DIY Christmas: Ten Easy and Cheap (or free!) Handmade Gift Ideas

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, my husband has given me leave to get all Christmassy up in this place (aka, our house). It’s been all over my blog so you’re probably well aware, but a week ago I quit my job, leaving us about 1/3 of our income poorer per month. And while we are definitely able to survive on that, it does mean we have a whole lot less to buy extras with. Including gifts. And I love giving gifts. It is one of my ways to express my love, giving people things.

So this year, I’m going to attempt to make as many presents as I can with what I have, and since a few of you requested I put together a list of ideas, I’m sharing my favorite DIY gift ideas here! These are all pretty easy for those of you who have no time, and can be made cheaply (or free, if you’re a hoarder like I am) for those of you who, like me, only have a few extra pennies to spare.

1. Cookies (or soup) in a Jar

Cookies in a jar


Time: 30 minutes | Cost: Under $30 for several jars, much less if you already have jars, flour, sugar, etc.

Cookies (or soup) in a jar is one of the easiest and most foolproof things you could DIY for Christmas. It looks pretty, you can make several with the ingredients needed, and who doesn’t like free food? Since my mom and I canned pickles this year and last year, we have a ton of jars sitting around waiting to be used, and this would be one super simple, very easy gift to put together. All I need are a few different flavors of chocolate chips, and I’m set!

Recipes: Country Oatmeal Cookies | Butterscotch Chip Cookies | Chocolate Chip Cookies | Gingerbread Cookies | Free Printable Labels + More Jar Recipes

2. Finger Knit Scarves + Hats + Other Things

S2 (source)

Time: 2+ hours, depending on project | Cost: Under $5 unless you’ve already got yarn, then… free!

I recently learned how to finger-knit, and this may be one of my favorite DIY projects ever. It’s easy, you don’t need any tools except scissors, and if you’ve got time (or are sitting watching TV), you can whip up a cute scarf or hat with very minimal effort. It does take longer to do, since it’s harder to quit in the middle, but it’s well worth the effort. And hey, if your kids need something to keep their busy hands occupied, this is a great craft for them to jump in on!

Instructions: How to Finger Knit | Put Together a Scarf | Make Boot Cuffs | Finger Knit Hat

3. Handmade Pillows


Time: 30+ minutes, depending on the design | Cost: $10 or less, depending on what supplies you already own and what you want to make.

Pillows are probably the easiest sewing project in existence. Four straight lines? I can do that! Iron-on appliques? Easy-peasy. Stenciled on designs? Done! Plus, the possibilities are endless: you can choose colors, designs, shapes, materials, and make the most personalized gift ever. And if you’ve already got a plethora of fabrics (or a mom who has a stash), you don’t even have to put down any cash to get a thoughtful, pretty, and even useful gift. Or two. Or five. Everyone loves pillows.

If you’re ambitious, you can even go with non-square pillows. Like this sheep pillow, or these letter pillows, or these bear pillows. I want to make them all!

Instructions: How to sew a pillow | Ideas

4. Personalized Gift Basket


Homemade Mother's Day Gift Idea - Handmade Spa Bath and Beauty Gift Basket with Printable Labels


Time and cost depend on you!

If you’re thrifty rather than crafty, take a trip to the thrift store, the dollar store, and the clearance sections and put together a personalized gift basket for your loved ones! Or, you can craft your own things to put in the basket, including a few projects on this list — create a coffee-lover’s paradise with coffee cups, flavored coffee, flavored syrups, biscotti, and other coffee-related things; make a great family-night basket with a thrifted DVD, a few bags of popcorn, dollar-store candy, and some cans of soda; put together a mom’s night of relaxation with soft slippers, lotions, bath salts, candles, and maybe some nail polish… I love this idea because again, the possibilities are endless!

And you don’t have to spend a ton of money on it, either. I once spent $10 or less on a gift basket for my brother because of thrift store finds and dollar-box candy.

