DIY gifts are all the rage these days, no matter where you look — Pinterest, Facebook, even the cover of a glossy magazine. All proclaim to have the perfect gift that can be made cuter, cheaper, and faster, and everyone, including myself, can’t get their hands on another tutorial fast enough! (In fact, if you need some fantastic ideas for simple, easy, and thrifty gifts, you can start with Ruth’s list of 10 gifts you can make for $10 or less HERE.)

But have you thought about the fact that maybe not everyone wants a handmade gift? With our lives constantly on the move from one activity to the next, we rarely have any time to thoroughly enjoy, display, or dare I say, appreciate the effort that went into such a thoughtful piece of art.

Don’t misunderstand me — I’m all for handmade gifts! And sometimes, that’s really all we can afford. However, there are 3 important principles to keep in mind before you get buried underneath all those craft supplies to make sure your handmade gift is useful, needed, and top-notch.

It's a happy moment to give a gift to someone you care about.

1. Don’t Make it About You

I fear us crafty types love to “show off” our projects more than we love giving them. To have others ooh and ahh over our creation and ask, “You made this?”, while we try to stuff our beaming pride into more of a humble, “Oh, it was really nothing”.

Spending hours on a gift that we hope will be loved and cherished might make us feel good, but what about the other person? Will they truly love it or will it just become another item of clutter they feel guilty getting rid of or throwing away? Instead of whipping up something you think is cute, take some time to brainstorm creative ideas that they would appreciate.

When you turn the tables and focus on the other person’s wants and needs rather than yourself, you make the gift-giving experience more enjoyable for both of you — and that’s probably the most important principle to remember of them all!

So exactly how do you do that?

Christmas cards should be personal and well thought out.

2. Know Your Recipient

Now that you’ve taken the focus off yourself, it’s time to dive into the nitty gritty of your recipient — their wants, needs, likes, and dislikes. I like to call this your brainstorming session.

This exercise might seem a little difficult to do at first, especially since modern social relationships often take place in status updates and Facebook messages rather than real life. But I encourage you to take a minute {or five}, and really think about the person you will be giving to. Maybe even invite them out for a coffee date!

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • What is their personality type? You don’t have to dive too deep into Myer’s-Briggs to get a general knowledge of whether they’re social or quiet, bold or cautious, organized or shall we say, free-spirited in where they place things. These characteristics will help you narrow down what sort of gifts they might enjoy.
  • What stage of life are they in? Are they just starting to decorate a new home? Are they a first-time mom? Maybe even a working mom? What about empty nesters who have extra freedom to travel and do other activities? Stage of life matters so you can pair them with the exact gift that fits their current lifestyle.
  • What do they talk about? Take a moment to really listen to the other person’s dreams and desires. What do they enjoy doing in their free time? How do they spend their days? When you’re shopping in the store together or chatting over lunch, what do they wish they had that would make their life easier for them? Make a mental note of this when brainstorming handmade gift ideas.

And finally, the last piece of the gift-giving puzzle…

Sweet treats and a mug for hot cocoa make great Christmas gifts.

3. Make it Practical

Although practical and handmade gifts might not seem like they go hand-in-hand, they actually do. No one {except maybe your grandmother} wants to simply display a gift just because you made it. You have to create an item of value, i.e. something they want, and something they can use.

I’ve seen personalized keychains, mugs, coasters, and all sorts of inspirational photo gifts and knick knacks that are gifted over and over again just because they are easy and convenient, but how often will your recipient actually use these? Or will they just add to the clutter and millions of odds and ends they already have? I know we personally have a ton of mugs, and we don’t even drink coffee!

It’s time to combine the practical side of gifting with the creative. Here are some ideas that almost always go over well:

  • Food – jar mixes, homemade extracts, fudge, granola, and other goodies
  • Beauty Products – homemade sugar scrubs, lip balm, and soaps
  • Themed Gift Baskets – movie night, gardening, or baking baskets

The difference between these fabulous items and just another handmade ornament is this: They’re consumable, and don’t require anything to be quickly displayed or worn before you come over for dinner. Because none of us have ever done that before. Ahem.

Filter each handmade gift idea through these 3 principles and you’ll be well on your way to giving a handmade creation that wows rather than disappoints. You might even enjoy the entire process a lot more too.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to get crafting!

P.S. These 10 gifts you can make for less than $10 are a really great place to start!


How to give a great handmade gift.

Kalyn Brooke
Kalyn Brooke is a life management expert for busy women who crave a simpler and more organized life. Through her recognizable, down-to-earth approach, she provides a daily dose of inspiration and guidance, whether you’re looking for smart money tips, time saving routines, or anything in-between. When she’s not experimenting with ways to do even the most mundane tasks more efficiently, you can find her crafting detailed to-do lists in her bullet journal, or indulging in—yet another—personal development book. Meet Kalyn and learn how stay on top of it all at
Kalyn Brooke


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