35 DIY Holiday Gifts for Any Budget (or First-Time Makers)

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35 DIY Holiday Gifts for Any BudgetGifts don’t need to be store-bought in order to be meaningful. Whether you’re looking to exercise those crafty muscles, are trying to make the holidays as environmentally sustainable as possible, or just can’t afford to buy all your friends an iPhone 5, we’ve rounded up some of the best DIY gifts for foodies, fitgeeks, or anyone who likes to feel happy.

DIY Gifts for Foodies

1. Confetti Bean Soup in a Jar
It wouldn’t be DIY if it didn’t come in a jar! This dry soup recipe is loaded with beans, lentils, fiber, and protein. Tie a pretty ribbon ‘round the jar’s lid, attach cooking instructions in your finest handwriting, and voila: a gift that’ll keep recipients warm during those cold December nights. Approximate Cost (several jars): $50

2. Homemade Granola
Put some crunch in loved ones’ breakfasts with a big batch of low-cal granola. Find some pretty jars or containers for a presentation as pleasing as the creation itself. Approximate Cost (multiple gifts): $20

3. Quick Bread in a Bottle
If you’re talented enough to recreate the lovely label on this bread-in-a-bottle recipe, then you’re probably more qualified to write this article than I. Those of us with a less elegant hand will still be appreciated for giving this homemade bread mix — after all, it has chocolate chips in it. Approximate Cost: $15

4. Whole-Wheat Pumpkin Walnut Biscotti
Just when friends and family thought pumpkin season was over, along you’ll come with shining cookie tins packed to the brim with these pumpkin walnut biscotti: the perfect stocking stuffer or party-warming gift. Approximate Cost: $15

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

5. Strawberry-Rhubarb Honey Jam (Sugar Free)
This fruit-packed jam is sure to delight healthy foodies and PB&J aficionados alike. Honey makes for a healthier sugar substitute; buy a local variety and you’ve just made the gift that much more meaningful (and supported a local beekeeper, to boot!). Approximate Cost: $15

6. Chai Tea Mix
This healthy tea recipe is chock full of herbs and spices — and it looks beautiful, to boot. Perfect for seasoned tea drinkers and noobs alike. Approximate Cost: $25

7. Herbed Rice Mix in a Jar
What did the rice mix say to the bean soup and bread mixes? “I want to be in a jar, too!”  Make rice’s day by tossing it with dried veggies and herbs, pouring it into a jar, and presenting it to the stir fry lovers in your flock. Approximate Cost: $15

8. Handmade Recipe Book
Everyone needs somewhere to store their favorite healthy recipes. Turn a functional piece into a family keepsake by making a cookbook for a loved one. Stuff it with your favorite recipes, the recipient’s favorite recipes, and (of course) the recipe for Grandma’s banana bread.  Approximate Cost: $25

9. Hand-knit Washcloths
Even if you’re not super crafty, it’s possible to learn the simple knitting patterns required for making pretty, soft, handmade dish towels — perfect for the cook in your life! Check out some pretty patterns here and hereApproximate Cost: $20

10. Mandarin Orange Tree
Give a gift that keeps on giving — in the form of mandarin oranges! Prepare the tree by planting it in an attractive pot and printing up care instructions on some pretty card stock — and voila! A bright, healthy, tasty gift. Approximate Cost: $55

11. Whole Wheat Cinnamon Pancake Mix
It’s hard not to love the idea of pancakes on vacation, but not everyone has the culinary get-up-and-go to actually make it happen. Make it easier on your loved ones by whipping up this whole wheat cinnamon pancake mix as a gift in advance of any festivities. Approximate Cost: $15

12. Cocoa Dusted Almonds
They're sweet! They're salty! They're deliciously addictive! They're also chock full of nutrients like potassium, calcium, vitamin E., magnesium, and iron. And they're a great change of pace from less nutrient-dense holiday cookies and candies. Approximate Cost: $25

13. Windowsill Herb Garden
This one’s truly a gift that keeps on giving: Give foodie friends a starter herb garden that’ll spice up their dishes for years to come (provided they remember to water it, of course). Learn which planters to use and which herbs are best suited to windowsill gardening hereApproximate Cost: $35

Photo: Design Sponge

14. Homemade Cutting Board
This one’s for all those folks with an orbital sander, though it’s a perfect gift for any home cook in your life. The project can be a little tough without the necessary equipment, but for anyone with the gumption, the payoff is gorgeous. Approximate Cost: $50 

15. Mosaic Tray
After gifting people with delicious, healthy food, you might as well make something to serve it on. Personalize these trays with different color schemes and patterns. Approximate Cost: $25

DIY Gifts for Fitness Freaks

16. Yoga Bag
Here’s yet another (super cool) reason to stop letting old pants take up space in the closet: They can be turned into a yoga tote bag! Any yogi would surely appreciate a protective covering that makes schlepping a mat that much easier — just be sure to wash the pants first. Approximate Cost: $20

17. DIY Kettlebell
This holiday season, give the gift of improved strength, cardio, endurance, and flexibility [1] [2]. If you can’t pony up for a store-bought kettlebell (which can be pricey), make this Tim-Ferris-approved version, which allows the user to alter the weights (it’s like a hundred kettelebells in one!). Approximate Cost: $10

