Twelve years ago we started with the handmade gifts.

It was born of necessity.  There were brothers and sisters and dads and moms and cousins and grandmas and nieces and nephews who gathered around the Christmas tree every year.

And none of us were millionaires.

Not even close.

It helps that we are all a little competitive, my siblings and I.  We all wanted to be the best.  We all wanted to make Santa proud.  So there were gifts of lampshades made from my father’s old slides and bowls carved from fallen trees and entire books created from old love letters and a thistle created from the first 750 words from my blog.

So today, on the last day of November with December knocking at the door, I thought I would share some of my favorite ideas for a handmade Christmas.  Some are easy.  Some are a little harder.

But all are hand-crafted.


Handmade from the heart.


Click on the links to take you to the DIY for the project.

hand-stitched notebook//paint stick dominos


Click on the links to take you to the DIY for the project.

hand-stamped spoon necklaces//pallet wood letter


Click on the links to take you to the DIY for the project.

reclaimed wood monogram sign//leather mason jar mug holder


Click on the link to take you to the DIY for the project.

monogrammed dropcloth pillow

PS  I cannot thank you enough for the amazing, incredible, sweet, inspiring stories of your ornaments.  They kept me company yesterday.

And now?  I kind of need a favor.  I had the best idea for this year’s handmade present that did not work out.  Not even close.  If you have any handmade present ideas you can share I’ll be your best friend. 🙂

PPS  A couple of weeks ago, I posted a fun podcast (with my mother as my guest) talking about our handmade gifts.  If you missed it, you can listen here.

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


  1. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal

    I love all of your handmade gifts! They are so, so, lovely. Your creative mind is awesome I can't imagine coming up with anything spectacular for you...but there was one thing I was going to try but don't think I can fit it in my schedule. For the men in my life, I was going to make a wooden charging station utilizing one of those plug everything in to one charging things you can buy off amazon (hidden away of course). It was going to be a gadget haven with stained gray weathered wood and their monogram on it using black sharpie in a very manly font. Much love and DIYing wishes for you! Nancy

  2. Image for Carole @ Garden Up Green Carole @ Garden Up Green

    Garden Cadet Hat - So cute and fun to make, it's simple and useful, even better you don't have to wear it to the garden cause it looks great on trips to town. You can get it in my Free Christmas eBook for Subscribers.

  3. Image for Brenda Brenda

    I'm a quilter, so my first thought is a quilt of some kind. I also have a thing for homemade pillows. I also like to make beaded jewelry of all types. You can even buy snowflake wire frames to make ornaments or package tags. They are so pretty!

  4. Image for Sandra Warthen Sandra Warthen

    Our family has grown to hate the commercialism of Christmas. So two years ago, my adult sons made a new set of rules: you could not buy your gift from a store. It could be hand made, come from a thrift or antique store, yard sale, etc. We have had so much fun with it. My grandson went thru a phase of wearing hawaiian shirts-he is getting a quilt. I am in the process of making myself a revised recipe box and giving my original recipe box to my youngest son who loves to cook. Love your post. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort that it takes to do it. Have a wonderful holiday season.

  5. Image for Betsy Betsy

    I took 3 round cookie cutters going from small to larger and traced them to form a snowman. I placed the pattern on top of leftover quilt batting and cut out the form leaving an extra 1/4 inch. I sewed him right sides together and stuffed him (or her) with batting and stitched up the side. I then painted the snowman with sparkle decoupage and let it dry for 24 hours. Then the fun part.......I took mini buttons for his eyes and stitched blue thread through the button eyes and 3 for his body using red thread and glued them all on. The nose was cut out of a scrap of orange wool felt. I topped it off with a scarf made of mini tinsel garland. He doesn't sound fancy but he is handsome and I'm thrilled to give him as a gift.

  6. Image for sydney85 sydney85

    I love your handmade Christmas gifts that you and your family create. They are always very clever and useful. My first thought is a little basic but I have found them useful. These are knitted cozy for mugs. This is a website that shows very good directions. I will be on the lookout for something more unique and send your way.

