Gifts That Give Back

Embrace an attitude of gratitude this holiday season with gifts that bring joy to the people in your life and give back to those in need.

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On Cyber Monday, venture into unchartered retail territory. These favorite online vendors, recommended by our editors and bloggers alike, offer one-of-a-kind gifts and decor from around the globe.

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Decorate with What You Have for Christmas

Deck the halls this Christmas by repurposing items you already have on hand. Getting creative with your existing decorations and accessories lets you give your home a new and festive look this holiday season without spending a lot of money.

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This Ginger Beer Mixer Will Up Your Cocktail Game

Always-refreshing ginger beer takes a fruity turn with the added splash of pomegranate.

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Cute Needle-Felted Snowman Ornament

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Popular in Christmas

Handmade Hostess Gift Projects

With holiday parties filling your calendar, don't forget to show your hostess some love. Give thanks with a beautiful handmade gift. These easy crafts ideas are as fun to make as they are to give.


    Everything in this slideshow

    • Printed Tea Towel

      Pretty tea towels are an easy and practical gift. Stamp your own for a more personalized present. Choose your stamp depending on the holiday, season, or your hostess's decor.

    • Cozy Mug Wraps

      Make one of these easy-sew mug wraps for your hostess to use on her to-go cup, or make them in multiples for her next tea party.

    • Organic Lavender Bath Salts

      Guarantee your hostess a few good soaks with bath salts you mix up and gift in test tubes. In a bowl, blend coarse Dead Sea salt and an organic skin oil, such as macadamia nut oil, with a spoon. Stir until the salts are saturated. (You want the mix to be neither runny nor dry.) Add a few drops of lavender oil and mix well. Divide into test tubes. Top with a pinch of lavender flowers, and seal the containers.

    • Painted Holiday Plate

      A perfect holiday gift, this metallic plate will sparkle on your hostess's table. Start by spray-painting a serving tray with a metallic color. Create a stencil by pressing an evergreen sprig under a stack of books for a few hours, then spray the sprig with spray adhesive, and arrange it on the tray, pressing in place. Spray the entire tray with a satin-finish spray paint in a contrasting color. Remove the stencil and apply several coats of finishing spray.

    • Map-Lined Tray

      A tray is a helpful addition in any room. Personalize the gift with a map of your hostess's favorite vacation spot. Trim the map to the tray's dimensions and attach it with spray adhesive. Cover the map with glass for a long-lasting finish.

    • Scented Eye Pillow

      Lavender-filled pillows are easy to sew, and can be used to soothe tired eyes or freshen clothing.

      To make one eye pillow, you'll need to make two cases--one from muslin to hold the rice, lentils, and lavender mix and a second decorative case to enclose the muslin pillow. To start, cut decorative fabric into a 5x18-inch strip; fold in half with right sides together and iron. Cut muslin fabric into a strip 4-1/2x17-1/2 strip; fold in half with right sides together and iron. Stitch around open sides of each folded rectangle, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance and leaving a 1-1/2-inch opening. Snip corners; turn right side out and press. Mix 1-1/2 cups of a rice-and-lentils mixture with 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lavender in a bowl, adding a few drops of lavender essential oil. Adjust the amount of lavender and lavender oil according to the fragrance desired. Using a funnel, pour the filling into the opening of the muslin pillow until the pillow is just over half full. Sew the opening closed. Insert the muslin bag in the decorative fabric case; sew opening closed.

    • Cloth Wine Wraps

      Kraft paper and a piece of linen fabric come together for an easy and elegant wine-bottle wrap. It’s a great gift for almost any occasion. Secure the wrap with a cord (we used suede), and add a stamped label.

    • Tea Kit

      Make a custom tea blend and seal it in individual bags for an easy holiday gift. Fill heat-seal tea bags with a loose tea blend you make or buy. Cut a length of decorative twine and insert it into the bag, keeping it in the center of the bag opening. To seal, press down on the edge with an iron. Glue on an embellished tag. Pair tea bags with honey sticks and a teacup to complete the kit.

