9 Homemade Christmas Gifts That Might Actually Get Used

great homemade presents - terrarium

Let’s be honest, we have all received some homemade Christmas gifts that never saw the light of day again – sometimes they are well intentioned and so we might not care that our peppermint-scented ruler holder won’t get too much use. The thought and love behind it makes up for it’s lack of usefulness. But what if there were some Christmas presents you could make and give to people that they would appreciate the thought (more than a gift card), were used and enjoyed, and saved you money to boot?

The recent issue of Real Simple magazine has a few ideas for homemade Christmas gifts that got me thinking. As a guy who thoroughly enjoys food (don’t we all?) if I can eat it, I will enjoy it. ;)  But there are a few other gift ideas listed below that I think would have a decent chance of being enjoyed by many!

christmas gift - chocolate nut bark1. Chocolate Nut Bark

This one was featured in Real Simple and is indeed real simple! You only need to buy 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 2.5 cups of mixed nuts. You then melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a (but not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally.  Next you spread the chocolate evenly on a parchment-lined 9×13 inch baking pan and sprinkle with the nuts. Refrigerate until firm (about 30 mins). After that you can break into pieces and keep at room temperature for a week.

2. Beeswax candles

This was a homemade gift that I received one year and loved it. I particularly enjoy beeswax candles over paraffin wax (the wax used in most candles) because of their health benefits. Buying them can be expensive, but making them really isn’t too difficult and can even be fun. I like making tea lights because they are simple, but if you want something even simpler you can learn how to make rolled beeswax candles.

3. A homemade clock

You can go to just about any crafty store and find a Clock Kit for just a few bucks. You can then decorate a piece of wood, ceramic, or just about anything and turn it into a clock.

mongrammed journal - homemade christmas present4. Monogrammed Journal

This was another one that Real Simple had that I thought was pretty cool. Basically you just buy a hardback journal and add a little creative flair to it. They say to get a few letter stamps and rubber banding them together, so you can stamp the monogram consistently. From there you can let your imagination run wild – check out the pic for inspiration.

5. Chocolate-chip cookies

Get a little Christmas Tin, make cookies, and give it away. This is a winning gift every time!

6. Painted pot for plants

This was actually a homemade gift we received for our wedding. The giver bought a standard clay pot and decorated it and painted our names on it. Then she planted a little plant in it and we are still using our pot today! It’s a great way to take a simple item and give it some personality.

7. Build a birdhouse

I haven’t done this in a while, but I built my mom a birdhouse when I was about 12 or so and she cried. This was a perfect example of a homemade present having so much more value than a store-bought one. I could have probably purchased a far-superior birdhouse for a few bucks, but my investment of time and energy into it made it a great gift. For a little instruction you can check out this video on how to build one from a single piece of wood.

homemade present - gold leaf vases8. Gold-leaf vases

This was also in the Real Simple issue and while I wouldn’t get that much of a kick out of these, I think my wife would dig them. Basically you can just find a few small vases from the thrift store and get a Gold Leaf Kit. From there you just follow the instructions in the kit – you can and should add your own creative flare…

9. Terrarium

I remember making one of these as a kid and loved watching the the little contained eco-system. I used an old gallon jar of Mauls bbq sauce and had it for years. This post has some great ideas to get you started.

A few more links if you are looking for additional homemade gift ideas…

What about you – what homemade christmas presents have you enjoyed receiving or giving?

This article was a reprint and was originally published in November, 2009.

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26 Comments
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  1. I’m really craving some chocolate now! I think even simple ideas like a few pictures on a page with a nice handwritten letter goes a long way! Simple, inexpensive and touching.

    Making gifts that correlate to memories shared I think is a great way to go for the holidays! Now, I should probably put that into practice and get creative for my wife’s gift!

  2. I always buy my gifts and I haven’t tried making them. I hope I can do one in your list this Christmas.

  3. Every year I make my fiancee a cd with all the year’s music that we have shared together. It’s the modern version of a mix tape. This year I also make a comic book version of her half-marathon that she completed this year. I had it printed through shutterfly.

    • ‘Every year’ she’s still your fiancee? I hope you decided to give her the gift of marriage!

  4. I went to a frugal Christmas program at one of my area libraries a couple of weeks ago. One of the demonstrations was of chocolate making. The tips from the candy maker include make sure you buy the chocolate needed for candy making – there’s a specific chemistry involved so you may need to find the stuff at a cake or craft supply store. You also don’t want to buy more chocolate than you need for that season because it won’t keep to next year.

