There is nothing like putting together or receiving DIY Christmas Gifts. This is special gift that someone made with you in mind. At the same time, if you create a DIY gift, you are using your resources (time, skills and materials) to create something special for friends or family. It can be a great experience when it all turns out! Yes, I am not including Pinterest fails here!
If you want to buy something from a company or vendor, time IS running out, friends! If you have been following Small Scale Life, you know I recently posted an article titled Holiday Gift Ideas from the Small Scale Life Community. This was an opportunity to provide links to folks who we have met through Small Scale Life, and it felt good to give folks from our community the exposure.
So what happens if you miss the shipping cutoff (which is around December 18th or so)? Well, wait no longer! It is time to pull out one or more of these 11 DIY Christmas Gifts for family and friends on your list!
We also included 4 Bonus DIY Christmas Gifts that are not things you make per se, but are special and priceless nonetheless.
Thrifty Thursday and Our DIY Christmas Gifts
There is something about homemade holiday gifts that is pretty special. While there aren’t blinking lights or fancy plastic pieces on homemade gifts, these items come from the person’s heart. We do some thinking and then put our time, effort and skill into making those gifts.
Last weekend, Julie and I were working on some DIY Christmas Gifts for Julie’s brother and sister-in-law. Both are avid runners, and they get medals and awards in each half, full and ultra marathon they run. Runners love to display their medals, and it can get overwhelming if the runner does a lot of events. Trust me: they have a lot of events coming in 2020 (like 12 marathons)!
Julie found a cool wood plaque on Pinterest that would look great and keep the medals organized. The runner can hang their medals from nails on the bottom of the plaque and display them.
She decided to move ahead with the project. We got some wood, and I cut it down to size. After I sanded it, I brought the pieces inside for the next stages. As we worked on staining and putting polycrylic finish on the boards, I thought it would be an interesting topic to see what others are working on this season.
11 DIY Christmas Gifts
So what are some DIY Christmas Gifts? Better yet: what are 11 DIY Christmas Gifts that you can complete in 8 days?
As we received input from the Small Scale Life Community and looked around at what we are giving this year, we came up with 11 DIY Christmas Gift ideas for you.
1. Canned Goods
One of my favorite gifts to get and receive are canned goods. There is nothing like getting some jam, salsa, chutney, or relishes from someone. What is so cool is that someone took the time to put together all the ingredients (some of which might have been grown in their gardens) and created something delicious. Of course, we hope that the person canned safely, and of course we have courses that can help you learn how to can safely (by clicking this text).
2. Baked Goods (Cakes, Pastries, Breads, Cookies)
Yum! There is nothing like a great chocolate chip cookie or rich chocolate cake! I know, those aren’t exactly Christmas cookies and cakes, but man, I do love chocolate. This is a magical time of year, and if you have been in a grocery store, you have seen the sales on baking ingredients. This is the time to stock up and bake your hearts out! We have family and friends that have been baking like Beatty Crocker, and we have a stash of Christmas cookies in our freezer, waiting for Christmas Eve. That is one way to keep those things around the house, of course. Baked goods always are a hit, unless you give that vile 90 pound stale fruitcake of course!
3. Frozen or Crockpot Meals
Nicole Sauce from Living Free in Tennessee, Northwoods Nikki and Ann from the Suburban Prairie Homemaker, LLC have given away frozen meals to some of their friends and family. You essentially create the meal for that special someone and give it to them on Christmas! How cool is that?
Northwoods Nikki, Ann from the Suburban Prairie Homemaker, LLC, and we have made gift baskets or “farm boxes” with homemade goods (maple syrup, cocoa, apple butter, chutneys, salsas, pickles and relishes) and meals. Again, some planning and forethought needs to go into these baskets and farm boxes, but it can be done with a little over a week left before Christmas!
I have also seen (and purchased) crockpot meals with almost all the ingredients in a bag. The crockpot meals come with instructions, and typically all you have to do is just follow the instructions and add meat! You can combine pastas, spices, and other items together, and it is up to the gift bag recipient to cook the meal when he or she is ready. There are some companies out there that create these ready-to-go crockpot meals in bags. You just need to find them (there might be someone doing this locally)!
