65 Genius Gift Ideas to Make at Home

by - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some of the most precious gifts are those which are hand-crafted with thought and love. But unfortunately, not all hand-made gifts are made equal. Home-baked cookies and embellished photo frames have become somewhat commonplace in the realm of DIY gifting.

For this post, I set out to collect a huge list of gift ideas which are truly remarkable: those which I would not only feel proud to have made, but would secretly like to keep for myself... Furthermore, if supplies are needed to create these clever DIY projects, the total should not exceed $10 (or about £5) per gift.

Whether you are on a tight budget or simply want to create a more meaningful gesture this Christmas, consider making one of these 65 desirable DIY gifts for friends and family members to enjoy.

1. Operation Incognito Disguise Kit

This amazing idea from Mmmcrafts is perfect for boys and girls alike! All you'll need is a few scraps of felt and fur, a little elastic and a decorated drawstring bag. The templates are available in PDF format from the Mmmcrafts Etsy shop, or (if you're feeling adventurous) have a go at designing your own!

2. Book Safe

A perfect way for both children and adults to stash away their precious treasures, or even as extravagant wrapping for a gift card. This particular tutorial from Instructables details how to make a neat, elegant book safe which may even cost nothing at all to make if you already have an unwanted mass-market hardback on your shelves.

Psst - Don't tell Princess, but I'm making her one of these for Christmas. I just know she's going to love it!

3. Handmade Hardwood Bookmark

This beautifully simple creation comes courtesy of Curbly who realised it was a great idea for using up scraps of hardwood from another project. If you don't have any thin scraps around, take a look at the bargain basket at your local hardware store. The designs were simply drawn on with permanent marker!

4. Pocket Folding Key Organiser

It's likely a trip to you local DIY store will be in order for this project, but I'm sure you'll agree it's a great gift idea! Found via Instructables.

5. Skull Bookends

These are simply stunning, but a doddle to make! If you're unable to find a plaster skull left over from Halloween (or would prefer something a little less macabre) the tutorial can be easily adapted. Via The Band Wife.

6. Chalkboard City Blocks

I know several of my (smaller) loved ones would be thrilled to receive these for Christmas, particularly my little man. Create a whole city worth from scraps of leftover wood and wrap in a simple drawstring bag for a children's gift which can be enjoyed over and over again.

Via HelloBee.

7. Animal Head Bag/Coat Rack

I wasn't able to locate the tutorial for this ingenious idea, though imagine it would be relatively straightforward to duplicate with a length of scrap wood and several plastic animals.

Found via Mackapar

8. Cinnamon Honey Butter

Before your attention wanders at the inclusion of this festive edible gift, let me assure you that honey-cinnamon butter is UTTERLY DELICIOUS! We made a batch last week and already it's all been eaten (luckily my neighbour managed to sneak away with a jar before the kids found it).

Better still, it's incredibly easy to make! Gifting in decorated jars makes for a special edible surprise for your favourite foodie.

Recipe and decoration ideas via Tidy Mom.

9. Sweater Pouffe

I first discovered this great idea via an Etsy listing and searched around to find this great tutorial from Lolovie to learn how to make them for our home. Originally I'd intended to make one for Little Man so he can have his own pint-sized seat in the lounge, but now Princess has asked for one. And her best friend. And my niece...

10. Fabric Blocks for Baby

Using scraps of fabric, you can male a whole set of these tactile blocks to entertain a special little person for hours!

Tutorial via Wren Handmade.

11. "Good Night" Wall Light

Such a lovely idea for a night-light in the children's room, or that special finishing touch for a couple's bedroom. This tutorial uses a simple canvas frame, light-fitting and black paint: all things which can be bought very cheaply if you don't already have some lying around.

12. Light-Bulb Terrarium

I love the concept of this tiny terrarium (alligator optional!) which would make a unique gift for any recipient! 

