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.
Kitty Cat Luggage Tag
Cat lovers will purr over this luggage tag. Adorn a backpack, pet carrier, or suitcase with a sleek kitty. Use cardstock and our pattern, available below, to paper-piece a kitty. Assemble the cat and place on an identification tag. Laminate the tag for extra durability.
Editor's Tip: Please dog-lovers with a puppy cutout or paper-piecing tag.
Bangles with Attitude
Design fabulous jewelry that looks like art. The easy design secret is in the rub-on transfers. Paint a plain wooden bangle with two coats of acrylic paint. Let paint dry thoroughly between coats. Position a rub-on on the bracelet with transfer side down. Using a crafts stick, rub over the design. Continue adding rub-ons as desired. Apply a thin coat of clear acrylic sealer; let dry.
Serve a delightful gift that tea-lovers will use every day. Using a porcelain paint pen, draw a floral or other simple design and fine details on a plain teapot. Add color using a paintbrush. Keep acetone (nail polish remover works well) and tissues nearby to remove any mistakes. To set the paint, bake the teapot according to the paint manufacturer's instructions.
Bottle Cap Tabletop
Splash practical color into someone's life. Exploding with colorful bottle caps, this tabletop serves nicely as a side table or drink station. For an 18-inch round tabletop, spray both sides of about 100 bottle caps with primer; let dry. Divide the caps into groups for each color (we used six colors). Paint each group; let dry. Begin at the outer edge of the tabletop and affix caps, in a random pattern, to the surface using contact cement.
Painted Glass Vases
Seaside colors wash over salvage vases transforming them into sweet gifts. Search thrift shop shelves for milky white vases in various shapes and sizes. To achieve a watercolor effect on glass, mix glass paint with a few drops of paint thinner. If desired, adjust the amount of paint thinner to achieve varying viscosities and results, such as drips and runs. Paint freehand designs on each vase using an acrylic brush.
Editor's Tip: If you can't find milky white vases, swirl white paint inside clear glass vases. Note that the vases can't be used to hold water.
Assume all-start status with a fashionable cuff made from the leather coverings of a baseball. Hold a baseball securely. Using a crafts knife, carefully cut into the stitching between leather pieces. Pry up the leather with a metal skewer. Pull the leather away from the ball interior using needle-nose pliers; remove the stitching along the edges. Repeat to remove the second leather piece. Remove netting on back side of each piece. Lay leather pieces with wrong sides together. Cut a 2-yard length of embroidery floss in desired color, and stitch pieces together with a whipstitch through existing holes. Knot floss ends and trim. Stitch a small lobster clasp to cuff ends using matching embroidery floss.
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 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.
Pretty Button Ring
Put your favorite new or vintage buttons to good use. Arrange buttons to create a layered look. Adhere the buttons together using E-6000, and adhere the stack to a ring form. Remember that a small amount of liquid adhesive goes a long way.
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.
Design a Sweater Cozie
An old sweater, some buttons, and scraps are all you need to design a cheap Christmas gift for a friend.
Feed your favorite bookworm with a glowing gift. Use damaged or discarded books and a lamp kit to build this literary light. Drill a hole slightly larger than the lamp-kit rod through the center of each book until you reach the desired height. Assemble the lamp, threading the rod through the holes in the books. Cover a self-adhesive lampshade (or spray the lampshade with adhesive) with decorative paper or book pages to complete the gift.
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.
Sweet Specs Retro Pillow
Appeal to your retro-chic friends with this screen-print pillow. Trace our stencil pattern, available below, onto contact paper. Create a stencil by cutting out the parts you want to paint. Peel the paper backing from the stencil. Stick it to the flat side of a screen-printing screen (find one at a crafts store or make your own). Sandwich the stencil between the screen and the pillow fabric. Spoon fabric ink onto the screen and spread evenly, then squeegee the ink the length of the frame and back up. Lift the screen to reveal your design; let dry. Sew the printed fabric into a pillow cover.
Flowery Fabric Lampshade
This variegated golden lampshade blooms with style. To make it, dip-dye swathes of unbleached canvas drop cloth in various intensities of gold dye. Cut out 2- to 3-inch-diameter circles, fold them, and glue the centers to a fabric-covered lampshade. Place circles with the most saturated color at the bottom and continue to add ever-lighter pieces to the top until the shade is covered.
Vanity Dinner Plate
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.
Fabric Magazine Storage Caddy
This handy fabric tote is a simple and practical Christmas gift. To make, cut 12x48-inch pieces from decorator fabric and contrasting felt. Cut four handle pieces from additional decorator fabric using our pattern, available below. Sew the handle pieces together in pairs with right sides facing using a 1/2-inch seam allowance, leaving an opening for turning. Turn right side out, press, and topstitch. Sew the main tote pieces together, following the same steps as the handle pieces. With decorator fabric side up, align the handles with the short edge facing the center; sew together. With decorator fabric inside, fold the short edges together and sew. Turn right side out.
Editor's Tip: To give the tote stability, fuse heavyweight interfacing between the lining and main fabric before connecting the pieces; crease the corners with a metal ruler for shape. Pair the magazine storage caddy with a subscription to the recipient's favorite magazine.
Painted Ceramic Office Desk Set
Give the gift of office organization with this cute ceramic set. Use a porcelain paint pen to add a handmade design to plain servingware pieces; we used blue and orange circles to give these office supply catchalls pops of color.
