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Homemade Gift Ideas For The Holidays

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Finding enough money to buy quality gifts for everyone on your Christmas list is not always easy.  (Unless, of course, you’re Bill Gates.  But I’m assuming he doesn’t read my blog ;).)  And the recession doesn’t help matters.

Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank in order to show your friends and family how much they mean to you. fter all, the best gifts aren’t the most expensive, but the ones in which you put the most thought.  So this year, instead of handing over a month’s salary to purchase tiny gold boxes of Godiva Truffles (seriously, do you know how expensive those things are?!), why not make homemade gifts from the heart?


Homemade Gift Ideas


Decorated cookies

Above, fondant-decorated Christmas Cookies from last year



Fudge Babies

You can whip up massive batches of Fudge Babies in less time than it’d take to navigate the mall parking lot.


If you’re crafty, don’t let your talents go to waste.


Make a homemade tray, scrapbook, collage, etc. using pictures.  Moms, especially, are suckers for baby photos.


Other things I’ve done in the past:

Made custom tee-shirts, painted picture frames, decorated cupcakes, sewed stuffed animals, and…

A Homemade Scottie Wreath

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(I found the idea in a Good Housekeeping magazine and knew I had to make it because we have a Scottie!)

And even if you’re not exchanging gifts, a homemade card is always appreciated.



If you’re lucky enough to have Photoshop, you can make all sorts of fun gifts.

Kids love getting money with their faces on it!


(I made “Charlie and Michael dollars” for my cousins’ birthday one year, and they went crazy for the fake money.)


Other Photoshop ideas:

Create a personalized cereal box or personalized labels, paste a friend next to a hot celeb and frame the photo…

Or make a magazine cover.

(Below, the magazine cover I made for this pancake-y post.)


Not crafty?

Never fear!  There’s still so much  you can do.

Offer up your skills or time.

Coupons for mowed lawns, cooked dinners, clean houses, babysitting—all are often much more useful gifts than a new hat or shirt..

The gift that keeps on giving

If you’re looking to get a puppy this year, think about adopting instead of shelling out mucho dinero to a pet shop or breeder.  And if your heart’s set on a pure bred, look into rescuing.  Most—if not all—breeds have rescue dogs available.  That way, you’ll get what you want and, at the same time, you’ll give a gift to a puppy in need: the gift of a loving home.  And this gift will give back to you every single time you look at his or her happy face and wagging tail.

Please consider adopting.

You could end up with someone special.

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Read Henry’s happy-ending story here.

I’m sure most of you are better than me and therefore already have your Christmas shopping finished.  But for the other last-minute Annies (and Freds) of the world, hopefully this post was somewhat helpful!

Question of the Day:

Have you ever made or received a meaningful homemade gift?  (Yes, now I’m picking your brains for ideas.)

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. VeggieGirl says:

    Beautiful (and tasty) gift ideas! And here’s to helping others during the holiday season and always.

    I always make ornaments and scarves for the holidays. I think that homemade gifts have so much meaning and character, and add that “personal touch.”

  2. Whit says:

    I love homemade gifts! I made cute mugs for my coworkers [ok the mugs were from the dollar store!] and did the coupon thing for my little sister. I am excited for Christmas morning because I KNOW she will love it.

    A few years ago I wrote poems for my dad and mom and used Word to put the poem over old black and white pictures of us when I was a baby. HUGE HIT! Loved that Christmas.

  3. I used to make paper mache ornaments when I was little…my mom still hangs them on the tree. :)

  4. Christina says:

    I actually made jelly for my gifts this year. I love all your ideas! I really need to start playing around with photoshop.

  5. Jenny R. says:

    omg katie that tray idea is brilliant! how did you do that?? do the trays come premade like that at the craftstore? I’m so uncrafty. I bake people cookies or cakes usually or get them giftcards to places I know they will go…like my parents got one to the movies since they are obsessedddd

  6. Ricki says:

    Great ideas, Katie! And no, I haven’t finished yet, either–barely started! gasp!!

