Best Homemade Gifts for Adults

Homemade gifts for adults

The argument for homemade gifts for adults

The promotions for holiday loans make me sick.  If you need the loan, should you really be spending so much on gifts?  Perhaps you should be saving up your emergency fund or paying down debt instead.  There are more thoughtful ways to make gifts special without taking out a loan.  Homemade gifts for adults can slash your budget and need not be lame, even if you don’t have crafty skills.

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Creative Commons photo by Christopher Porter

You may not be able to save money by making gifts for the young people in your life.  Most kids neither want nor appreciate a homemade gift, so focus on ideas to make homemade gifts for the adults.  This makes sense because it is probably impractical to make all the gifts that you need.

Purchasing gifts for adults is never as easy as we hope.  Think about how many hours you spend looking for the perfect gifts only to give up and buy the default cooking knife, coffee set, hand towels, slippers, or fill-in-the-blank.  Adults usually have the things that they need and are very picky about what they choose to keep in their homes.  Consumables (tea, wine, olive oil, coffee, stationary, etc…) are always welcome, but may not adequately express your regard.

Approach 1: Use your skills to make homemade gifts for adults.

Do you like to knit? Crochet? Do you have graphic design skills?  Can you bake? Can you brew beer? Bedazzling? Sewing? Photography? Canning? Sketching? Are you musical? Could you make candles or soaps?  Think about what you can do or would like to try.  

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I enjoy woodworking.  Two years ago I made cutting boards, last year I made lantern thingies, this year I carved spoons from some local walnut.  I try to make several of one item because it is more efficient.  I don’t make too many because it starts to feel like a chore.  If I can think of purchased gifts for half of the people on my list, I can give the other half something homemade.  This allows me to eliminate the weakest shopping ideas and cut my budget.  Oftentimes, the purchased gifts that I thought were great ideas get a lackluster reception after all.

homemade beer for gifting
I brewed two holiday beers for gifting.  Plan to lose a few packs to “quality control.”

My go-to skills are woodworking and brewing.  What can you do?  Think about anything you have done in the past or would like to try.  This is a great opportunity to try something that you think you might enjoy.

TIP: If you are making homemade gifts for the adults in you life, make sure to start early, months early.  There is nothing worse than having your efforts defeated by unrealistic planning.

Homemade gifts for adults (skilled)

Woodworking gifts: Keepsake boxes, custom cutting boards, candle-holders, etc.

Knitting gifts: Gloves, hats, scarves, etc. make great gifts and don’t require too much time.

knitted fingerless gloves
My wife knit these for her mommy.

Felting gifts: Felting is a great thing to try if you want to be crafty but are intimidated by other needle-arts.

Photography gifts: Take a great photo with the recipient in mind.  Plan a photo shoot of their favorite place, pet, activity, etc.

Original sketch or painting: Create with the recipient in mind.  Are they into a particular animal, activity, astrological sign, celebrity, philosophy, or community?

Graphic design gifts: Compose an original logo, family crest, collage, etc.

Memories video: If you are into editing video, you could create a gift that will truly be cherished.  If you don’t have all the video that you need, use stills.  How about a highlight reel of their three-year-old in karate class?

Song recording: Can you compose, play an instrument, or sing like an angel? (I sing like the angel of death.) 

Original poetry: You could present the poem in a cool way, like painting the poem onto a piece of driftwood or something.

poem on driftwood
Creative Commons photo by Constanza

Homemade beer or wine: If you are trying this for the first time, remember that there is some aging time involved.  Also, people think its neat when you make the labels.

Canning gifts: I love it when I receive preserves.

canning gifts
Preserves from my sister-in-law.

Sewing gifts

Homemade jewelry

Baking gifts

Candle making

Fancy soap

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Creative Commons photo by Sonia Scommegna

General gift making: If your are a bit handy with the glue, you can make some cool stuff. Home and garden decor is a good candidate here.

homemade decor
Creative Commons photo by Frédéric BISSON

Approach 2: Use your time to make homemade gifts for adults.

Even if you don’t have any skills that naturally lend themselves to gifting, fear not.  There are lots of gifts that require effort if not special skills.

Prepared foods and mixes are a great choice.  Acquire a bunch of mason jars (always save these as the labels can be soaked off with oxygen-based cleanser) and fill them with goodies: baking mix, pancake mix, dry soup mix, granola, trail mix, salad dressing, dehydrated fruit, marinade, venison jerky, etc…  There are so many great and easy recipes to explore, and they require no special skills or equipment.

Homemade decorations are fun to make, give, and receive.  Increase your swagger with homemade swags.  Is your neighborhood full of holly bushes or evergreens?  How about arborvitae or English ivy?  Get a some ribbons, wire, little bells, or ornaments, and have at it.  If you want to challenge yourself, try making a wreath or garland.

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You may be surprised at how warmly your homemade gifts are received.  Beyond the holidays, homemade gifts can keep you prepared for house-warmings, anniversaries, appreciations, condolences, and so on.

Homemade gift ideas for adults (unskilled)

Mini-succulent arrangement

Mini-herb garden arrangement

Prepared foods and mixes

Homemade pasta: This can be frozen or dried.  It is always better than the pasta from box.

pasta maker
Creative Commons photo by vigilant20 (דָרוּך)

Dehydrated stuff: You can make awesome beef jerky or other dried foods in your oven.  You don’t need any fancy devices, but you might want one if this will become a habit.

Home and garden decor: Swags or garlands are easy to make.  Pressed flowers in a picture frame can be very attractive. Another idea is to take a memento and turn it into a snow globe.  Affix the item to the inside of a the lid to an attractive jar, add some sparkles and water and you are in business.

homemade bird feeder
Creative Commons photo by Susy Morris

Photo collection

Pickled veggies: There are many great websites to get you started.

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Creative Commons photo by Christopher Porter

The gift of time: Organize a special outing, event, or dinner.  Make a real effort to show how much you care.  This gift is highly under-rated.

Homemade gifts for adults is not a waste of time.

Adults know how precious time is.  When you use your time and effort rather than money, they will feel truly special.  Even if the gift is a bit of a flop, they will appreciate your efforts.  Don’t be insecure about your skills.  I am by no means an expert woodworker, but people adore the modest fruits of my labors.  Try making homemade gifts for the adults in your life, and I promise your time will not be wasted.

5 thoughts

  1. Wow! So many great ideas. I am a big fan of DIY gifts. I’m trying to think of an idea you didn’t cover…last year I gave some friends a jar of gourmet popcorn with a hand picked blend of spices to flavor it!

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