Beatrix stared at us from behind my father-in-law’s desk, her webbed feet and orange bill standing out against the dark wood decor. For Christmas, I had painted a picture of my father-in-law’s pet duck, Bea. The painting now hung proudly in his office as we relaxed by the fireplace.
I have the best in-laws, but the one time of year they drive me crazy is Christmas. They have pretty much everything they need and are hesitant to ask for anything, so deciding what to give them can be challenging. That’s why instead of opting for something generic and store-bought in a moment of panic, I started making their presents by hand. I take time to create Christmas gifts for my in-laws that are attuned to their personalities, whether that means a quirky interest (like a rustic DIY Christmas gift made from reclaimed scrap wood for my father-in-law’s basement woodshop) or something sentimental (like the tote bag I made for my mother-in-law, lined with fabric from her late mother’s quilting supplies).
If you find yourself sweating over Christmas gifts for in-laws every year, it’s time to relax. Even if your in-laws seemingly have everything, these simple ideas will help you fashion a handmade token of your love they’re sure to cherish.
Something to Stay Warm
Auntie Jo’s blanket, like the jeans in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, seems to fit just about any bed. This family heirloom has been sent across the country to comfort various family members during everything from their first year of college to harrowing hospital stays. It keeps our bodies warm, yes, but even more important is the way it makes us feel inside. It’s like getting a big hug from someone we love every time we drape the blue and white patchwork over us.
I love giving my in-laws cozy homemade Christmas gifts for this very reason. Even if they live somewhere with a mild climate, chances are they’ll want a throw blanket, flannel pillowcase, or a snug pair of slippers to keep off the chill a few times a year. And when they do, they’ll think of you and your gift.
You can try your hand at quilting or knitting if you’re feeling ambitious, but a simple no-sew fleece blanket works if you’re not confident in those skills. Here’s what you need:
- 2 yards of plain 59” wide fleece
- 2 yards of printed 59” wide fleece
- Lay the two pieces of fleece together with the “right” side of the pattern facing up.
- Trim the edges so both pieces are even with one another.
- Cut a 6-inch square from each corner of the matched up fleece.
- Using a ruler to make sure your cuts are 1.5-inches wide, cut fringe along all four sides of the matched fleece pieces. Each strip you cut should be 1.5 inches wide and 6 inches deep so they match up with the squares you cut from the edges.
- Knot each piece of the printed fringe together with the solid fringe directly beneath it. This will finish the edges of the blanket.
This project is great because you can customize the fabric to match your in-laws’ interests and home decor. Plus, it’s simple enough that older kids can help with the knotting process so it becomes a gift from your whole family.
A Grandparent’s Scrapbook
My autobiography was officially completed when I was 5 years old. That’s when the baby book my mom put together ran out of room. After that, the details of the next few years of my childhood are a bit spotty. But I love looking over this carefully made tome that documents everything from my favorite colors to my height to the various ways I mispronounced the word “spaghetti.”
Now that we have Facebook, a lot of parents share such details online. But my in-laws, who are the people most interested in my kids’ lives, don’t use it. The solution? Last Christmas, I made them their very own Grandparent’s books, each one filled with pictures, memories, and details of their lives and interactions with my children.
Making one is simple. All you need to do is print out some photos of your kids and your in-laws and then start building your scrapbook pages. You can make it general, more of a photo album with captions, or you can make detailed pages for specific events, such as birthdays, Christmas, and family vacations. Don’t forget to include seemingly mundane tidbits. It might seem insignificant that your father-in-law made chicken pot pie for your child before the Christmas pageant last year, but someday, that might be one of the small memories they cherish most. Get a scrapbook with extra space so you can add to it next year. Someday, it can be passed down to your own kids, so they can always hold onto the memories they shared with their grandparents.
A Home Repair Job
Sometimes I think the only thing my father-in-law loves more than his ducks is the leaking, moldy roof on his old colonial home. It seems the only reason he retired was so he could spend his free time patching the thing up. And while my idea of a “fun” Christmas present isn’t working on the roof with my pa-in-law, when I gave him a coupon for hard labor, courtesy of yours truly, he was elated.
If your in-laws already have everything they need, consider making a gift of your hard work to help improve what they already have. That might mean detailing their car, fixing the creaky front door, or refacing the fireplace. Just pay attention throughout the year when they talk about the house, and compile a list of what you might be able to help them with when the holidays come around.
Christmas gifts for in-laws are hard to pick out, but making a gift out of improving their home is one way to make sure you’re giving something they’ll appreciate. And, once your project is completed, it’s something they will enjoy all year long.
Something to Nibble On
My mother-in-law is a college professor, my father-in-law is a lawyer, and I’m a writer. What do we all have in common? We all have to eat! Even if finding Christmas gifts for in-laws isn’t your strong suit, you’ll be able to wow them with a homemade edible gift.
My in-laws are health nuts, so I’ve made them homemade dried fruit, sugar-free gluten-free granola, and custom herbal tea blends. But you can also make something more traditional for the holidays, like a grand gingerbread house the kids help decorate or a selection of Christmas cookies. You can also easily whip up seasoned salts, infused olive oils and sugars, or even homemade barbecue sauce or preserves. With each bite of your edible homemade gift, your in-laws will be reminded of your generosity.
Christmas Gifts For In-Laws That Show Your Love
Since I started making presents for my in-laws, the gifts have felt much more meaningful. They don’t need more store-bought items filling the shelves in their home, but every homemade gift, from biscotti to quilts, ends up used and loved.
Homemade gifts also help bridge the gap when your family members have interests that are hard to turn into presents, like collecting pricey antiques or scuba diving. When you create a present yourself, you can make it fit their lifestyle, something that will resonate as a thoughtful reminder of your attention to their lives.
And if you’re really stuck and not feeling crafty, have them register on a site like Elfster where they can create a wishlist of gifts they would like to receive.
Looking for more homemade gift inspiration? Browse the Elfster Christmas Gift Guides to see if there are any items you could DIY. Share your ideas with Elfster on our Facebook page, on Instagram @Elfstergram, and on Twitter @Elfster.