Help! I Need Homemade Gift Ideas and Christmas Ornament/Craft Ideas

Updated on January 17, 2010
H.O. asks from Cedar Park, TX
21 answers

Please email any homemade (relatively easy) gift ideas I can do for presents. Also, my children want to make ornaments and other crafts for the holiday. I am SO uncrafty. Money is low this year we are going to have to make the gifts.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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answers from Houston on

One of the best investments I've ever made was a big box of cookie cutters. You can also buy individual ones or even a small set of Christmas cookie cutters. Use them as patterns for small stuffed ornaments, posterboard background for glitter ornaments, to cut oven-baked dough for ornaments, or my favorite was the time we unrolled freezer paper on the patio floor and covered it with cookie-cutter shapes dipped in paint (homemade Christmas paper). For gifts: you can personalize just about anything (my adult sons still have the metal buckets that were personalized by their aunt when they were preschoolers!), print a favorite poem or famous quote with a calligraphy font and place in a frame (from dollar store or resale shop), grandparents always love a photo of their grandchildren, a simple sewing job of making a small bag (my M. uses the legs of old jeans) and filling it with hot wheel cars or nail polish, etc.

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answers from Houston on

The ornaments are easy. You can make cinnamon ornaments and let the kids paint them. My boys are 21 and 24 and I still have ornaments that we made together. The cinnamon is cheap at dollar stores and works great. You can locate a recipe on the internet. Have fun!

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answers from Austin on

I really like the recipe in a jar gifts. Basically its a mason or canning jar that has all the dry ingredients for cookies/sweets with an attached recipe card that has the remaining ingredients and directions. Its relatively inexpensive if you buy the dry ingredients in bulk and split it up between several gifts. Also you could attach a cookie cutter, wooden spoon, (from $ store) or an ornament (made by your children). The recipes are easy to find online by just searching jar recipes or gifts. Here is a link to one website I found. They have everything from soups to brownies.
Also I used to make my own chocolate covered treats. I would melt chocolate bark in the microwave and dip peanuts, pretzels, and ritz crackers and let them harden on wax paper. Those are easy homemade treats. Walmart has foam and bead ornament kits that your kids could make. Also having the kids decorate unbreakable ornaments with glitter and glue would make the ornaments special and one of a kind.

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answers from Houston on

I found a craft kit on 50% off at Hobby Lobby for makeing tree ornaments. There are about a dozen foam balls of different sizes, with several colors of sequins and beads, and about a million pins. A very easy project that should keep them busy for hours, and it was only $5. Out of three different sized balls, she made a snow man, held together with toothpicks. Cut a bit off where the balls touch, to make it look more realistic. I also bought a star she is having fun covering.

For my friends, I'm making lace covered votive candle holders. Volive candle holders can be found cheap, and look for a sale on lace. It takes about nine inches to cover one votive holder. You need tacky glue or spray on adhesive and spray laquer. I selected white or cream lace and white candles, and am going to give them away in sets of four. The votives I bought in sets of a dozen with candles in them.

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answers from Houston on

You could make ornaments out of salt dough.

Salt Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup salt
1/2 teaspoon alum (can get at health food store)
3/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and use cookie cutters(about 2 inch) to cut out ornaments, or make any shape you ant just not too heavy or they won't hang. Make a hole near the top with a straw for a place to put string to hang them. Bake at 250 for 2 hours. Once cool you cam smooth rough edges with sandpaper. Paint with acrylic paint and when that is dry spray with a clear sealer. Store them in a tin when not using.