Fun Handmade Gifts
These gifts are fun to make and do more than look pretty. They're useful as well as lovely.
Pretty-Packaged Kitchen Utensils
Paperboard wine containers create the perfect disguise for a set of wooden kitchen utensils, making it an ideal gift for friends or family that love to cook. Convert a plain white paperboard wine container (available online or at some shipping stores) into a pretty holiday gift box by covering it in patterned scrapbook paper; secure with double-stick tape. Attach a pretty ribbon for closing the container by punching two small holes in the center of either side of the container as shown. Thread two lengths of ribbon through the holes; tie a knot to secure. Close the container and tie a bow, or use the ribbon to attach additional embellishments, such as chipboard letters and glittered snowflakes.
Editor's Tip: Make this gift even more special with a handmade recipe book. Use our project, available below, or use a binder ring to secure 3x5-inch cards.
Wine Cork Bulletin Board
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.
Painted Ceramic Serving Platter
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.
Mosaic Wall Art
In just a few simple steps, you can create a cool piece of artwork to give as a Christmas gift. Gather product packaging from the recycling bin and cut squares the same size as scrap glass tiles. Secure the cardboard squares and glass tiles to a wide, flat frame with tile adhesive (available at home supply stores). Use the frame to display a piece of modern artwork or a photo that's special to the recipient.
Colorful Stitched Notebook
Brighten a plain notebook or journal with colorful embroidery floss for a thoughtful Christmas gift. Sketch a design on a piece of paper, using the photo for inspiration. 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 the 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.
Quilled Paper Picture Frame
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.
Handmade Travel-Mug Cozie
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.
Cookie Gift Ideas
Go for something sweet. Our cookie gifts are a cinch to make. See how!
From-Scratch Tea Kit
This thoughtful tea kit is a great Christmas gift for those who love hot drinks on cold, wintry days. Fill several heat-seal tea bags with a loose tea blend (you can make your own tea or purchase it from a coffee shop or specialty food store). Cut a length of decorative twine or colorful embroidery floss and insert into the bag, keeping it in the center. Press down on the edge of the bag with an iron to seal; glue an embellished tag onto the other end of the string. Include honey sticks and a tea cup with your handmade tea bags to complete the gift.
Recycled Book Keepsake Box
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.
Bright Flower Kitchen Trivet
Add color to a friend's kitchen for Christmas with this bright Zinnia-inspired trivet. Download and print our patterns, available below, and cut each image to fit the underside of a glass trivet, arranging in your desired pattern. Coat the bottom of the trivet with Mod Podge. Center the images facedown on the adhesive and smooth with your hand. Remove any air bubbles with a rolling pin; let dry completely.
Create a one-of-a-kind Christmas gift with scrapbooking supplies-turned-jewelry accents. Adorn a plain metal link bracelet with epoxy stickers or back clear buttons with patterned paper and chipboard, and then thread ribbon through the buttons.
Cloth Makeup Brush Holder
Pack this handmade cloth bag with makeup brushes and other essentials for a sweet, travel-size Christmas gift. Start with an 11x25-inch piece of pretty patterned fabric. Fold in half widthwise with right sides together; stitch all raw edges using 1/2-inch seam allowance, leaving an opening for turning. Trim the corners; turn right side out, and hand-stitch the opening closed. Turn up the folded edge five inches; mark eight 1-1/4-inch pockets, and channel quilt on the marks through all layers. Topstitch close to the outside edges, sandwiching a 24-inch folded piece of ribbon in one side seam.
Painted Storage Cube
A plain storage cube becomes a pretty (and functional) work of art with a bit of paint and a padded seat. Start with a simple lidless wooden box and add a colorful base coat of acrylic paint. Attach a die-cut place mat or doily to the box using stencil spray adhesive (available in crafts stores). Stencil the design in a coordinating color with stencil brushes; stencil smaller sections of the place mat or doily on other parts of the box to add variety if desired. Cut a piece of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) to the dimensions of the top of the cube. Cut a piece of fabric to the same dimensions, adding two inches on each side. Stretch the fabric over the MDF and staple the excess to the underside of three sides. Stuff the opening with fiberfill, then staple the fourth side. Screw hinges onto one side of the cube and one side of the MDF to make an easy-open top. If desired, make your cube mobile by attaching casters to the bottom.
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.
Hand-Painted Jewelry Box
Give Mom -- or someone special -- a neat place to store her favorite jewelry with this hand-painted jewelry box. Purchase an unfinished wooden storage box from a crafts store and paint it a bright color. Freehand-paint a design on the base and lid with a permanent marking pen to give the box character, or use a stencil and stamp to create your design. To finish the gift, hot-glue a medallion, button, or large bead to the front of the lid for the handle.
Chalk-Art Picture Frame
Frame a special photo in a colorful wooden frame for a sentimental Christmas gift. Prime the frame, then paint with a coat of chalkboard paint; let dry. Package the gift with different colors of chalk so the recipient can update the frame's caption and design as they change the photo.
Editor's Tip: To create your own custom color of chalkboard paint, combine 1 cup latex paint in your desired shade with 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout, mixing with a paint stick. During application, gently sand the dry layers of paint between coats with 150-grit sandpaper. Apply several coats for best color.