13. Whale Softie from an Old Pair of Jeans

This adorable whale softie is made from the "right" and "wrong" sides of an old pair of jeans. Genius! The website is originally in Finnish though English instructions are available too. 

14. DIY Pacman Corkboards

Deliciously geeky, this wall art is also incredibly functional and easy to make! Instructions and templates available over at Instructables.

15. Bacon Salt

Yup, you read the title right. This is BACON salt, which uses a surprisingly low amount of salt in its creation. Store in a jar to use as seasoning or a delicious garnish for a whole range of foods. Oh, and did I mention it was made out of bacon...?

16. Mason Jar Lights

*Swoon*! These are gorgeous, and so easy to make! The tutorial website is originally in Dutch, though the excellent photography walks you through the making of the lights, or could easily be translated. 

17. Super Hero Fort Kit

A super idea for a boys Christmas (or birthday) gift, this kit contains everything needed to make a superhero fort anywhere

Repurpose the idea using pink sheets and alternative labelling for a girls-only den kit!

18. Lace Candle Holder

Delicate and so pretty, this DIY candle holder looks way more expensive than the cost of making it! So good, you'll probably want to keep it for yourself..

19. DIY Cement Planter(s)

You could spend a small fortune buying ready-made planters like these from designer home outlets, or make some yourself using leftover cement and moulds you can find lying around your house! Combined with a succulent or other elegant plant, this would make an ideal gift for the home.

20. Snowman Poop!

Here's a whimsical stocking filler I found on Pinterest (it took me a while to locate the original tutorial!). Cheap and easy to make; guaranteed to bring a smile this Christmas.

21. Candy Cane Sugar Scrub

Perfect as a gift for your female friends and family members, this candy-cane sugar scrub is simple to make using ingredients you may already have at home. 

22. DIY Sharpie Mugs

These "His and "Hers" mugs from A Beautiful Mess are simple to make and gorgeous to gift. All you'll need is a cheap ceramic mug and a Sharpie permenant marker! The link above is to ABM's tutorial, but if you're having problems with your designs washing away, take a look at this great article on DIYopolis.

23. Handmade Lunch Bags

Made with oilcloth and finished with bright quirky buttons, these lunchbags are an ideal make for school-aged children, and will probably last longer than plasticky shop-bought versions. Choose fabric and embellishments to suit the tastes of your recipients. You could even fill it with festive treats for a truly personal gift!

24. Gingerbread House Kit

This amazing idea from Country Living features everything you could possibly need to create your own gingerbread house kits, including recipes, labels and templates! The end-result looks even better than many of the shop-bought kits I've seen, and costs a fraction of the price to make, especially if you decide to buy in bulk and make several kits.

25. Hand Carved Monogrammed Soaps

These personalised gifts are wonderful stocking fillers and are surprisingly easy to make! Try swapping the initials out for a simple image (heart, bird, butterfly...) if you're feeling adventurous.

26. Toto Sweater Cushion

This adorable cushion can be made from an old sweater! By using the stuffing from an old cushion (or unwanted soft toys) it could even be made for free! Excerpted from the Everything Oz book, the free online tutorial includes detailed instructions and templates for you to print.

27. Beast Pillow

Isn't this a cute little fellow? Unfortunately, this particular Beast is a unique, hand-knitted creation for sale on Etsy at $153, but it did make me wonder if a similarly endearing creature may be produced by upcycling an unwanted sweater...

28. Peppermint Play Dough

Play dough is a thrifty treat for children at any time of year. The addition of peppermint extract to this recipe makes for an extra-special Christmas surprise for your little loved ones.

Via The Idea Room.

29. My Pet Cloud

For a couple of dollars, you could whip up a whole bunch of these adorable mini-gifts for your children to give to classmates, or as stocking-fillers for your young relatives. This tutorial by Rook No. 17 even includes printable tags and a poem to accompany the gift. What a genius idea!

30. Poem Script Scarf

Such a wonderful, personal gift. I would be thrilled to receive one of these as a gift! Simply use a plain (or simply patterned) scarf and a fabric pen to write favourite lines of poetry, and voila!