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answers from Houston on

There are a ton of quick age appropriate crafts at Walmart. We love the foam crafts. They are easy for the kids and easy for mom because most are sticker type that you just peel off.
We also like to do the plaster ornaments that come with the paint. They are fun and the paint is washable.
One more thing we love to do is the CINNAMON ORNAMENTS. It is best to do with kids 5 or older, because you dont want them putting this in their mouth. Here is the recipe I used this year.
* 1 Cup Cinnamon
* 1T Cloves
* 1T Nutmeg
* 3/4 C Applesauce
* 2T White glue

combine cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg. Add applesauce & glue, stir to combine, work mixture with hands for 2-3 minutes. Divide into 4 parts. Roll each to 1/4" thickness. Use straw or toothpick for hole. Place on wire rack & allow to dry at room temp. Turn after a day. (takes about 2 days to dry). I use white fabric paint to decorate, looks like frosting. .

Try not to roll them too thin as that will make them very delicate when dry.


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answers from Austin on

You have some great suggestions...I just had a couple to add. I LOVE - they have a TON of great ideas! I also use oriental and while they have some cheap things, most of the time, as the other person suggested, I just make them at home. The library is a great resource - and some ideas I have found from the books at the library include: making homemade lip gloss (you just warm up vaseline in the microwave, while mixing kool-aid with a couple tablespoons of water to make a paste, then mix them together), making flower pots out of old mugs (glue beads or other decorative craft pieces around the mugs), etc. Also, has some great ideas and is a great resource in general. I have recently started checking out blogs and there are SO many blogs out there with cute ideas - one I just saw last night that I am going to try is here: and there are links to lots of other blogs through hers. I am also giving "cookie mix in a jar" this year - I love this idea because I do not have to cook and the people who receive them can save the cookies until after the holidays. Here is the one I am going to make: and again, if you search "jar cookies" you can find a lot more. Good luck and let me know if you need more ideas...I could go on all day!

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answers from Houston on

Salt dough ornaments are fun to make and look cute on the tree. just google it - there are lots of recipes. it just takes flour, salt, and water (you can change amounts, but the proportions must remain the same: equal amounts of salt and water, twice that of flour - so if you do one cup of salt, you need one cup of water and 2 cups of flour). Roll it out, use cookie cutters to make cute Christmas shapes. Don't forget to poke a hole before you bake. They can paint them once baked or color with markers. Hang them on the tree with ribbon pulled through the holes or pipe cleaners.

Homemade gifts....Well, I'm knitting several gifts this year, but you said you are uncrafty. Do you bake? Bake some things that are different than your traditional cookies: toffee, mint bark, candies, fudge. Then pack them in something, tie a ribbon on it, and voila!

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answers from Austin on

At Hobby Lobby they have flat wooden reindeer and such for 25 cents that can be painted and hung on the tree. Plain glass balls can aslo be painted.