  7. Image for Anita Jackson Anita Jackson

    ~ I have crocheted scarves for several years in a row, and made crocheted hats. Those seem to take so much time.... if an effort to come up with a time efficient - home made gift, I am scouring your ideas and others as well! I've done hand painted Christmas balls with winter scenes, they still hand on my mother's tree, crocheted tiny stockings....looking forward to a "new" idea!

  8. Image for sydney85 sydney85

    I saw this on a blog and thought of you for your handmade gifts. It is a firewood tote.

  9. Image for sydney85 sydney85

    This is my last idea, I promise. Ink on wood!

  10. Image for Kris Kris

    I have made hand-knitted gifts the past few years. I don't know whether or not you knit, but the key to quick and easy is "big". Big needles + big, fat yarn = speedy handmade gifts. Ha.

  11. Image for Patti Patti

    I would love to see a pic/tutorial on that old slide lampshade, Karianne! I have so many slide carousels and this would be a fun project I think!

  12. Image for Rebecca K Rebecca K

    One year I made fleece blankets, lap warmers, cuddly wraps for everyone. I would choose a color that either went with their decor in the family room or a color that reminded me of someone. It's super easy since the fleece doesn't ravel. Fold the edge and stitch by hand or machine in a complementary color or white or black... You are so creative, I hesitate to even make a suggestion! All the best in this holiday season. And thank you for what you give to all of us!

  13. Image for Peg Peg

    Hmmm, how about a string art "W"? Trace a large "W" on a board and tap nails along the outline and use string to create a cool pattern, maybe!!! : )

  14. Image for Colleen@LilacDriveDesigns Colleen@LilacDriveDesigns

    Oh my, the possibilities are endless! I like to make my own salt or sugar scrubs. I put them in those cute mason jars and create my own labels for the top and ribbon. I made a lavender scent and an orange scent one year for the men. They were a hit. Good Luck! I know you'll come up with something cool!

  15. Image for june june

    Likewise many many years ago my sibs and their families stopped with the commercialism and gifting. Each of us embraces a charity of choice and focuses on that. This way if someone is a bit strapped at the holiday they do what they can do. Our holidays focused on time together and even though many of our children were much younger at the time...they loved being able to hang out with cousins they didn't see all the time. One of my favorite ideas has been to bring boxes of holiday cards to senior living facilities. Seniors still cherish the memories of exchanging cards and many do not have the means to shop either because of physical limitations or finances. When my mom was alive, I would pay for her cards and postage stamps because she sent out close to l00 every year. It just felt right keeping this tradition alive for her...we even did cards from her hospital bed the year before she passed. To me something homemade, handmade or a gift of time is what makes it Christmas!

  16. Image for Gail Gail

    1. Image for Gail Gail

  17. Image for Char Char

    One of my favorite home made gifts is to recycle free memo pads into journals and little notebooks. I cut off any advertising (or hide it in the spine) and use a Japanese stab binding technique to add front and back covers.

  18. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    I wish I could add something clever and unique -- but my mind is filled with cookies, cakes, and things to bake. You have such great crafty followers I'm sure someone will point you in the right direction. But, KariAnne, I think your creative muse will kick in and give you inspiration. I will be on the lookout for you. Have a wonderful day!!

  19. Image for Janis Janis

    A few years ago my son gave us a tall wooden frame to hold our firewood. It holds a lot of wood and is very practical.

  20. Image for Michelle Michelle

    I love all these adorable ideas but I'm really fixated on the dominos. Unfortunately, I'm too taxed for time right now to do them this year -- but maybe next! I just think they're adorable. I'm so sorry your handmade idea didn't work out :( All my gifts are handmade this year but just by using a few store-bought patterns. The little girls are each getting a ginormous teddy bear in their favorite color, and the older kids and adults are getting pajama bottoms or a nightgown (bottoms for boys, gowns for girls -- did I really have to say that lol?) in a flannel depicting their favorite sport. The couples are getting matching tops and bottoms. Each pattern has 5 sizes included and each person is a different size, so the hardest and most time-consuming part has been taping tissue paper and transferring each piece in each size to the paper.