Ideas: Pinterest | Gift Baskets on a Budget | 3 DIY Gift Baskets (with instructions)

5. Handmade Stationery Set


Time: 30 minutes, depending on project | Cost: Free and up, depending on what you have and what you want to buy.

I have always been a huge stationery lover and collector, and making up some quick stationery as a gift is SO easy. You can use stamps, paint your own designs, cross-stitch, embroider, add lace, sequins, buttons, beads, washi tape… whatever you want to do, really. And the results will be 100% personal.

Instructions: 13 DIY Stationery Ideas

6. Handpainted Plant Pots


Time: 20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your paint | Cost: $10 (or less, or more, depending on your supplies and how much you choose to spend!)

Know a plant-lover? Or perhaps someone who would love a cute little pot for jewelry, hairpins, push pins, or other knick-knacks? This is the perfect, easy gift! All it takes is a clay pot (which you can find for under $5 at Home Depot) and some acrylic paint, and you’re set! This would also be a great little gift project for those outdoor-loving kids, who want to grow their very own plants. Just add potting soil and seeds, and let them watch it grow!

Instructions/Ideas: Dip-Dyed Paper Pots | Puffy Paint Terra Cotta Pots | Chalkboard Flower Pots | Stenciled Pots

7. Hair bows for girls, or bow ties for boysDIY Hair Bow Tutorial. The Dizain Collective - Lifestyle Blog.


Time: Under 30 minutes | Cost: free and up (haha!) depending on what supplies you already have.

Know a few little girls and little boys? This is the perfect easy craft for you! With a few spare inches of fabric and a rudimentary knowledge of sewing, you can make the cutest personalized hair bows or bow ties for those little ones. Heck, you don’t even have to sew it; you can hot-glue these up in no time. And the same method works both ways; all you need that’s different is some velcro or a shirt clip for the bow tie.

Instructions/Ideas: How to make a Hairbow | 30 Ideas for Hair Bows | Easy Bow Tie | DIY Baby Bow Ties

8. Handmade flower crowns

Fin 2


Time: 30 minutes or less | Cost: $10 (or free, or more, depending on what you choose or have on hand)

Flower crowns have been all the rage for a while now, and they are the perfect pretty accessory for the fashion-lover in all of us. Plus, with several ways to make them, it’s easy to find the method that works best for you and whip one out in 30 minutes or less. I find all of my flowers at thrift stores, where you can grab a great bouquet or two for under a dollar.

Instructions/Ideas: DIY Flower Crown | 2 Techniques | Large flower crown

9. DIY Chalkboard



Time: at least 1 hour | Cost: $20 or less

This was one of my favorite DIY projects I’ve ever done. We found a picture frame at the thrift store, sprayed on some chalkboard paint, and it was done. So easy, pretty cheap, and you’ve got leftover chalkboard paint for other projects (like chalkboard pots). Plus, chalkboards are such a great gift for anyone; they make perfect menu boards, reminder spots, grocery list boards, toys for kids (perhaps with smooth wood instead of glass as the chalkboard back)… the list is endless.

Instructions/Ideas: DIY Chalkboard | DIY Wooden Chalkboard

10. Personalized coffee mugsDIYsharpieMug04 (source)

Time: 1 hour or less | Cost: $20 or less

As a coffee lover in a family full of coffee lovers, this is one of my favorite ideas! I kind of collect coffee mugs, and my husband and I love to visit a local coffee shop where you can also paint pottery. My favorite is creating coffee mugs for each other. But, making Sharpie mugs is much cheaper, and you can do it at home! So if you have a coffee (or tea) lover in your life, grab your markers and get decorating!

Instructions/Ideas: How To Make a Sharpie Mug | 21 Tips for DIY Sharpie Mugs | Pinterest Ideas

Bonus: Handmade Wrapping Paper

Or use fabric as ribbon:

Now that you’ve handmade all those gifts, why not create your own personalized wrapping paper as well? Here are 24 adorable ways to DIY some wrapping!

