From Big East Defensive Player of the Year to starting guard for the New York Liberty, Essence Carson is making serious moves — on and off the court. Read on for an inside look at her diet, training, and winning outlook on life.
28 DIY Gifts for Any Budget (or First-Time Makers)
Gifts don’t need to be store-bought in order to be meaningful. Whether you’re looking to exercise those crafty muscles or just can’t afford to buy all your friends an iPhone 5, we’ve rounded up some of the hottest DIY gifts for foodies, fitgeeks, or anybody who likes to feel happy.
DIY Gifts for Foodies
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sugar-Free Jam With one of the shortest ingredient lists we’ve ever seen, this tart plum spread is sure to delight healthy foodies and PB&J aficionados alike. Looking to satisfy someone’s sweeter tooth? Check out this (slightly more complicated) sugarified jam recipe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 here.
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.
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.
DIY Gifts for Fitness Freaks
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DIY Gifts for Happier Holidays
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. But 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.
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).
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.
Lemon Sugar Hand Scrub Just in time for dry winter skin, this hand scrub exfoliates and rejuvenates even the most overworked hands.
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.
Homemade Laundry Detergent It’s perhaps not the sexiest of presents, but this homemade laundry detergent is a nifty gift for anyone who washes their own clothes. Bonus: This recipe includes a printable tag; no label-making required!
Candles in a Teacup Nothing says “Martha Stewart” like candles in a teacup. It’s pretty darn cute, and for an added health boost, consider mixing essential oils into the melted candles to pass on the gift of aromatherapy.
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).
Vintage Postcard Calendar Journal Keeping a journal is a great way to cultivate gratitude, preserve memories, and, in the case of this DIY journal project, keep it green. Pass on the benefits for very little dough.
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.