Whether you want to make a thoughtful gift or are just short on cash, DIY can be a great way to go for Christmas gifts. Now before you get the wrong idea—I’m the antithesis of a Martha Stewart or even a DIYer blogger/ Etsy aficionado. Don’t expect any blow-by-blow instructions for making the perfectly designed Christmas cookie. There are plenty of resources out there from really skilled DIYers for that. But I haven’t found many that talk about how to give a DIY gift. Often the assumption is that since it’s handmade you can’t go wrong. Ummmmmm. Yeah. That’s bull. And you’ll find that out the moment you give your handwoven-basket-for-putting-impossibly-long-and-narrow-things-in to someone who isn’t your mom. BUT when done thoughtfully and crafted well a DIY gift can be fantastic. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Make sure it’s something that the recipient will actually appreciate! Otherwise it would be better to get a picture book from the bargain section of Barnes and Noble. One year I gave a handmade necklace to someone. I had invested a good bit in the beads and agonized over the design. It got a lukewarm reception and was never worn. If I had done a bit more research I would have realized that she didn’t wear necklaces! Similarly—don’t bake sweets for people who don’t have a sweet tooth. This took be way to long to realize—I go through Christmas goodies like there’s no tomorrow so when I make candy for people I usually give them as much a I would want to get. Once again—awkward.
2. Also, sloppy DIY gifts aren’t cute unless you’re 5 years old. Otherwise it’s like one of those Christmas cards with the backwards crayon writing. They should look as professionally done as possible. If it seems beyond your skills, this is not the time to test that (think of Bridget Jones’ dinner party). Spend the extra few dollars to invest in the right tools to do the job. If you’re doing something that involves glue make sure you get the right type. I actually just found the most amazing product Tech Crafters glue at Walmart. I used it on ribbon recently and totally avoided the lumpy mess that typically ensues. If you’re baking and aren’t great at decorating than don’t make sugar cookies. Think of making something like pistachio and cherry biscotti. Very simple and festive looking without even trying to be. My absolute go-to is this recipe for Truffles (I know I said I wouldn’t share any directions but this is seriously the best thing ever).
3. Finally, watch the cost of the materials. Some DIY projects will be more expensive to make than to buy and if you’re a girl or guy on a budget that can be a problem. Factor in the cost of packaging baked goods for example. If you’re only giving cookies then you should probably put them in a tin. I learned the hard way a few years ago that that can get super expensive. I’m always on the lookout for deals. One year I was totally broke and made scarves for everyone. Michael’s crafts has a 40 percent coupon each week that you can get online but you can only use one per visit. I literally went to the store everyday to buy a skein of yarn (sometimes I went in the morning and then the evening after the shift change). That’s pretty extreme but there was a Michael’s on my way to work which made it simple. A less insane idea is to be on the look out for deals. Usually there are sales on DIY materials at Michaels as well as at your local grocery store. You might also think about going to the Dollar Tree or Big Lots for your packaging materials.
Have some juicy DIY secrets or embarrassing tales? Tweet them to us @litdarling!
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