These gifts go over well, especially for our young adults in college or folks who might not be too handy in the kitchen. Give the gift recipient some instructions, and away you go!
I have never made cheese before, but I don’t think it is an incredibly difficult process. Looking at other articles online, it looks like you need a day to make it in your house. The key, of course, is knowing HOW to make it and having the right ingredients. I know some people age cheese, and you need enough time for the aging process. This is a skill I wouldn’t mind learning, although Julie might raise an eyebrow as I add another bunch of things to our little Minneapolis house. We’ll see what 2020 brings!
5. Wood Projects
There is a whole world of REALLY COOL wood projects you can make with free pallet wood or other wood from stores. My friend Mr. Tactical Jay was working on end tables made out of red oaks from his yard. Harold Thornbro from the Modern Homesteading Podcast and my brother-in-law Dave created wine racks from pallet wood. We created plaques for the runners in our family to display their awards and medals.
I have to say the Old Trapper, Julie’s dad Dan, is the master of wood projects for gifts. He has made gorgeous, hand carved walking sticks from Buckthorn, potting benches, Adirondack chairs and tables, manger scenes, benches, swords and bows out of all kinds of different woods. He has done some amazing stuff, and we have benefitted from his creations. My potting bench is a great example of this. I am always impressed with what the Old Trapper creates, and I will be featuring some of his creations in 2020.
Again, these wood projects take planning and time. You need to be focused with the remaining time you have left before Christmas this year!
Several folks in the Small Scale Life Community make soap. I have never done it, but my friends Adam from the Rapier Ranch and Northwoods Nikki both make soap. Looking at some How to Make Soap articles, it looks like you can make soap in 24 hours if you have the right gear and the right ingredients.
While I have never made it, perhaps the folks in this great community can provide some insight on how long it takes. I think it is another one of those skills that is very useful, and you can learn how to make some great smelling soap with some practice!
7. Clothing, Blankets, Quilts and Scarves
Some of our Community are very good seamstresses, quilters and knitters. These are not skills I possess, but not all of these projects are difficult and onerous. My sister-in-law Karen put together 4 fleece tie blankets which are beautiful (customized for the person receiving the blanket) and warm.
Others, like Amy Dingmann from A Farmish Kind of Life, suddenly caught wind that her son wanted a crocheted scarf. She is furiously creating this scarf with 8 days left before Christmas.
I am sure there are some folks in the Small Scale Life Community that have fancy sewing machines and can whip out patterns and designs like I review railroad crossings! These seem like ambitious projects to me, but technology and skill are amazing things. If you have both, go for it! I think I would be working on these kind of projects until 2040.
I have made kombucha for gifts in the past. Kombucha takes a minimum of 7 days for the first fermentation, and you COULD get a batch going and get it flavored before Christmas. You would have to tell the person receiving the gift to let the kombucha age for a couple days before drinking it.
I currently have 4 gallons of DomBucha Kombucha in first fermentation, and I will be flavoring it this weekend. I tasted it this evening, and it has a ways to go in first fermentation yet. I am cutting it close, but I want my sister-in-law to taste some before we go on vacation!
9. Homemade Wine
What is great about homemade wine is that you can use grapes or fruit from your own homestead! Wine, however, needs time as it goes through primary and secondary fermentation, and those two steps take time. You would need to start a batch of wine a two to three months before the holidays. While it won’t happen for 2019, you could plan on giving homemade wine in 2020! I am hoping that we will have some resources for you in 2020 so you can start making homemade wine where ever you are.
10. Cider and Other Spirits
Some of the Small Scale Life Community make special berry flavored vodkas and other distilled spirits. Our friend Captain Lumbersquatch Greg Burns might or might not be distilling “water” in someplace in Ohio. Our other friend made Northwoods Nikki made homemade cider, mead from her bee’s honey and infused vodka with berries from berry patches around her house. These gifts take time for fermentation or flavoring/diffusing, but you can do it! You just need to plan and give yourself enough time to make the cider or other spirits.
