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DIY Gifts They’ll Actually Want

It is that wonderful season again where we are all busy shopping, searching for that perfect gift for our friends and family. However, sometimes it seems that nothing in stores is quite personal enough, is too cliché, or too expensive (we’re college students, we get that money is tight!) So, we shop for hours and still end up leaving empty handed. That is why I have created a list of DIY gifts for you that can be personalized for that special someone and will cost less than purchasing in stores.

1. Personalized Mug

Who doesn’t love getting mugs with cute sayings or designs on them? But sometimes stores do not have anything personal enough. Well, you can easily personalize a mug using just Sharpie paint markers and nail polish. Now is your chance to make a mug with either an inside joke or monogram without spending a fortune on a professionally custom-made mug. Here are the directions for the marbled mug and Sharpie mug.

When gifting the mug, you can fill the mug with hot cocoa packets, marshmallows, and candy canes (or Keurig coffee pods for your coffee drinkers.)

**Side note: Also works on piggy banks, cookie jars, plates and other ceramic products!

2. Candles

Fill the air with that pleasant smell of freshly baked cookies, the scent of wildflowers, or anything that brings you joy. Easily craft candles for your friends and family using their favorites scent, favorite color, and even a custom-made label. Supplies can cost as low as $5! All you will need is wax (paraffin, beeswax, palm wax, or soy), fragrance oil, a container, and a wick/string. For directions on a variety of candles you can make click here.

3. Bath Bombs

Help your friend take a load off by gifting them a handcrafted bath bomb, allowing them to take a relaxing bubble bath—we all deserve it! Bath bombs at Lush are great gifts, but can also be pricey. Why spend the money when you can easily make a personalized bath bomb for free with the essentials you already have in your kitchen and essential oil. For this DIY, click here. Gift it in a cute box like the one pictured below for a more personal touch.

4. Scarves

Everyone needs a scarf, especially during the winter season to keep warm. This gift will certainly be greatly appreciated! Knitting is a simple and repetitive process once you get the hang of it. All you will need is yarn the color you want the scarf to be (perhaps their favorite color) and knitting needles. That’s it! Although there are many different stitches, the most basic knit stitch is Knit-Purl. Once you get the hang of it, you can try knitting a hat, blanket or mittens!

5. Themed Gift Baskets

This may be the simplest DIY gift you can make someone! Although it may take some brainstorming and creativity, the finished product will be super cute. Simply heading down the dollar store aisles you can find most essentials to put in your themed basket. Themes can include sports, movies, date night, sundaes, and coffee lover’s. The possibilities are endless!   

6. Photo Displays

Gather up all your photos that captured those special moments with the person you are gifting. With these, you can easily craft a sentimental gift to be displayed. Rather than simply framing these photos, create something more personalized. Here you will find many ways in which you can turn these photos into something beautiful, ranging from wall hangings to ornaments.

7. Throw Pillows

Have an old T-shirt from when you and your friend went on that 5k run? Or from that charity event you both volunteered at? Or maybe just an old, funny t-shirt? Easily turn your shirt into a throw pillow with minimal sewing involved. All you will need is a needle and thread (or sewing machine), a t-shirt, stuffing and scissors. Check out this link for step-by-step directions. If sewing isn’t your specialty, try out this “no-sew” version.

8. Memo Board Key Rack

Gift someone something that will be practical every day. With so much going on, sometimes it is hard to stay organized and remember everything, or even simple things such as grabbing your keys before leaving the house (or dorm room.) Create a simple memo board for reminders to be written on which also serves as a decoration and key holder. For this project you will need a plank of wood, chalkboard paint, a drill, hooks and a mason jar. Check out this page!

**Side note: this can also be used by your animal friend as a pet treat holder and leash holder!

9. Wood Engravings

A great investment for the holidays (or for any day) is a wood burning kit. These can be bought for $20 at Walmart or for even less at some local fabric stores. These kits are simple to use and are great for personalizing any type of wooden gift. You can save so much money by personally engraving your gift rather than professionally getting it done, plus it will mean so much more. The possibilities are endless of what you can personalize: coasters, wall décor, cutting board, wooden spoons and jewelry boxes.

10. Wine Glasses

Forgetting whose wine glasses is whose can be annoying. So, give the gift of a personalized wine glass that he or she can show off and be proud of. All you will need is a wine glass, paint brushes, painters tape, and gloss enamel craft paints. If you want to get creative, use chalk paint to paint the base of the wine glass as displayed in the picture below. Here are directions to make your very own personalized wine glass.

11. Jewelry Holder

Create a cute and nifty jewelry holder that looks store bought by simply using an animal figurine (perhaps their favorite animal), paint, and a ceramic dish. This gift idea takes only minutes to make and looks beautiful. Then complete the gift by pairing it with jewelry!

12. Food

You can’t go wrong with food! If you are in a time crunch or are simply just desperate for a gift, food is the way to anybody’s heart and you can be certain that your gift will be greatly cherished. Check out creative recipes on Pinterest and this Buzzfeed article for delicious snacks to make!

So sure, they may say “it’s the thought that counts,” but why settle for just “the thought” when you can give someone a handmade gift made from the heart? Handmade gifts are much more thoughtful than simply purchasing something from the store. Plus, by making them a gift, your gift will certainly stand out and be cherished. So, ditch the stores this season and start getting nifty!

Briana Moritzen is a sophomore studying occupational therapy at the University of Scranton. She eagerly joined her school's chapter as a freshman and has since had a great time writing and posting for them. Briana is also a part of the school's womens crew team, the Student of Occupational Therapy Association, a volunteer for the free Leahy Clinic for the uninsured, and an orientation assistant for incoming first year students. Briana is from New Jersey, and grew up in Livingston, NJ. In her downtime, she enjoys cooking, listening to music, crafting, hiking, and hanging out with friends.
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