Photo by Chris Casella

Gift it yourself

I’m a huge fan of handmade gifts. I love the personalized touches and thoughtfulness that comes with somebody taking the time to create something for me. I also totally understand that the word “handmade” can make some people cringe at the very thought of actually having to make something, let alone “gifting” it to somebody else. Here are four unique and super-friendly holiday GIY project ideas for any skill level of craftiness.

Kiddo Drum

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Photo by Chris Casella

Who doesn’t love a handmade children’s gift that can annoy your friends without having to cost you a fortune? Oh, and this is stupid cute and so easy (and so much fun) to make.

Materials

  • Tin can (I upcycled a coffee can that I washed and cleaned)
  • Decorative fabric
  • Leather
  • Twine (or cord or leather lace – players choice)
  • Hole puncher or Crop-a-Dile
  • Wooden chopsticks
  • Cotton
  • Hot glue

TO MAKE

First, cut and glue the fabric to fit around the tin can. Lay out your leather and trace around your can, then eyeball or measure out about a half-inch and trace out another circle. Mark holes around the outer circle about half-inch apart, then use the hole puncher or Crop-a-Dile to punch out the holes. Run a thin, even stroke of glue around the inner circle and adhere to the lip of the can. Now, lace the twine through the outer holes and tie it off with a double knot. And finally, the drum sticks! I glued two cotton balls to the chopsticks. Eat your heart out, Dave Grohl, we’ve got a new drummer kid in town! (Note: kid will start out like Phil Collins).

Watercolor Espresso Cup Set 

Photo by Chris Casella

Photo by Chris Casella

Anyone can always use a beautiful vessel for delivering caffeine to one’s lips. Create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind watercolor painterly affect on some cute little espresso cup buddies for that caffeine drinker.

Materials

  • Porcelain Espresso Cup
  • Porcelain Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Oven

TO MAKE

It doesn’t take much to get started creating the beautiful ombre affect on these adorable espresso cups.

Be sure to peel any stickers off and give your cups a wash off. To me, the beauty of watercolor is that it’s pretty organic and dances where it takes itself (whether you like it or not), so I really wanted to let the paint do it’s own thing on these little cups and not get in the way of manipulating its natural motion too much. I mixed in a fair amount of water into the paint to create, literally, colored water paint. I liked the idea of the paint creating colored water drips, so I filled the paintbrush with my mixture, and moved the brush around the lip of the cups, letting the paint dribble down the sides. I then let the first color dry (about five hours) and came back with my secondary color. It’s really up to you how vivid you want your colors to be—add more paint if you want brighter, less paint/more water if you want more translucent/watery affect. My recommendation is to just dive in. You can’t really mess this one up. And besides, it’s one-of-a-kind, so really, you can’t mess up.

Let your mug dry completely. I let mine sit for 24 hours. Then place it in the oven at 350 degrees (I placed the cups on a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the oven racks) and baked them for 25 minutes. This will help the paint adhere to the porcelain cups and avoid the paint being chipped or come off when washing them. Be careful when you take the baked off cups from the oven…THEY WILL BE HOT.

Viola! Beautifully unique hand painted espresso cups…because everyone deserves to caffeinate in style.

Geode and Seashell Boozy Bottle Stoppers

Photo by Chris Casella

Photo by Chris Casella

Top off your bottles of hootch with some elegantly simple geode and seashell cork bottle stoppers. Your cork collection is going to be all the right kind of rights.

Materials

  • Assortment of geodes and seashells (keep in amind you want somewhat flat bottomed ones)
  • Corks
  • Craft Glue

TO MAKE

Apply glue to the bottom of the geode/seashell and gently secure to the top of cork bottle and let dry. Seriously, you’re done. Go pour yourself a cocktail. And another. Check and see if the glue is dry and your topper is secure? Not sure if it’s dry? No problem. Have a cocktail. Now that the glue is dry, go top off and secure that bottle of booze with one of your elegantly unique GIY geode/seashell cork bottle stopper!

Wood Trivet

Photo by Chris Casella

Photo by Chris Casella

Materials

  • 3 wooden 3/4-inch diameter dowels (I cut mine into a 9 count of 10-inch lengths)
  • sandpaper
  • Drill with 5/8-inch bit
  • Tape measure/ruler
  • Acrylic paint (I used the Folk Art brand from Michaels and was quite pleased with it)
  • Rope/heavy duty twine
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrushes
  • *Mitre saw (you will need this only if your dowels are not pre-cut)
  • Clamp
  • Piece of scrap wood (similar in size to one dowel)

TO MAKE

1. Cut wooden dowels to 10-inch lengths (or bigger or smaller, depending on what sized trivet you want). You can either get this done at the hardware store or do it yourself if you have a mitre box and saw. Be sure to sand down any rough edges. 

2. On each end of each dowel, measure and mark one-inch in.

3. Clamp one dowel down at a time securely to a stable surface with the scrap piece of wood under the dowel (to help you not damage the dowel).  Be sure the one-inch marking margins are facing up.

4. Drill directly through the markings on both ends on every dowel and sand off any rough edges around the drill holes.

5. Paint each dowel – I decided to stick with my washed out lavender turquoise palette, or if you want a more organic look, rub the wood with olive oil to make its natural beauty shine. If you want to get really crazy, you can coat each dowel with a clear protective sealant. Let it all dry out.    

6. Depending how big you want the handles to be, you’ll need to cut two pieces of rope and thread them through the dowels, tying knots at the backside of the last dowel.  Repeat on the other side and tie the two opposite sides together in the center. How bitchin’ is your new trivet? Which also doubles as a stunning piece of wall art hanging in your happy kitchen?

You’re welcome. Merry Christmas, you handy bastard, you!

Bow Tie

Photo by Chris Casella

Photo by Chris Casella

Guy or gal, young or old, everyone can use a beautiful, big ol’ fashion bow tie. Have fun at the fabric store picking out the right kind of fabric—texture, pattern, style—really think about the personality of whomever you are gifting this to. Be sure to check out the scrap section of your fabric or craft store—as you don’t need very much material for this brilliant bow tie.

Materials

  • Fabric
  • Iron
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Bow tie clip

TO MAKE

1. Cut the fabric into two pieces:

Fabric A: 9 inches x 4.5 inches

Fabric B: 1.25 inches x 2.5 inches

2. Iron fusible interfacing on the backside of Fabric A (trim away excess)

3. Fold long edges in toward middle

4. Fold both open ends in toward the middle

5. Go over the rectangle folds with an iron to ensure crispness of our cheat folds!!

6. Gently pinch the center rectangle to create the umph to your “bow tie” shape and secure with a simple stitch at each of its folds

7. Stitch a bow tie clip on each side (or even two safety pins could
do in a pinch!)

8. Fold Fabric B just like No. 3, iron it, wrap it and stitch it on the center of your bow tie and whoa…you’ll be looking sharp as shit in your very own DIY Bow Tie

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