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answers from Houston on

I make my own crafts & my fave gifts to give away are the homemade ornaments. Hobby Lobby has a great deal of craft items to choose from. If you're wanting to do the wooden/paint yourself type, pick your shape & paint. If you're wanting to do the styrofoam balls/other styrofoam shapes for beaded ornaments, all you'd need is ribbon trim (optional but looks nice) which is usually on sale at Hobby Lobby (in the fabric dept or can use what's there w/the ornament selection, I even found velvet ribbon now in the fabric section which match the sequins & beads available so that's always good!), sequins, sequin pins (hanging next to the sequins) & beads (in the beads section). Pay attention to the bead size though, if too big, the pin slides thru, if too small, the pin may not fit or the bead may look too insignificant so I generally use the 6/0 size. (Size is written on the cardboard label). Take the pin, put a bead on the pin then put a sequin on after the bead, cup side 'up' (where it fits snug against the ball so esentially, the cup is 'down' when you pin it in, cup side up on the pin as you would put contact lenses in, make sense?). You can make your own designs w/different color sequins or just cover the white ball part around the ribbon or use your imagination. You can use plain ribbon & dress it up w/cutouts, like glue confetti or cutout shapes on the ribbon or poke a pin thru the cutout & place it on the ball itself or glue those little satin bows also found in the beads section. The possibilities are endless. Most of the items you need are generally on sale but if not, goto & print off a coupon which is usually a 40% off any one regularly priced item (only one per customer per visit so what we do is if I'm alone, go to more than one store if they're close in distance to each other or I/we take more than one person to the store & pay for things separatley so that each person can purchase w/a coupon & get what you need at a discount. They can't say anything against that since it's done correctly, one per person, per item, per visit). You can get 4 coupons on one piece of copy paper by going to the 'file/print/properties or preferences/changing from portrait print to landscape' then print one, turn around feed paper bk thru & print again on opposite end then turn paper over & repeat. You should have one coupon on each corner. I didn't think I could come up w/anything creative either but I did & they turned out really pretty. One word of caution though, I DID find out that after covering the larger styrofoam balls w/the beaded sequins they became quite heavy so if you plan to hang them on the tree, I'd highly suggest using the smaller balls, the 2" size b/c they're not as heavy & the ribbon that you place on top to hang may stay in better wheras w/a heavier ball, the ribbon may have a tendancy to keep coming out of the ball. W/the bell shaped styrofoam, you can use a dress-makers pin w/the pearl on the end to use on the bottom for the 'clapper' or dinger as some call it (teardrop shaped pearl looks best but are hard to find, may need to goto Hancocks or other fabric store for those). BE SURE though to use the 'smooth' styrofoam balls, NOT the 'crumbly' type that rub off when you touch it. Those are not good for this project, only the smooth type, like you find when you open an electronic's box w/a stereo in it or other item to protect it, that type of styrofoam. Good luck & if you need or would like further help, just P.M. me & I can try to help you thru. Good luck & have fun!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Looks like you've gotta ton of great ideas already but I'll add these since I didn't see them.
This year, money is really tight for us too, so I'm having to resort to making lots of stuff. I usually make an assortment of homemade specialty cookies this time of year to give to friends/neighbors but I'm burned out on the whole cookie thang so I've decided to make homemade candies. There are a ton of them out on the internet and I decided to pick ones that used similar ingredients so I could save money on that aspect as well. To date, I'm making chocolate covered peanut butter balls, chocolate covered turtles, maple fudge, and rum balls (since rum can be expensive, you can substitute the rum w/ coffee or another strong flavoring).

If you want the recipes to any of the above, let me know.

I don't know how much $ you can spend on the items to make crafts. I've been making these gorgeous 2'x2' miniature pre-lit christmas trees for folks now for the past couple of years and everyone loves them. The material to make each one costs about $5 so if you have that much to spend on each person, email me and I'll send you the directions to make them. Very easy to do.

You can make even smaller trees for a little less money and I can send you the directions for that as well if you like.

Hope this helped,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from College Station on has some Christmas craft and gift ideas for children to make.

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answers from Boca Raton on

I am making mine today too. I have scrap fabric and old clothes. I am cutting them up and making quilted pin cusions. That is four tiny squares on the front, one big square on the back, stuffing, a loop on the corner, and a button in the center for decoration. I bought a pack of straight pins to put some in each one. The pin cushoin is stuffed with stuffing from a worn out flat pillow I dont use.The buttons come from a shirt I cut up. Then on one corner I put a fabric loop made from scraps or you can use braided yarn (sewn in the seam). This way it is a christmas ornament. Mine are about 4 to 4 and a half inches when finished. They are not perfect. Even if the recipient is not a sewing type of person, they have a gift of an ornament.

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answers from Austin on

I've made these with my kids for years using the food coloring option to make colors. We made some pretty elaborate ones, but simple is fun too. They keep well year to year if sealed up tight so moisture doesn't get to them.

Classic Salt Dough Ornament Recipe

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

1. Mix salt and flour.
2. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water.
3. Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.
4. For flat dough ornaments roll out the dough on baking paper
Or be creative and make odd shapes and wreaths (takes longer to bake)

Use cookie cutters, cut-out templates, or just use your hands.
Dust dough with flour and begin to add details to the ornaments with a toothpick, popsicle stick, and knife.

