Gather your friends and use these patriotic decorating, entertaining, and recipe ideas for this year's 4th of July celebration. From festive star banners and refreshing watermelon coolers to raveworthy party favors and more, your 4th of July party is bound to be summer's biggest shindig.View Slideshow
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.
Give the gift of a hand-painted Mason jar or glass container this Christmas season. They make gorgeous vases, makeup brush containers, or pen holders. Paint the outside of the jars with two coats of paint. We mixed several shades of pink with white to create a range of hues. For a touch of glam, mask the top of the jar with painter's tape and cover the bottom with glitter spray paint.
If your friend is a fashionista, she'll love this pretty fringe scarf for her Christmas gift. To make, cut a 14x73-1/2-inch strip of fabric; fold in half lengthwise with right sides together. Align a 73-1/2-inch length of pom-pom trim to the fabric's raw edge and sew to the long edges of the strip to make a tube; turn right side out. Lay the tube on a work surface. Pick up one end of the tube and flip it over, creating a twist. Fold the tube in half by turning one end wrong side out and pulling it over the opposite end until the short ends are aligned. Sew along the short ends, leaving a 4-inch opening. Turn the scarf right side out through the opening; hand-sew the opening closed.
Give the wine-lover on your list these slip-on coasters -- they lift with the glass as you sip. To make, cut several wineglass-size circles from colored felt. In half of the circles, cut a square opening in the center of the circle; add four diagonal cuts stemming from the square's corners. Using fabric glue, add pom-pom trim to the outside edge of the felt circles without the center openings. Using embroidery floss, stitch pairs of felt circles together about 1/4-inch inside the outside edges.
This thoughtful tea kit is a great Christmas gift for those who love hot drinks on cold, wintry days. Ginger, cloves, and dried apple chips flavor the warming homemade tea mixture. Simply fill tea filters with the premade mixture, wrap with string to close, and tie on a cinnamon stick or two. Festive tags and cups finish the project.
Give a friend this cute homemade gift for Christmas this year. Not only will she love how reusable it is, but it's a fun take on regular chalkboards. To make, paint the bottom of a wooden crafts plank in a bright color that matches her kitchen. Paint the surface of the plank with a clear chalkboard coating. Stamp numbers along the side using a solvent ink. Drill a hole large enough for a leather cord at the top of the plank; thread cord through hole. Gift with a couple of chalkboard markers (available at crafts stores).
For gift-giving emergencies, dress up a simple gift card with our festive holders. Stitch two pieces of felt together using your card to measure. Using holiday-theme stencils, trace designs onto felt in contrasting colors; hot-glue to secure. Cut a small circle at the top of each tag; thread with baker's twine.
Brighten a friend's morning by giving them a personalized travel-mug cozie for Christmas. Use our pattern, available below, to get the size wrap for a standard coffee travel mug. Cut letters or shapes from different patterns of fabric to embellish the cozie.
Remind your loved ones what matters most with this easy Christmas gift. Bonus: It's super inexpensive, too! Download and print our home sweet home sign. Glue a magnet to the front of a framed wood plaque from a crafts store, then stick a metal clip to the magnet to hold the artwork.
Try this delightful gift that flower-lovers will use time and time again for Christmas. Using a porcelain paint pen, draw a floral or other simple design and fine details on a plain vase. If you're not confident in your freehand abilities, try sketching your design onto paper and use transfer paper to position the design on the surface.
Brighten a plain notebook or journal with colorful embroidery floss for a thoughtful Christmas gift. Sketch a design on a piece of paper; secure the sketch to the notebook cover using masking tape, making sure to wrap the tape around to the inside of the cover to keep the design from moving. Place the front cover on a cutting mat and pierce using a large needle or paper piercer, making sure the holes are evenly spaced. If you're using a circle design, bring the holes a little closer together when approaching a curve to get smooth lines. Remove the pattern from the cover and stitch using four strands of embroidery floss; knot on the inside of the cover to finish the project.
A six-panel window frame becomes a weekly calendar that's stylish and effective. Each day of the workweek is assigned a frame, and the sixth frame makes room for notes or photos. Tape off the wooden frame with painter's tape. To make the calendar magnetic, spray several coats of magnetic spray paint on the front of the glass, allowing each coat to dry between applications. Paint each pane with chalkboard paint using a paintbrush to edge and a small foam roller.
