When I tell someone that we exchange handmade gifts in our family at Christmas…..they smile.

And look at me as if to say…..bless your heart.

Handmade gifts?

Does anyone really want a handmade gift?

And I smile right back and think…..

….if they only knew. 🙂

Because in our family we take our handmade gifts seriously.

Very seriously.

Acorn Nativity

Exhibit A

The year my brother was on a budget.

He made us all nativity sets from acorns.


Exhibit B

Last year my sister created this thistle picture for me…..

…..made up completely from the words of my first three months of blog posts.

Can you see why I smile?

And start my gifts in October…..

…..just to keep up.  🙂


Do you exchange handmade gifts in your family?

If you do….here’s a few ideas for this year.

Five Handmade Gift Ideas


Picture Frame Memory Wreath


Spooning Artwork

(perfect for a first Christmas together)


Felted Soap

Monogram Glass

Set of Monogram Glasses


Stamped Spoon Bracelet

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


    1. Image for Diana W. Diana W.

      Nah.... the dog helps tutor doctoral candidates with their theses...... he just paints on the side some......

        1. Image for Diana W. Diana W.

          Really and truly loved these ideas. I did some hand embroidered pillowcases. Not as original, but just as much love into them. The 'spoon' art will be going up in our kitchen though! Thanks for sharing.

  1. Image for gina gina

    I love the thought that goes into these. I like giving photos of family specially framed. It's budget friendly and meaningful and my brothers and sister usually don't print photos, so it is always appreciated.

  2. Image for Amber @ the French Pressed home Amber @ the French Pressed home

    Such awesome ideas, KariAnne! I especially love the picture wreath. I'm considering that as a gift for Grandma and Grandpa since they are the hardest ones to gift to. And I'll be saving the spoon idea for a new friends wedding next year (so I have time to find some pretty vintage silver). AND... I can't wait to meet you at Chapel Hill! I can't believe I live so close to Layla. The first time we drove through that development, it was like deja-vu. It was weird! THEN, it clicked. I knew someone that I follow lived there. Pretty neat. Have a great weekend and see you soon!

  3. Image for Pam Wethington Pam Wethington

    What amazing gifts your family puts together Karianne! I got tears in my eyes. No wonder you love them so. My youngest son was on a tight budget last year saving to buy his first home so he put together an awesome gift. He bought enough 5x7 pieces of canvas and did a painting. Each family member received a piece and a story included with a photo of the whole piece. The story was that we are all individuals but part of a master piece called Family! And mixed into the detail in the painting he had spelled out family. Gads I was a puddle of tears when I opened that gift. Aren't those gifts by far the most thoughtful? Thanks for posting your wonderful suggestions. I'm going to attempt the wreath for my Mom. She's struggling with memory issues and I think that would be a great gift for her. Love you girl. Happy Weekend!

  4. Image for Michelle C. Michelle C.

    What a talented family! I also like to give "experiences" as gifts. This year I am giving my mom season tickets for both of us to see the ballet. It starts this month, so she gets to start enjoying her gift early. I love the picture your sister made. What a special way to remember your blog.

  5. Image for Anne Presley Anne Presley

    I must admit as the least creative in the bunch, the whole "homemade" Christmas gift thing is so much fun to watch, receive and brag about, BUT my participation is weak. And do I ever feel intimidated - oh yes. Oh by the way, it really isn't the dog that paints but the kitties with their whiskers. I too like to give experiences and really try and do that with my 13 almost 14 grandchildren - they rarely need much but that gift of time anyone can use. Have a precious day thinking how you can give someone your time. Blessings.

  6. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I started a couple of years ago making gifts for my family. I really love it although Christmas gets to me!! There's a lot of family!!

  7. Image for Beverly Beverly

    I still think you all should adopt me. I will be really nice so your mom shouldn't mind too much. Of course, you might need to carefully consider because I have to be honest and admit I am not very clever.

  8. Image for Sherry Sherry

    GREAT ideas! I love the spoon bracelet for myself :) Your family members are very talented. I see why you're starting early. Oh the pressure! I've been thinking about a photo wreath lately... and you just happen to have one! Awesome!

  9. Image for Vee Vee

    Having some recent experience with giving a gift that was not well liked and now having to return it and being told, "I asked for something homemade." Well...let's just say that I have this post on speed dial now. Thanks, Karianne!

  10. Image for Lisa Montgomery Lisa Montgomery

    Once again some of the best blog ideas! I remember several years ago when my mother was still living she and daddy were staying in VA for Christmas and I felt they needed their on tree. At this time I was really into ancestry and had found pictures of my parent's families back three generations. I also collected pics of mom and dad's siblings, their early married photos, my sister and me when we were younger and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I even threw in some of long lost family pets! I went to the dollar store and purchased small frames like your wreath and put all of the photos on the tree. Not only did my parents cry when they saw the 6 foot picture covered tree but they spent several hours going over each photo and its memories. There was a picture of my mother's grandparents that had hung on the wall in her living room when she was growing up. The house later burned to the ground. My mother said, "Where did you get this picture??????????" I told her thanks to modern technology and other family members in the past who's picture wasn't lost, I had found it. With tears in her eyes she said she never thought that she would ever see her grandparents picture again. Now, top that with a store bought gift! Lisa G. Montgomery

  11. Image for Jill Jill

    I like the photo wreath best--and the burlap bow. I tried to read the words on your spoon bracelet by turning my ipad screen and the darn thing kept turning around to right itself--like a cat! What does it say?

