Homemade for the Holidays: DIY Joy for Any Age


My children are the only grandchildren on both sides of the family. This means that each holiday season, without fail, they are inundated with anywhere from 15 to 26,191 gifts. A few years ago, at my in-law’s holiday celebration, the unwrapping went on for so long, my then 8-year-old asked for an intermission. We also exchange gifts with our neighbors, our Godchildren and a few close friends.

Two years ago, I decided to STOP THE MADNESS and make an effort to scale back/decommercialize the holiday season. My husband and I spent some time brainstorming, did some Pinterest research, and, as a family, we decided  on a DIY theme for the holidays:



Aside from a few Santa gifts, we committed to, as a family, making, baking, sewing, or growing each gift. Our friends and neighbors agreed, and just like that, a holiday tradition was born.

The goal is for each family member to make gifts for other family members that are unique, practical, and budget-friendly. The kids, though initially skeptical, LOVED getting involved, and truly started to appreciate that the holiday season is about giving and sharing joy with others. Here are some of the gifts that were big hits in our home this holiday season.

For the Tiny Tots

Our 6 and under crowd tends to be our easiest group to please. Some of our biggest hits in the gift department have been:

  1. Homemade Play Dough – Easy enough even my 9-year-old can make it with only 2-3 ingredients. We usually let the gift-giving kiddo choose the color and scent.
  2. Homemade Soap – Pick up a pound of glycerin and some essential oils when they go on sale, and grab some candy or soap molds. We like to hide tiny toys and glitter in our soap. Pair it with a tie-dyed washcloth and some homemade bath paints and you’ve got a perfect gift for any kiddo who loves to stay squeaky clean!
  3. Homemade Candy – If there is one thing that makes every kiddo happy, it’s FOOD! We hit a slam-dunk with my Godson this year by filling up vintage soda bottles and Mason jars with homemade marshmallows, rock candy, Buckeyes, and other sweet treats. We also included a personalized ice cream bowl made at one of those paint-your-own pottery places, as well as a small gift certificate to a local ice cream parlor.

Teen Scene

Teens, in general, can be difficult to BUY gifts for, much less make them. Here are a few of our biggest teen hits:

  1. No-Sew Fleece Tie Blankets and Pillows – Just buy two yards each of two different colors of fleece. Layer them on top of each other, and pin both pieces together so you can cut both at once. Cut a 5” by  5” square out of each corner, and cut the fringe 5” long.  Remove the pins, tie your knots and you’re done! A gift that can be used again and again.
  2. Beaded Necklaces or Bracelets – Personalized with any name or phrase, we use monofilament bead cord and gemstone beads in the recipient’s favorite color. These are an easy-to-make jewelry craft for kids, teens, OR adults.
  3. String Art – I was worried this would be our first Pinterest fail, but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had imagined. After a preliminary internet search, we were able to create some easy patterns. My husband rustled up some wood scraps, linoleum nails, a hammer, and some embroidery floss, and voila, we had a personalized gift for our hardest-to-impress teen.

The Grandparent Conundrum

Grandparents are especially tricky because they already have everything! We knew they would love any gift given to them by their favorite grandgirls, but we wanted to, nonetheless, give them gifts they needed and could use. These are several gifts that have been well-received:

  1. Tree Ornaments – DIY thumbprint and salt dough ornaments are gifts that will be treasured from year to year. Easy enough for even the youngest grandchild to create, they are easy on the budget and fun for the whole family to make.
  2. DIY Photo Coasters – Perfect for the grandparents who wants to eliminate coffee table rings AND show off pictures of grandkiddos. Photo gifts are often the way to go with this crowd. We have also made photo calendars, flipbooks, address labels, etc. Easy enough as long as you have a decent-quality photo printer and a little time.
  3. Homemade Bath Bombs – A great excuse to relax after the holidays, these were easy and fun to make. We paired this gift with a homemade candle and some easy-to-make body scrub.

Homemade gifts are meaningful, personal, and come from the heart. Our homemade gift exchange has become a treasured family tradition that we plan to continue for many years.

What is the best homemade gift you have given or received?


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