Handmade Christmas presentsPhoto by JurgaR/iStockphoto.com

Why Christmas when we’re in the throes of summer? I know. I worked six years in retail. In my experience, nothing incited people’s groans more than Christmas being stocked on the shelves in August. However, I think this a worthy exception. After all, if you’re going to have a handmade Christmas, you can’t very likely undertake the proposition in December, now can you?

I’m excited to share this prodigious list of Christmas gift ideas that I compiled years ago. I forgot that I had it, but Tracie reminded me when she asked for inexpensive handmade gift ideas that I might have come across in my search for camp crafts.

This is the first of seven parts that I will post over the next few weeks (MWF). Keep in mind I culled most of these ideas from the internet years ago, but I added ideas I found recently plus a few of my own. I hope these ideas will inspire you to create your own unique gifts. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! On Friday: Christmas-themed crafts.

Part 1: Home & garden crafts

DIY tile coasters


1. Make a set of tile coasters using 4-inch ceramic tiles. Paint a simple design or decoupage napkins, paper or photos onto them. Glue felt on the back to protect surfaces from scratches. Then tie them with a holiday ribbon.
Tile coaster instructions

2. More coasters to try using recycled magazines, buttons, or fabric:
Woven magazine coasters
Woven button coasters

Quilted fabric coasters

3. Personalize a picture frame. Choose a plain picture frame and decorate it with polymer clay, acrylic paints, seashells, beads, ribbon, etc.
Paulownia wood picture frame

Embroidered napkins with buttons


4. Make a set of inexpensive cloth napkins into a special gift by adding a personal touch. Add a monogram to each one with cross-stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, or embellish with buttons, appliques, or stencils. Include a set of handmade napkin rings.
Fruity button embroidery napkins
Recycled fabric napkin rings

5. Storage boxes are decorative and useful. Get several different sizes from a craft, office, or stationery store and decorate them with paints or decoupaged paper. Stack the boxes inside each other. Stacking storage boxes

DIY birdseed balls

source unknown

6. Make bird seed balls with seeds, suet, peanut butter, Christmas tree hooks, and leftover ribbons.
Peanut butter birdseed ball recipe
Suet snack recipe

7. Make a mosaic tea-light holder or decorate a box, dish, pot, or frame with mosaic tiles. For outdoor projects, try a mosaic stepping stone or bird bath.
Mosaic instructions
Mosaic stepping stones
Mosaic birdbath

8. Make a mosaic address plaque/house marker or individual house numbers. The house marker can be mounted to the house or to a stand in the yard.
Mosaic house number

Mosaic house number plaque
Inspiration from Pear Tree Mosaics

Painted wine bottles


9. Paint an empty wine bottle with non-toxic paint and fill with olive oil. Top with an oil pour spout that can be found at a gourmet cooking shop.
Turn a wine bottle into an oil bottle
Van Gogh on a wine bottle

10. Frame a piece of your own artwork.
How to frame your own art

11. Create and frame your own family tree photo collage.
Handmade family tree collage

12. Make a soothing herb pillow filled with flaxseed or buckwheat or a heat-therapy bag.
How to make an herbal pillow

Rice heat-therapy bag

DIY teacup candles


13. Make a candle in a vintage teacup. Scour garage sales for cheap but interesting tea cups. Start with a wick, melted old candle ends, and a little scented oil, such as lemongrass or grapefruit.
How to make teacup lights

14. Make seashell candles. Fill sea shells with melted wax and a short wick, then let cool. A variety of shells big or small make cute bath lights.
How to make seashell candles

15. Make floating candles. Include a wide bowl and instructions to float the candles in water with the recipient’s favorite blossoms.
How to make floating candles

Set of lavender sachets in linen cases


16. Make no-sew lavender sachets. Purchase dried lavender buds, fine tulle or other thin fabric, and 1/8-inch satin ribbon. Cut the tulle into saucer-size circles. Place two or three tablespoons of lavender in each circle. Gather sides and tie tightly with the ribbon. Place several of these in a holiday box.
Dried lavender buds
How to make sewn lavender sachets

17. Make a small indoor water fountain kit. The main ingredient is an inexpensive pump. Get a bowl or dish to hold it and some decorative rocks. Include directions or a diagram.
How to build tabletop fountains

Marble magnets


18. Create a set of magnets out of bottle caps, marbles, or just about anything.
Bottlecap magnets

Marble magnets

19. Make a clothesline coil basket. All you need is a sewing machine, length of cotton clothesline, and some colorful fabric. Or try weaving a basket out of recycled paper.
Clothesline coil basket
Woven map basket

20. Make handmade soaps and package them with a soap dish, loofah, or natural sponge.
Tips and recipes at soapmakingsecret.com
More tutorials and recipes at teachsoap.com
Japanese-motif soaps at marthastewart.com

Black paper silhouettes


21. Make silhouettes out of fabric or cut paper, then frame them as gifts.
How to make paper silhouettes
Hat silhouettes
Silhouettes in under 30 minutes
Stitched silhouettes

22. Make a pencil/pen caddy for someone’s office. Make it our of wood, a glass jar, tin can, etc.
Salvaged wood pencil & pen caddy
Perpetual calendar pencil holder

23. Make cookie-cutter candles. Package them with cookies make with the same cookie cutter, then tie the cookie cutter onto the outside of the package. How to make cookie-cutter candles

DIY sunburst mirror


24. Make a sunburst/starburst mirror using lazy susans, plant markers, Woodsies, cereal boxes, paper, or bamboo skewers.
Starburst mirror with plant markers
Cereal box sunburst mirror
Lazy susan sunburst mirror
Starburst mirror with skewers
Sunburst mirror with magazine scraps

25. Create a trivet, bulletin board, or bath mat out of recycled wine corks.
Wine cork trivet
Wine cork bath mat

26. Hand paint a flower pot and plant holiday blooms such as amaryllis, paper whites, poinsettias and English ivy.
Hand-painted chalkboard flower pot

Boxwood Globe Topiary


27. Holiday centerpieces and topiaries add so much to the season. Make your own topiary using 18-gauge wire and needle-nose pliers. Shape the wire into a star, snowman, tree, heart, or a circle. Place it in a pot planted with ivy or another climbing plant. Separate the runners and wrap them around the wire.
Simple ivy topiary
Boxwood Globe topiary
Round topiary
Topiary trees and centerpieces
More topiaries


The list continues on Friday with numbers 28 through 38.