not look fantastic but after a couple of trys you can be producing really sweet little things.

    These are some I made, which I actually ended up selling on ebay. But I do use a couple for bookmarks too. They could be used for many different things, glue a few onto a card on a piece of string for a 'washing line' effect or as a gift tag. Use your imagination.

  10. Plants

    Well, this is not a quick gift I admit but if you have the time, consider growing some herbs or planting some bulbs in containers. A small pot containing a few well chosen herbs which you can either grow or purchase from a garden center, will be a gift that could last for many years. Or plant bulbs now for a gift in a few months time, daffodils, amaralyis and narcissus are all bulbs that grow well in containers. Check out how to force bulbs online. 

I have done almost all of the above. I just won't give someone a coupon, I'm too battle scarred! I have very little artistic talent, but I love creating things and find that people are so happy to receive something created specifically with them in mind. The best gifts come from knowing what a person would enjoy and then taking the time to really make something special for them. Happy crafting!