DIY Gift Ideas – Homemade Presents

4 Nov

Thoughtful gift ideas you can make yourself, at little or no cost.

I’ve included my original ideas, ideas borrowed from friends, along with a “list of lists” of other websites with homemade/DIY gift ideas.

Awesome Gifts You Can Make

DIY GiftNinja - Illustrated by Toni Allen

DIY GiftNinja

If you have your own great DIY gift idea — please leave a comment below. Thanks!

1. The Mix-Tape (Remixed)
Remember mix-tapes, or mix-CDs? Let’s take that concept into 2011 by making a mix-USB.

Add your favorite songs that you know your gift-recipient will dig, plus maybe some poems, photos, or any other digital file that will fit on a USB.

Stick a ribbon or bow on it, and it is a nifty personalized gift that your friend/loved one can enjoy and re-use.

PS: You can find extremely cheap ($3 including shipping) USB sticks on

2. Your Favorite Book, Personalized
I love books, non-fiction especially. I love books so much, that I often give them away…and encourage the receiver to pass the book along to someone else when they are done with it.


Pass it on...

The DIY part is looking through your bookshelves, finding a book that you think a friend might dig, and scribbling a message to the new owner. “Thought you would love this book, feel free to sign it and pass it along to a friend when you are done.”

Sign it, wrap a ribbon around it, give it with a hug…you might have started “chain book letter”.

I suppose this is more of a “recycled gift idea” than “DIY”, but it is an idea of my own (I’m sure others have thought of it, though) that I would like to pass on.

To you 🙂

This also gives a book lover a good reason to buy themselves a new book.

The first book I started this tradition with was “Post Secret” – the book version (on the right) for the website: PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.

Click the book to read some of the reviews on Amazon — Nifty, eh? Buy this book for yourself, and I think you’ll see why I wanted to share this with everyone.

3. Origami Gifts
A simple present I like to give to children: an origami bird, plus instructions (you can print these out from your computer) and a few sheets of paper to practice with. is a great place to start.

DIY Origami Gift Heart

Image from

Bonus Gift Idea: Instead of just giving someone money, why not fold that money into something cool first?

Origami Cash!

Again, you could also print the gift recipient out instructions so they can learn how to fold money into an interesting gift, and pass along the awesomeness to someone else.

I found whole site dedicated to homemade gifts, including tons of money origami tutorials (like the heart dollar bill on the right).

The site is called: – check the site out for more ideas, or click the origami heart for a direct link to the tutorial.

Also see Money Origami examples here along with instructions.

4. Gourmet Gifts: Flavored Oil Bottles
Great for the cook or food-lover in your life. I stole this idea from my friend Shawn.

He found some fancy-looking, but very cheap glass bottles at the local dollar store. Then he filled each with olive oil, plus a special ingredient based on the tastes of who the gift oil is created for.

He put an Anise-seed in mine, he put garlic (must be refrigerated) in another one, cloves in another, chili peppers in another, etc. etc. A simple ribbon tied around the bottle to match the flavor or friend’s favorite color, and voila: a super-cool, yummy and personalized gift.

Bonus Gift Idea: Found a good tutorial for Flavored Vinegar…you can use the same tips here for your oil. Or make Flavored Vinegar and Oil gift sets. Also see this post on Flavored Vinegars & Oils for more info and safety concerns.

5. Photo Collages and DIY Picture Frames
Another good gift for family members. Bonus gift idea: photos in homemade frames.

Here are some links to tutorials and ideas for DIY picture frames:

Traditional Frame – Step-by-step tutorial on making a classic custom picture frame.

Photos in a Jar – Unique way to frame a photo…good for a gift.

Or just check out a google image search for homemade frames to get tons of crafty DIY frame ideas.

DIY Digital Photo Frames – If you have an old dead laptop with a working LCD screen laying around taking up space, this could be a great DIY project that would make an awesome gift for someone special (especially Grandmas and other relatives).

Here are links to various tutorials on DIY Digital Photo Frames:

DIY Picture Frame Blog – Showcases various folks home-made digital photo frames.

Instructables – DIY Digital Picture Frames – Features about a half-dozen step-by-step instructions for various kinds of digital photo frames.

6. Gift Coupons
As a kid, I would make my parents a stack of coupons for things like free backrubs, folding the laundry and other chores. You can do the same for a loved one, or special person in your life.

Parents could give their kids “gift coupons” for things like:

– Good for a 1 hour extension on your bedtime (or curfew).
– Breakfast in Bed.
– A meal of their choice.
– No chores for a day.

You can make and decorate the coupons out of paper, ribbons, stickers, or whatever you have laying around. If you lack the time, creativity or manual dexterity, you can find ready-made coupon templates via google image search to print out.

I created a few simple gift coupon templates for my visitors here.

There are also websites that help you create these kind of gift coupons:

Printable Chore Coupons – For kids. Help your child prepare these for a Mother or Father’s Day gift.

Microsoft Office Coupon Templates – Tons of free and stylish templates if you have MS Office.

Printable Gift Coupons – You’ll find a variety of coupon templates for occasions such as Valentines Day, Easter, and Father’s Day, plus generic templates on this page.

You can also get ideas from the above links if you want to DIY the gift coupons yourself.

7. Book Safe
Turn any old book into a useful secret hiding place. Follow the link for a good illustrated tutorial from Alternatively, you could watch this book safe building tutorial on youtube.

8. Homemade Gift Baskets
There are hundreds of online stores offering thousands of different “gift baskets”. But, creating your own hand-made gift basket makes for a cool DIY, and a personalized gift. I found this idea researching #6 on this list. specializes in helping you create cool homemade gift baskets.

9. Genealogy (Family History) Gifts
I am working on compiling a book of old photos, stories, newspaper clipping, etc. of my maternal family history. For the holidays I will take all this info I have collected, make copies, and send it to my family members as gifts.

If you’ve done family history research, and could compile a nice family tree book — this might be a good DIY gift for you to work on.

10. Painted Rocks
Fun DIY project for creative types.
(will find some cool links and tutorials to post soon).

11. Baked Treats & Yummy Gifts
Cupcakes, fudge, homemade candy? Give a sweet gift by getting into the kitchen. Here are some ideas (with links to recipes)for DIY Yummy Gifts:

Hot Chocolate Mix Jars – Great winter gift. Get creative with the labels for a more personalized gift. Also see’s section on “Gifts in a Jar” for dozens of other DIY gift ideas.

Homemade Candy – From features about a dozen recipes for DIY treats.

12. Plants
Check out Lifehacker’s tutorial on how to create a cool terrarium out of a wine bottle: Terrarium in a Bottle

13. I Need More DIY Gift Ideas
Friends, Family and other Visitors:

Lend me your best DIY gift ideas. You can post them below or send me a quick email. Thanks!

—***– I’ll be updating this page as I find new ideas. –***—

Related Links Elsewhere:

DIY Gift Wrap Ideas – The perfect way to present your DIY present. A good list showcasing various homemade/recycled gift bags and gift wrap ideas.

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One Response to “DIY Gift Ideas – Homemade Presents”

  1. Gift Ninja November 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    More info about #4 Flavored Oil – be careful, or you could give the gift of botulism. Links:

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