Well, that’s it! Those are my top ten favorite DIY ideas for this Christmas. I’ve already whipped up a few of these for family members, and I’m hoping to try them all as we get closer to Christmas and birthdays!

What are your favorite handmade gift ideas?

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Swan Princess

Swan Princess | www.eccentricowl.comSwan Princess | Today, my mind has struck blank. I really wanted to film a makeup tutorial this morning, but one thing after another went wrong, and I just wasn’t feeling it. And then I loved taking the outfit pictures (and I LOVE this outfit) but now that I’m sitting down to write a post, I have nothing.

Besides which, Asa has been acting out of sorts; either he’s teething again, or he’s sick. I’m hoping it’s the first one! I know the flu has been going around my husband’s family, which means that Thanksgiving at their house is off, and I don’t want him to catch it.

Swan Princess | I’m so sad that we won’t be seeing my in-laws for Thanksgiving; it’s always so fun to be at their house amongst all of the family, and they had been planning to go up to the snow on Friday to play. It would have been Asa’s first time in snow… and he might have had to wear a pink snowsuit because he’d have to borrow his cousin’s, but it would have been so fun!    Swan Princess | www.eccentricowl.comSwan Princess | But having this skirt in my wardrobe now makes things a little bit better. I’m very slowly  but surely adding to my collection of quirky animal prints, and this swan print skirt is definitely my new favorite thing! Before you know it, my closet is just going to be full of nerdy tee shirts and animal-printed everything.

Swan Princess | I was a little bit worried about the fit of this skirt; it only comes in one size, but has an elastic band in the waist so that it will fit several sizes. I’d guess it stretches up to about 32-34″, though, so there was no problem there! I did, however, cut out the half-lining, because on my wider hips it was constantly riding up. On someone with skinner hips, I think the lining would be no problem! Besides, the print is totally worth it!

Swan Princess | I hope you all have good plans for Thanksgiving! We had planned to go to my parents’ for the first part of the day, and my in-laws’ for the second half, but now that the flu has hit the in-laws, we will probably spend all day with my family. And then on Friday, we might actually go Black Friday shopping, which would be the first time I’ve ever done it!

Not that we have anything in particular we need, or a lot of extra money to buy anything with, but if there’s something really good (Paleo cookbooks! Toys for Asa!) we may just have to mini-splurge.

Swan Princess | Swan Princess | Can you believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and then there’s Christmas in a month? This Christmas will be a tight one for us, with my having quit my job, but I think it will still be a good one! Because we have less money, I’ve been getting more creative with what I’ll be giving and making people, and it’s been fun! I have always wanted to do more homemade gifts, and now’s definitely the time for it. Swan Princess | www.eccentricowl.comSkirt c/o Choies | belt and shirt, thrifted | shoes, Modcloth | earrings, old | glasses, c/o Firmoo

I would love to just get into giving more handmade gifts all the time, regardless of how much money we have, and I’m thinking that this may be the start of it, now that I know how much fun it is to make things! What are some of your favorite handmade gift ideas?

Have a beautiful Wednesday!

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Thoroughly Modern Alice

Thoroughly Modern Alice | www.eccentricowl.comThoroughly Modern Alice | www.eccentricowl.comYou know you’re a mom blogger when…

…you immediately go inside and put your hair up after you’ve taken outfit pictures because the baby will try to eat it otherwise.

… you wipe off your lipstick five minutes later because the baby smeared it everywhere.

… there are food and milk stains on your skirt and you don’t even care because at least you’re dressed.

… you only wear clothes that can be easily washed, bent over in, sat down in, and have enough fabric to cover if little hands start pulling on things.

… you look forward to nap time because it means you can get out the camera and not worry that the baby will pull the tripod over on himself.Thoroughly Modern Alice | … you sit on the floor to blog so that you can simultaneously edit pictures and entertain your child.