    • Wool Sweater Throw

      Repurpose old or secondhand sweaters to make this cozy throw. Use 9-inch squares of felted wool fabric, and arrange them in a pattern. Sew the horizontal rows together first, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Then sew the vertical rows together, matching the seams. Sew perle cotton ties at the intersections. Use a flannel sheet to back the quilt, and topstitch 1-inch from the edge around the perimeter to finish.

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      Personalized Cup and Saucer

      If your hostess is a tea or coffee drinker, she’ll love relaxing with a personalized cup and saucer. Decorate a ceramic cup and saucer with a ceramic paint pen. Design the set with your hostess’s initials, a favorite quote, or a decorative motif to complement her home.

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      Circle-Stitched Notebook

      To-do lists get brighter when you stitch colorful circles onto a plain notebook. Sketch your design on a blank sheet of paper. Attach the sketch to the cover of the notebook using masking tape, making sure to wrap tape around to the inside of the front cover to prevent the design from shifting. Place the cover on a cutting mat and pierce holes using a large needle or paper piercer, taking care to evenly space holes. (Tip: When approaching a curve, bring the holes a little closer together to achieve smooth lines.) Remove the pattern from the cover and stitch using four strands of embroidery floss for each color. Knot on the inside of the cover.

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      Felt Nut Bowl

      This rustic felt nut bowl is perfect for giving at a cozy holiday party. Cut two 10-inch squares -- one from felt and the other from woven cotton. Fold the edges of the cotton square and pin it to the felt. Stitch the squares together. Form the bowl by folding up the sides, sewing around the bottom, and leaving about 1-1/2 inches not sewn at each corner. Using embroidery floss, gather each corner with an X stitch.

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      Polymer Clay Tags

      Decorate a gift canister or bottle of wine with these easy-to-make clay tags. Knead polymer clay in your hands until soft; roll to 1/4-inch thick on a textured mat. Peel clay off the mat and turn over so the smooth side is on a cutting surface. Cut tag shapes using mini cookie cutters. Create a hole for hanging using a thin-point modeling tool and bake in the oven between two pieces of parchment sandwiched between two ceramic tiles at 200˚F for 30 minutes.

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      Simple Hand-Decorated Vase

      Bring a bouquet of flowers to the party in this elegant hand-decorated vase. Use a white oil-base marker to create a design on a plain ceramic vase.

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      Framed Map Decoration

      Commemorate a trip you shared with the hostess with a framed map set she can hang in her home. Trim a current or vintage map to fit your frame(s). For a smooth look, mount the map to a thicker backing, such as cardstock, with spray adhesive.

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      Monogrammed Tea Towel

      Dress up your hostess's kitchen with linen that's almost too pretty to use. The design might look elaborate, but the stitch is simple.

      Find a letter style you like (look in books or magazines or try free font sites) and enlarge on a copier to the desired size. Transfer the design to the fabric with a washable fabric marker, and place it in an embroidery hoop. Using a needle and three strands of embroidery floss, make running stitches (or your desired stitch), following the design. Knot the thread on the back after the last stitch.

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      Sewing Kit

      Put sewing essentials in a jar topped with a pincushion for a mending kit that's beautiful and a joy to use.

      Start with a canning jar, and gather essentials to fit inside: spools of thread, mini scissors, a tape measure, a piece of felt for storing needles, a sealed container to store pins, and a thimble. Make the pincushion top by stitching two circles of fabric together with wrong sides out; leave a 1-inch-wide opening. Turn right side out and stuff with filling. Stitch the opening closed and sandwich pincushion between the metal lid and screw band.

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      Next Slideshow Beautiful Handmade Christmas Ornaments

      Beautiful Handmade Christmas Ornaments

      Adorn your Christmas tree with beautiful handmade Christmas ornaments made by you and your loved ones. Hang our easy-to-make ornaments on your tree for generations to come, give them as gifts to friends, or use them to amp up your Christmas wrapping ideas.
      Begin Slideshow »



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