Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Holiday gift guide: 5 crafty ideas for do-it-yourself presents
It's perfect if you're buying on a budget.
Every year, as if on cue, I try to pinch pennies the most around the holidays. This has inspired me to get creative with gift giving, and I’ve spent the last several Christmases crafting knick-knacks for my friends and family. This year, I chose five ideas that are simple, thoughtful and inexpensive. I encourage you to use this as an outline for your gifts and, like a recipe, customize to your tastes and personal preferences.
Adult beverage kits
Prep time: 10 minutes
Materials: Mason jar ($1.49), coffee grounds or cocoa mix (price varies depending on brand), individual coffee creamers or marshmallows, tiny bottle of liquor ($1.99-$4.99)
These adorable adult beverage kits are so easy to make, and you probably have most of the materials already at your home. The two I’ve chosen are Irish coffee and spiked hot chocolate. First, fill your mason jar up halfway with either the coffee grounds or the cocoa mix, then the rest of the way with its accompanying condiment — individual creamers for the coffee or marshmallows for the cocoa. Lastly, pair with a mini bottle of liquor. I recommend Jameson Irish whiskey for the coffee kit and Bailey’s or vanilla flavored rum for the cocoa. This is great way to keep your loved ones toasty and tipsy this holiday season.
Local restaurant guide
Prep time: 30 minutes
Materials: Construction paper ($6.29) or poster board ($1.99), ribbon, access to a printer and hole-punch
A homemade restaurant guide is a great way to inspire the gourmand on your Christmas list. Pick five to 10 of your favorite local restaurants, and pull their menus off the web. Scale them to the size you want to make your book and print on white paper. Mount the white paper on colorful construction paper. Then hole-punch the left side and tie together with ribbon. If that doesn’t feel like enough, you can always throw in an American Express gift card to get the adventure started.
Prep time: 1-2 days
Materials: Single stone tiles ($4.99 for nine at Home Depot), decoupage glue ($8.99), whatever you want to put on the coasters (i.e. dried leaves, magazine clippings, etc.)
Making coasters is one of the more time consuming gifts, but also one of the most rewarding because they are beautiful and functional. First, a word about what you’re going to put on your coasters: Tissue paper and magazine clippings require no prep before your project. However, here I used leaves from my backyard, which required an extra day to dry and flatten.
For the coasters, start by wiping down your tiles with water to remove excess dust. Then apply a layer of decoupage glue on each tile where you intend to add your decoration -- in my case dried leaves. Once the leaves are glued to the tiles, add another layer of decoupage on top. This is the first of many top layers you will add. Be patient and let the glue dry completely. You’ll want to manually press the corners of the leaves so they stick to the tile, and eliminate any air bubbles. Then add another thick layer of glue to seal the leaves to the tile. Repeat until the top layer is equally thick and smooth. Feel free to add glitter as you go along.
Prep time: Varies from 1-5 hours, depending on how much shopping you need to do
Materials: Pick a passion point and build your basket around that theme. You can include candy, non-perishable food, beer/wine, glassware, household items, or even pet treats and toys.
I love making gift baskets. They are my favorite way to personalize a gift. World Market is without a doubt my one-stop shop for putting them together. World Market has craft beer and glassware, pesto, salsa, serving bowls and many more items for a thoughtful gift. Plus, the shop has a large selection of baskets to choose from. World Market’s fillers like basket grass, ribbon and tissue paper run a little pricey, so you’re better off grabbing those at Walgreen’s or CVS. Another tip: You can leave the basket open, or encase it in a large shrink wrap bag for a more professional look.
Glass bottle incense holder
Prep time: One hour
Materials: Empty glass bottle, craft jute or twine ($3.99), hot glue gun ($3.99-$6.99), wooden kabob sticks ($.61)
Optional: fabric, one piece of felt ($.29)
If you’re like me, you have leftover liquor bottles crowding the wet bar. Why not put them to good use? First you’ll have to remove the label from the bottle. The easiest way to do this is to soak the bottle for 30-45 minutes, then use a butter knife to scrape off the excess sticker. Next, using a marker, make two dots on the body of the bottle four or five inches apart where you will wrap the twine. Beginning at the bottom-most dot, hot glue the end of your twine. To give your wrap a smoother edge, make an inch-long right angle and glue with the end of the twine pointing up. As you wrap, the twine will cover the loose end. Then get to wrapping, intermittently hot gluing the twine as you go. Once you reach your top dot, glue and make a similar right angle with the end of the twine and tuck the loose end into your wrap.
You’re welcome to stop there if you like the rustic look of the twine by itself. I always enjoy a pop of color, so I made a fabric flower using no-sew instructions from the blog How Charming Zeeuh. From there, fill the jar halfway with water, add a few drops of incense and insert your wooden kabob sticks. For best results, soak one end of the kabob sticks for 10 minutes, then flip to let the smell waft through your home.Follow @tineywristwatch