… you wear bright colors and headscarves not only because you like them, but also because your child likes them and they work as handy distraction techniques should you need them.Thoroughly Modern Alice | I feel like a very modern Alice (in Wonderland) in this outfit. The shirt, obviously, but also the headscarf bow reminds me of bunny ears, and I have always thought that this skirt would be a perfect component in an Alice in Wonderland costume.

This top is actually a crop top which comes barely below my skirt’s waistline when it’s untucked; I had it untucked earlier with a camisole underneath, but I think a loose top needs a fitted skirt to work (which gives me an idea for another outfit!) on me. I am not usually (or ever) a crop top girl because I don’t want to bare that kind of skin ever, but I just could not pass up the Cheshire cat! So, I’ll figure out ways to make it work. Thoroughly Modern Alice | And now I am wishing I had worn my hair up in a bun, because once I got back inside and put it up to keep it away from Asa’s greedy fingers, I instantly liked the whole thing better. Not that I don’t like it with my hair down, but there’s something better about having hair pulled up with a headscarf.  Thoroughly Modern Alice | Thoroughly Modern Alice | In some slightly sadder news, I may be done dyeing my hair for a while. Lately I feel like I’ve been shedding a lot more than usual, plus it’s been frizzy and tangly and hard to manage — which it never was before — and it has been pretty worked over in the last year or so. I think I need to let it rest and grow back to its natural healthy self. But we’ll see. I am not sure if I really want to give up the red just yet! Thoroughly Modern Alice |  Shirt c/o Choies | skirt, thrifted | headscarf and umbrella, vintage/grandma’s | shoes, Modcloth | tights, Target | glasses c/o Firmoo

I hope you are all having a good week! Happy Tuesday!

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Sunday Sweets: Store Trip

2 3 4 5 6

I am part of a group on Facebook called The Everyday Momtographer, for moms aspiring to capture the beautiful in everyday life, and every week there’s a new challenge. A few weeks ago, it was “in public” and we were challenged to document a trip outside of our own houses — to the park, to the store, on errands, wherever. So when we went for a short run to a small store near where we’re living, I timidly brought along the camera, sure someone would tell us we weren’t allowed to take pictures in stores.

But nobody did, and I got some of my favorite pictures of Asa ever!

I would love to start taking more pictures of him as we’re out and about; I may start carting my camera with me on more shopping trips, because it was a lot of fun!

In other news, this little man woke up at 5:30 today, and uh… I am not a fan of waking up that early. I may have had a breakdown this morning because of that and also because we’re out of almond milk for my coffee. Yeah. Being a girl with emotions is fun. Haha!

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!

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Little Things: Seventh Edition


It’s Saturday! I’m sorry this post is coming to you so late, but this morning I tried (for the second time around) to edit together a makeup tutorial I shot on Friday, and… ugh. Yesterday, I downloaded a free program that was seemingly okay, but at the very end of editing when I was all ready to export and had gone through uploading it from the program straight to YouTube, I realized that the free version would only export videos with a HUGE watermark right over the middle of the video frame… through the entire thing.

So I removed that program and realized it had downloaded me a few virusy things as well, which thankfully I got rid of… and my husband — who is much more knowledgeable than me on these things — found me a different program that seemed good this morning. But as I was editing I was thinking “man, this is JUST like the other program; everything is exactly the same!” and sure enough, I got done and once again it would only upload with a huge watermark over my face.

And then we tried Windows Movie Maker, but it won’t take my files because apparently it hates me. And then we tried using a file converter and WMM still hated me. And then it also downloaded AVG Safe Search and automatically installed it in my browser, so I had to remove that AND THEN… nothing was working.

Suffice it to say, this morning has not been nice. But I’m about to do a photoshoot, and I have lots of fun links to share today, so it’ll get better!

Funny Things

Cute Things

Pretty Things

DIY Things

Food Things

Mom Things

  • I really needed to read this post about finding the sacred in the mundane moments. Kristen always says it perfectly!

That’s it for today! I’m off to shoot some people (er… with my camera…) and then try out finger knitting. I hope you all have a happy Saturday!

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