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday season! :)

  7. You are crafy and I mean that in a good way!

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR MESSAGE ABOUT ADOPTING RATHER THAN BUYING ANIMALS!!! I wish more people knew that they can adopt specific breeds and do NOT need to go and buy them- this saves little lives as you very well know. Thank you for continuing to spread the word, Katie!

  8. Jocelyn says:

    You are going to be martha stewart some day my dear lol These ideas are great..I especially love the scottie wreath! I got a really cool homemade gift this year from the was homeamde coco in a glass jar that was decorated with christmas stickers..simple but delish! :)

  9. JCD says:

    I love the ideas. We like to make homemade gifts also. Last year my husband made paintings for his sisters. (That boy is super talented.) I have made cross-stitch designs, beaded tree ornaments, sewn flannel pyjamas, and countless other crafts. And there is always lots and lots of baking! Speaking of which, I am terribly behind on that… I have to do some more tonight! Fudge Babies are an excellent idea! (Quick and easy too!)

  10. candice says:

    I always enjoy homemade gifts more than store-bought ones, no matter how fancy or delicious they are (Godiva’s pretty good). But a box of homemade candies? Melts my heart.

    Sometimes, I make powerpoints with funny pictures and cool music for my family on their birthdays. I’ve received a homemade, customized sky-blue hat before. :] It was awesome.

  11. Tanya says:

    I was wondering if you’ve shipped your fudge (or any flavor) babies before?? Do you think they’d ship well? Would they need express shipping? How should they be packaged to ship well?


  12. Nicole says:

    Katie, these are all wonderful ideas! I love the wreath idea. One year my mom and I made mini Christmas trees for people. I still have mine and it fits so perfectly in my kitchen. I love having trees in many rooms, I think it adds so much Christmas cheer. I’m thinking about doing this again next year, now that I have a new family: in-laws!

    I love these ideas, thank you!!

  13. Those cookies are TOO cute!

    I do a lot of baking around Christmas – shortbread cookies, butter tarts, pumpkin bread, sometimes biscotti. That’s what I give most people and bring in to work, etc.

  14. Danielle says:

    Thanks for all the ideas! I’ve always wanted to make gifts but never had any ideas. You made a stuffed animal?? That’s really impressive. I’ll have to stick with baking :)

  15. Demelza says:

    Yes! I nearly always make my gifts for other people.
    It’s really rare that I buy things anymore.
    This year, for example, I made my eldest brother handwarmers, because he has four pet dragons that he has to buy handwarmers in bulk for for when he’s traveling with them. I figured it’d be nice for him to just have re-usable ones he can stick in their carriers.
    Another brother of mine I started making plushies with, but since neither of us have finished (we were making plushies of each other) I’m giving him a sort of “IOU” gift. I made a shrinky dink keychain with two chibis of us wearing what our plushies will be wearing (which are actually two costumes from an anime series we watch together sometimes, “Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood”). I stuck the keychain/necklace in a small Nightmare Before Christmas Stocking that had a holder for a giftcard on the front, made a nametag to go in place of a giftcard, and then–just for good measure–made another, larger, card to go along with that.
    My mom is receiving the Potter Puppet Pals I told you about. ^^; She likes to pretend she’s “Snape, the Potions Master” to some of the classes she teaches at school, so she gets a Snape and Harry puppet to bother people with.

    Oh, and cute ideas, Katie. ;] I know a lot of people will appreciate this post!

  16. Emily says:

    Love your homemade gift ideas, Katie. I think that homemade gifts are the best (and I hate going to the mall around this time..ugghhh).

    I made 33 notebooks out of recycled paper for all the interns in my program this year. It was a ton of work, but it was fun to do, and I know they liked getting something that was sustainable and personal. :-)

  17. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce says:

    Thank you so much for posting that bit about adopting rescue dogs…so important!!!! You really are talented…Im a huge fan of homemade, heartfelt gifts, but sadly my skills pale in comparison (i’m especially looking at those decorated cookies! my go to is plain ol sprinkles or no jazzing it up at all!)

