I have two major goals this holiday season. The first is to get my Christmas cards out, and the second is to give some home-made gifts. I love being able to think of just the right gift to fill a need or want, and then being able to customize it by changing the color or fabric or theme.
So I thought I would pull together some ideas for DIY gifts for readers and book-lovers. What’s great about DIYs is you can follow the instructions to the letter (book pun), or you can take the idea and run with it.
This first one requires a sewing machine, but it would be so useful to anyone who does a lot of crafting or cooking, or for people who do a lot of research. It’s a Martha Stewart project, so the instructions are very clear, but I think she makes it sound just a little more complicated than it needs to be. This one’s fun because you can make it out of any fabric you want. Martha makes one out of a kitchen towel, and I bet you could use oil cloth to make it extra durable for cooks.
Quotation Mark Bookends
These plaster quotation mark bookends are a little labor intensive, but look how cute! You could easily change this to be a different punctuation mark, or an A to Z, or even the recipient’s initials.
Probably Snuggies are out of style (were Snuggies ever in style? That is an important question to ask.). But I ask you: how else are you supposed to stay warm under covers while keeping your hands free to turn pages? [Insert Snuggie informercial here.] So head over to your local fabric shop, find a nice thick fleece, and save your reading loved ones from a life of cold, cold reading. Look how happy the woman in the picture is! She could read that book with the Borders sticker on it all day. (RIP Borders.)
No-Sew Sweater WrapI didn’t want to leave the non-sewers out in the cold, so I found this pattern for a new-sew sweater wrap/slightly cuter-than-a-Snuggie project. You are basically cutting a whole in a blanket and belting it, which is approximately how the fairies in Sleeping Beauty think dresses are made, except it actually seems to work here. Find a fabric that doesn’t need to be hemmed, like a thick fleece or felt, and you’re golden. Warm and cozy reading, hands-free.
Book-themed Teas, Chocolates, Coffees, Whatevers
I was trying to give a good friend of mine a Dickens-themed birthday gift, and I found that there is no such thing as Dickens-themed teas (at least that I had ready access to). So I made my own! My friend got a nice little package of A Far, Far, Better Tea (a cinnamon tea with notes of musket fire and rolling tumbrels), Ghost of Christmas Peppermint (notes of cheer, Tannenbaum, ectoplasm, blessings on us everyone), and SpontanTEAous Combustion (lapsang souchong with notes of London soot, poor old Krook). Fine some nice tea or coffee or chocolate or really any foodstuff with a wrapper, and then print or hand-draw labels. I used full-sheet sticker labels, but you could also use tape or glue. This video shows how to fold chocolate bar wrappers nicely.
Book plates are a great gift for anyone who loans out a lot of books. There are any number of places to download book plate templates (Martha Stewart again, or this list of 25 templates), or you could find antique, out-of-copyright images like these from The Graphics Fairy and use them in your own designs. You could even make labels that look like Borders price stickers, if you or your loved ones are as weirdly nostalgic for Borders price stickers as I am. (RIP Borders.) Or, if you have little kids, you could make a basic THIS BOOK BELONGS TO [NAME] template and have your kiddles color in the rest. Print or draw the labels on sticker paper or give them with a jar of rubber cement, and package them in a nice box.
The possibilities are endless, really. What fun gifty DIYs are you doing this year?