  21. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    I loved Wendy of Old Lake George's find of wood simple cut out/stand up Christmas trees in the Target Dollar Spot ($3 each)...Did you see them? You could take your Thistlewood fabric and cover the wood tree frames and coordinate the fabrics with the recipients....or something like that. A tree that could work not just for Christmas. Just a thought. Have fun. :)

    1. Image for gina gina

      Agree. Something in your fabric is meaningful. Table runner, or cover a journal or box, cover a cardboard letter, cover cone Christmas trees in a couple of sizes...

  22. Image for Cindy Roth Cindy Roth

    Ok, so you probably can't blog it, since someone else already did, but I know you show links to favorites a lot. I'm thinking about making a bowl of these for my mom, because her kitten can't chew them up. Well, hopefully she can't. Colorful Zinnias made from pinecones!

  23. Image for Shelley Shelley

    I love June's idea of helping her mom with her Christmas cards- I take this one step further. I've ended up being the 'family photographer', and I pick out a family photo taken during the year and have it made into a Christmas card for my mom. I order 25, and give them to my mom as an early Christmas present early in December. She sends them to her special friends. (Starting in November, a lot of on line companies have low cost card choices).

  24. Image for Martha Goodwill Martha Goodwill

    My family of 5 siblings has been inspired by you! This year we are all making each other homemade gifts. And! Three of the gifts are from you. One is The Gift for the House Who Has Everything pillow, one is the Industrial Farmhouse Cutting Board DIY and one is Halloween Idea Number 4: Add a picture frame instead of a wreath (only it will be generic and not Halloween). My brother made these outdoor oil lamps for all of us one year. They were a big hit.

  25. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I loooove all of your homemade gift ideas. My goodness, I could kill for a wooden bowl or the books made from love letters! Are you even kidding me right now? Those are the best kinds of gifts EVER!!! Every year, usually the first part of December, my daughter and I get together to sew and make Christmas gifts. I look so forward to it!!! We play our Christmas music and drink our hot cocoa and we laugh and bond like crazy! The funnest day of the year!!! Two years ago we did aprons. Really cute aprons. With ruffles and a handmade rolled fabric rose. Last Christmas we made dolls. Maybe the funnest project yet! (HOW do I send you pictures? Just talking about them doesn't do them justice!) I also put together some fat recipe/memory books for my kids. I thought they turned out fabulous. Not so sure they meant so much to them. But perhaps one day they will. We're in the searching around for this year's project mode. I'll have to let you know when we figure it out. I do love all of your ideas!!! You're always such a great inspiration to me!

  26. Image for Rebecca Parker Rebecca Parker

    I love all these ideas but the handstitched notebooks are my favorite! So many things you could make with this mind is realing! My family and I have made gifts for each other for much more meaning to the handmade items! As to your idea that didn't recently posted the reason you created this blog was to work out all the kinks for those of us who faithfulness follow you (and for that we are eternally grateful!) SO....I have no doubt that you will figure it out. I don't think you are one to give up on something to easily! I don't comment all the time but I do read your posts and I want to thank you for all the wonderful ideas you give us. You truly are an inspiration!

  27. Image for sydney85 sydney85

    I obviously cannot keep my word. I found this site and I liked so many of their ideas.

  28. Image for Marilyn McAuley Marilyn McAuley

    depending on who you are making it for: a container of their favorite homemade cookies! Always a treat

  29. Image for Suzanne Suzanne

    I want one of these to put in my kitchen window.

  30. Image for Cathy Cathy

    Our dear gram passed away this year and I saved all of her beautiful sweaters and am making all her grandchildren pillows for Christmas!!

    1. Image for Marta Marta

      That is a wonderful idea! When my father-in-law died, we had his plaid flannel shirts made into a gorgeous quilt - then we moved to Arizona, lol!

