Handmade Hostess Gift Projects

The holiday season brings an abundance of chances to give handmade hostess gifts. You'll enjoy stamping, stenciling, stitching, or assembling these simple projects created by our partners at Etsy, the online community of crafters. Or click the link to buy them from the designers.

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Felt Coasters
Felt Coasters

    Use a template to cut flower-shape drink coasters from felt sheets.

    Make a stencil of the flower shape using the pattern. Trace the pattern on thick paper; cut out the shape. Place the stencil on a sheet of 3mm wool felt, trace the pattern with a pencil, and cut out the shape with sharp scissors. Felt won't fray, so there's no need to finish the edges. Note: Felt thicker than 3mm will be difficult to cut with scissors. Use a die and die-cutting tool, available at most scrapbook stores.

Tree-Stamped Cocktail Napkin

    Hand-carved stamps open the door to all kinds of gifts, such as a set of napkins.

    Gather your stamps, nontoxic fabric paint, a paper plate, and paper towels for blotting. Pour paint on a paper plate, and dip the stamp in the paint. Remove excess with paper towels. Position the stamp over washed and dried linens. (Tip: Do not use fabric softener.) Press the stamp down lightly to transfer the design. Allow it to dry before using.

Circle-Stitched Notebook

    To-do lists get brighter when you stitch colorful circles onto a plain notebook.

    Determine a design (use the image for inspiration) and sketch it 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 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. Knot on the inside of the cover at the end of the design.

Vintage Fabric Monogram Note Card

    Attach paper or fabric monograms (use scraps!) to cardstock.

    Cut cardstock to size and fold. Print letters from your computer using the "mirror image" feature to reverse the type. Trace the letter onto the paper side of fusible webbing from the crafts or fabrics store, and iron the fusible web onto the paper or fabric of your choice with medium heat. Cut out the letters using sharp scissors and a sure hand. Peel away the paper backing. Place each onto a note card, cover with a pressing cloth, and iron for a few seconds on low-medium heat.

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 strip 18 inches long and 5 inches wide; fold in half with right sides together and iron. Cut muslin fabric into a strip 17-1/2 inches long and 4-1/2 inches wide; 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.

Cranberry Cookie Mix in a Jar

    Give the gift of holiday baking in a pretty glass package that's layered with love.

    Layer cookie ingredients in a canning jar in this order: 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached flour; 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats; 1/2 cup unbleached flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda; 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed; 1/3 cup white sugar; 1/2 cup dried cranberries; 1/2 cup white vanilla chips; and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Top with a lid. On cardstock or a recipe card, print these directions: "To make the cookies, preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until fluffy. Add the contents of the jar and mix until well blended. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes." Attach the directions to the jar with a pretty ribbon.

Chandelier Votive Holders

    Dress up ordinary votive holders for the holidays with festive patterns and colors suited to the holidays and beyond.

    Buy a clear glass votive at a crafts store. To make the design, use a die-cutting tool to cut your desired shapes from adhesive-backed vinyl (purchased at a crafts store or online). Simply place the design on the votive as desired, using the adhesive backing to attach it.

Embroidered Necklace

    A pendant setting and a few stitches create a charming personalized necklace.

    Select a design. Simple letters from a script font work well, or you can select other simple line patterns. Transfer your design to fabric in the size needed for the pendant setting using a water-soluble fabric marking pen. Stretch the fabric in an embroidery hoop. Use embroidery floss and a needle to work a basic split stitch over the line drawing. Tie off the thread on the back when finished. Wash fabric, press with an iron on medium heat, and arrange in a purchased pendant setting.

Tea-for-Two Coaster and Place Mat

    Buy this set as a stitch-it-yourself kit, or take inspiration from the design.

    To get the look, cut out two pieces of fabric for each place mat or coaster in the desired size, adding 1/4 inch for seam allowances on all sides. Create a simple line pattern and transfer onto one place mat or coaster fabric piece using chalk paper and a tracing tool from the fabrics store. Stitch the pattern, following the marked chalk lines using a sashiko stitch. (You can find how-to instructions for this stitch at sakepuppets.wordpress.com/sashiko.) For each item, pin matching fabric pieces with right sides together, and stitch around the perimeter with a sewing machine or by hand, leaving an opening; clip corners. Turn right side out, and stitch the opening closed.

Hand-Cut Veneer Votive Holder

    A stencil helps make a special cutout candleholder.

    Measure the height and circumference of a cylindrical votive to determine the size of decorative wrap you'll need. Cut a strip to that size from a thin wood veneer sheet using sharp scissors. Use a pencil to transfer your stencil design. On a mat, cut the design from the veneer sheet using a crafts knife. Turn the wood veneer over and spray with a thin coat of spray adhesive. Attach a piece of vellum to the back. Cut vellum to the size of the veneer, and attach the wrap to the votive with adhesive.

Chalkboard Tablet

    Replace all those scraps of paper with a handy, and mobile, tablet for notes, lists, and holiday messages.

    Cut a 1/2-inch oak board (new or reclaimed) with a table saw to 8x3-1/2 inches. Plane and sand the board until smooth. Prime the top of the board; let dry and sand lightly. Wipe clean with a tack cloth. Apply chalkboard paint; let dry and sand lightly; wipe with a tack cloth. Repeat. Bevel each edge of the painted side to give it a clean finish. Drill a hole for hanging. Oil the wood with natural tung oil, taking care not to get oil on the chalkboard finish. Cut a piece of leather to shape and size for a pencil holder; tack it to the board using four tacks (two on each side). Tuck a chalk pencil into the pencil holder.