Via Stamp 48.

31. Framed Scrabble Letters

Using a thrift-store frame and old scrabble tiles, you can create a personal message tailored to the recipient.

Via Lauren Conrad.

32. DIY Bathtub Caddy

A lovely gift for the home, this bathtub caddy can be made for less than $5! Team with a couple of soaps and wash-cloths for a special treat.

Via Sawdust Girl.

33. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh Gift Set

This impressive home-made gift set provides the perfect indulgent treat. Full instructions and printable labels are available on the tutorial page on The Idea Room website.

34. Rainbow Sunshine Baby Toy

An adorable gift for babies, this simple plushie provides stimulation and comfort in one easy-to-make package.

There is also a rather intriguing story behind this tutorial, which I suggest you pop over to read...

Via Chez Beeper Bebe

35. Altoids Tin Survival Kit

There are so many variations on the potential contents of this timeless, manly gift! I've linked up to an excellent tutorial on Lifehacker to get you started.

36. Lightbulb Oil Lamp

Designer alternatives may cost upwards of $600. This tutorial explains how to make your own for under $10! Ideal as a gift for stylish homemakers.

Via Instructables.

37. Stylish Scarf Camera Strap

Perfect for photographers, this stylish camera strap is simple to make and looks as good as a designer alternative.

Via Beatehemsborg

38. Travel Hotwheels Car Caddy

I know a certain Little Man who will grin wider than a Cheshire Cat when he receives my attempt at this amazing gift for Christmas!

Via Homemade by Jill

39. Jack Daniels Soap Dispenser

Quick and easy to make, this tutorial by Curly Birds makes for an ideal manly gift.

40. Chic Rustic Tray

Repurposing a thrift-store picture frame using vintage handles and a leftover fabric makes this a gorgeous gift for the home.

Via A Thoughtful Place

41. Tentacle Nick Pillow

Very geeky (and admittedly, a little creepy) yet so indulgent! This can be made for virtually no cost by cutting up old jersey sweaters and filling with cushion stuffing.

Via Tally's Treasury

42. Photo Blocks Puzzle Cube

This is no ordinary puzzle cube. In fact, it is one of my all-time favourite makes! The 4x4 cube opens out to create up to 12 different pictures in various formations. Click through to see more pictures and how the cube transforms.

You needn't be limited to photos either. Try using different geometric patterns or bright pictures depending who your gift is for.

Via Doodlecraft

43. Book Lamp

A stylish gift for bibliophiles which is easier (and cheaper) to make than you might think!

Via The Shabby Creek Cottage.

44. Stylish Stick Horses

These simple stick horses look even better than most which can be bought in stores! Perfect for imaginative play times.

Via A Beautiful Mess

45. No-Sew Slipper Socks

Luxurious and practical, these are very easy to make and cost little more than a pair of nice warm socks (which you could also personalise with embellishments, of course!).

Via Fios de Arte

46. Sock Animal Rattles

Use an unwanted pair of brightly coloured socks to make these adorable rattles for baby this Christmas!

Via Homemade by Jill

47. Fence Post Candlesticks

Upcycle your unwanted fence or porch posts and combine with dollar-store candles to create a stunning set of candlesticks.

Via The Diy Adventures.

48. Homemade Coffee Syrups

A set of home-made coffee syrups, such as these from Nellie Bellie, would make a glorious gift for a coffee lover (such as myself, nudge nudge...).

Via Nellie Bellie.

49. Snowman Topped Pencils

Combine with stationary, or give individually as stocking-filler gifts.

Via Martha Stewart

50. Busy Board for a Toddler

Our favourite children's play centre has an entire wall of tactile things to spin, click and move which Little Man adores. This fantastic gift idea uses odds and ends you'll probably find lying around in your garage or oddments drawer which can entertain a toddler for hours!

