diygifts 

Get creative this holiday season with homemade gifts that utilize the best of recycled, refurbished and refound items. It’s not only an economical way to spread your Christmas cheer to more people, it’s also a way to give personalized touches for each and every person on your list. Embrace your inner “Martha” this year by getting crafty with your gifts—all done with a green thumb. Here’s our official DIY guide for tips and resources to get you through your first DIY Christmas gifting season.

DIY FOODS

When crafting great edible gifts, don’t forget to practice the same green ideas as when you cook for yourself. All-natural foods tend to have a shorter life span than the heavily refined and processed foods (consider a piece of whole grain bread versus a Twinkie), so aim for foods that have a naturally longer life: cookies, canned and jarred condiments, infusions and dry mixes. Store your foods in glass or paper wrapping; skip the plastic jars, even if they are cheap. Simply Google “DIY FOODS” and you’ll find an overwhelming number of ideas for this popular gift. Some of our staff faves include natural cookies (try making the dry mix in recycled glass Mason jars!), jarred and labeled dried herbs from the garden, and best of all—anything pickled or infused (separately, of course).

DIY CLOTHING

Even novice seamstresses (or those who have never sewed before) can usually pick up an easy pattern and make some pretty lovely clothing and accessories. Hand-stitching—sewing without a machine—can produce perfectly functional purses, skirts and dresses. And don’t forget those homemade napkins, tablecloths, linens and aprons for the kitchen; using organic materials, you can gift out thoughtful non-toxic, reusable kitchen wears. Staff faves here: an apron made from recycled jeans; 50 free and easy patterns; and all things purses and more purses.

DIY JEWELRY

Create beautiful, unique and personalized gifts with homemade jewelry—the possibilities are simply limitless with this category, so you can’t go wrong. Use recycled buttons for chunky bedangles, or wire-wrap crystal stones for a more gypsy, boho look. Reuse Grandma’s pins and brooches for a vintage-turned-hipster look. Recycled, reworked jewelry always wins. Best of all, it only takes some bare-bones knowledge of making hoops, closures and simple wiring—all of which you can teach yourself with about two hours on the weekend. From there, you’ll be set for life with basic jewelry-making skills. One of the most comprehensive free guides on the web is Eni Oken’s site, which includes tutorials, bead calculators, free downloads, and oodles beyond. For some visual inspiration, check out the Google Image results for wire-wrapped stones, button necklaces, and recycled broche jewelry.

DIY HOUSEWARES & CRAFTS

The small touches in a person’s house make it feel like a home, and few things like homemade arts and crafts can give it that same homey touch. Country Living has an entire gift guide devoted to recycled DIY crafts and decorations (we’re especially fond of the real tree coasters). And at Relish, there’s a gallery of DIY kitchen and house gifts to make (try the coasters made from old photo frames!).  Perhaps the winner in this category: crafts and gifts made from recycled booze bottles.

THE WRAPPING

No matter how incredible your gift is, it still needs a personal touch with the wrapping—don’t skimp out on this DIY opportunity to make your own festive gift wrap or bag. If you’re looking to get rid of old newspapers, there are some great tutorials on making gift bags from old papers. Similarly, recycled envelopes (or those whose glue has expired) can be fashioned into these adorable gift bags. For a slew of other creative ideas, check out the ellinee blog, which features an entire section on great DIY gift wrap ideas.

Image: tramod