  18. Mama Pea says:

    Yup, we do the homemade thing each year…but this year went raw and vegan for our food treats. I can’t wait to hear the feedback from the recipients!

  19. Awww you’re so creative. LOVELY ideas Katie :)

    And we ARE considering getting a puppy this year or next.
    I know how important it is to adopt and rescue. It’s also so rewarding…my friends and I fostered a pregnant cat when we in university and it had 3 beautiful kittens. And they all have homes now!

  20. I always give homemade gifts! This year, I made granola for my friends and packaged it up all cute-like with Xmas bowls (for granola eatin’). Last year, I made subversive cross stitch art (cross-stitched phrases like “Bite Me” and Bee-otch”). I’ve also made magnets and decoupage picture frames in the past. Next year, I hope to learn to knit!

  21. Shelby says:

    Oh how I wish I were as talented as you! I can’t make homemade cards to save my life! But I can bake…

  22. Katie says:

    AWW is he a Jack? I rescued my little Jack Russel 10 years ago. She’s a pain in the butt but she’s still my baby!

    I made a homemade recipe book for my mom this year. Mounted them all on cardstock and scrapbooked it a bit she loved it! It’s super cute and wasn’t too expensive to make if you have the stuff around.

  23. Katie says:

    Such wonderul ideas!! I love the cookies, so awesome, especially the pink frosted ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!!!!

    Your posts always put a smile on my face, you are just a sweetie with a big heart!!!! Best quality ever!!!!

  24. Jenny says:

    lovely post girl. I am a huge fan of homemade gifts. a.) because they’re cheapola and b.) personally, I think they are much more special. Thanks for sharing your brilliant ideas, mi amor. Happy Holidays to you and your GORGEOUS family! Love you lots!


  25. Devan says:

    i love homemade gifts!! I am making my mom the coffee tray for her Birthday 😀

  26. ohhmay says:

    Ohhh, these are beautiful!
    My most meaningful gifts to recieve are promices to go places, cities, towns or restaraunts I’ve never been to. My mom makes jewelry, which is really nice to receive because she really putts each person’s personality into the piece.
    This year, I made cookies and decorated coffee mugs with china paint. China painting is SO much fun, and its really sentimental.

  27. You are so inspirational …and productive. You do so much in your day…accomplish so much. You should be proud of all you are Katie :)

  28. tabitha says:

    you are so crafty katie!
    really impressive!
    where did you get the edible glitter?
    i LOVE glitter and have never found edible stuff

    i also LOVE your mention of adopting a dog
    people don’t realize you can get pretty much any breed you want except for some very rare ones….and maybe even those.
    also-mixed breeds make awesome pets as they often have the good qualities of each purebred and may miss out on some of the bad health stuff

    i love gifts that people make
    best stuff is always what my kids give me, no matter what
    also my husband made me a scrapbook after my first rescue and best friend (dog) died–that was pretty amazing

  29. Homemade gifts are my forte, girl! I would much rather give a poem that is framed, great pics of me and the gift recipient together, all prettied up in a frame to kids “toys” like buttons and things to sort in a plastic cup with a lid…it’s a shaker, a cup, a sorting game, all in one. And it cost 99 cents. Stuff like that keeps their attention longer than any annoying loud tickle me elmo ever would. great post as usual :)

  30. eaternotarunner says:

    LOVE those Christmas cookies! Giving someone cookies is the quickest way to their heart 😉 Besides food and homemade cards I haven’t been too creative with my gifts!

  31. Megan says:

    Awesome ideas, Katie!

    I gave oatmeal crinkle cookies to my friends and they loved them! I knitted my little sister a hat too.

  32. Jenna says:

    love the collage on the tray!!

  33. Katie says:

    I’ve been making homemaade gifts for years, and it is so much fun! This year I’ve made a skirt, an ornament, an apron (with an embroidered pocket!), a cookbook (super fun!), coffee sleeves and a few other things.

    Check out my blog for more ideas if you are looking. I have posted a couple already and will be posting about all of them as friends and family open them!

