It’s never too early to start thinking about handmade holiday gifts! Making something by hand for your loved ones is the ultimate way to say you care. So leave yourself enough time to plan and create without pressure—and by all means, consult these fantastic books and videos. They have everything you need to get started on projects today!
1. The gift: Made-to-order stationery
How nice is it when you receive a handwritten note? It makes you feel special that someone took the time to do it, right? Though writing letters and cards has become a bit of a lost art, here’s a handmade holiday gift idea that will turn that around: hand-stamped envelopes and papers.
If you think stamp carving is difficult, think again. In Carve Stamp Play by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, you’ll find step-by-step instructions that guarantee success.
Julie demonstrates how to draw and carve a number of designs, and you’ll quickly discover just how easy stamp carving can be. Simple motifs, such as hearts, triangles, and circles will have you creating distinctive designs on all kinds of surfaces. Know a certain design that has special meaning for someone on your gift list? Carve a simple stamp, and create a plain journal cover, unique stationery set, or even add your hand-carved stamp designs to a tag or gift box. Just think how great the recipient will feel, knowing you carved the stamp just for them. Give the carved stamp and an inkpad along with the stamped item for a truly one-of-a-kind gift.
2. The gift: A custom watercolor illustration
No handmade holiday gift beats something that’s ultra-personal, something that says you really know the giftee. In the video Watercolor Illustration, Danielle Donaldson shows how to create a beautiful watercolor piece using easy composition, sketching, painting, and embellishing techniques. All are totally doable, and she expertly walks you through every phase.
What makes this super gift-able is that you can paint something custom for the recipient: their collection of antique teapots, favorite books, most-loved art supplies, or their pets—whatever has meaning to them. If you collect old typewriters, can you imagine getting a lovely watercolor painting of them? I can’t think of anything better.
There’s a huge benefit for you, too: learning amazing techniques for drawing, layering color, adding visual tension, shading, and incorporating collage. I painted a composition of my art supplies after watching this video, and it’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever made. I can’t wait to get started on more for the holidays.
3. The gift: A mixed-media chalkboard
There is nothing like a handmade holiday gift that not only looks great, but also helps you make it through the day. Just about everyone I know could use an assist with that. Enter this stylish chalkboard. In the video Mixed-Media Chalkboard with Cast Resin, Jen Cushman demonstrates how to take a store-bought board and turn it into something wonderful.
Do you know someone into farmhouse décor? Victorian style? Use some of your favorite mixed-media techniques, and let Jen show you how to make a two-part mold with resin to create replicas of special items that you won’t believe aren’t the real deal. How cool is that?
Personalize this handmade holiday gift as only you can, presenting a gift that will keep on giving. Use Jen’s techniques or put your own spin on it to create a special gift that’s perfect for just about anyone on your list.
4: The gift: A one-of-a-kind journal
You have friends who love to journal, but frankly, you’re tired of seeing them use generic journals and sketchbooks that are as boring as the day is long. The solution: Make them a customized junk journal that will inspire them and be a catalyst for so. Much. Creative. Fun.
In Junk Journal Workshop, Carolyn Dube takes you on a wild ride through a gazillion techniques for creating a junk journal from a repurposed book, plus tons of inside pages. You’ll paint repurposed papers, add touches of collage, stitch pockets, stencil tags, alter ephemera and more, creating pages and add-ons that are vibrant and eye-catching.
Who wouldn’t want to work in a journal that’s this amazing? Which reminds me—make at least two of these, because you’ll want to keep one for yourself.
5. The gift: A personalized alphabet
Hand-lettered art is a lovely addition to any room, and there are innumerable ways to personalize it. In Artful Alphabets by Joanne Sharpe, you’ll find an array of colorful lettering styles and unique alphabets, along with plenty of ideas for creating the perfect gift for someone on your list.
Change the style of the letters, use the recipient’s favorite colors, and add a motif that’s perfect for that special someone. Picture an alphabet adorned with candy or toys for a child, art supplies for that aspiring artist, or flowers for the gardener in your life.
Have a world traveler on your list? Add beautiful motifs from a favorite locale to the letters. Simple designs go a long way when added to hand lettering. Add a frame and it is not only beautiful home décor, it’s a special reminder of you.
6. The gift: Your heart
This isn’t really your heart, it’s a facsimile. In paper clay. If you’ve never gotten your hands in paper clay, or haven’t for a while, it’s time to beg forgiveness and go back. This is one of the easiest and most enjoyable materials to work with, is incredibly forgiving, and yields amazing results. This is such an easy way to add dimension and texture, and you can mold and shape practically anything with it.
Artful Paper Clay by Rogene Mañas holds the key to finessing paper clay like nobody’s business. She shows how to sculpt it, advises on which tools work best, demonstrates great painting techniques, and gives you fantastic ideas for projects. One in particular struck me as making a beautiful gift: a hanging heart, decorated with a 3-D rose. This would be beautiful as a door hanger or a special ornament, the kind of piece that will be cherished for years to come.
There’s so much more to discover in this book, including additional projects that are perfect for handmade holiday gifts. Add Artful Paper Clay to your library and see what paper clay adds to your mixed-media creations.