Christmas Gifts: 20+ Cute and Clever Ideas to Try

Friends and family will adore these handy handmade Christmas gifts -- including dishware, vases, and other home accessories -- that are just as fun (and easy!) to make as they are to give. Start one of these simple Christmas crafts today so you can check everyone off your holiday gift list.

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Three-Step Christmas Centerpieces

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Creative Christmas Tree Themes

Be creative by decorating your Christmas tree with a favorite theme that suits your decorating style or your family's personality. We were inspired by a local festival of trees and have included tips for bringing the looks inside your own Christmas home. Bonus: We've included lighting tips to make your tree shine.

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Christmas Sugar Cookies

Turn a simple sugar cookie into a masterpiece this Christmas. Whether you like your sugar cookies soft or crisp, simply decorated or frosted with intricate designs, these sugar cookie recipes are sure to sweeten up your holiday season.

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Deck a Christmas Staircase in Two Steps

It's so simple to decorate your staircase for Christmas! Get our damage-free, two-step plan to ensure that the holiday spirit extends from first floor to second.

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Creative Christmas Wreaths

Christmas wreaths don't have to be made from traditional evergreens -- in fact, we encourage you to mix it up with eucalyptus leaves, boxwood, lotus pods, and even items that don't come from nature, such as peppermint candies and pom-poms. These fun-to-make creative designs show you how to make Christmas wreaths with unexpected shapes, dazzling colors, and out-of-the-ordinary materials.

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Genius Christmas Hacks

Get ready for the Christmas season with our clever tricks to simplify the holidays. Including crafty Christmas wrapping ideas, must-try ideas for hosting guests, and why-didn't-I-think-of-that Christmas shortcuts, our tips for the holiday season are guaranteed to make your life easier.

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Make a Holiday Needle-Punch Cardinal

Needle-punch artwork is wonderful for decking your walls. This design features candy and holly buttons and a handcrafted felt mat that's edged with buttonhole stitches and green rickrack.

What You Need

  • 12-inch square of weaver's cloth
  • Ultra-fine-tip black permanent marker
  • Just Another Button Company handmade buttons: large, medium, and small peppermint swirls and large holly sprig
  • DMC embroidery floss: four skeins of chartreuse (704); two skeins of ecru color variations (4150); and one skein each of medium red (304), black (310), red (321), bright red (666), garnet (814), dark green (904), and yellow (972)
  • 3-strand punch needle
  • 3-millimeter black faceted glass bead
  • 12-inch square of red wool felt
  • Fabric marker
  • Black frame with 10-inch-square back opening and mounting board
  • Fabric glue
  • Green medium rickrack
  • Glue gun and hotmelt adhesive
  • 6-inch square gripper frame

Download Needle Punch Cardinal Pattern

A Guide to Embroidery Stitches

How to Make It

  1. Trace the downloadable pattern onto white paper.
  2. Tape the pattern to a sunny window or light box. Center and tape the weaver's cloth over the pattern so the direction the fabric stretches is from top to bottom.
  3. Use the black marker to trace the solid lines onto the fabric.
  4. Using the dashed lines as a guide, position the handmade buttons on the fabric and carefully trace the shapes with the fabric marker.
  5. Mount the fabric on the gripper frame. Refer to the photograph for colors.
  6. Separate the plies of floss and thread the punch needle, following the manufacturer's instructions. The needle indicator pin, which controls the height of the loops on the front side, was set to 1 for this design.
  7. Use ecru (4150) for the pedestal, punching in back-and-forth rows from side to side to create a dimensional look with the variegated floss.
  8. Use this floss to highlight the eye, punching three loops directly on the dot.
  9. For the cardinal, first outline each color area with stitches just inside the drawn lines.
  10. Make the stitches very close together so no space shows between them and then fill in the area inside the outline with stitches that follow the same direction as the outline.
  11. For a single line of color, as for the wing swirl and the peppermint string, punch directly on the drawn lines. In addition, punch directly on the button lines to ensure a perfect fit for the buttons; do not punch inside the button shapes.
  12. Start the background by outlining each of the previously punched elements.
  13. Continue adding consecutive rows of punches just beyond these outlines until the outlines meet.
  14. Fill in any remaining spaces to complete the background.
  15. Trim any long or loose pieces of floss, including the beginning and ending thread tails, to the same length as the punched loops.
  16. Snuggle the peppermint swirl and holly sprig buttons into the unpunched spaces left for them so they lie flat on the cloth. Sew in place with matching floss.
  17. Sew the black bead in place for the eye, allowing the end of one or two ecru loops to show.
  18. Use three strands of black to make a straight stitch on the beak from the tip to the face. (See Embroidery Stitch Guide above.)
  19. For the wool felt mat, measure the size of the finished design. Mark these measurements, centered, on the felt with a fabric marker.
  20. Cut on the drawn lines, creating the center opening in the felt mat.
  21. Blanket-stitch with three strands of the ecru floss along the cut edges of the opening.
  22. Stretch and mount the finished design on the mounting board using your favorite method.
  23. Place the wool felt mat on the mounted design so the blanket stitches of the mat are snuggled up against the outer punched loops. If desired, carefully lift up a section of the felt mat and apply small dots of fabric glue to the mat's back to secure it. Take care not to saturate the felt with glue or it will show on the front.
  24. Trim the wool felt mat even with the edges of the mounting board.
  25. Cut a length of rickrack for each inside edge of the frame's opening; glue in place.
  26. Place the matted design in the frame.
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