Don't Forget:
Use a straw to make a hole so you can hang the ornament.

Baking: Time varies based on thickness of ornament
Temperature: 325 degrees
Time: 1 1/2 hours - or until dry

Decorate: Let cool before you begin
Paint with acrylic paints
Glue on beads, buttons, or any fun accessory

Preservation: Making them last a long time
Coat with acrylic varnish when everything is dry

*** Color Variation Notes from our Visitors***
- Substitute coffee for water - great for gingerbread people - Thanks, Shelly
- Add food coloring to make dough a unique color - white, blue, red, etc...

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answers from Houston on

as far as the ornament craft idea we just made salt dough ornaments you cut out with normal cookie cutters.. just make as follows

4 cups flour
1cup salt
1 1/2 cup water

mix together until it feels kinda like playdough.. then knead for 5mins to continue mixing together and roll out to 1/4 in or so cut out with cookie cutters and bake at 325 for 30mins.. this recipe made for me about 3-4in stars and made 54 of them.. so you can use and do whatever you want.

then they can paint them or we covered one size with glue and placed them in glitter then I went an extra step really and used a can of sealant I got at hobby lobby for $5 something... keeps the glitter on longer

good luck!!




answers from Killeen on

I don't know the ages of your children, but I will give a few ideas. You can buy a box of clear glass ornament balls ($2-3). You take the gold top off, allow your kids to squirt paint on the inside, the kids then turn the ornament to get the paint to cover the inside. You use a few colors of paint and the inside looks swirled when they are done.
You can have them make construction paper reindeer ornaments. The antlers are their hand prints. Have each child trace their hand. (Older children trace younger children, if needed) Then cut out the hand prints, cut a triangle for the face, glue a red or black fuzz ball at the lower point of the triangle for the nose, you can have the kids draw the eyes, or use construction paper.
You can take a paper plate and have them cut the center out. You want the ribbed outside piece. You can have little ones tear pieces of green construction paper or tissue paper and glue them to the ring of the plate. You can hole punch dots of red construction paper for holly berries and use real ribbon or construction paper for a ribbon at the top.
I hope your family has fun making these ornaments/gifts. Happy Holidays.



answers from Houston on

Just out of curiosity, what did you end up doing for Christmas? I loved these ideas and tried a couple myself!



answers from San Antonio on

you can go to and at least look and get ideas using things you might have around the house. They are inexpensive if you decide to buy and they ship fast. I have always received my things in less than 3 days.
Happy Crafting


answers from Beaumont on

Years ago I bought three mini bundt pans (round ). I use them every holiday. buy a package of Holiday paper plates and some colored Glad wrap.
Bake 1 recipe for some kind of yummy cake. Rum Cake or Sour Cream Pound Cake etc. and then pour it into the three Bundt pans and bake. Dump them out on your plastic wrap that you put on your decorative plate and wrap it up with ribbon.
Darling and everyone loves a bite of something good to eat.
For the Craft ornaments. I taught school forever and we made ornaments out of popsicle sticks that were great.

Rudolph. Have kids color or paint three popsicle sticks brown. Get the funny eyes and a red nose and little sprigs of holly at the craft store. Make a V with the popsicle sticks. Then glue the other one across a little above half way. Hot glue it all together and you have a Rudolph ornament. Use either a straightened large paper clip or yard for a hanger.

You can also glue three popsicle sticks together in the form of a triangle and take Christmas cards (I save my old ones) and place the triangle over a part of the card that I like and trace around it and then cut it out and glue it on the back of the popsicle sticks. Tie a piece of yarn in first so you will have a hanger.
So fun.



answers from New York on

Hi I love crafting, and christmas is a great time for it; I feel you about money as well. I write a lot of christmas craft articles and I am going to follow you on twitter and tweet a bunch of articles that you were asking for. Check em out if you like!

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