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Category: DIY + Handmade

Talented Fingers, Generous Hearts: Everyday Knitters Gift Yarn, Ideas, and Inspiration

Talented Fingers, Generous Hearts: Everyday Knitters Gift Yarn, Ideas, and Inspiration

As a teenager looking for a creative outlet before the dawn of the internet, I learned how to knit. Sitting by my stepmother’s side, trading needles back and forth as she guided my clumsy hands, I came to appreciate the joy of being “crafty.” Though my knitting career was short-lived, my one and only project—a vibrant, rainbow-colored, shorter-than-most scarf—served me well on many chilly winter days (and was a point of pride). I don’t think I’m alone when I say…

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Eco-Friendly DIY Earth Day Gifts for a Clean and Green Kitchen This Spring

Eco-Friendly DIY Earth Day Gifts for a Clean and Green Kitchen This Spring

For the last few years, my fiancé Nick and I have taken a creative approach to celebrating Earth Day. One year, while living in San Francisco, we crafted a kitchen composter out of a coffee canister. The next year we were hunkered down in Orange County so took a trip to Roger’s Gardens, followed by an afternoon spent planting sunflower seeds in our front yard. Then came our spring in Portland, and a rainy day walk through Forest Park. We…

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The Gifting Garden: Offering Spring’s Bounty as Homemade Gifts and DIY Edible Crafts

The Gifting Garden: Offering Spring’s Bounty as Homemade Gifts and DIY Edible Crafts

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?” “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…” —Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden In the four years that my fiancé Nick and I have been together, we’ve lived inside the flow of many changing seasons. When we first met, it was a cold winter in San Francisco and days were filled with warm cioppino stew and big pots of tortilla soup. Autumns…

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Thank You Note Etiquette: DIY Marbled Handmade Cards to Express Your Gratitude

Thank You Note Etiquette: DIY Marbled Handmade Cards to Express Your Gratitude

The art of the thank you note. Always appreciated but so frequently forgotten. Saying a sincere thanks can absolutely make someone’s day, so why do the ones I send often feel so obligatory, especially around birthdays and the crunch of the holiday season? I’ve been guilty, more often than I would like, of sending out late or lackluster letters that don’t truly capture how grateful I am for the sweet generosity someone sent my way. It’s never out of a…

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DIY Minecraft Party Ideas for an Interactive Gamer Boy’s Birthday Without Screens

DIY Minecraft Party Ideas for an Interactive Gamer Boy’s Birthday Without Screens

The surprise of creating a pickaxe, or mining your first ore. Figuring out how to light your first fire. Discovering the meat explosion that comes from a pig. Realizing how to swim—and learning never to dig straight down. These are my favorite memories of Minecraft when I started playing the beta version back in 2010. Enderman didn’t exist back then, we didn’t have guidebooks on how to build everything, and we had to learn how to make our own torches…

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Crafty Homemade Gifts That Toddlers Can Make to Playfully Inspire the Joy of Giving

Crafty Homemade Gifts That Toddlers Can Make to Playfully Inspire the Joy of Giving

My little cousins, 2 and 4, are preschool crafting fiends. They come home with pages upon pages of pasted art, funky scribbles, and other staples of the toddlers’ craft repertoire. When I enter their kitchen, I’m met with a fridge door covered in construction paper, cotton balls, tinted macaroni, and what I can only imagine was a glitter bomb. Last weekend, I was at their house on a mission to spend the afternoon crafting gifts that the little ones could…

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Goodbye Winter Blues: 5 Mood Boosting DIY Projects for a Weekend of Self-Care

Goodbye Winter Blues: 5 Mood Boosting DIY Projects for a Weekend of Self-Care

Last weekend, I had all of Saturday and Sunday to myself. My partner was traveling and I was, unusually, caught up with work for the week. I should have been thrilled with two largely empty days sprawling out before me. Instead, I felt anxious. We moved a little over a year ago and, working from home, I still didn’t have much of a social circle in our new hometown. For an extrovert like me, that can make a weekend alone,…

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Snow Day Winter Crafts and Games: “Cool” Boredom Busters That Warm up Imaginations

Snow Day Winter Crafts and Games: “Cool” Boredom Busters That Warm up Imaginations

Puffy snow-quality coat? Check. Mittens clipped to coat? Check. But wait—where’s her hat??? Getting my niece ready to play in the snow takes a full 20 minutes of hunting down winter accessories and struggling into layer after layer of warm clothing. Her excitement means she’s unable to stay still, even for us to help put her boots on. We finally get outside and have ten brief, but blissful minutes of pointing, touching, and snow throwing… and then she decides it’s…

