Our Best Handmade Gifts for Everyone on Your List
Friends and family always appreciate a gift that comes straight from the heart—especially during the holidays, when all of your loved ones have gathered under one roof to celebrate. You can certainly find personalized and unique gift options when shopping locally at specialty retailers or hunting down artisan works from online marketplaces, but a handmade gift lets your family and friends know that it's truly a labor of love; you've spent extra time thinking about what they'd love to receive this year and carving out time in your schedule to actually craft it. While it may sound like a challenge to make a gift for everyone on your list this year, these ideas and how-tos are surprisingly simple while being delightfully fun for your intended to receive.
This collection of our favorite handmade gifts touch on many different skill sets: sewing, knitting, painting, cooking, and general handiness. Some ideas allow you to upcycle something that's old or tarnished into a well-crafted essential, like this set of playful mittens fashioned from leftover yarn. Pictured here, we've allowed imagination to dictate the design, and many of the ideas in this inspirational round up requires the same approach.
These gifts are designed to please anyone on your list—from parents to sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, and even some fun options for kids. Whether you plan to wrap them up and place them under the tree or in a stocking on the mantel, or give them to a host or hostess or as part of your workplace gift exchange, these handmade gifts are all made to last. An added bonus? They'll fit snugly into a mailer for a holiday gift to a loved one abroad. Follow along as we explore crafty ways to make your own handmade gifts this season.
Think of these modern spins on gift baskets as coziness, curated. They're stocked with next-level supplies for classic hot drinks. Option one, for the couple that loves a nightcap: hot toddies, with two sleek glass mugs, small-batch whiskey and honey, a lemon, cinnamon sticks, and fresh ginger, all tucked into an inexpensive tray that we updated with a felt lining and raffia handles. Option two, for the friend with a designated reading nook: soothing chamomile tea leaves, a strainer, honey, and tart lemon biscuits. Fit them into a reusable wooden wine carrier, and let the unwinding begin.
To DIY neat sleeves for loose tea and cookies, wrap a piece of waxed paper around a narrow glass, fold the edge around the bottom, tape it flat, and slide out the glass. Slip the goodies inside, and tape the top closed.
Shop Now: Madisyns Crafts Paulownia Wood Rounded-Corner Trays, $28 for 3, madisynscrafts.etsy.com. Joann Craft Felt Fabric, 72", in Ruby, $5 a yd., joann.com. Queen of Wrap Premium Matte Raffia Ribbon, in Burgundy Red, $14 for 100 yd., amazon.com. CB2 Cantina Glass Mugs, $4.50 each, cb2.com. Kings County Distillery Bourbon Whiskey, $23 for 200 ml, shopbanquet.com/eastsidecellars. Pumpkin Village Vermont Raw Honey, $7.50 for 10 oz., shop.greenegrape.com. Paper Mart Natural Bentwood Wine Box, 12⅝" by 3⅜", $27 for 6, papermart.com. Proto Future Tea Strainer, $9, amazon.com. If You Care Unbleached Waxed paper, $5.50 for 75 sq. ft., grove.co. Annas Swedish Thins, in Almond, $3 for 5.25 oz., mercato.com. Brandless Organic Honey, $3 for 8 oz., brandless.com. Nuts.com Chamomile Flowers, $16 a lb., nuts.com.
Multipocket Felt Tote Bags
We love the idea of making this felt-bound tote bag as a gift—felt doesn't fray, so no hemming is required. From largest to smallest, the pockets on the gray bag are sized to hold a newspaper, tablet, smartphone, and a small subway card. You can make the smaller one, with pockets for small toys, for kids.
Heirloom Tea Towels
Transform precious handwritten family recipes into heirloom tea towels—they're perfect for gifting (or keeping as an heirloom for your own family).
Lavender "Tub Tea"
Lavender oil can help anyone relax, which makes it a great ingredient for a little sachet to drop in the water when drawing a bath. These sweet pouches of "tub tea" are wonderful hostess gifts.
Homemade Lip Balm
Dry, cracked lips are a thing of the past. Learn how to make these deliciously relaxing lip balms that the recipient is sure to wear every day of the year.
Cashmere Hat with Mixed Appliqués
In the bitter cold of winter, you'll be reaching for a warm hat every day. That's why we brightened this basic beanie with vintage bullion appliqués and iron-on metal studs. Create this look by attaching vintage bullion appliqués with fabric glue, and iron-on metal studs to a vintage cashmere hat.
Here's the secret to finding the perfect candle: Make your own! Candle making is way easier (and more fun!) than it may seem. These beautiful copper-bound candles are made with a blend of essential oils for a lovely scent all season long.
No-Sew Tea Towel Apron
Wearing an utterly charming apron in the kitchen won't make your soufflé rise any higher, but it's guaranteed to cover your bases and boost your mood as you whisk. To craft this one, grab a tea towel, a grommet kit, and two yards of twill tape.
Tea Gift Box
For a special gift, assemble luxurious teatime in a box. The concept can be as simple or as decadent as you wish. Here, we chose antique gold-rimmed teacups and vintage silver spoons from the flea market, a tin of tea and a silver strainer from Bellocq, rose-scented sugar and tea-spiced fruitcake.
Shop Now: Bellocq Tea Atelier "Christmas" Tea, $90 for 12 ounces, bellocqtea.com.
