“MADE WITH LOVE: Give a little of yourself with these DIY gifts”

Published by Forever Young.

These DIY projects are so easy and inexpensive to make—and kids love to help. Spa certificates and store-bought sweaters will always be appreciated but if you’d like to wrap up something a little more personal this season, consider one of these fun-to-make (and receive) gifts.

Chalkboard wall art

What you’ll need:

Old silver-plated or chromium tray (check your local thrift store or an estate sale)

Painter’s tape

Chalkboard paint (find at any home improvement store)

One-inch angled paint brush

Chalk

Picture frame bracket and super glue (*or ribbon)

This one is simple to make and right on trend. Wipe the tray clean and dry then lay flat. Cover the silver edge with painter’s tape for a framed look. Coat the inside with chalkboard paint. It takes three to four coats to get good coverage. Let the surface dry completely between coats then remove tape. If the tray has a “laced” edge with cutouts*, use pretty ribbon to make a hanging loop, and add an extra bow for flair. If the tray doesn’t have cutouts, use super glue to attach a metal bracket to the back and let it dry overnight. Now add a sweet message with chalk and present it to one of your favorite people!

Wine charms

What you’ll need:

Wire wine charm rings

Small glass or plastic beads

Assorted charms

You can find these supplies at any craft store or order them online; try orientaltrading.com or joann.com. Just select a color scheme and a charm and thread the beads onto the wire ring. Stop halfway to add the charm, then finish it up with more beads in the same pattern. Choose special charms to easily personalize this gift. Give them in sets of four, six, or eight and, to show some extra love, include a bottle of great local wine! For pretty presentation, tie the charms around the wine bottle’s neck with ribbon or twine and a gift tag.

Fabric animal ornaments

What you’ll need:

Fabric (you may have some scraps from projects lying around)

Buttons

Needle and thread

Ribbon

Yarn

This whimsical gift is perfect for loved ones of any age—and it’s almost impossible to mess up. The more homemade-looking it is, the better. Choose any animal that can be represented with a few color blocks, like a bird, turtle, or fish. Cut out the animal’s base shape then cut out its wings/shell/fins using different fabrics. Sew these to the base shape with contrasting-colored thread— don’t worry about perfect stitches. Keep the little cloth pieces you trim off; you’ll use them later for stuffing. To make the animal really special, stitch on a year or monogram. Add button eyes. The owls I made for babies Molly and Parker have feet made from yarn loops. For the backing, lay the animal down on a contrasting piece of fabric and trace the same shape but a little larger. It’s easier to trim as you go than to realize, too late, that the back is too small. Sew the animal to the backing, leaving the top open to add your “stuffing,” which is more fabric scraps (or anything else you’ve got: cotton balls, shredded junk mail, a cut-up stray sock). Right before you close it up, tie a loop in a piece of ribbon and sew the knot inside. Now this little creature can take its place on the tree year after year!

Every time your friends or family members change the chalkboard message, get out the wine glasses for a party, or decorate the Christmas tree, they’ll remember how much you love them. Isn’t that the best gift of all?

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