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Creative Packaging Ideas to Add Pizzazz and Personalization to Gift Cards for Teens

Creative Packaging Ideas to Add Pizzazz and Personalization to Gift Cards for Teens

As a young adult not far from her teen years, I remember exactly how it feels to be gifted free stuff. Free meals, books, and hobby-related items always made for a fantastic day in my book. So, for my cousin Holly’s 16th birthday last week, I remembered that feeling and decided to give her what I most appreciated at that age: a gift card. When you give a teen a gift card, you’re handing over a sense of freedom, and…

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Easy Snow Day Sports Crafts for Preschoolers to Make Fun Winter Memories with Kids

Easy Snow Day Sports Crafts for Preschoolers to Make Fun Winter Memories with Kids

For years I’ve been babysitting my best friend’s kids, Daniel and Nathan, and I feel so lucky to watch their personalities emerge. Now that they’re 4 and 6, we’ve become a big part of each other’s lives—they even call me Auntie Rai. While we usually spend our time together climbing trees or kicking a ball around the year, the recent snows in our area have made the jungle gyms impassable (and there are only so many snowmen I can handle),…

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Simple and Sweet DIY Coworker Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Office

Simple and Sweet DIY Coworker Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Office

There are few questions more fraught in the workplace than, “So, do you have Valentine’s Day plans?” It can lead to some awkward moments. The answer could be, “No, for I have yet to find love,” or, “We’re going skydiving with heart-shaped parachutes,” and then everyone else feels like scrambling to improve their plans. And many people just say, “I don’t really do Valentine’s Day.” Work relationships are an interesting middle ground in our lives. You spend a ton of…

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National Send a Card to a Friend Day: Letter Writing Inspirations and Ideas

National Send a Card to a Friend Day: Letter Writing Inspirations and Ideas

“Oh, my stars! It’s a letter from dear Willeford! He’s writing from far off America!” You’ve probably watched a scene just like this one on some BBC period drama, with sumptuous clothes and weirdly bad lighting and various viscounts—and a character exclaiming delightedly at receiving a letter. It’s almost unimaginable that there was a time when you could go months without word from a loved one, instead of reading about the daily life of grade-school acquaintances on social media. But…

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A Kids’ Valentine’s Day Craft Party to DIY Handmade Treats, Cards—and Fun

A Kids’ Valentine’s Day Craft Party to DIY Handmade Treats, Cards—and Fun

Around this time of year, my friend Sophie and I find ourselves reminiscing about the good ol’ days of elementary school, when we would make construction paper valentines for each of our friends. Though we were clumsy with a bottle of Elmer’s glue and overzealous with the glitter, we worked so hard to create perfect notes and cards that all had unique, personalized touches. Last year, Sophie didn’t want her two school-aged daughters to have to rely on pre-made valentines…

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Woo Him with Japanese Valentine’s Day Traditions and Heartfelt Homemade Gifts

Woo Him with Japanese Valentine’s Day Traditions and Heartfelt Homemade Gifts

My husband and I will be celebrating our sixth Valentine’s Day together this year, so the traditional gestures of chocolates, flowers, and a card were beginning to feel a little trite and bland. Our love for each other, however, is not, and I wanted my gifts to reflect this. As a travel and culture enthusiast, I searched abroad for some international inspiration. Though I always thought of the holiday as an invention of Western culture, the roots of Valentine’s Day…

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DIY Silver Anniversary Gifts That Sparkle and Shine Without a Big Spend

DIY Silver Anniversary Gifts That Sparkle and Shine Without a Big Spend

When I see couples hitting those big marital milestones, I can’t help by fawn over how strong their relationship must be to last through all those years. My aunt and uncle recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a lovely garden party. They’re a traditional couple, so I wanted to honor their big milestone in a classic way. A 25-year anniversary calls for gifts of silver. This tradition began in the Germanic region of Europe when husbands would give their…

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How to Add a Personalized Surprise to a Wedding Gift Straight from the Registry

How to Add a Personalized Surprise to a Wedding Gift Straight from the Registry

Scrolling through another politely-requested online gift registry, I see the usual suspects: a crockpot, a distinct china pattern set, a brightly-colored stand mixer. The difference, this time, was that it was a dear friend from college who had become engaged. While I was thrilled for her (and who doesn’t love to attend a wedding), I was disappointed with the gift registry—she was asking me, one of her closest friends, to buy her a stock gift off of a registry list….

