Homemade gifts aren’t just an act of love; crafting them can help reduce anxiety and combat stress – all while bringing people together. Discover five simple, festive gifts you can make for the holidays
1. Ceramic tile coasters
Turn memories into gifts with photo coasters. Functional and thoughtful, they are surprisingly simple to make. Just pick up a pack of plain white ceramic tiles from your local craft store or online, print your favourite photos, and pick up a pot of matte ‘Mod Podge’ (or any brand of all-in-one water-based sealer, glue, and finish). Trim your photos to fit the tiles, and use the glue and sealer to stick them down and coat the top, locking everything in place and making it waterproof. Three to four layers works best, and keep in mind that it takes around an hour for each layer to dry, and a further 24 hours for everything to set once you’ve finished.
2. Pressed wildflowers
Flower pressing allows you to use nature as your canvas, and this crafty pastime offers more than just a beautiful picture. Flowers and plants can decrease feelings of depression and anxiety, while boosting our energy levels and outlook on life. All you need are: seasonal wildflowers, leaves, or foliage; scissors; watercolour paper or toilet paper; and a stack of heavy books.
Start by cutting the stem at an angle, and removing the lower leaves. Place the flower in a vase to fully hydrate for a few hours, before laying flat with paper above and below it. Position it between the pages of a book, and stack several on top. Taking a minimum of two weeks to fully dry out, you can use your pressed flowers in any number of ways – from creating crafty bookmarks to displaying them in photo frames.
3. Salt dough ornaments
A holiday classic, salt dough is simple, cheap, and can provide a fun shared activity for friends and family. To create decorations or ornaments, all you need are four cups of all-purpose flour, one cup of salt, and one-and-a-half cups of warm water. Knead this mixture into a firm, smooth dough, then unleash your creativity.
Cookie cutters can be a good way to create simple shapes you can personalise. Plus, you could use a straw to poke a hole through them to turn your creations into hanging decorations. Once complete, bake at 150C for an hour or until dry, then cool. You can finish using water-based varnish or acrylic paints, or leave as is for a more rustic vibe.
4. Festive scented candles
Certain smells help us feel more festive, and have positive effects on our energy and mood. Try personalising a homemade soy candle with pine, peppermint, cinnamon, or your favourite scent.
First, pick a container. Mason jars can make a rustic yet stylish choice, or you could give an old teacup and saucer a new lease of life. You’ll also need soy candle wax chips, candle wicks, glue or putty, and your preferred essential oils.
Fix your wick in place using putty or glue it at the base of your container. Wrap the top around a pencil to keep the wick straight, and rest this over the mouth of your container. Melt the wax chips, following the directions on your package. Once melted, transfer to a heat-proof container with a spout, add 15–20 drops of essential oil, then pour into your chosen jar or cup. It’s important to allow your candle to fully cool, so leave overnight if possible before trimming the wick. For more decorative options, try experimenting with liquid dye to create candy cane stripes.
5. Homemade treats
Who doesn’t love getting a tasty treat? Baking cookies, making homemade fudge, or even creating hot chocolate stirrers are all classic homemade holiday gifts. But why not try something a little different? Chocolate buttons can be customised with your favourite flavours, are simple yet stylish, and can even provide health benefits (if you choose to go with dark chocolate).
You’ll need 200g of dark chocolate, dried fruit for decorating (we recommend dried cranberries, orange peel, or raisins). Melt the chocolate in 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Using a teaspoon, evenly space small spoonfuls of chocolate on a lined baking sheet. Carefully put a few pieces of dried fruit into each button, before placing the baking tray into the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Once set, store in an air-tight container.
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