  31. Image for Pam Anderson Pam Anderson

    Oh I just listened to the podcast of you and your mom and just smiled the whole time. I miss seeing you and your family. It cracked me up when you would start laughing knowing what you were going to say.

  32. Image for Paula Paula

    Karianne: I can't believe anything you attempt to do can turn out bad. I just clicked on an email from Better Homes and Gardens and they are featuring "Stunning Christmas Homes We Want An Invite To" and guess whose dining room they are showing, albeit, not your remodeled one but still very lovely with a white Christmas tree and decorated table!!

  33. Image for Susie Susie

    Such wonderful ideas for handmade gifts starting with your post and going all the way through the comments. Wish I had time to make every. single. one. Love coming here to see what's hot.... LOL... Susie from Chelsea Project

  34. Image for Louise Adkins Louise Adkins

    A recent idea I saw was a galvanized bucket with the recepient's birth year traced on and then filled in with Sharpie. It could be their name, their address, their birthday, or the entire family's birthdays. See it at Another idea you could do is the latitude/longitude pillow personalized for where the recepient lives. Here is an example: pillows I found a local source of pallet slats and am making what I call "city" signs. It is just a pallet slat with the city the recepient lives in traced on with stencils and then filled in with black sharpie. I'm pleased with my results, I finished two today while my car was being serviced. It could be the family name, street address, etc. I think the same concept with a Christmas saying on new wood would be simple too. So Merry Christmas! Good Luck!

  35. Image for Cindy Cindy

    Cinnamon ornaments. Equal parts cinnamon and apple sauce. Make into a dough, might need a bit more cinnamon if your applesauce is watery. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters; allow to air dry or use a dehydrator (your house will smell heavenly!) Decorate with paints - puff paints or slick paints in a bottle look really nice. Be sure to poke a toothpick through for hanging BEFORE you let them dry. Otherwise they are lovely on a plate! These last for years.

  36. Image for Jackie Holt Jackie Holt

    I love making personalized prayer journals. Some pages have hand painting on them, others with handmade envelopes with simple prompts for writing, I did several on old pages in old hymnals, they are never the same and no two alike. I have also used very old vintage books.

  37. Image for Lynn Lynn

    One of my favorite projects in the last couple of years was taking a vintage favorite book and converting it into a Kindle or tablet reader by cutting out most of the pages but leaving the cover intact. I even made one for myself using an original Nancy Drew book (my favorite series from childhood).

  38. Image for Gayle215 Gayle215

    Plaid blanket scarves are all the rage this year. Pick up a couple of yards of stretchy plaid fabric and whip up some gorgeous infinity scarves. You can even embroider a monogram on them!

  39. Image for jen jen

    My aunt made us all cute (easy to make she said) neck rice/lavender warmer things. You put it in the mcrowave and put it around your neck. I love it! One year my grampa made everyone firestarters and put them in a cute basket with kindling

  40. Image for Patricia Patricia

    I give Christmas baskets to my closest relatives. I make a big batch of pumpkin bread and everybody gets one along with other treats. One stepson didn't want food last year so his cats got a basket full of cat snacks and toys. Another wants healthy snacks like dried fruit. One mom of two very active kids gets a mommy's secret stash of chocolate in her basket. Another might get lotions and candles ... actually this year EVERYBODY is getting candles. I made a batch this summer with my sis in jam jars. Another idea is to turn some old family video tapes into digital. Another year I made copies of my mother in law's high school graduation photo and framed it for all her grandchildren. Ornaments made from old family photos would be great for their trees.

  41. Image for Alissa Alissa

    Last year I sewed personalized laptop sleeves and bed rest pillows. This year I'm taking it easy with crocheted super scarves. There are some great projects on Lion Brand's website.

  42. Image for grammy goodwill grammy goodwill

    One of my favorite gifts to give was a recipe for a "Happy Home". It was in my grandmother's handwriting with a handwritten note by my mom that she had found it in the family Bible. I made copies for each of (great) grandchildren and framed them. Now they hang in their kitchens and I smile every time I see them.

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