DIY Christmas
Do-it-Yourself this holiday season with handmade gifts for the whole family.

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- If you're anything like me, (and I really hope you're not), you haven't even begun your Christmas shopping. Right about this time every year I go into panic mode - it's well past the date to order something online to have it arrive by Christmas, and feeling pressured to randomly buy a gift with what's left on the store shelf isn't the best tactic.

And let's face it, the elves' salary at the North Pole has quadrupled over the past few years and my bank account has not, so to save face and my pocket book, I've started to implement do-it-yourself gifts.

With the explosion of sites like Pinterest and Instructables, DIY projects are easier than ever, and the perfect holiday gift can often be whipped up with items found around the house.

Did you know you can make a reusable grocery bag out of your ever-growing collection of plastic shopping bags? Or repurposed mittens out of an old sweater? Or a jewelry stand from a wooden hanger?

Likewise, that old jam jar could easily be an herb garden; an old T-shirt can be cut up into a scarf or a braided headband. Decorate a plain white mug with a sharpie, bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and "voila!" it's a DIY personalized mug for a friend.

Stick a tea light candle in a bowl of coffee beans to make a scented candle -- a perfect gift for the "morganmuffel" in your life; glue wine corks into a picture frame to make a mini bulletin board; bend wire hangers a certain way for a DIY shoe rack; or find an old window shutter and you have a mail holder. The list goes on and on …

According to the American Research Group, Inc., the average family will spend more than $800 on Christmas gifts this year. And many families interviewed admitted that it's not unusual for toys to be forgotten just days after all of the hoopla ends. So why not give gifts that require time and energy and create family bonding?

A personal favorite of mine is the memory jar. Simply decorate a jar for the year 2013 and have colorful strips of paper and a pen available, then ask each member of the family to fill the jar throughout the year with moments that made them laugh or smile. On New Year's Eve, empty the jar together to reminisce about the past year. Next year -- find a new jar, rinse and repeat.

Many DIY websites offer ideas on thousands of homemade and repurposed projects to try. The links provided are a good place to start, but allow your inner Martha Stewart to grab scraps from around the house and think outside the box. And remember - keep the recipient of the gift in mind. The only thing that comes between you and a bountiful holiday season is the willingness to get crafty.

So this Christmas, keep your hard-earned money in the bank and employ a bit of sweat equity instead. While it won't carry a designer label, the thoughtfulness of a one-of-a-kind handmade gift is priceless.

Page last updated Mon December 10th, 2012 at 00:00