Leather Luggage Tags
Luggage tags and stationery are natural gift choices for any traveler on your list. Achieve a timeless look by cutting out leather and embossing it.with your intended giftee's name.
A pair of mittens are so much more cherished when a family member has knit them with love; this cozy set is the universal symbol for wintertime happiness and comfort. You can make a few pairs for loved ones on your list.
You can create the appealing, wafting scent of freshly baked goodies in the home using vodka. Any of your favorite baking extracts—citrus, vanilla, almond—will infuse your friends' homes and homemade desserts with your handiwork. Try grouping lime, orange, and lemon; or lemon, vanilla, and almond. Pour vodka over your ingredients, and let them steep for three weeks before gifting.
Shop Now: SKS Bottle & Packaging Square French Bottles with Aluminum Caps, 4 oz., $30 for 24, sks-bottle.com.
A hand-crocheted washcloth (made with fique—or pineapple—yarn) takes this gift above and beyond. Pair it with some handmade soap in naturally derived colors to create a self-care gift package that anyone would love to receive.
Metallics and leather complement each other perfectly in these chic carryalls. Get started by downloading our print template and cutting it out, tracing it onto the wrong side of leather with a pencil; cut out with ruler and knife. Then, score along fold lines on the wrong side of leather with knife, and run leather under water until it's pliable. Dry it with a towel, and then fold the pouch along scored lines. Lay the towel over the pouch and place a heavy book on top of it, letting it dry for an hour.
Continue by applying cement to the right sides of the tabs and inside the pouch where tabs will adhere. Let it set for 15 minutes, and fold the pouch, joining the tabs. Apply weight, and let it set for one hour. To add gilding on the bag, mask off an area you'd like to coat with masking tape. Apply adhesive to area with a brush, let it dry for 15 minutes, and then lay the gilding sheet (silver-side down) onto the surface. Rub it to adhere; remove paper, and repeat until the area is covered. Brush on decoupage medium to seal.
To add glitter, mask off as in step 6, then brush desired area with some decoupage medium. Sprinkle glitter over the painted area; let dry. Once dry, seal again with decoupage medium. Finally, using a mallet and leather punch, make an 11/64-inch hole in the top flap of the leather pouch. Cut a 3/8-inch-long slit from hole toward top of pouch. To make stud hole, close the flap and use a pencil to mark through flap hole. Place a scrap in pouch and use 3/32-inch punch to make hole where marked before adding your stud.
Shop Now: Craftsman Veg-Tan Single Shoulders, 4 to 5 ounces, $40, tandyleather.com, Barge All-Purpose Cement, 2 ounces, $7, walmart.com. Plain Mod Podge Clear Matte Acrylic Sealer, $7, walmart.com. HerChr 39-Piece Leather Punch Set, $13, walmart.com.
The bath "snowballs" can be tinted any color. You'll need three to four days to make the bath balls because of the drying time between steps. Our how-to creates two large or four small balls.
Two-Tone Beaded Necklaces with Tassels
Remember how proud you felt handing Mom macaroni jewelry back in the day? Our handmade necklaces are made with the same amount of love, but produce a more refined result—and they might be even easier to craft. Start by sourcing two strands of stones or glass beads, a package of crimp beads, and two tassels on rings; then, thread the strands through a crimp bead, a tassel ring, and then back through the crimp bead. Flatten with pliers to secure, and repeat the process on the other end with the second tassel.
For stylish wrapping, snip two slits near one side of a square of felt. Thread a suede cord through them and through the necklace, roll it up, and tie it in a knot.
Shop Now: Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Cabochon Acrylic Beads, $4 for 24, firemountaingems.com. Bead Landing Thread Tassels, $7, michaels.com. Woolfilz Wool Felt Pieces, 18" by 18", 9.50 per sheet, purlsoho.com.
These cozy knitted kitchen accessories are the perfect way to personalize a smaller gift from a luxury kitchen or home retailer. Sewers can begin by casting on 24 stitches—decide on the width of stripes, which are made with cotton twill tape, and where you'd like to place them. Knit at least eight rows in garter stitch before placing your stripes.
For a narrow stripe, follow this pattern: Row 1, knit; Row 2, purl; Row 3 and the rest of the rows, knit. For a wider striped look, follow this pattern: Row 1, knit; Row 2, purl; Row 3, knit; Row 4, purl; Row 5, purl; and row 6 and the rest of the rows need to be knits.
Cast off your work after knitting a total of 48 rows. Weave in the ends, and then cut a 7 1/2-inch piece of twill tape, matching its width with that of the knit groove. Fold the ends under 1/2 inch and place in the groove. Then, stitch the tape to secure, hiding stitches in the knit's stitches. For a loop, cut 3 inches of 1-inch twill tape, and fold it under about 1/2 inch before sewing to one side of the pot holder. Fold other end under and stitch it to the side as well.
Why not give the holiday lover the ultimate holiday gift of handmade ornaments? These intricate butterflies will be enjoyed for holiday seasons to come, and they're a joy to make for those who love the holiday season as much as you do.
Anyone can appreciate the gift of a good night's rest. You can use the same template to cut out each of the three layers that make up this sleeping mask. And because the bias tape serves as the trim, sewing is straightforward and foolproof.