  34. Amy says:

    Last year my husband’s aunt gave us a wine bottle filled with Christmas lights and potpourri. It sounds a little strange, but it’s pretty when plugged in and the heat from the lights makes the smell of the potpourri stronger. It seems like it would be pretty easy to make; the hardest part, I imagine, would be drilling a hole near the bottom of the bottle for the cord to come out (it was stoppered with putty so there are no sharp edges).

  35. FABULOUS tips, Katie! I love the one about adopting a new companion animal, that is so necessary. Way too many sweet, deserving animals never get to know the love of a good family because people won’t adopt! All of my dogs are rescues and I have to say, they are the best dogs EVER!

    Those cheesecake sandwiches might just be my new obsession. They look fabulous!!!

  36. Cassie says:

    you are so creative, katie! i love making things, knitting and all that, but i usually start a project and never finish. or it takes me a bajillion years to finish. oh well. have a wonderful Christmas!! :)

  37. oo wat lovely ideas!!! i cant wait to try those next year!

    Have a wonderful holiday!

  38. Meredith says:

    These are great ideas! I’ve definitely baked my gifts before and have made some collages :)

  39. CaSaundra says:

    Such great ideas–homemade gifts always have a bit more charm I think! That serving tray with pictures would be so perfect–I may make it for the next family member who has a birthday :-) Merry Christmas to you and your fam!

  40. erintakescontrol says:

    Love the tray, Katie! I made 25 dozen sugar cookies total this year. That does not include peanut butter balls, thumbprints, chex mix, puppy chow, etc. I give it all away to anyone who even microscopically has any importance in my life! I’m a creature of habit in a small town, so the cashiers at the grocery store, gas station, etc. all know me by name and are thankful I brought them such a big tin of cookies. My personal trainer and his staff, the mailman, the landlord, etc. are all spoiled rotten thanks to my holiday baking extravaganza!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  41. Quix says:

    That’s a great idea! I usually make beaded jewelry for the girls but this year I just didn’t have time. Boo. Happy holidays to you! :)

  42. So many great ideas! I love your Scottie Wreath! Aww! Too cute! And Henry alwaysh looksh sho cute! What a very photogenic pup!

    Probably the most meaningful gift I’ve made is the cat toys for our local shelter kitties that I just finished. The most meaningful homemade gift I’ve received is probably breakfast in bed! 😛

  43. So cute your ideas and treats are.
    Merry Christmas!

  44. Gina G says:

    awesome ideas! i have made blankets for people and poems! =)
    my brother once made me a pillow when i was little too, i ruined the suprise though, i was too excited =(

  45. I love homemade gifts! I usually bake my friends a bunch of treats. It’s so much fun, and they enjoy them more than anything I could’ve bought them. I also always hand-make my parents cards…Me and my siblings’ cards are probably one of their favorite parts of the holidays. Great post!

  46. Ashlei says:

    That homemade Scotty wreath is too cute!

    I made my mom a decorative little Christmas quilt this year. I gave it to her when I picked her up at the airport and she just loved it 😀

  47. Bekah says:

    I love your meal tray!!! I always move my food around the house anyway, finding the best spot to photograph it, or if i’m watching tv/blogging, etc, and its always a pain carrying around silverware, a plate, sometimes a bowl, water, etc. etc. I’m gonna make myself a tray.

    I’m allll for the homemade gifts. Last year I gave three scrapbooks to three different people! (You know we share a love of scrapbooking) and boy, those were probably the best scrapbooks i’ve made. great gifts. Food and goodies are always easy too.

  48. Heather says:

    I’ve been looking at your blog the past few days getting lots of awesome recipe ideas, and I somehow (not sure how..) stumbled onto this post, where I found your brief paragraph on adopting a pet instead of buying. I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I have 3 adopted dogs and 3 adopted cats and I am a HUGE candidate for adoption and not buying animals…. it is such a blessing that you advocated for the animals who cannot speak for themselves. Love your recipes as well :) Keep it up!

    1. aw thank YOU for adopting too! :)