With postal services announcing major delays, two-day shipping may not save you at this point if you forgot to buy a neighbor, co-worker, or friend a present. If you want something a little more meaningful than a gift card, here are some easy DIY projects that won’t take more than a couple of hours (or less) to make, and are sure to be a gift-giving hit.
Coasters or Ornaments
Grab several discarded wood slices (cut from Christmas trees) from the scrap bin at a nearby tree lot, suggests Morgan Spenla, founder of The Crafter’s Box. To turn them into coasters or ornaments, find clip art online, reverse it, and print it using an inkjet printer. “That’s important, because you need the design to be raised,” Morgan explains. With the image facedown on the wood slice, rub pencil lead over the back side of the paper, covering the design. Trace and color the design using a wood-burning tool (available at craft stores) or a permanent marker. Drill a hole at the top of the ornament, thread a piece of leather through, and knot it.
Rachel Conners, the cookbook author behind Bakerita, gifts cookies for the holidays. “I elevate some favorites with melted chocolate, crushed candy canes, and turbinado sugar to make them feel special,” she says. Her go-to giftable recipes include peppermint chocolate-chip cookies, chai sugar cookies, and a shortbread—all of which are gluten free and vegan. Before boxing them up, let them cool completely and put a piece of parchment paper between the layers of each kind of cookie.
Amanda Shirk, cofounder of Pretty Little Details Co., makes gifts for everyone on her list. This year, friends get a lavender pillow spray to encourage a restful and calming night’s sleep. Amanda combined two parts distilled water, one part witch hazel, and five to 10 drops of lavender essential oil in one-ounce amber spray bottles (available at craft stores), then gave them a Sweet Dreams label.
Mugs make great vessels for succulent plantings, says Rachael Cohen, creator of Infinite Succulent and author of the book by the same name. Add pebbles or sand to the bottom, then fill the container up to an inch from the top with well-draining soil. Clip succulents—jade, Echeveria, and ghost plants are good options—to create an arrangement. “You don’t need more than a fingernail length of stem to plant it,” Rachael explains. “Then add a little something extra like rosemary cuttings, a mini pinecone, or something else that feels festive.”
Rainbow Wall Hanging
Rainbows can make a whimsical statement in any room, depending on the palette, says Ashley Wilson, owner of Little Makers and Bakers Process Art Studio. “It’s easiest to start with four colors,” she explains. Choose same-weight yarns. Cut a length of half-inch rope to create the smallest arch and tape both ends with electrical tape, folding the end of the tape so it doesn’t stick to itself. Knot the yarn just above the tape, tuck 18-gauge wire the same length as the arch under the knot, and start wrapping the yarn around the rope and wire. Continue until you get to the opposite end, then tie the yarn. Repeat for the remaining arches. Once done, align the arches, make adjustments so they’re even, and knot the yarn. Remove the tape, trim the tails, then unravel and fluff them. Tie a length of yarn to the top arch to hang it. Hot glue the arches together, starting at the bottom and working in small sections.
Wendy Manwarren Generes was the editorial director of San Diego Home & Garden Lifestyles magazine. She loves DIYing and hunting down vintage finds. Find her on Instagram at @wmanwarren.