Top 9 DIY Holiday Gifts


Cardboard Backpack photo by


Top 9 DIY Holiday Gifts

With the recession in full effect, families across the world are sure to be cutting down on their holiday shopping. Rather than wallowing in our fiscal woes, why not take the opportunity to make some DIY gifts for friends and family!

Check out this collection of nine economical and eco-friendly gifts that you can make with things you already have or can buy sustainably. They're gifts anyone would love and you can feel great about making. Not only will these nifty gift ideas be easy on the wallet, they'll be easy on the planet too.

1. Cardboard Backpack

This is the perfect gift for a student, or anyone else used to lugging heavy books around (see slide 1). Zachary Warwas' instructions for making a cardboard backpack only calls for a piece of folded cardboard, a few strips of wood, and a fabric strap. It even comes with a little lock. If you're giving a gift to someone who travels on foot, I recommend laminating (or covering with plastic) the cardboard to make it water resistant.

2. Tile Picture

Channel your inner Andy Warhol with this DIY gift idea to make Pop Art! Except instead of using an image of Marilyn Monroe or Campbell's Soup, use a photo of yourself (see slide 2). Even your conservative grandparents will appreciate this "modernist" piece of art, cause it's a picture of their precious grandchild (YOU!) Of course, you don't have to use a photo of yourself

3. Modern Beeswax Candles

These homemade candles turn out so beautiful that people will have a hard time believing that you made them yourself and didn't buy them in a store (see slide 3). DIY Network's Steve Piacenza takes a modern approach in this beeswax candle recipe by taking different colored sheets of beeswax, cutting them into circles and squares, stacking them together, and designing them with multi-colored geometric patterns. You may have to go out and purchase some of the materials needed, like a braided wick and beeswax sheets. But all in all, it's the perfect example of a thoughtful, eco-friendly, and inexpensive gift to give this holiday season.

4. Pet Collar

If your pet dog/cat has behaved more nice than naughty this year, give them a DIY Collar. Canine craftswoman Trina Moore recommends transforming your old belt into a Copilot Collar.

- Simply measure your dog's neck, and starting from the buckle end, mark the length on the belt.

- Then make a hole at the spot you marked (Trina recommends using an awl and hammer).

- Next, trim the belt 3-5 inches past the hole, and shape the edge by rounding or angling the corners.

- Voila! Just make sure the collar fits your pet before attaching a leash.

5. Tree Hugger

Even though this DIY gift would be best to give to your self, I couldn't resist the temptation to include it on this list-especially since it shares a name with our sister site TreeHugger. Mariah Gardner, a contributor for, came up with a creative way to turn a pleated skirt (the fuller the better) into a Christmas Tree Skirt (see slide 4). It's a perfect little nesting spot for you family's gift-wrapped presents, and it's super easy to make. Just take an old skirt, remove the zipper and cut it down the back. Then sew the waistband so that it measures 14 inches around (pleat it too if you know how to). Lastly, attach Velcro to along the waist opening and cur edges (so that you can match the girth of the skirt to that of your tree). All that's left to do is to wrap it around the trunk below the branches, and of course, to put your gifts under the tree.

6. Peppermint Bark Bandy

Everyone has that one friend/family member who's impossible to buy gifts for (with me it's my father). I learned a long time ago to stop thinking about creative gift ideas to give them. Instead, I play it safe and give the gift of FOOD! Who doesn't love it?

DIY Network's Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza have shared this great recipe for Peppermint Bark Candy. It's pretty simple to make, and essentially involves crushing peppermint candies, and coating them with white and bittersweet chocolate. It's a great way to share some of that holiday spirit with the people you love most.

7. Toaster Pastry i-Pod Cozy

This gift is perfect for anyone who owns an iPod, especially if they also like Pop Tarts. It's a cute and creative craft accessory that also has its practical purposes (it protects your iPod from getting damaged). The instructions call for the most basic materials, including brown & pink string and felt fabric. Best of all, it's easy to make for even the most novice sewer. If you're looking for a more unisex color scheme, replace the color pink with GREEN, it even goes along with your eco-friendly theme.

8. Cargo Scarf

This stylishly practical gift is so genius, you'll probably want to make another just for yourself (see slide 5). It comes from Etsy & Instructables' Sew Useful Contest. So what makes it so special? This scarf not only keeps you warm, but it's also got several sewn compartments that can store your everyday accessories—aka keys, cell phone, pens, wallet, and so on. It's perfect for someone like me, who hates carrying a purse everywhere I go. Check out these 9 simple steps to making a Cargo Scarf.

9. Chocolate Chapstick Honey Balm

The folks at Instructables have come up with a great homemade recipe for lip balm that would make a great gift this holiday season (see slide 6). Personally, I can't be away from my lip balm for more than 15 minutes (seriously). But even for the non-chapstickoholic, this can prove to be a handy little gift especially for those cold winter months. The best part is that the recipe calls for all-natural ingredients: Beeswax, Cocoa Butter, Almond Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Vitamin E, Cocoa, and Honey. You'll also want to find some sort of a container to store the lip balm in, such as a metal tin (they also sell empty chapstick tubes for cheap on eBay).

Love green gadgets, fashion, and news? Get the latest from Planet Green's dynamic duo Suchin Pak and Daniel Sieberg on the G Word.