FIMBY's own Handmade Gift Ideas

Some people express their love with gift giving, I am not one of those people.

My dominant expressions of love are doing things for people (acts of service) and verbalizing my feelings towards them (words of affirmation). What I like about giving handmade gifts is the doing part. The making of the object and the love and thought I put into that. I also like writing personal cards and letters and consider a beautiful photography card with heartfelt thoughts to be a gift in itself.

For a few weeks I've been trying to come with handmade Christmas gift ideas, especially for the kiddos. I'm hoping you'll come up with some great ideas also that I can use. I'm counting on you in fact.

It's tricky because between my daily writing time, a regular homeschool routine (the first year that I have been this diligent at actually putting my plans into action), and weekends outdoors with my family I have limited craft time this year.

So I'm hoping to put together gifts that are both easy, or relatively easy, and use skills and talents I already have. Photography, basic sewing, herbal knowledge, and soap making experience are a few that come to mind. Maybe I can barter those skills to "purchase" handmade gifts from other artists and crafters. 

We are not a "handmade only" gift giving family. We like to buy books, unique crafting supplies, educational materials, clothes, outdoor gear, and quality toys for our children. Not all at once of course! Our Christmas gift giving budget is always pretty small to make room for travel and fun activities instead.

Last Year's Gifts

(or what I can remember)

I made a fleece jacket for Celine's doll that matched her own, a dress for Brienne's doll (made up my own pattern), and slippers for Laurent.

Laurent new slippers

My parents got their usual supply of handmade skin care goodness (muscle salve, lip balm, lotion) and a market bag. I used the Broadturn Bag (pg. 27) pattern from Handmade Home. Also inspired from that book our family made journals, along the lines of Brandi's Book (pg. 89) for extended family. I didn't take any actual photos of the finished products, but here they are in process.

pin cushion

paper clips gift prep

Of course I made soap, the first batch was bad so I whipped up another, which was given to friends and family and came in handy for hostess and coworker gifts. And that bad batch of soap? I'm still using it now, grated and added to hot water to wash our dishes. 

peppermint mocha cheesecake food processor

The year before last we gave framed photos. Damien built the frames from repurposed wood and glass and the photos were mine.

Christmas Eve Dec 2008

None of these are tutorials though, just ideas from previous years.

Handmade Holiday Gift Tutorials

Here's a few honest-to-goodness tutorials of gifts you can make for your loved ones this holiday season. I wish I had more ideas for children's gifts but mostly what I have are adult gifts, and just a few at that. 

  • Vanilla Extract - Very easy to make and who doesn't like good vanilla? Great gift for friends and family.
  • Lip Balm - You had to expect this. My lip balm post is one of the most popular pages at FIMBY. It gets good reviews from other people who have made it.
  • Knitting Needles - These are easy enough for children to make. In fact, this tutorial is written by Laurent. You could give this gift to beginner knitters, adults or children, wrapped with a ball of yarn and this book.
  • Muscle Rub/Salve - I like love making body care products. This particular recipe was used to make a gift for my father.
  • Body Lotion - I have these two recipes that are variations on the same theme.

What gift tutorials do you have to share? Please participate in FIMBY's Handmade Holiday Idea Exchange.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • Spring

    Spring on Oct. 20, 2010, 1:38 a.m.

    I am supposed to getting ready for my trip, and not reading blogs! :) But I am so anxiously awaiting the "homemade gifts" posts I had to read this one! Suddenly, I am excited instead of overwhelmed about Christmas gifts! :)


  • SavvyChristine

    SavvyChristine on Oct. 20, 2010, 4 a.m.

    Wow, I am definitely the opposite: expressing my love with gifts. I've tried to verbalize, too, but I think I make people uncomfortable! It's definitely something I've struggled with. Anyway, I'm always up for bartering if you need or want something.

    One final note: I love those slippers. Great job on them! They really caught my eye.


  • Natalia

    Natalia on Oct. 20, 2010, 7:01 a.m.

    We don't celebrate Christmas, but I still give gifts from time to time, mainly to say thanks to people who have done something for me. I am totally, utterly inept at crafts. About as 'homemade' as it gets here in vodka I have flavoured myself - my current batch of rhubarb and vanilla flavoured vodka is a gift worth getting though!


  • Dawna

    Dawna on Oct. 20, 2010, 1:15 p.m.

    Oh Renee, I am so blessed to have infiltrated your world. Hahahah!!! I was JUST asking for knitting needles on Freecycle!!! I LOVE this idea of making my own with the kids!!!

