3 DIY Gifts I've Made for Friends and family
It’s become so easy to order something online and gift each other knick knacks that we don’t really need. I still fall into this pattern of knee-jerk panic-buying something two days before a birthday (usually shipped straight to the recipient so I don’t have to bother with wrapping and re-shipping). However, there have been a couple times when I am way ahead of schedule and actually make something myself.
I want to bring back homemade gifts– crafts that show how much I care, not by how much I spend in dollars but rather how much I spend in time and effort.
These are three things I’ve made by hand as a gift for someone else. This article isn’t meant to be a comprehensive tutorial by itself, so I’ve included the videos or articles I followed while making them. If you catch yourself thinking, “I am not crafty enough to do that,” think again! I simply followed tutorials at home with my limited existing skillset and managed to make three pretty cool things, if I do say so myself!
Hopefully these examples will give you some ideas if you’re stuck at home and need a creative project to direct your energy towards.
A Guitar Shelf
One day my coworker mentioned her roommate had left behind a broken guitar after moving out and she wanted to get rid of it. That inspired this shelf I made for Mr. Mechanic’s birthday.
You will need:
- An old or broken guitar
- Wood boards around 1/4 in. – 1/2 in. thick for the shelves
- Wood glue
- Eye protection
Step 1. Cut out the front portion of the guitar
In Portland, I lived in an apartment without much work space or need for a lot of tools. I borrowed the clamps and jigsaw from a friend.
Using the jigsaw, I cut out the front face of the guitar. Be sure to wear eye protection for this step.
Step 2. Measure and cut the shelves
For the shelves, I went to a local hardware store looked for some shelving boards. Turns out they had some scraps left over that worked perfectly and gave me them for free!
Measuring the inside width of the body at the two levels where I wanted to put the shelves (I chose at the smallest and largest widths), the bottom board fit just right as is, and I cut the smaller shelf down to size with the jigsaw.
Step 3. Glue the shelves
I marked where the shelves would go with a pencil, then put wood glue on the boards and slotted them into place. Clamp them down to press them firmly into the back of the guitar body and let it dry.
A Crocheted Scarf
For context, this was my first foray into crochet, and it definitely wasn’t a beginner project. However, a video tutorial made it simple to follow. For a more beginner-oriented project, knitting a plain scarf repeats some of the more basic steps and might be a better place to start!
Step 1. Use the tutorial
Watch the tutorial video. Watch it again. Play it back at 1/4 speed. Lose count of your stitches a bunch of times. Don’t despair, because braiding will hide most of your mistakes. Most.
I was so focused on counting that I forgot to take many photos of the process of crocheting, but I hope including the tutorial video will help anyone who wants to make this gorgeous scarf.
Step 2. Attempt to watch T.V. and fail
I tried to crochet while watching T.V. but the counting turned out to be rather important.
Pictured are the first two scarves I made (first on top, second on bottom).
Step 3. Test it out
Make sure the scarf is gift-worthy before wrapping it up and giving it away!
Hand-drawn Pen Art
I gave these to two family members for Christmas a couple of years ago. The main investments were a proper pen, quality paper, picture frames, and a LOT of time.
Step 1. Find something cool-looking on Pinterest
Seriously, I just looked up “Pen art” on Pinterest and scrolled until I found something that I wanted to recreate myself.
The photo to the left is the pin I used for the first drawing.
Step 3. Get started! (and be patient)
Starting on this piece meant firing up a movie and slowly making a million little dots. I referred to the template image and tried to generally match the scale. If you wanted to, you could pencil out a rough outline first and then start making your dot art.
For this one, I used a quarter to block out the negative space, which you could either lightly tape down (a good idea) or keep nudging back into place every few minutes (what I did).
Step 3. Do one more before you are sick of dot art
Step 4. Frame them
We went to the local thrift store and picked up frames. Two family members had recently hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, so these made great gifts as reminders of their adventure.
Wrapping it up
As an engineer, you might usually categorize me as “logical” and “left-brained,” but I think we all have creativity in us, which we can use to make nice things for our friends and family. From carpentry to crafts, you can get the satisfaction of creating something new.
If you find yourself at home and need a little project, or want to make a thrifty but meaningful gift for someone, I hope these provide you with a few ideas!