Erasable labels add more value to already useful storage containers. Create your gift using colorful repositionable vinyl stickers that accept chalk marks (available at most crafts stores). Use a punch to cut fun shapes. Remove the paper backing and position the label on the container of your choice. Before you deliver the gift, add holiday wishes to the label -- and don't forget a piece of chalk!
Create your own coasters! Flashy centers and simple construction save surfaces and show off colors that suit their new owner. Rounded-corner paint chips and vinyl flooring samples form the coasters. Round the corners of the flooring samples by tracing around the paint-chip corners; use scissors to carefully trim excess material. Use spray adhesive to secure a paint chip to the center of a vinyl sample. In a well-ventilated area, apply five coats of glossy clear sealer, allowing full drying time between coats. Affix felt pads to the coaster bottoms.
Put a collection of wine corks to use with this creative Christmas gift. A wine cork base makes a bulletin board both functional and artsy. Choose a frame deep enough to hold whole corks, or cut the corks in half lengthwise with an extra-fine razor saw (available at hobby stores). Secure the corks to the frame backing using wood glue.
Editor's Tip: Add a special touch to the gift by adding a few photos to the bulletin board before giving.
This quartet of birch boxes hides keepsakes or clutter, but they show off vivid color. To vary the coral hue, double the amount of dye powder in the dye bath and the soaking time to make each box progressively darker.
Transform an old book into a pretty box for trinkets and other small items with this easy-to-make Christmas gift. Apply crafts glue to the inside back cover and close the book; let dry. Apply glue to the book's edges; let dry. Mark a rectangle on the first page about 1-inch from all sides. Use a crafts knife to cut along the mark through several pages. Remove the cut pages; continue cutting and removing pages until you've reached the desired depth. Seal the cut pages with clear glue to finish the keepsake box.
Editor's Tip: Place waxed paper between the first page and the front cover to keep them from adhering together.
Whether it's used for serving or for a fun display, this pretty Christmas gift will brighten any kitchen. Create a colorful motif around the edges of a purchased platter with ceramic paints or porcelain paint pens, then sketch and paint a fun shape in the center. Many ceramic paints require baking to set the colors, so be sure to read the packaging instructions before you start the project.
Editor's Tip: Make it easy and use a stencil for the center shape.
Capture a special moment with a picture frame decorated with quilled paper -- an ideal Christmas gift for a family member. Using a ruler and a crafts knife, cut paper into 1/8-inch-wide strips, varying the lengths of the strips to create big and small shapes. Load a strip onto a slotted quilling tool (available at fabrics stores) and twist the tool to coil the paper tightly. Once coiled, pull the paper off the tool and release slowly to slightly uncoil. Glue the coils to the matting of a simple wooden frame in a pleasing arrangement.
Editor's Tip: Experiment with pinching the coils to create fun shapes; if you pinch coils on one side you can make leaf or petal shapes.
This coaster quartet takes shape with plain porcelain tiles painted with musical motifs. Download and resize free musical instrument clip art, then shade the shapes with a pencil so you can see the design on the reverse side. Flip the patterns over and place on ceramic tiles; trace around the shaded shapes to transfer a faint outline of the patterns to the tiles. Attach rubber cabinet bumpers to the backs of the tiles to protect surfaces and keep the coasters from shifting, then fill in or paint around each silhouette with a thin paintbrush and porcelain paint.
Made from a favorite-color paint chip, this bookmark pops between the pages. Purchase a stencil from your local crafts store, or create your own pattern. Choose a paint chip, and draw the design onto the chip using a fine-point permanent marker.
Editor's Tip: Write, rub on, or stamp a holiday message, literary quote, or personal message on the bookmark.
When you portray your favorite person on a dinner plate, they'll feel like the guest of honor at every meal. Using a photo as a starting point, draw the shape and fine features of your muse onto a plain white plate using a porcelain paint pen. Use a paintbrush to add blush and hair. Keep acetone (nail polish remover works well) and tissues close to remove any mistakes. To set the paint, bake the plate according to the paint manufacturer's instructions. Although the plate should be food-safe, check the manufacturer's instructions or use it for decorative purposes only.
Editor's Tip: If you doubt your drawing abilities, look online for a caricature-creation site, and trace your computer-generated design onto the plate.