    Oh, and I've been talking for MONTHS about how you make your own Arnica. We SOOO could use this (just got a hold of some Traumeel and LOVE it) I would love to start making our own as well, since we use it so often. ;) Don't suppose you know of a fast way to grow my own in the winter or where you can buy some online do you?

    Thinking of you guys... especially as we sit in 64 degree weather in our house and feeling to "warm". Haha!!



    • renee

      renee on Oct. 20, 2010, 2:46 p.m.


      I actually don't make my own arnica. That's something you grow, but I don't grow it either. I grow other things but not that. I recommend the bulk herb store for buying herbs. I like their herb mixes. 

      Maybe I could make your family a couple salves for Christmas? I'll e-mail you privately. Is it bad etiquette to talk about what to give each other for Christmas and not keep surprises?

      I'll e-mail you "sis". Ah. 64 deg with long underwear and a scarf on on (as I am wearing today) is warm indeed!

      Love you!


  • Kika

    Kika on Oct. 20, 2010, 1:59 p.m.

    My daughter and I have been making "yarn scarves": long lengths of varied textures/colors of yarns which you knot at intervals. They are very pretty and make an easy and unique gift, I think. My daughter just made one for a friend's (but also included some cash). I could send a photo to Renee if anyone wanted to get an idea of what they look like?!


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 20, 2010, 2:54 p.m.

      Yes! Please do. I'll include it somehow.


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 25, 2010, 11:35 p.m.

      Kika's Yarn Scarf Tutorial:

      You'll Need:

      5-10 types of varied yarns (different colors, textures). Our examples only used five kinds because the small town where we live has very poor yarn selection. More would be better, I think. The above example combines mohair, wool and acrylic. The most important factor is to create visual interest by combing yarns that might not, at first glance, go well together – and perhaps adding some strands of a special yarn.

      The above close-up is to help show the variety of yarns used. Another version of the yarn scarf shown below: smaller size; different color scheme.

      How to:

      Cut first piece of yarn to be your ‘guide’; wrap it around your neck and let it fall to at least mid-calf or as low as your ankles then cut. The knots in the scarf will take up lots of the length and you want the scarf long enough to play with & wrap a good couple of times around your neck. Take into consideration whether this scarf is for a child or an adult.

      Using your guide piece of yarn, cut about 50 pieces total – up to 60 could work too – you may need a little more if many of your yarns are fine or fewer strands if you have plenty of chunkier yarns to work with. Hanging them over the edge of a bookcase or coat hook might help you keep the strands tangle-free.


      Find the centre point of the scarf and knot all yarns together. Drape scarf around your neck and at about half point down each side (just below bust probably), separate your yarn into two equal groups of about 25-30 each. (Note: my example has three sections knotted b/c I added a third section part way through the process – this works out fine too).

      Knot each section separately but loosely at first. Check yourself out in the mirror to ensure that each side is even and draping nicely. If necessary, go ahead and undo a knot/redo until it looks right to you. Then create another knot – all yarns together again this time – about 12-18 inches from the bottom of the scarf. In total, then, you’ll have five knot sections throughout the scarf.

      You can trim the bottom of the scarf a bit or leave it quite straggly (varied lengths) which simply adds to the quirky nature of the scarf, in my opinion.

      And that’s all there is to it!

      (Editor's note: Thanks Kika for taking the time to send this to me and add your idea to the "creative pot").


  • Rebecca C

    Rebecca C on Oct. 21, 2010, 1:57 a.m.

    Somebody is a fan of The Five Love Languages book, right? :)

    We are making vanilla extract this year for the first time. Had it for a few weeks now, and it is really looking brown.

    I'm seriously considering giving the lip balm a try.


    • renee

      renee on Oct. 21, 2010, 2:50 a.m.

      Totally "love" the five love languages concept. I read the book for understanding your children but the principles carry over to all ages. Helped me understand a lot about what makes me tick and appreciate the way that others show me love. 


  • Jen

    Jen on Oct. 21, 2010, 2:17 p.m.

    I have a question for you. I write for a site called Today's Mama and right now I'm doing a series on Creative Christmas gifting focusing on making different crafts/projects rather than buying. I was wondering if I could link to your tutorials on making the above mentioned items. And if I can, if I could use some of your photos on the site to show people. If I can't use the photos but link back that would be great, too. I will totally give the photo credits to you. Let me know. I love your creative gifting!


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