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The Craft

Spread holiday cheer with homemade gifts

Everyone starts to sweat when they realize it’s the day after Thanksgiving and they haven’t even begun to make a dent in their shopping list. This year, sweep those worries away by simply spending a few bucks and getting a little creative.

Considering the state of our current economy, can anyone really afford to buy elaborate gifts? Why not be the envy of your friends and show up to a party with something completely original that you can’t buy in any store? There are plenty of options when it comes to homemade gifts. However, the trick is figuring out how to put them together and setting aside enough time to accomplish the task.

Here is a list of possible crafty DIY gift ideas that are inexpensive and don’t require too much work:

Homemade Jewelry: There are multiple kits available at craft stores you can buy to make your own jewelry. These kits usually include beads, jewelry wire, clasps, and other supplies depending on what type of jewelry you are making. One easy type of necklace to make is the pearl and ribbon necklace. The only materials needed for the project are 22 10-millimeter or larger pearls with large holes (about two millimeters), 44 inches of quarter-inch satin ribbon and a flexible beading needle with a large eye. First off, you need to measure 15 inches of ribbon and tie a knot. The next step is to take the other end of the ribbon and thread it through the eye of the needle to pull the ribbon through the pearls one at a time. Lastly tie a knot after the least pearl. (Idea courtesy of Linda Richards,

Care Package Recipe Jar: For this gift you can buy a jar from the dollar store and fill it with your favorite recipe, whether it is a favorite meal or dessert. After inserting all the dry ingredients into separate zip lock bags or containers, include a note with any additional liquid ingredients and instructions for preparation of the food or dessert. When everything has been put into the jar, wrap a decorative bow around the top.

Fleece Tie Blanket: This gift requires no sewing whatsoever, just a pair of scissors! The only materials needed to make this cozy blanket are two pieces of fleece fabric of different patterns, scissors, tape, and paper clips. The first step is to set the two fabrics evenly on top of each other and clip them so they don’t move. Secondly, fold up the two fabrics about an inch and a half and secure the sides with tape. Next is cutting along the folded piece up to the edge of where the fold ends, making sure to bring your scissors just past the end of the fold. Make sure each cut is an inch apart, so that the strips cut are even. Lastly tie them together. (For full detailed instructions and pictures, go to

Personalized Stationery: This gift can come in several different forms, such as a postcard, folded card, flat note, and many more. First of all, you need to make a decision whether to just add an image to the stationery or type, or both. Next you also have to decide what kind of material you want the print on, whether it is paper, cloth, or another type of canvas. For images or type, inking flat objects are the easiest, such as a leaf, but there are other options, like carving something out of wood or linoleum to ink as well. One thing to remember is that whatever you cut or carve will be printed in the reverse. Make sure if it is words you are printing, place them so they are spelled backwards. Apply ink to object to be printed by using a brayer (hand roller), although be careful not to overdo the ink. Lastly, lay the object you will be printing from on the paper or cloth and apply even pressure. Repeat steps these last steps as needed until your project is completed. If this sounds like too much work, there’s always Buffalo’s own French Press that specializes in printing (2495 Main Street) or the Western New York Book Arts Center (465 Washington Street at Mohawk Place). (Idea courtesy of Shelly Bronson Kuzniarek,

Photo Gifts: When it comes to incorporating photos into a holiday gift, there are many different options that are inexpensive, not time-consuming, and fun to put together. One simple idea would be to take an old picture frame and decorate it using a hot glue gun and some beads and/or other knick knacks found at a craft store. Then once the picture frame is dried and finished, insert a picture of you and your family or friends. Other ways to integrate photos into gifts are through making collages of new and old pictures, scrapbooking or making a slideshow using a program like PowerPoint or some other slideshow computer program. These gifts tend to be more personal and are a great gift for old friends or family members you’ve known a long time to take them down memory lane.

When shopping for supplies for these crafty gift projects, there are lots of different outlets around Buffalo to look. Thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets and even the streets of Buffalo are some of the best places to find hidden gems for gift making.

“Buffalonians have some great treasures that they throw in the trash,” says Chrissy Drake, a 24-year-old Buffalo resident, who has her own site with her partner 26-year-old Jen Nieman (

“We hit up estate sales, flea markets and thrift stores all the time for things to recreate, and Jen gets fabrics there.”

Some specific local recommendations from Drake are Amvets Thrift Store on Elmwood near Hertel Avenue, A.C. Moore, the Clarence Antique Market, and online at

Happy gift-making!

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