Via GM Glimmerglass

51. Monogrammed Journal

Elegant and stylish, this tutorial helps you transform a plain journal into a meaningful, personal gift.

Via Real Simple.

52. Rice-filled Shoulder Heating Pad with Lavender

A genius twist on the homemade hand-warmer gift, this tutorial explains how to create a soothing shoulder-heating pad for an indulgent treat.

Via A Hot Place

53. Children's (not-so-noisy) Drum Kit

With soft pom-pom beaters, these adorable drums are practical and adorable.

Via A Beautiful Mess

54. 10 Minute Pencil Roll

This arty gift can be whipped up as a last-minute gift if you have a pack of pencils and some spare fabric lying around! Use whatever fabric you may have in your stash, or plan in advance to create a more elegant gift tailored to your recipient.

Via My Poppet

55. Mini Kitchen Set in an Altoids Tin

This adorable miniature kitchen set is perfect for children aged three and over. The utensils were made from popsicle sticks and bent wire, while the food cut from scraps of felt and faux suede. The bowls and wooden bottles were purchased "as-is" but could probably be bought from a craft store or replaced with other miniature shapes, such as bottle tops.

Via Made by Joel

56. Porthole Mirrors

To purchase everything used to create these quirky mirrors cost around $10, but would work out far less if you already have some of the supplies at home. These were designed for a toddler bedroom, but would make a lovely gift for an adult to hang in their bathroom (or anywhere else in the house for that matter!).

Via Doe a Deery

57. Cute Cress Cups Kit

A boxed set including the pre-made cress cups with cotton balls and a packet of seeds would make a lovely growing gift for a child. Use the Sharpie method for the DIY "His and Hers" cups if you don't have a ceramic marker to hand.

Via By Wilma

58. Etched Wine Bottle Dish Soap Dispenser

Who knew etching glass could be so easy? This tutorial converts an old wine bottle into a useful elegant gift for the home, but could easily be adapted for other projects too.

Via Living Well Spending Less

59. Wooden Paper Slingshot

A perfect balance of safety and fun, this gift idea offers hours of indoor or outdoor fun for a special little person - or even a big kid!

Via Made by Joel

60. Chevron Friendship Bracelets

These grown-up friendship bracelets look gorgeous and are so easy to make!

Via By Wilma

61. Upcycled Tea Organiser from an old biscuit tin

This project makes use of something many of us hoard: the humble biscuit tin. Using materials you may already have at home, transform your container to produce a beautiful gift for a tea-lover. Fill with a selection of tea to make it even more special.

Via More Than Chic

62. Octopus Sock Toys

Use brightly coloured old socks to create an octupus family for a young baby gift.

Via Kirsty Neale on Flickr

63. Living Thing Ring Dish

This is another of my favourite makes, a simple idea which makes for an elegant gift anyone would love to receive.

Via Do a Deary

64. Homemade Organic Cat Treats

Let's not forget our four-legged friends this Christmas! Here is a recipe for organic pet treats you can make at home...

(Via Pet Sugar)

65. Canine Cookies

...And here are some recipes for homemade doggie treats!

Via The Kitchn

Bonus! Jersey Knit Bracelets

A set of these uber-stylish bracelets could be the ideal gift for a friend or loved one. This tutorial by V. and Co. explains how to make three different types of varied thickness using discarded jersey material (such as old t-shirts).

(I realised I'd accidentally used #16 twice, so added this idea as a bonus.)

About this post

Most of these ideas were found via Pinterest (which by the way is a great resource for discovering tips to help around the home!). Wherever possible, I've attributed the image and tutorial by means of links to the original site or web-page, but if you think I have made a mistake please let me know the original source and I will correct the link.

Which are your favourite makes?

Sadly I don't have the time to make all of the lovely gifts in this list, though we do plan to make several and will likely try others throughout the year.

Which of the DIY gift ideas are your favourites? Have I missed any genius gift ideas you'd like to add? Feel free to discuss in the comments section below.

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