  5. gourdwoman

    My niece and I made some Christmas journals the day after Thanksgiving. She even taught me a trick or two. Bless her heart.
    Christmas ornaments made out of small gourds are used at least once a year.

  6. Very good ideas for homemade gifts. One that I’ve done before is a homemade lamp. You can buy a lamp kit which includes the socket and wiring for under $10 at Home Depot / Lowes. You take an empty bottle, vase, or whatever and run the wiring through it. I did one for my girlfriend has an anniversary present. I took an old wine jug and put a rose in it, filled it with pink ballistics gel that I made myself, and put a blacklight bulb in the lamp kit. Took about $20 for everything and a few hours of my day. Excluding the time that it took for the gel to set.

  7. These are all real nice gifts. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  8. Thanks for the ideas. I love the birdfeeder idea and I know my wife would too. Keep up the good work.

  9. One year when money was especially tight I gathered some woodsy materials (wild grape vines, pine cones, etc) and made wreaths. I cut the pine cones to look like “flowers” and hot glued the materials to the grapevine wreaths. Then sprayed them with a spray shellac. I can’t remember how many I made, but the only cost was the spray shellac, hot glue and time. My brother kept his hanging in his house for years.

    Christmas budget was tighter this year, but I could do better with gifts that really would be remembered. Thanks for the encouragement.

  10. moongirl35

    I especially love baking cookies. Giving chocolate chip cookies as a gift is a wonderful idea. Matter of fact I am to make chocolate chip cookies and a banana pudding for a church member and her son. I had better get busy and make good on my word. One Christmas I gave my sons homemade sweet potato pies for Christmas. Needless to say they were thrilled. Thank you for the wonderful ideas. I love them a lot.

  11. one quick tip about the chocolate chip cookies (which are ALWAYS a great idea) — if you add a teaspoon of peppermint oil to the dough it will give it a little hint of minty flavor. definitely a yummy touch to an already yummy gift!

  12. Home made jelly is really easy to make, from good quality apple or grape juice. And people eat it up! (pun intended) Look up Certo Grape Jelly Recipe and use any 100% fruit juice you like. Also use any brand of liquid pectin you have available.

  13. I would love some homemade cookies for Christmas (hint, hint)!

  14. On year I made 15 yarn dolls for my younger cousins and sister. I gave them each a unique hair style. They were very cute.

  15. I usually make pumpkin rolls and freeze them to giveaway, (an idea given to me by a friend). We are giving away deer summer sausage this year since my husband got a deer. We find it’s very useful for people during the holidays since they tend to entertain a lot. Thanks for the ideas!

  16. The best gift I ever received was a hand-made cookbook from my mom. She spent months gathering favorite recipes from my childhood, “secret” family recipes, and some of her favorites over the years. She typed them up – or photocopied hand-written recipes from family members, put them all in a binder with photos and scapbooking stickers/notions, etc. She hand wrote a letter about the process and what some of it meant to her and put that in the front. For the cover, she simply cross-stitched “recipes from mom.” She passed away 2 years later. This will always be a treasured gift.

  17. Another note – I grew up in a home with a crafty mom who loved to garden, cook, bake, and create. Every Christmas, we made candy, cookies, and other baked goods to give away as gifts. There were always hand-made ornaments, wreaths, and other items, we made and gave as gifts. I didn’t know at the time it was because of budget; I just knew I loved the time spent with my mom and everyone loved the gifts they received. There is something truly special about a hand-made gift.

  18. I had a blast making baskets this year to use for gift baskets or just a fancy basket by itself as a gift. I honestly never knew you could buy kits to make your own baskets!

  19. I think the Gold-leaf vases are a terrific idea, my mom is obsessed with decor and making that for her would really put a smile on her face and ill know it wont be stored in some closet somewhere.

  20. Loved the ideas, and will steal at least one – maybe 2.

    Flavored butters. Whether you mix it with honey and cinnamon or some hot sauce and Parmesan cheese. Even flavored peanut butter – add some cocoa or perhaps some honey.

    This year I made a tote bag for my daughter with a Kindle sized pocket inside. I also made a kindle cover for her with plastic canvas sewn in to protect the screen. If it gets dirty, it’s machine washable. You can purchase clear glass ornaments at a craft store and decoupage an especially beautiful gift wrap onto it, accenting with a fine glitter. I covered mine with old fashioned Santa fabric. When my daughter was in the army, I made her a winter camouflage stocking.

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