18. Sandbag
There is perhaps no greater stress relief than throwing around a big ol’ bag full of sand. Pass on the catharsis with this homemade “sand” (er, cat litter) bag. Approximate Cost: $25

19. Medicine Ball
All that’s needed to fashion a medicine ball for a gym-shy friend is that old basketball in the back of the garage, a small awl or drill, a funnel, and some sand (okay, so maybe that sounds harder than it really is). It is, however, a neat way to repurpose old sports equipment for new sporting endeavors. Approximate Cost: $15

Photo: Maiden Jane

20. iPhone Armband
Personalize an iPhone armband for fitness buddies, yard workers (cough, mom and dad, cough), and klutzy friends to save both their iPhones and their peace of mind during physical activity. Approximate Cost: $20

21. Racerback Workout Shirt
It keeps you cooler during a workout, and it looks cool too! Racerbacks are all the rage at the gym these days; keep your friends fit fashion-forward by converting old tees into these snazzy tops. Approximate Cost: $5

22. Workout Headband
Long-haired lasses and lads know how annoying it can be to peel hair off their sweaty faces during every step of a cardio workout. With your help, they don’t have to! Follow this guide to easily turn old t-shirts into great headbands. Approximate Cost: $5

23. Incline Bench
This one’s for the serious fitness freak in your life (and ideally somebody with a basement). A classic tool for a variety of core work, this incline bench is self-adjustable so users can tailor it to different moves and levels of fitness. Approximate Cost: $40

Photo: Delia Creates

24. Workout Ear Warmers
Depending on how fitness-crazed your loved ones are, they may or may not appreciate you helping them work out in the winter cold. We can’t guarantee their appreciation, but we can guarantee that these handmade ear warmers are adorable — though it might be best to forego the flowers and bows for the purposes of aerodynamics. Approximate Cost: $15

25. Yoga Mat
It may not be quite as cushy as store-bought yoga mats, but what it lacks in “cush” it makes up for in personalization: Pick and choose colors and patterns perfectly suited to the receiver, and rest easy knowing that you’re enabling them to take advantage of yoga’s wide range of benefitsApproximate Cost: $30

DIY Gifts for Happier Holidays

26. Terrarium
Just in case you don’t live in Brooklyn, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Terrariums are the only way to decorate an apartment if you’re under the age of 32. Our resident hipsters might be onto something: Flowers and plants are a great way to boost mood and productivity, meaning terrariums aren’t just hip — they’re yet another gift that keeps on giving. Approximate Cost: $25

27. Eye Pillow
A favorite of yogis and yoginis everywhere, eye pillows are a great gift for any restless friend: They can relax tired eyes, soothe tension, and block out light for a more restful savasana (or nap). Approximate Cost: $10

Photo: Flamingo Toes

28. Bath Scrub
Speaking of relaxation: This bath tea soak (made with soothing oatmeal and antioxidant-packed green tea) is sure to delight anyone with access to a bathtub. Approximate Cost: $15

29. Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub
Just in time for dry winter skin, this hand scrub exfoliates and rejuvenates even the most overworked hands. Approximate Cost: $10

30. Fruit-Themed Coasters
If the color green can make people feel happy, then these bright coasters are sure to delight. The project requires a bit of a time investment, but the results are cheery and useful for years to come. Approximate Cost: $15

31. Handmade Journal
Journaling can help us get in touch with our emotions, process stress, and even manage our weight. Give the gift an extra dose of thoughtfulness by making a journal for a loved one with your own two hands. Approximate Cost: $25

32. Candles in a Teacup
Nothing says “Martha Stewart” like candles in a teacup. These are pretty darn cute as-is. For an added health boost, consider mixing essential oils into the melted candles to pass on the gift of aromatherapyApproximate Cost: $25

33. Pressed Pansy Coasters
These pressed flower coasters will keep loved ones’ tables water-mark free and spread the health benefits of flowers (without having to pay for a new bouquet every week). Approximate Cost: $25

34. Vintage Postcard Calendar Journal
Wall calendars are SO 2012. Gift a friend with this pretty, eco-friendly DIY calendar, and pass on the benefits of organization for very little dough. Approximate Cost: $20

Photo: Design Sponge

34. Mini Zen Garden
Who knew Zen could be found in the form of an old Altoid tin? Spread the oms with these adorable miniature gardens. Approximate Cost (multiple): $35

Originally published December 2012. Updated December 2013. 

Will you be hand-making any presents this holiday season? Share your projects in comments or get in touch with the author on Twitter @LauraNewc.

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About the Author
Laura Newcomer
I'm a Senior Editor at Greatist. I'm particularly interested in the ways our mental and physical health intersect, as well as how to build...

Works Cited

  1. Oxygen cost of kettlebell swings. Farrar, R.E., Mayhew, J.L., Koch, A.J. Health and Exercise Sciences Department, Human Performance Laboratory, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010 Apr;24(4):1034-6
  2. Kettlebell training for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health: a randomized controlled trial. Jay, K., Frisch, D., Hansen, K., et al. National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health, 2011 May;37(3);196-203

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