One-up Santa with These DIY Gifts
Mugs are a blank canvas waiting for DIY inspiration. Photo by Elizabeth Olson.

One-up Santa with These DIY Gifts

Whether you’re on a budget this holiday season or looking to channel your finals week stress into crafting, these do-it-yourself gifts are sure to be a hit with your friends and family.

For That Friend Who’s Always Cold: Hand Warmers

Rice-filled hand warmers make a perfect gift. Photo by Elizabeth Olson.


  • Fabric scraps
  • Needle and thread (or sewing machine)
  • scissors
  • Rice
  • Funnel


  1. Cut two pieces of fabric and place them with the patterned side together.
  2. Sew around all four sides, leaving a 2 inch gap on one side. Clip off the corners to cut down on bulk.
  3. Use the hole to turn the fabric right side out.
  4. Fill the warmer with rice using the funnel (a rolled up piece of paper works if a funnel is not available).
  5. Sew the hole closed.
  6. (Optional) For added reinforcement, stitch around the outside of the warmer as well.
  7. Microwave for 20 seconds and enjoy the warmth!

Colorado and Wisconsin DIY mugs. Photo by Elizabeth Olson.

For That Long Distance Friend: State Outline Mugs


  • 2 White mugs
  • Sharpie Marker
  • pencil
  • Printed outline of desired states
  • Oven


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Wash the mugs.
  3. Using the pencil, scribble on the back side of the printed outline. Then place the outline where desired on the mug and use the pencil to trace the outline of the state. The pencil markings should transfer to the mug, creating a template.
  4. Draw over the pencil template with a Sharpie marker, then add a swirling dotted line coming from the state to the side of the mug.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the second mug and state, connecting the lines where the mugs meet when placed together.
  6. Bake the mugs for 2 hours at 250 degrees F. to set the marker.

DISCLAIMER: These mugs should only be hand washed.

For That Friend Who’s Always Hungry: Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

Chocolate covered pretzels make a tasty treat and an even tastier gift. Photo by Elizabeth Olson.


  • Pretzel rods
  • white chocolate
  • milk or semi-sweet chocolate
  • Sauce pan
  • 2 Metal bowls (smaller than the pan)
  • parchment paper
  • (optional) Crushed candy canes, nuts, or sprinkles


  1. Fill pan with water 1/2-1/4 full. Place metal bowl in the water.
  2. Put one of the chocolates into the metal bowl and begin heating the water, stirring the chocolate as it melts.
  3. Once completely melted, either dip or drizzle the pretzels in chocolate, leaving one end plain. Lay them on a sheet of parchment paper.
  4. Repeat with the other chocolate, drizzling the contrasting color over the first chocolate.
  5. (Optional) Sprinkle candy canes, nuts, or sprinkles on the pretzels while the chocolate is warm.
  6. Wait until the chocolate hardens, then gift an assortment in a decorative bag.

For That Friend Who Loves to Cook: Painted Wooden Utensils


  • Wooden cooking utensils
  • Acrylic paint and paint brushes
  • Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac and Sealer (aerosol can)
  • Newspaper
  • Mugs/large glasses


  1. Lay down newspaper (recycled issues of The Pointer work great) in the painting area.
  2. Paint half of each handle and add a contrasting color stripe at the top to create a color block design. These can be free-handed for a more homemade look, or the end can be taped off for a clean line.
  3. Put utensils in mugs/large cups with the handle up to dry standing up.
  4. Once dry, use aerosol sealer only on painted section to prevent paint from chipping off.


Elizabeth Olson

Arts & Entertainment Editor

About Elizabeth Olson

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