Thank you so much for all the sweet words and emails about the DIY family tree yesterday.

I so appreciate you.

So many of you were curious about the other gifts we make every year. You wanted to know what other gifts my brothers and sister have made.

You know what’s funny? Whenever I say that our family exchanges gifts we make ourselves, people sigh and exchange glances.

Handmade gifts, they say. Bless your heart.

I say nothing.

I just smile to myself.

If only they knew.

Around here people take handmade gift-giving to an entirely different level.

I know, right?  If you have read this blog through Christmas before, you are nodding with me so to celebrate Christmas this week, I put together a top 10 list of my favorite handmade gift ideas from our family gift exchange.

Here’s to a handmade holiday.

1. Felted book cover

In 2015 I wrote my first book.

To celebrate? My sister made a felted book cover that looked exactly like my book.

She told me any book would be lucky to look like mine. 🙂

Here’s how to make a felted book cover that looks like your book

2. Carved wine barrel logo

The only thing better than a logo?

Having a logo carved onto a wine barrel.

My brother carved this into the middle of the lid.

Here’s more about this routed logo on wine barrel.

3. Book page sculpture

And then there was the year that my sister made book sculptures.

She folded paper into art and she created a thistle for me.

You can see all the other book page sculptures here.

4. Sugar bowl lid tree

Some of the best gifts we share are made from thrifted items.

Like discarded silver sugar bowl lids.

My sister took all those discarded lids and made a tree out of them.

See the entire silver sugar bowl lid tree project here.

5. Word picture of a thistle

My sister created this for me the year after my blog started.

She took the words from the blog post and created a thistle.


A picture of a thistle created with the words from my blog. See what I mean about next-level presents? They don’t get any better than this.

See more of the project here.

6. Hand-carved bowl

My father planted a tree years ago at our house.

It was struck by lightening the year after he passed away.

My brother took the wood from the tree and carved it into a bowl for each of us.

Read the story of the bowl here.

7. Handmade Chinese Checkers game

My brother hand carved this game for us one year.

I’ve decorated with it and played the game, too.

I even wrote a story about it for the blog.

Read the story about lessons learned from a desk drawer.

8. Wooden box people


Your eyes do not decieve you.

This box was designed to look like a person. My brother made these for all of us one year and they all look different (even down to the teeth).

See more of these wooden box people here.

9. Map Star

Every time I pull out this star I smile as I put this at the top of my tree every year.

My sister made this star from my father’s stacks of favorite maps.

See more about this Star cut and folded from old maps here.

10. Acorn nativity

I still have this nativity.

My brother created wise men and shepherds and Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus out of acorns.

See the rest of the acorn nativity here

Love Letters From Thistlewood

But of all the handmade presents I’ve ever gotten—this one is my favorite. It’s a book called Love Letters from Thistlewood.

Because it’s not from a brother or a sister or a mother.

It’s from my son. He created the book from all the stories I’ve written on the blog. It’s amazing to watch as the handmade gift tradition continues.

Here’s to the next generation of handmade present givers. 🙂

PS  I can’t WAIT to show you what I’m making this year and when I was researching the blog for this post, I found this cute story from our family Christmas Eve a couple of years ago

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  1. Image for Karen B. Karen B.

    Keri Anne, This post has me thinking how we should try just a little bit harder to put more of ourselves into Christmas giving. Your siblings are so creative and talented, as are you. What a wonderful family you all have. I loved the silver sugar bowl lid Christmas tree. What a heartwarming post. All of the projects are fabulous. Thank you for sharing. Karen B.

  2. Image for Barb E Barb E

    KariAnne, This is just OOZING with thoughtfulness! Each and every one of these gifts are worthy of a big, long “sigh”, one of the the BEST family traditions I have seen. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!

  3. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    We started when we were little, making gifts for each other(due to the lack of funds then), and it carried through adulthood. I treasure each and every one of those gifts, and have them some 50+ years later. Some went by the wayside, and I wish I would have saved them.(Childhood gifts are often not treasured as they should be!) I am glad you still have the tradition in your family!!!

  4. Image for Barbara Barbara

    I remember each and every one as I read them- I've listened and learned from you for many years! These are priceless treasures for sure. We like to do homemade here as well. Can't wait to see what ya'll do this year!!:)

  5. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    So sweet, so sentimental, and even more thoughtful. You are a special family. Hold on tight, and remember the best gift of all is knowing they are your family. And they dont need any wrapping or bows.

  6. Image for Colleen Colleen

    Oh KariAnne…what wonderful gifts you have! Keepsakes to be passed down through the generations! It made me happy and sad all at the same time. Commercialism has ruined the Christmas's I remember as a child (over 60 years ago!) So much thought and care has been put into each of those homemade gifts. Already It has spilled over into your children's lives and will eventually be passed down to their children. I've always thought family traditions keeps Christmas alive and magical. Thanks so much for sharing this story. Hubby and I are away travelling this year and will miss Christmas with the kids and the grandkids. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I'm not so sure. Merry Christmas and a ton of love to you and all of your family! XO

  7. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    SO SO CUTE!!! I love them all - but the book cover of your very own book is pretty danged nifty. You have an amazing talented crafty family - and I can see it's in your genes for sure too.

  8. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I’m always in love with the handmade gifts by your family. Love that the next generation is continuing this tradition. Beautiful!

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