Holiday How Tos: Instead of Shopping for the Perfect Gift, Make One!

holiday-craftsRather than shop for a new holiday gift, show your friends and loved ones how much you care with a homemade gift. Homemade gifts are a fun and thoughtful alternative to store-bought presents, and many let you tap into your creative side. These homemade holiday gift ideas are perfect for seasoned and new crafters alike.

Sugar Scrubs

One of the simplest crafts to make, a homemade sugar scrub is the perfect gift for the beauty buff in your life. All you need is sugar, coconut oil, and essential oil or herbs to flavor the scrub.

To create a sugar scrub, melt coconut oil and whisk in herbs or essential oils. Pour in granulated sugar and stir until you have a thick paste. Pour the paste into a mason jar then add a decorative label and you’re ready to gift. Vary the essential oil you use to add an aromatherapy benefit to this gift. Lavender is relaxing, while peppermint is invigorating.

Leather Bracelets

Leather cuffs are not only easy to make, they are great gifts for men, who can sometimes be difficult to shop for. To create a leather cuff, you’ll need a piece of leather, snaps, and snap attachment tools, plus a wrist measurement to gauge the right size for the cuff. Use your own wrist if you’re giving it to someone that’s similar in size to you, measure the recipient’s wrist if the gift isn’t intended to be a surprise, or find someone who is the same gender as the recipient to get an estimate.

After measuring, cut down the leather to the right size and shape. You can cut the leather into one simple strip for a plain cuff or leave it wider at one end for an asymmetrical look. Mark where the snaps should go, then use the tools in the snap kit to drive in the top and bottom of your snaps.

Knit or Crochet Hats, Scarves, or Gloves

Knitted or crochet items are a classic winter gift idea. If you’re new to knitting or crocheting, you may want to take a class since these crafts can be difficult to pick up on your own. If you’re an experienced knitter, then choose one of your trusted hat, scarf, or glove patterns or try something new to keep it fun for you.

Steer clear of pure wool, which isn’t machine washable and is itchy against skin. Good choice materials include super wash wool and acrylic, which are machine washable, or alpaca, which is hand-washable and lacks the itchy properties of pure wool. For a luxurious garment, think angora or cashmere yarn. Select yarn in a color the recipient will love.


It’s simple to create homemade candles in any color or fragrance you like. By selecting a pretty jar, a china teacup, old tea tin, or another decorative container, you can customize the gift.

To make a candle, you’ll need wax in your preferred color – soy is an eco-friendly choice, or paraffin is traditional – plus wicks and fragrance oils. You can use essential oils, although fragrance oils deliver a stronger scent. Once you have all your supplies ready, melt the wax in a double boiler. While the wax melts, cut wicks to the desired length, dip the wick in the melting wax and stick it in the bottom of your jar. Stir the fragrance oils into the melted wax to scent your candles. Last, pour the liquid wax into the jars, holding the wick straight up. After a couple of hours, the melted wax will harden again and your candles will be ready for gifting.


Coasters are a practical gift, and they’re also easy to make in an array of materials. Think about what your loved one or friend would enjoy the most and how much effort you want to put into crafting the coasters. These can come together pretty quickly or take more time and effort, depending on the material you choose.

Natural stone coasters, such as agate or marble, have been popular recently. Find natural stone slices online, then wrap the coasters with a pretty bow and you’re all set to gift. Paint your own pottery shops have clay coasters, which you can stamp or paint as you wish. Stone or clay coasters are best for adults, as the material is breakable.

For a natural or rustic look, find cork circles at a craft supply store. Use paint pens to create patterns on the cork. If you enjoy sewing, use scrap fabric to put together coasters that express your love. These coasters are great gift ideas for teens or for families with young kids, as the material won’t shatter if it’s dropped.

Cookies or candy

Who doesn’t love a sweet treat for the holidays? Cookies and candy are classic gifts, which you can make in any flavor or style you want. It’s often fun to get together with a group of friends and have everyone make different cookies or candies for swapping. This makes gifting a social activity, and allows everyone to go home with an assortment of cookies or candy for serving at holiday gatherings or for gifting.

These gift ideas were inspired by our craft group at Havenwood Heritage Heights, aNew Hampshire continuing care retirement community. If you create a holiday craft of your own, we’d love for you to contact us for a tour and bring your creations along for us to see! From your friends at Havenwood Heritage Heights – Happy holiday crafting!