We have definitely reached the point this holiday season where Makers everywhere are starting to panic. Yes, there are those few incredibly talented and organized people who are kicking-back with a cup of hot cocoa, finished with their lists, already contemplating next year’s projects. But mostly there are the rest of us: absolutely beyond the point of being able to finish every handmade gift we had planned.
Don’t worry, though. These five easy handmade gifts will have you covered. The best part is, if you’ve been following Creatorvox, then you already know how to make most of them. The trick is combining them to make a gift that is unique for each recipient. I’ll also show you some tricks for making them zero-waste and plastic-free. Let’s get right to it, though, since I know you’re pressed for time.
Gift 1: Mulling Spice Sachets
Is there someone on your list who could use a little ‘me time’? Then mulling spice sachets are the right easy handmade gift for them. They smell wonderful and will (hopefully) give the recipient a good excuse to sit down for a moment and take a break.
Here’s how to make mulling spice sachets:
First, wash the fabric once or twice either in dish soap or in the machine with an extra rinse cycle. This will remove residue left from the manufacturing process. Then, put the fabric in the tumble dryer after washing to remove any lint. Just be sure NOT to use any fabric softener or dryer sheets (they both leave residue you don’t want in your drink).
Next, use pinking shears to cut the fabric into 4 1/2″ squares. Place the ingredients for one sachet into the middle of one square:
Ingredients for one sachet:
- 1 stick of cinnamon bark, about 1″ long
- 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed so they open
- 3 whole cloves
- 1/4 – 1/3 star anise
- 5 black peppercorns
Gather the edges, and tie everything together with an 8″ piece of string. Make as many as you like. To use, just add one sachet to a mug of hot cider (or apple juice) and let steep. If you’re headed outside, just put the sachet right into a travel mug of hot cider. The longer it steeps, the more flavorful the mulled cider will be.
What you will need:
- 100% cotton muslin (18″ x 18″ piece for 16 sachets)
- 100% cotton string, not dyed (about 11 feet for 16 sachets)
- Spices (see Ingredients, above)
For a zero-waste gift, measure the spices for several sachets into a mason jar and add a tea strainer on top:
It takes a little more effort to mix the spices in the tea strainer each time, but the cider will actually become more flavorful, faster without the muslin.
You can make an easy handmade gift with a ‘keep warm’ theme, by putting some mulling spice sachets in a mug and including a set of pocket hand warmers (gift idea number 2):
Gift 2: Pocket Hand Warmers
Not only are these an easy handmade gift for anyone who spends time outdoors in winter, but you probably already have the materials to make them! All you need is fabric and rice (plus needle, thread, and scissors). You can even upcycle old clothing, like flannel shirts, into pocket hand warmers.
Follow the Creatorvox directions here for all the details. They’re fun and easy to make, and a great sewing project for beginners, too. You might even be able to keep the kids busy making some.
Or have the kids measure the spices, while you do the sewing, for this easy handmade gift combination that’s zero-waste and plastic-free:
Gift 3: Felted Soap
Felted soap is a great, easy handmade gift for anyone, but especially for teachers and colleagues. It’s easy for kids to make, and it doesn’t need to match home decor you have never seen. It’s also eco-friendly because the bio-degradable wool on the outside acts like a natural, plastic-free scrubbing puff. All you need is wool roving (available in most crafts stores), and a bar of soap. Click here for the full Creatorvox instructions. It doesn’t take long to make quite a few.
Combine felted soap with a lavender sachet (gift idea number 4), for a lovely, naturally-scented gift:
Gift 4: Lavender Sachets
There are two basic methods for making lavender sachets. For the first method, you leave the top open, fill it with dried lavender blossoms, and then gather it together with a ribbon. The one in the photo above is like that and you can find the Creatorvox tutorial for making it here.
The other method involves sewing the sachet all the way around. It’s a little more secure, but not quite as fast to make. That Creatorvox tutorial is here, and is a great project for learning to sew.
Try combining a lavender sachet with a mug of mulling spice sachets for a relaxing treat:
If you really want to go all-out, fill a small box with several things, like felted soaps, pocket hand warmers, and a lavender sachet, all in coordinating colors:
Gift 5: Peppermint Bark
It wouldn’t be the holidays without something sweet, right? Peppermint bark is one of those holiday treats that surprise and delight, yet it is very easy to make. All it takes is white chocolate, peppermint, and candy canes. You can find the full Creatorvox recipe and tutorial here.
For a really quick and eco-friendly gift, make a zero-waste lunchbox kit. Just get some stacking glass containers and fill them with peppermint bark and other treats:
Wrap the sealed and treat-filled containers in a cloth napkin, and the lunchbox is ready to go to school or the office:
Bonus: Zero-Waste Packaging
Do you like the cloth-napkin-wrapped lunchbox kit? It’s Furoshiki wrapping. Furoshiki is a Japanese word that essentially means ‘wrapped in cloth’. While there are some really fabulous techniques for doing this (check out the Creatorvox Packaging and Giftwrap Pinterest board), simply tying a cloth in knots around the gift works just fine. If you do it right, the knots can even be used as a handle to carry the package.
Since not everyone is ready to keep a cache of fabric for wrapping gifts, cloth napkins are great to use because they’re actually useful. Don’t worry if they’re not a set either, because in a lunchbox, you only need one (or maybe two if it’s spaghetti day).
You don’t need to use cloth napkins exclusively to wrap lunchbox kits either. I wrapped this combination of wintertime treats in a cloth napkin and didn’t even need a box:
Just gather everything together in the middle of the napkin and tie both sets of corners together at the top. Add a little ornament or gift tag to make it more festive:
I love how easy this is! It actually works better than wrapping paper because it doesn’t tear. The fabric just folds around any shape at all. Of course there is a size limit to what a cloth napkin can wrap, but tea towels, or a triangular scarf, would work well for bigger items.
Now let’s talk a little bit about managing expectations for a handmade holiday. Did I originally plan to make and dye the cloth napkins myself? Absolutely! Did that plan go out the window about a week ago (along with several others)? Yes. Yes it did. That’s ok, though. It’s a little disappointing not to be able to make everything on your list, but sometimes you just have to let it go and readjust.
So after I got back from buying cloth napkins at the store, I thought of some projects that I could make in bulk, and then combine differently. I know there are people out there who think making gifts in bulk is somehow wrong. That it’s not unique enough. Why is that? Bulk making isn’t wrong at all: it’s great! Combining different things, in different colors or patterns is unique. Just because you made pocket hand warmers for one person doesn’t mean there aren’t more people on your list who would also love them. There’s no shame in giving people similar things, and if it helps you keep your sanity, go for it. That’s what I’m doing. The holidays are for spending time with friends and family, not for becoming a stressed-out lunatic who’s still trying to dye all of their wrapping cloth the night before.
Just roll-back your expectations a bit, enjoy a glass of mulled cider as you assemble the sachets, and remember to have fun while creating your handmade holiday. Hopefully these easy handmade gift ideas will help you achieve your handmade gift-giving goals.
As always, feel free to ask questions or leave comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to Creatorvox to get new posts right in your email. You can also follow Creatorvox on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and tricks between posts. Thanks for reading, and happy making!