There's something about the holidays that brings out the craftiness in people. Not sinister, mustache-twirling craftiness — we're talking homemade kind of crafty. Whether it's out of nostalgia, combatting the holiday commercialism, or just because winter is a good time for long (cr)afternoons gluing/sewing/welding things in front of the fireplace (or a Yule log on your laptop screen, in my case), this time of year makes the non-crafty start to consider taking up a hobby and the already-crafty reveling in how excited everyone gets for something homemade. Here are some gift ideas that will please people who like making stuff themselves.
These are great for your crocheting friend who loves Twilight (I'm pretty sure we all have at least one). Or, use the pattern and crochet these yourself for someone who loves Twilight! Even a non-Twihard such as myself can appreciate the subtle design. And I love me some fan-girl subtlety.
$3 at Etsy.
I've almost bought these for myself like 10 times (ahem, hint). It's always handy to have an extra set of speakers around, especially because these are collapsible. I can't verify for the sound quality, but who cares because YOU CAN COLOR THEM. And, even better, you can wipe off the non-permanent marker and color 'em all over again! They could be redecorated for every party or occasion. Also they're made from over 80% recycled materials. Does it get any better? Maybe: they also come in a cardboard version with colored pencils (these, obviously, do not wipe off) so if that's closer to the aesthetic you're going for then you are in luck.
$14.99 at Merkury Innovations.
These things are so handy if you're a knitter. Especially if you use double ended needles that doesn't have the size on the end (even the ones that show the size on the end can get worn off). They're also great for a quick reference if you're working off a pattern that uses UK sizes as well. This one also has a one-inch marker on the bottom to help you measure how many stitches per inch. It's made out of bamboo, it's a sheep, it's great. Your knitty friend will love it. Get them some nice yarn too.
$6 at Esty.
I've always been one to alter my tees, and this book took me to new levels. Halters, skirts, t-shirts with hoods — there are even instructions on how to make a wedding dress out of t-shirts! I haven't checked out the new edition yet but it looks promising. It has new fashions, as well as baby clothes, home items (including a wine cozy!), apron, blankets, bags...the list goes on. 108 is peppered with interesting facts about the history of the t-shirt, and all of the projects are pretty accessible, so it's appropriate for novices as well as sewing gurus. And most of the projects can be done without a machine.
$10.85 at Amazon.
Remember getting crayons at a restaurant and getting to color on the paper table cloth? This is the classier version of that, because the cloth is actually cloth and not throw-away paper. The possibilities are endless: write peoples' place settings, personalize for someones birthday or a holiday, or just let guests scribble away during dinner — then wash it all out and start again. This is for your friend who can't stop doodling on notebooks/forms/papers. Moreover, as life is increasingly digital, we're getting less opportunities to scribble. And scribbling is fun. Doesn't this look fun?
$49 at Think Geek.
Spoonflower is a site that will turn uploaded designs into glorious fabric; get your design-y friend a giftcard to this site and let them create truly original projects. And don't worry about someone swiping your designs — once uploaded to the site they remain private unless you want to make them public. And you have a choice between different natural fiber fabrics, including cotton and silk. Make sure to browse the prints that are there already, as some are really amazing. I personally love the bendy acrobats, mustache gallery, and steampunk Abe Lincoln. The also have some more traditional florals and stripes, as well as some great cut-and-sew projects.
$16,95/yd, $5 swatches at Spoonflower.
This cross stitch cover comes with a book of designs as well as some thread, but also leave the possibility open for incorporating your own design. It's a nice way to make technology seem a little more homey. You can either give it to a crafty friend to do with what they will, or, if you are so inclined, cross-stitch one yourself to give as a gift that's personal and practical.
$24.20 at Purl SoHo.
Paper is a good fallback gift; it has so many uses, from decoupaging to wrapping to decorating, and buying fancy paper for one's self can seem like an extravagance. Kate's Paperie is great, but you can find great paper anywhere. Sometimes even your local office supply store will have surprising selections. I know it sounds weird to advocate giving paper to someone as a gift (wrapping it sounds ridiculous), but put together a selection of a few different fancy ones and they will be put to use.
Various prices at Kate's Paperie.
Ships in bottles are cool and old-worldy and a good gift for someone who likes making things but isn't necessarily into textiles. It's also great for someone looking for a new hobby, or perhaps an older person who'll appreciate the nostalgia factor. Or give it to a fan of The Lovely Bones. There's a selection on the Sea Gifts website; I suggest going for the Cutty Sark, and throw in a bottle of the good stuff while you're at it (unless you end up giving it to a child, in which case you might just keep the scotch for yourself).
$75 at Sea Gifts.
Okay, so I thought P.S. I Love You was a terrible movie (though not a terrible book), but that section where she takes a shoe-making class and then gives Lisa Kudrow shoes for her wedding made me sooooo jealous. But you can do this in real life! Shoe classes! Make Workshop has other crafty class options, and you can Google what's available in your area. Classes may be too much for your budget, but you can always get them starter tools, how-to books, or materials to help them on a new craft journey. Often local craft stores will offer workshops, and it's always good to support community businesses. And, if you're lucky, you might reap the benefits later on.
Various prices at Make Workshop.