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Do It Yourself: Gift Giving Made Easy

Earlier this week, we gave you a holiday gift-guide, and now we are giving you more! When it comes to the holidays, it is often more fun to give than receive, especially when the present is something with a personal meaning. That’s why homemade gifts are special each year—plus, it gives your wallet a break. Here are some of HC-UCSB’s favorite ideas for homemade gifts. Enjoy!
 
Holiday cookies
This one is simple, easy and delicious. These cookies can be in their finished state, i.e. baked and ready-to-munch in a festive little container. It is also creative to give someone cookies in the form of dry ingredients in a jar, with an attached recipe. I have done this with gingersnaps, oatmeal raisin cookies, and brownies. This way, the recipient can have some fun of their own, add a couple eggs and some cooking oil, and enjoy the cookies straight from their own oven.
 
Scrapbook

When gifting a special someone, be it a friend or romantic partner, a scrapbook is a sure way to make them feel loved. It doesn’t take a whole lot of artistic talent if that is not your area of expertise. All you have to do is choose some memorable photos and get cute letters, stickers, and paper, and a fabric scrapbook from the craft store. My boyfriend loved the scrapbook I made him for our anniversary, and my best friend made one of us for my birthday years ago that I still love looking through.
 
Decorated Photo Frame
Similar to the scrapbook, this gift can be given to a wider variety of friends or family. Start with a plain wooden frame and using paint, glitter, letters, fabric, ribbons—anything really—decorate it to fit the recipient’s personality. Finally, choose a favorite photo of the two of you and print it out on shiny photo paper; make sure it will fit in the frame correctly. Frames are especially great for friends or family who live far away, and miss you and your pretty face.
 
Knot-Tied Blanket
This warm, snuggly present requires no sewing at all! Just get two big pieces of fleece in a pattern(s) of your choice, pin them together back to back, and make small cuts—about 5 inches in length, one inch in width—along the edges. Tie each strip in a knot with the strip opposite it until both pieces of fleece are completely attached. The result is a cozy blanket, perfect for cozying up by the fire.
 
Scarf
If you think about it, a scarf is just a pretty piece of fabric. With a few nips and tucks you can turn a regular strip of fabric into a stylish accessory. Pick out about a yard and a half of your choice of fabric—warm and fleecy or stylish and sleek. If you chose fleece, use sharp scissors to cut the desired length and width of the scarf, then on each end cut ¼ inch wide, 4-inch long strips. Tie a small knot at the top of each little strip to fashion a tassle fringe. It will look like the classic snowman scarf. If you chose the fashion scarf option, cut the desired length and width of the scarf, then very carefully hold the edge to a candle flame and singe it all around until it no longer frays. Make sure to only singe the edge, not set it completely ablaze. If a fire occurs, follow proper protocol and make sure you are prepared to control it!

Personalized Glassware

Buy cheap, plain shot glasses, champagne flutes or mugs at the craftstore. All you need is some glass paint, and let your imagination take over! Inside jokes and nicknames are fun ideas for decorations.

Coupons for Trips Out (Or Time In)
Parents love these, because rather than material items, this present is the gift of quality time spent with you. I made one for my dad for his birthday, valid for a bike ride to his favorite bakery where I would treat him to unlimited coffee drinks and pastries. Your coupon could be for absolutely anything: a dinner out, a hike, a picnic, a board game or movie night in – the possibilities are endless!        
  
Jewelry
Anything from friendship bracelets to hemp bracelets to glass beads and wires—depending on the tools you have, you can make almost anything! Try to model it after something you find in a store but cannot afford. Your handcrafted version will be even better than the expensive one!

Mix CD
This could be either a joke or more sentimental. Download a collection of songs with personal meaning for the recipient and come up with a catchy title for your CD. If you’re really crafty, design a cover!
 
There’s nothing as heartwarming as receiving a homemade gift, and nothing as satisfying as giving one. So get creative this holiday season!

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