Polymer Clay Tags

    Knead, roll, and cut your way to a set of tags for boxes, bags, or canisters.

    Knead polymer clay in your hands until softened; roll to 1/4 inch thick on a texture mat. Peel 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 200F for 30 minutes.

Monogrammed Tea Towel

    Dress up her 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 such as fontsquirrel.com or 1001freefonts.com), and enlarge the letter 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. Make running stitches (or your desired stitch) with a needle using three strands of embroidery floss following the design. Knot the thread on the back after the last stitch.

Organic Lavender Bath Salts

    Guarantee 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 gift containers. Top with a pinch of lavender flowers, and seal the container.

Wrist Cuff

    Make an attention-grabbing soft wrist cuff using scrap fabrics and simple sewing techniques.

    Start with the top layer: Cut a 3x8-inch fabric rectangle. Embellish by stitching on decorative fabrics and ribbons. Cut a 1x4-inch fabric rectangle for the loop. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and press; unfold. Fold the long raw edges toward the center crease, press again, and refold along center crease; stitch along the open edge. Fold the loop in half and align raw ends of loop with raw edge of a short cuff edge. Pin in place. Cut a second 3x8-inch rectangle for the lining. With right sides together, pin lining to top layer, matching all edges and sandwiching loop ends between the fabric layers. Stitch around three sides, leaving the end where the button goes open. Clip corners, turn, and press. Fold the remaining raw edges inside and topstitch to close. Sew on the button to finish.

Tea Kit

    Make a custom tea blend and seal it in individual bags. Package the tea bags in a cup to be enjoyed long after the tea is gone.

    Fill heat-seal tea bags with a loose tea blend you make or buy. Cut a length of decorative twine and insert 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.

Feather Tea Towel

    Decorative tea towels take the work out of kitchen chores.

    Sew your own tea towels (approximately 27-1/2x20-1/2 inches) from lightweight, organic cotton, or purchase flour sack towels. Cover a work surface with kraft paper. Download and print the feather design onto white paper. Transfer the design to a rubber-stamp block from the art store, using a pencil to trace over the printout. Turn the pencil marked side down and position it on a rubber block. (Tip: For a clean transfer, be careful not to slide the paper around on the block.) With a slightly warm iron, rub the back of the design to transfer it to the block. Lift a corner of the paper to check on the transfer. Continue until the desired darkness. Carve away blank areas of the block. To cut away the large background area, use a large U-shape blade. Use smaller V-shape blades for cutting out the design. Wash the block with cool water and pat dry. Before printing, test on a fabric scrap to get the feel for how much ink and pressure to apply. Lay fabric on the work area. Place a small spoonful of water-base screen-printing ink from the art store on a paper plate. Roll a brayer through the ink to coat the roller evenly. Roll the coated brayer over the design on the stamp block. Wipe away any misplaced ink with a damp cloth. Press the entire block firmly onto the fabric. Adjust the amount of ink as necessary. Repeat on the towel when you are comfortable with the process. Let the ink dry then heat-set the design following the ink manufacturer's instructions.

Sewing Kit

    Put the 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 sewing 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 wrong sides out. Leave an opening about an inch wide. Turn right side out and stuff with filling; Stitch the circle closed and sandwich pincushion between the metal lid and screw band.

Flower Buttons

    Make a few of these flowers, then choose fasteners for the backs: hair clip, pin, stretch lace, or ribbon.

    You'll need eight fabric circles the same size and two slightly smaller felt circles to make one fabric flower. Using the downloadable pattern or a soup can as a pattern, trace the eight large circles onto fabric using a pencil. Trace and cut two smaller circles from felt. Download the step-by-step illustrations. Fold one of the large fabric circles in half and then again into quarters. Add a dab of fabric glue to the end and fold again into eighths. Repeat with the other seven large fabric circles. Position all eight on a small circle of felt as if they were slices of pizza; glue each to the felt to secure. Sew a button to the center of the flower using a needle and thread. Glue the second smaller felt circle to the back to cover the stitches. Glue or stitch a fastener on back.

Stitched Journal

    An embellished journal is a simple way to share your creativity and encourage it in others.

    For the background of the design cut a piece of cardstock 1/2 inch smaller than the journal cover. Select a design to suit the recipient. Choose a design like this owl for smiles or go the sophisticated route with simple overlapping geometric shapes. Cut the desired shapes from appropriate colors of cardstock. Arrange the cutouts on the background. (Tip: Use removable tape to hold the pieces down.) Sew the shapes to the background cardstock, removing the tape as you go. As you sew through more layers, you might need to switch to a heavier needle and adjust your sewing machine tension. When you have completed your design, use removable tape to hold it to the notebook, and sew the design to the cover.

Reusable No-Sew Felt Cracker

    Stiff felt makes rolling up these little packages easy. Wrap up a few favorite candies and tie with ribbon.

    Using the illustration as a guide, cut a rectangle from felt and line it with a square of stiff fusible interfacing. Add a layer of bamboo batting to help the finished cracker hold its shape. Place little gift items on the batting and roll the felt around it. Tie each end with a length of ribbon. After securing, use scissors to snip the felt ends into a fringe.


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