DIY gifts this holiday season: a guide

During the holiday season, gifts can be a great way to express your fondness and appreciation to your loved ones. Handmade gifts can be tailored to your receiver, sending the message that they are worth the time spent crafting as they deserve to feel loved. Below are ten do-it-yourself (DIY) gifts you can make for your loved ones to spread a little holiday cheer and express your appreciation for them.


1. Charm/bead jewelry & phone strap 

Upgrade someone’s phone with a beaded phone charm strap.


  • Beads
  • String
  • Scissors


1. Cut a 15 inch piece of string and fold in half. Tie a knot from the folded end (it should make a loop). 

2. Add beads to the two strings. 

3. Tie a know to secure both ends. 


2. Coffee cup candles

Put a twist on coffee and candles by making coffee cup candles.


  • Candle Wax
  • Candle Wicks
  • Coffee Cups
  • Fragrance Oils
  • Scale
  • Thermometer
  • Microwave safe bowl
  • Rubber spatula
  • Craft sticks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Heating pot


1. Melt the wax completely over boiling water for approximately 3o minutes over medium to medium-high heat. 

2. While waiting for the wax to melt, get the mug ready. Place a candle wick in the center of the mug (use chopsticks or pencils to help keep in place). 

3. Wait for about a day for the wax to harden. Then trim the wick and light away. 


3. Reindeer hot chocolate packet 

Gift some hot chocolate, but make it reindeer style. It has all the ingredients ready to go. Pour the packet in a cup and sip away.


  • 2 Piping Bags
  • 1 envelope, Hot Chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp, Mini Chocolate Chips 
  • ⅓ cup, Mini Marshmallows
  • 1 Red Pom Pom Ball
  • 2 Googly Eyes
  • 1 Rubber band
  • 1 Brown Pipe Cleaner
  • Glue


1. Pour hot chocolate mix into a piping bag (get it all the way into the tip). 

2. Twist bag closed and wrap with the rubber band. 

3. Trim off the top of the bag. 

4. Put bag into another piping bag and flatten. Layer in mini chocolate chips and a layer of mini marshmallows. 

5. Twist and tie off with ribbon.   

6. Glue pom pom nose near tip of bag. Glue googly eyes near the top of the hot chocolate mix. 

7. Wrap the brown pipe cleaner around top for antlers and shape.  


4. School supply ornament 

Fill up a clear ornament with school essentials. This is perfect for teachers and students.

Supplies: (feel free to personalize for the person you will be gifting to)

  • Clear ornaments 
  • School supplies: pens, expo markers, gift cards highlighters
  • Or goodies: gum, tea packets candy



5. Ornament/jewelry dish

Make a personalized ornament with just salt, flour, and water.


  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup salt
  • Knife
  • Paint


1. Combine all ingredients and knead until dough forms. 

2. Make a hand imprint. Cut out the shape with a knife. 

3. Poke a hole at the top for hanging. 

4. Bake at 200 fahrenheit for three hours. 


6. Finals survival kit

The holiday season can be stressful when finals are creeping up on students; put together a care package to help out your peers.

Supplies: (these are a few items you can add, but feel free to personalize for the person you will be gifting to)

  • Coffee or tea
  • Favorite snacks
  • Granola or protein bars
  • Gum
  • Index cards, for flashcards
  • Notebooks, look to gift idea No. 7
  • Blanket
  • Fuzzy socks


1. Obtain a container and your supplies. 

2. Compile your supplies into the container, adding whatever you think the receiver would enjoy. 


7. Fabric notebooks

With materials that are lying around your house, you can get crafty and make a notebook.


  • Notebook
  • Fabric (Sustainable alternative: use old clothing/fabric!)
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Craft glue


8. Terrarium jar

As a cute room decoration, and something that is fun to make, terrarium jars are a perfect gift.


  • Mason jar
  • Rocks, shells, stones, 
  • Potting soil 
  • A live succulent or small fern


1. Open your clean glass or mason jar and add a layer of gravel or pebbles. 

2. Add approximately 2 inches of soil. 

3. Plant the succulents, ferns or whatever greenery you choose to use. 

4. Decorate the surface of your terrarium with some rocks, shells 0r stones.  


9. Customizable mugs

This is a good, last-minute gift idea.


  • Mug
  • Permanent markers or paint pens


1. Grab a clean mug that is preferably a solid, light color. 

2. Decorate the mug by using markers or paint pens. Draw designs, personalize it. Use the gift recipient’s favorite colors and patterns. 


10. Embroidered clothing 

For the person you know who has cooly style or likes personalized clothing.


  • Embroidery thread 
  • Embroidery needle
  • An article of clothing, such as a sweater or a t-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Pencil


1. Stencil your design on the piece of clothing with a pencil. 

2. Put the embroidery thread through the hold of the needle, and create a doubt knot at the end. 

3. Push the needle through one side of the fabric, then back through the other side. Leave a small space in between each stitch. This is a running stitch, but there are other ways to stitch, found online. 

All art by Tien Bui and Angela Rebolledo