In the Spring, many of our homesteaders in the Small Scale Life Community tap trees and make their own syrup. Northwoods Nikki, Alyssa Olsen from The Sheep Shed, Captain Lumbersquatch and others make (or have made) their own syrup each spring. It takes time and effort, especially as you boil and cook down the sap. The results, however, are delicious!
4 Bonus DIY Christmas Gifts
Given that we are almost out of time before Christmas is here, there are more DIY Christmas Gifts that could really shine. These 4 Bonus DIY Christmas Gifts are different in that you are giving time, skills and memories rather than a wrapped item. These can be priceless gifts as you might unlock a passion or spend your more precious resource (time) with someone you care about.
1. Events and Memories
Minimalists decry the spending and clutter this holiday brings to homes across the world. Who can blame them? Christmas spending in the United States will hit almost $1 Trillion in 2019. That translates in $920 spent per person this year!
Instead of plastic stuff that will be broken or discarded by the end of January, why not give the gift of an event or memory? There are a lot of events going on this time of year, and you can really shine by giving your loved ones access to those events.
Buying tickets to events or the zoo or museum is a sure way to create memories and enjoy the season! We opted for a “memory gift” this year, and I splurged on the Packers vs. Vikings next Monday. Julie, Ryan, Danny and I will be going to the game, which ended having huge ramifications in the NFL playoffs. It should be a fun game, and we are all excited to go!
A more cost conscious way to give memories is printing photographs. You can give framed photographs, photo albums or electronic photo albums to your loved ones. We are giving some special people photographs of our family and photographs of special moments and things we experienced in 2019. With literally thousands of pictures on my drive, there was a lot to choose from!
You don’t need to go broke giving and event or memory, and it is always wonderful to create and share those memories with someone you love. After all, time is our most precious resource, and spending that time with someone special can be priceless.
2. Gift Cards
Some people think gift cards are a lazy person’s gift, but from a different perspective, the gift card recipient has the freedom to purchase whatever they want with the card! Think about it: my youngest son Ryan is in college, and he could always use a gift card to Subway or to a gas station. We give a gift he can use; he gets the chance to purchase whatever he wants; and the company makes some money off the transaction. Win-Win-Win!
3. Memberships and Subscriptions
There are a ton of venues out there that offer memberships including: museums, zoos, arboretums, historical societies, theme parks and all kinds of other organizations and societies. Check these out and align you family member’s or friend’s interest with the organization or society.
Finally, you can get a subscription for your family member or friend. There are a ton of magazines out there for every interest under the sun. With today’s online culture, many of these magazines are online and offer and online subscription.
Knowledge is power. Learning new skills like canning, cooking or painting will enrich a person’s life. In the Holiday Gift Ideas article, I talked about Sharon Peterson’s Simple Canning School in the Gift Ideas from the Small Scale Life Community article. This is a class where you learn how to safely can all kinds of foods.
Other classes, like dancing or playing music, can strengthen relationships or forge new ones. We believe in classes here at Small Scale Life. Our motto since the early days has been learn, do, and grow.
Learning new skills in classes is a great way to kindle interests and passions that you never knew existed. Take a look around; maybe the Community Education booklet that just hit your doorstep has something interesting for your loved one. Why not?
Next Steps: Let’s Roll!
As we roll into 2020, I can see where I can plug in and provide some resources to the Small Scale Life Community. We need some how to articles to go along with these ideas. After all, one of the beautiful things about having a homestead is using resources found right on our property, and a lot of those resources can go right into our DIY Christmas Gifts! How cool is that?
I hope this post has inspired you to action. The bottom line is that you can do a lot with a little forethought, a little knowledge and in some cases, a little elbow grease!
Now, get moving, Lifers! Time is running out! You can make some of these DIY Christmas Gifts before the big day, but your time is running out. At the time of this article, we are 8 days from Christmas, and any little hiccup during your project could result in disaster. It can be done, however, especially with a weekend coming up.
Focus, dear Lifers! Focus. You can do it!
Even if you don’t make some of these DIY Christmas Gifts, it might spur ideas for next year. We will be adding more information to assist you with these projects in 2020, and I am really looking forward to that!
Good luck, Lifers! Go get em!