Sign In

Holiday Gifts: Don’t Buy…DIY!

The Holidays Don't Have to Break the Bank

December is here and the holidays are fast approaching. As much as we all love to receive gifts, we’re probably expected to give some as well, which can be hard on the wallet.

Fear not, for if you’re crafty and resourceful, gift giving does not have to break the bank! A little ingenuity, a few supplies, and tad bit of research can go a long way in keeping you in the good graces of your friends and family. Not to mention do-it-yourself gift making is fun, inexpensive, and can allow you to express yourself in ways that an off-the-rack purchase never will.

Take a look at some resources below for DIY holiday gift ideas, available in the library or online.

Duct Tape, Duct Tape Everywhere

Go Crazy With Duct Tape by Patti WallenfangWhy are there so many books about things you can make with duct tape? Never mind, I know the answer: it’s cheap, it comes in just under 10 billion colors, and you can make almost anything with it. Did I mention that it’s cheap?

Go Crazy with Duct Tape by Patti Wallenfang
Make a vest, a candle, a soccer ball, a bag…go crazy!

Just Duct Tape It! by Patti Wallenfang
There’s no end to Patti Wallenfang’s creativity with duct tape. This one gives instructions for flip flops, locker decorations, wallets and more.

Stick It!: 99 D.I.Y. Duct Tape Projects by T. L. Bonaddio
Make a picture frame, a pillow (yes, a duct tape pillow!) a tie, or a purse. You won’t get stuck when you have duct! (Sorry...that made me groan too.)

Stuff to Wear…or Not

Generation T : Beyond Fashion : 120 New Ways To Transform A T-shirt by Megan NicolayGive something wearable, or something made out of something wearable.

Generation T: Beyond Fashion (120 New Ways to Transform a T-shirt) by Megan Nicolay
T-shirt based projects for guys and girls (even baby and animal guys and girls), many of which require no sewing at all. Make belts, scarves, jumpers, hats and bibs for babies, stuffed animals, spats, tote bags, dresses, shorts…and the list goes on.

Cool Jewels: Beading Projects for Teens by Naomi Fujimoto
You’ll find a wide variety of projects in this book, from earthy necklaces using natural materials, to fancy schmancy crystal chandelier earrings. This book also includes instructions for making beaded snowflakes (perfect for Christmas tree ornaments) and shaping wire for jewelry.

I Spy DIY Style: Find Stuff You Love and Do It Yourself by Jenni Radosevich
This book shows you how to recreate expensive, trendy clothing and jewelry inexpensively at home. I particularly liked the multicolored bangles, (using nothing but craft rings and raffia!) the hemp hoop earrings and the rope belt.

Geek Gifts

The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie BurtonDon’t let anyone tell you there’s something wrong with the word “geek.” According to the etymology, it actually translates to "awesomely awesome" (just take my word for it). So if you make something from one of these books, you’re really giving an awesomely awesome gift.

The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton
Make Cantina Character Finger Puppets, Hammerhead Sock Dolls, or a Dagobah Carnivorous Plant Habitat. For a gift for the Youth Services Librarian at San Carlos Library looking, hmm? Take the Chewbacca Tissue Box Cover, she will (thanks, Yoda Speak Generator).

Rubberband Man from Make Projects
This colorful dude stretches and bounces. So, so cool!

Origami Ball (Kusudama), also from Make Projects
Not really geeky, but still awesomely awesome. This one looks like it requires a fair amount of dexterity.

By the way, Make and ReadyMade magazines and their corresponding websites (here and here) are also excellent sources for DIY gift ideas.

The Unclassifiable

Photojojo! : Insanely Great Photo Projects And DIY Ideas by Amit GuptaShow Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything One Step at a Time by Sarah Hines Stephens and Bethany Mann
This is one seriously fascinating book. Learn how to booby-trap your bedroom, win a snowball fight, make a beehive, rig a zipline…oh, wait, we’re talking about DIY gifts here, right? No sweat! Find instructions for making marbleized paper, tie-dyed shirts, tiny disco balls, a comic book tote, or delicious edible gifts, like taffy, candy sushi, stained glass cookies, or fake vomit (edible, of course).

Photojojo! Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas by Amit Gupta with Kelly Jensen
This one requires a little bit of equipment (some kind of image editing software and a color printer...both of which you can access at the library!), but shows you how to make great projects like a photo snow globe, a photo album out of an Altoid's tin, photo fridge magnets and, yes, PHOTO CUPCAKES!

Is There Anything Else?

Oh, just books on knitting, cooking, woodworking, home décor, candle making, clay sculpting, origami, homemade beauty products and acts of kindness, to name a few. Basically, if you give it a good look (or ask your librarian), you’ll be sure to find some book or online resource to help you find inexpensive, DIY gift ideas that will save you money, please your friends and family, and enable you to give something meaningful. Or edible fake vomit, whatever you choose.


Author Bio:

Michelle L. is the Youth Services Librarian at San Carlos Library, who once Bedazzled her arm in a tragic gift-making accident in the seventh grade.