  12. Image for SuzyMcQ SuzyMcQ

    I recently saw some stamping on a spoon that was still usable as a spoon and loved the words stamped within..... Cereal Killer. I want to make it clear that I am not a violent person and never advocate such, but am thinking that eating corn flakes with this might be okay......

  13. Image for Susan Susan

    Like Marian -- aka Miss Mustard Seed -- thanks to you for brightening my days when I open your posts. Enjoy your site very much. Wishing I could come see ya'll in ALA in the next few weeks, but next year for sure!

  14. Image for Sandy Sandy

    Hi KariAnne, thank you for the inspiration as always. My grandson is a master crafter. When he was very small, we went to the mailbox. It was overloaded. He decided to make the mail lady a gift for all her hard work. We put it in the box the next day and she sent him a reply - Thank you so much, Hand Made Originals Are Just The Very Best. I still have the letter. He was 5 at the time. We are still making gift. I can hardly wait for October 15th Christmas crafts. I will also be purchasing letters from your brother from his esty store. Love you little girl

  15. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Talent certainly runs deep in your family! I have to say...your brother's acorn nativity scene, is wonderful! I've done handmade gifts before...but, my talent is lacking. The picture wreath looks simple enough...do you give lessons? Have a fun creative weekend! ;)

  16. Image for Sheila Moore Sheila Moore

    Your family is so talented!!! I esp. loved the Thistle picture...you see my Mother's family is from Scotland and that would make a great gift for anyone in my family. Of course I'd have to come up with different wording and also the know-how to make something like this...LOL...Maybe I'll figure it out one day...defo trying PicMonkey soon too!

  17. Image for Ashley Rane Sparks Ashley Rane Sparks

    We do a lot of handmade stuff in our family as well. I am loving that wreath. My brother has a 2 year old and a 7 month old. How cute would that be with tons of little pictures of those adorable babies?!? Thanks so much for sharing! Blessings on your Holiday Season! Ashley Rane Sparks www.makeitrane.com

  18. Image for Abby Abby

    I had to smile when I read this post, we do the same thing with handmade gifts. I love it and I think it really helps the kids understand gift giving a little better. Your brother is wildly creative, that nativity is amazing! Thanks so much for stopping by chapter37!

  19. Image for Cindy Cindy

    Your family sounds so thoughtful and creative. Such a wonderful environment for all the kids to grow up in. We spend Christmas with my in-laws, and nobody gets my creative side. I think it scares them. When they heard about my Etsy shop and the tree toppers I make, they just look a little nervous and change the subject. The adult siblings don't exchange gifts, but I think you've inspired me to put some thought into my (20 something) neices and nephews gifts. Other than the food I've been giving them for years (some handmade).

  20. Image for Sharon Sharon

    I give handmade gifts to others who do handcrafts, because they are the ones that really appreciate the time and effort put in. I make quilts, tea cozies, table runners, pillow cases, scrapbook pages of memorable events etc. Even for people I don't make things for I try to focus on their hobbies ... .fabric or quilt books for my quilting friends ....beads for my friends that make jewellry etc. I have received beautiful gifts from other crafters ... jewelllry, a framed photo from a photographer friend, shopping bags in quirky fabric, etc. But there are always people that want gift certificates .... eek ..boring ... but if that is what they want, that's what they get!!.

  21. Image for Charlotte Charlotte

    One year I made journals from leftover notes pad (I cut off the advertiser's info) and covers from wall paper scrapes. I learned some Japanese stab book binding techniques to hold the journals together. I gave one to my mom because she always carries a notebook in her purse. To my great surprise and joy a year later she gave it back to me full of her thoughts and activities for the past year. Parts of the journal are very bittersweet as she lost two of her brothers that year. And she and my dad took the last of their famous / infamous road trips and I think she knew it would be the last of these trips. The writing, the voice is all my mom and it will always be my most treasured gift I gave away and got back.

  22. Image for Lisa Campbell Lisa Campbell

    I agree homemade gifts are the best. One of my favorite Christmas gifts is from my sister. I am the youngest of four girls and I asked my eldest sister who is a talented writer to write down Christmas memories from when we were growing up. She wrote about family, traditions, funny stories, etc. She added memories from the other three of us also. I get it out every year and read it and share it with family. Priceless

  23. Image for Wendy V Wendy V

    KariAnne, You amaze me - love just everything you do! And while I'm at it - the way you word stuff cracks me up! Your my kind of gal! Wanted to share a story of a thrifty Christmas -a while back I bought fabric laundry bags for each person - adorned each with name & such. Then each person in family bought a 5$ Gift for each person. It was fun to open so many small gifts & see the thought behind them. My favorite homemade gift I received was earrings made by my little bro! They were SPRINGS➿

  24. Image for Sandy Sandy

    You sure have a creative family! Loved every one of the handmade gifts but the nativty scene made out of acorns from your brother and the family photo wreath are my favorities. Gifts from the heart.

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