How to “Make” Someone’s Christmas

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As Christmas rolls around, everyone races to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. However, as high school students, we often have higher expectations for these gifts than the reality of our wallets and schedules can meet.

Senior Cassie Henning said, “Though buying gifts is easier, it often costs more than making them.” Not only is it more cost effective, but junior Chloe Hangartner said that “it’s often more meaningful to my friends to make a gift, rather than buying one.”

Like Henning and Hangartner, over the past few years, I have switched from shopping to creating and it has made all the difference. This holiday season, if you are looking for a gift that will impress, try one of these low-cost, simple DIY (do-it-yourself) ideas:

  1. Merry Mugs– These mugs are perfect for the beloved coffee, tea and hot chocolate drinkers in your life and will serve as a tangible reminder of your love every time they take a sip.
    • Materials: Rubbing alcohol, oil-based paint pens, an oven and a cheap, dollar-store quality mug—cheaper glaze works better for keeping the paint on the mug.
    • Steps:
      1. Clean your mug with rubbing alcohol and remove any price stickers.
      2. Sketch on the mug your favorite design or quote with the paint pens, and if you mess up, simply use rubbing alcohol to erase the mistake.
      3. Remove all excess paint, so it does not bake on in the oven, and set aside for 72 hours to dry and set.
      4. Let bake in oven for one hour at 425oF. Start the preheating process with your mug in the oven and leave it in while the oven cools down—the paint will set better if you let it adjust with the temperature.
  2. Crafty Coasters– These coasters are wonderful gifts for anyone but work especially well when you cannot figure out what to get that hard-to-buy-for-friend in your life, as you can personalize a useful household object with a monogram, favorite sports team or quote.
    • Materials: Four round Birchwood slices (available in craft stores or online at Amazon), paint pens, polyurethane varnish (also available at craft stores), thin cork or felt, hot glue gun and if desired, stencils of your choice.
    • Steps:
      1. Place stencil on coaster or sketch the intended design with pencil.
      2. Fill in design with paint pens and let dry for one to two hours.
      3. Spray on two coats of polyurethane varnish or apply using a paintbrush.
      4. Trace bottom of wood slice on a piece of cork or felt and cut out traced circles.
      5. Use hot glue to attach cork or felt to bottom of the coaster to ensure your coasters are furniture-safe.
  3. Jolly Jars– These jars will make your friends’ hearts and bellies happy with their favorite Christmas treat all wrapped up in an aesthetic, multi-purpose package.
    • Materials: Mason jar with two-piece sealing lid; cupcake wrappers OR 4 inch by 4 inch fabric squares; ribbon and selected candy, snack or hot chocolate mix.
    • Steps:
      1. Wash out jar and let dry.
      2. Fill with desired candy, snack or hot cocoa powder. I’d recommend a red or green-colored candy to keep with the Christmas spirit.
      3. Screw off the outer lid and place the cupcake wrapper upside down or the piece of fabric on top of the sealed lid.
      4. Replace outer lid to secure wrapper/fabric underneath.
      5. Tie ribbon in a bow on the outer lid and for extra brownie points with that special someone, tie a note to the ribbon expressing your love and gratitude for them.

Pinterest and its various gift ideas have saved me time and time again over the past holiday seasons, and this year if you are in Christmas present limbo, I encourage you to make a gift for someone you love. High school art teacher Michael Tablada has made numerous presents for friends and family and has witnessed how “they love these [gifts] because they are personalized for them.”

Not only will these homemade presents prove to friends and family that their love is worth your time and effort, but you also might find your next entrancing hobby

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