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Colorful Keepsakes: Make a Personalized Coloring Book from Your Favorite Photos

Colorful Keepsakes: Make a Personalized Coloring Book from Your Favorite Photos

It was just days away from my best friend’s birthday and not only was I short on her favorite flamingo-printed tissue paper, but I didn’t even have a good idea for her present. After some serious mulling, I decided I wanted to give Ellie a gift that expressed how much fun I always have with her, whether it’s an afternoon coffee date or our trip to the Caribbean last summer. We had taken some pretty amazing shots on our island-hopping…

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Easy Projects to Transform Reclaimed Scrap Wood into Rustic DIY Christmas Gifts

Easy Projects to Transform Reclaimed Scrap Wood into Rustic DIY Christmas Gifts

Fall is my favorite time of year—the leaves change colors, the weather starts to cool, and there’s always a lovely autumn breeze. But every once in awhile, in my little Texas town surrounded by nothing but wide open plains, that lovely autumn breeze turns into a gust of destruction.   About two weeks ago, we were bombarded with winds that were just too much for our old weather-beaten fence to stand up to. A section broke free from the support…

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A Gift in Itself: Easy Eco-Friendly Christmas Wrapping Ideas

A Gift in Itself: Easy Eco-Friendly Christmas Wrapping Ideas

As a child, Christmas was full of magic. I loved the gifts, the food, being with family—and collecting leftover wrapping paper at the end of all the festivities. I always asked my family and friends to unwrap their presents carefully so I could save the paper. Then, I’d spend long, winter hours indoors turning the sparkly, colorful, crinkly scraps into art projects. Years later, I still love crafts and DIY, but I’m also more conscious about how wrapping paper affects…

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An Apple Bake Off Party with DIY Decor Inspirations for a Late Fall Harvest

An Apple Bake Off Party with DIY Decor Inspirations for a Late Fall Harvest

The frosts of winter will soon blanket the trees around my hometown with a frozen sparkle, but, first, there’s a final harvest of my favorite handheld snack—the apple. Late fall always means a visit to the local cider mill and farm where my favorite Braeburns are ripe and plentiful, just in time to make a medley of baked treats for the upcoming holiday celebrations. With a basket full of juicy Jonagolds or Galas at hand to inspire my holiday dessert…

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DIY Fall Paradise Party Ideas for Hosting an Out-of-Season Luau

DIY Fall Paradise Party Ideas for Hosting an Out-of-Season Luau

Only the leaves blowing past my living room window gave evidence of the day’s chill—the weather in my house was a balmy 80 degrees, and not a cloud in sight. Crepe paper Hawaiian flower banners were strewn across the mantle and apple-scented candles were lit in tiki torches—the party vibe was strong, ready to transport my guests from a world of pumpkin spice to palm trees. A month into fall, the novelty of the beautifully colored leaves and apple cider…

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Personalized Wrapping Paper Helps Craft Thoughtful Gift Giving

Personalized Wrapping Paper Helps Craft Thoughtful Gift Giving

I’ve never liked that old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”—everyone knows the cover is an extension of the book. It’s an introduction to the heart of the story, a way to begin crafting a tale using bright colors, fun designs, or eye-grabbing creative touches before a page is ever turned. And your wrapping paper should represent your gift in the same way. My first foray into personalized gift wrapping was accidental. My sister Susan’s birthday had snuck…

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Online Artisan Community Connects on Elfster to Share Unique Pottery Gifts

Online Artisan Community Connects on Elfster to Share Unique Pottery Gifts

By its very definition, generosity is an act of unselfish giving—and offering one’s own talent, time, and creativity to a new friend you’ve just met is a beautiful example of selflessness. Recently, a group of more than 50 potters from many corners of the globe got down and dirty for a Secret Santa gift exchange. They used the Elfster website to help them share amazing and unique ceramic art created with their own two hands. Creative Hands Reach Out To…

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A Few Simple Ways To Give Your Home A Spring Refresh

A Few Simple Ways To Give Your Home A Spring Refresh

Let’s leave winter behind and do a Spring Refresh. It’s time to clear out the clutter and get your home (and your life) organized with a few simple tips from Elfster’s For The Home gift guides, featuring great ways to take on spring cleaning and brighten your world. Even though winter may be our favorite season (for obvious reasons), the elves at Elfster are all ready to bring on spring and hope you are too! New Season, New Look Breathe…

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