Holiday Handbook: Easy, Affordable Homemade Gifts

Start with an unembellished journal or composition notebook.
Clip art is a great resource for art images. Soriano suggests .
However, you can use many paper options to embellish or cover your journal with: vintage photos, scrap book/paper supplies, lettering, buttons that are hot glued or even sewn onto the journal.
Always work on a clean surface and have your materials with you: scissors, papers, (any other embellishments), adhesive, etc.
Think about the theme and look you want to create. Soriano suggests mapping out the design before you actually start gluing. This helps with changes you might want to make.
Measure and cut the larger pieces and apply those first. For example, if you plan to cover the entire front surface of the journal with one or two pieces, start with that and work from there. Make sure you get your pieces fully dry. If working with fabric or felt, think about using a fabric or craft glue.
With paper you can use an adhesive spray (if using larger pieces, make sure you have proper ventilation due to the additional adhesive spray). For smaller pieces, you can use craft glue or double-sided tape. Remember, be creative -- it's from the heart (and hand).

Monogrammed Hand Towels or Candles

Everybody needs hand towels and everybody loves candles. Soriano suggests purchasing regular linen hand towels and then stenciling them with a water soluble paint with a dry brush. You can initial the towel, which makes a great personalized gift. With the candles, you can get them in a set, or individually, and wrap them with paper and then monogram a person's name on them, or a word such as "joy" or "peace" or "holidays."

"This is so much easier than it might appear," Soriano said. "It's all about using it in your everyday life, and that's what makes the gift so great."

Instructions for Hand Towels:

Use a set of new, nicely pressed hand towels. You will need either a letter stencil or a letter stamp.
Work on a clean surface.
If using a letter stencil, lay the stencil over the towel.
Center the stencil on the towel, hold firm.
Apply washable fabric paint on a dry brush (not too much paint — you do not want the paint to "bleed" through) twice. Also, make sure not to use a brush that is too large.
Let dry for several hours.

Instructions for Candles: Use pillar candles. You don't want to use tapers, as they are too thin.
Apply stick on initials to center area of the pillar.
You can spell out a name, holiday, birthday, etc.

Homemade Holiday Gift Tips

Gifts for Neighbors and Hosts

Scented Sugars

Scented sugars are really wonderful and easy and economical to make, Soriano said. You take vanilla bean or orange or lemon slices, cinnamon and you steep those items individually in an airtight canister for about three to five days before, and then you present the gift in the canister. Soriano suggests also including a sugar spoon in the canister. Scented sugars are wonderful over hot cereal, fruit, or in coffee or tea, for baking (on a coffee cake) or sugar cookie toppings, etc.

"It is very easy," Soriano said.


You will need clean jars with good lids and good seals (this is a great way to use vintage jars; you can also use recycled jars, or buy new ones). You can label, make gift tags, etc. Use granulated sugar. Start to flavor your sugars three days before you present them so the sugar absorbs the flavor and scent.

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