(Simple) Handmade Holiday Gifts.

 The arrival of Thanksgiving rockets me into a tiny panic of counting the days until our Solstice and Christmas celebrations. How many crafting days do I have left? (Just enough is always the answer.)

What about you? Are you feeling crafting this season? I thought I'd throw together a list of quick and simple crafts that you (or you and your children) can create for loved ones. For new crafters or experienced folks looking for some fresh ideas, this list might just jump-start some creating. Happy crafting!


Hand dyed play silks: I posted this tutorial for dying silks with kool aide last winter. Obviously great playthings for kids, and if you buy wearable sizes, these are elegant gifts for adults too.

Homemade Vanilla: There is still time! But this one you'll want to start fast. Split 12 vanilla beans lenght-wise, scrape the seeds, and add it all to a pint jar. Cover with good quality vodka. Let sit 4-6 weeks. Pour into bottles with 1 fresh vanilla bean per bottle. Yay, homemade! Amy posted a simple tutorial too if you want photos.


Simple sack doll: This seems like an ambitious project if you have never made a Waldorf doll, but even a sewer with only minimal experience can make in a few evenings. Really. Easy! And treasured forever. I poked around on-line and found this tutorial, but the Bunting Doll Kit here would be a great choice as well.

Recipe Kits: I have given recipe kits as standard holiday faire for years. Pick your theme (Ice Cream, Grilling out, Pancakes, etc.). Then transfer your favorite 5 or 6 recipes to cards and package up all the non-perishable ingredients for each batch. Throw in a thrifted vintage apron or spatula and you're good to go. (Random side note: One year my best friend and I both gave each other pancake kits with spatulas. It was simultaneously awesome and eerie.)


Natural Play Dough: Easy peasy! And a guaranteed winner. What's not to love about play dough? Here is a tutorial I posted last year for. (You can even substitute gluten free flour for the wheat if you are making the dough for a little one who is GF.)

Homemade Mustards: When I was in college I gave homemade pretzels and mustard (recipe courtesy of Martha) for holiday gifts one year. They were a huge hit (and cheap and easy to boot). I shared the recipes with my friend Denise who gives them for holiday gifts every year. Homemade mustard is easy. Ridiculously so. (And good. Ridiculously so.) But plan ahead a bit, as you'll want to give it a couple of weeks to develop.


Felt Crown: Another forever gift for your child, a crown is a key accessory around our place. You can make one for all of your favorite little people personalized with favorite colors or embellishments. There is a lovely tutorial here that I use to determine length for my front, back, and elastic. I then cut the shape to my own taste and embellish in my own style.

Tree Blocks: For the woodworking type, making simple Waldorf-style blocks are easy peasy. I made mine in an afternoon with some minor guidance from a friend when Sage was two. Find some windfallen lumber and a good saw and you're set. Here is a tutorial, with my edit to not varnish them but rub with a blend of beeswax and jojoba oil if you desire a finish.


Wool Christmas Stockings: These were a quick and impressive project. I can't wait to hang them again this year. Here is my post from last December on how I created them.

Knitted or Croched "Cinnamon Buns" and Play Ropes: For cinnamon buns use your biggest needles or hook to work up long narrowish scarves out of thick wool. For knitting, cast on 10 stitches, and knit is garter stitch (knitting every row) until they are 4 to 6 feet long. Roll them up (thus "cinnamon buns") and tuck into a basket for open ended play. For ropes, crochet thick yarn into ropes of various lengths and colors. You'll be amazed what they are used for! A small basket full is a playroom necessity around here. A great first knitting project or stash buster!

Enjoy the process, and try to not put too many projects on your plate. That can suck the joy out of any holiday. Consider making duplicates for the people on your list (everyone gets vanilla, for example). It will speed up your crafting time considerably. 


P.S. Yesterday's giveaway is still open, so throw your name in that hat if you haven't already done so!


15 thoughts on “(Simple) Handmade Holiday Gifts.

  1. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for all of these! We usually make a lot of things for Christmas, but are moving this year and haven’t done much besides some salt-dough ornaments and a little wooden reindeer. I might see if we can get through a few of these though if we have a chance.

  2. Susanne says:

    I love all of these ideas and plenty of ones I have floating around in my head. The problem always seems to be that everyone has a Christmas wish list that involves my having to buy something and participate in the consumerism of the season. Everyone I know has so much STUFF and handmade items from the heart never seem as appreciated. Sometimes, there is something really special that I may want for the holidays, something I wouldn’t normally get for myself (like a spiffy new blender) but I’m tired of shelling out money for Best Buy gift and Sephora gift cards for the umpteenth year in a row 🙁 How do you handle this in your family? Do people request certain gifts?

  3. Kelly says:

    Oh, what a lovely list, thank you! I love the play rope idea…do you have any photos? And homemade playdough is my go-to birthday gift. Easy to do last-minute, WAY nicer than store-bought and a huge hit with the 3-4-year-old crowd. 🙂

  4. jen says:

    Thanks for the great suggestions!
    We make lime ice-box cookies every year-sort of “our thing” : )
    We also dye silks for little people and scarves for the aunts and grandmas. This year we are trying felted soaps too.

    Oh-in the past we have made dog biscuits and I have given hand-mixed herbal teas.

    We have a small family, so this might not be a possibility for others, but…we try to make a small donation in each family’s name to a worthy organization. Something meaningful for those people. In the past we have chosen animal rescue organizations, a veteran’s assistance program, and another that provides birth supplies/kits.

    Can’t wait to see more crafty ideas : )

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    Because the ropes and cinnamon buns are always in use here and there they are rarely snuggled together in the basket. Ill take a peek and if I can find them not in use Ill send you a photo.
    ~ Rachel

  6. Rachel Wolf says:

    Ive found that even the most die-hard consumer type is impressed by something wholly handmade. And I have also given donations to Heifer International for people who might be less than thrilled with mittens. People sometimes request certain gifts, but it I make it clear that I make, dont buy, then they know better what to request. This year I am making: fingerless mittens, felted slippers, felt coasters, and hunting convertible gloves, and stitched notebooks. Sure to be loved!


  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    Awesome! I kept meaning to make Vanilla but we dont have vodka in the house and I never seem to make it to the grocery store (versus the coop.). So chai blend it is!


  8. nannergirl says:

    Thanks for all the ideas. I love that you’ve got ideas for everyone. Plus – I just received some booty balm and the lovely smell filled my front hall when i opened the package. I love it! And we all tried it out, even though our newest family member isn’t due until April 🙂

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