Christmas in July: Handmade and DIY Gifts

This is post #5 of 5 in the Christmas in July series.

Who doesn’t love a handmade gift? There’s something extra special about a gift that someone put extra time, thought, and effort into making just for you. Even if you don’t consider yourself particularly crafty there are still plenty of handmade and do-it-yourself gifts you can make. Whether you plan to have a holiday of only handmade gifts, or just decide to make one or two handmade gifts, here’s a list of suggestions to get you started.

  • Personalized photo books – Order them through places like Shutterfly, MixBook, or Snapfish. Try out a fun theme or concept for your book – vacation, “a day in the life”, big firsts, family, friends, or make up a bedtime story using photos of your child. (Money saving tip: Watch deal sites for photo book deals and watch out for special offers from photo book sellers as the holidays approach; you can often get them half-price, free shipping, or buy-one-get-one-free.)
  • A costume or dress-up kit – Put together a box of costumes and dress-up items. Buy costumes and accessories on clearance after Christmas, buy items from toys stores or party stores, or make some of your own.
  • An art/craft kit – Gather supplies from craft stores and toy stores, and you can find great sales on school supplies in August and September. You can even collect odds and ends at home – toilet paper and paper towel rolls, paper plates, egg cartons.
  • Magnet board – Use a cookie sheet as a magnet board and buy magnet sheets (you can get them in various sizes from small squares to standard paper size to rolled tubes) at craft stores or on Stick photographs or pictures cut from magazines or printed from the computer onto the magnet sheets and cut them out. Kids can create whole scenes on their cookie sheet and this is a nice take along activity.
  • Freezer paper stenciled t-shirt – No craft or art experience necessary! There’s a great tutorial on freezer paper stenciling here. Below is a picture of t-shirts I made for my kids so they could be Star-Bellied Sneetches (like the Dr. Seuss book).
  • Tie dyed clothing – Check out Happy Hippie Rose for a tutorial.
  • No sew tutu skirt (okay, there’s a teeny bit of sewing, but not much) – Sew some elastic together (or have a friend do it if you’re not a sewer) and knot some tulle around it. So easy! Here’s a tutorial.
  • Busy bags or a busy book –  A busy bag is an activity for a child that’s small enough to fit in a small bag or container (we use Ziploc bags for ours). Busy books are the same concept, but they are soft books made from fabric and they’re great for traveling. For some ideas, see my Busy Bags & Busy Books board on Pinterest. We received a busy book for Cooper when he was two and he still loves it.
  • A treasure box – Buy a wooden box from a craft store and use some Mod Podge to make a collage on it.
  • Dollhouse made from a bookcase – This is such as fun idea! Take a small bookcase and embellish it with some wallpaper or wrapping paper for wall paper, add some fuzzy fabric or paper for carpet or floors, and fill with furniture and dolls. You can find some great examples on Google for inspiration.
  • An apron – This is one of the simplest sewing projects – great for beginners! Cut fabric in the shape you’d like the apron, hem the edges, and tie on some ribbon at the top & sides and you’re done. Embellish it with a pocket or ribbon if you want.
  • A chef hat – Pair your apron with a matching chef hat with this tutorial on Skip to my Lou.
  • Baked goods
  • Soup mix in a jar
  • Yoga pants or shorts from a t-shirt – This is a simple and fun project. I made pants for my son using my husband’s ripped t-shirt. You can find a tutorial on Rookie Moms.
  • A sock monkey – Use a cute patterned sock to make a stuffed animal. They’re very cute and you can personalize them by adding clothes, silly faces, or accessories. Find a tutorial online here.
  • Crayons – Melt used crayons into new, fun-shaped crayons. Remove the paper on broken crayons (I suggest only using Crayola), break them into small pieces, and put them into shaped candy molds. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees until melted (usually 10-15 minutes) and add more pieces as needed. Allow the crayons to cool completely and then remove them from the mold.
  • Cape – Another super easy, but fun project that doesn’t require sewing. This is a fantastic tutorial for a sew or no-sew version.
Don’t have the skills to make what you would like? Arrange to purchase or trade with someone who does. A couple years ago I couldn’t think of a good gift for my husband, but I wanted something that would remind him of our favorite place – a hammock on the beach in Jamaica where we spent our honeymoon. I found someone who could work with clay and arranged to sew something she wanted. I had fun making her project and I was thrilled with the hammock sculpture I received for my husband.

In addition to this list, I keep Pinterest boards for DIY projects and handmade & homemade gifts that will continue to be updated.

Have you made or received handmade or do-it-yourself gifts? Do you plan to this year? 

See the other Christmas in July posts:


  1. What a great list of suggestions … so many of these would work for birthdays, or anytime, honestly. Love the magnet board idea … my daughter would get a kick out of creating her own “scenes” I think. Thanks so much for sharing!

Show buttons
Hide buttons