to educate, inspire and equip the urban homesteader

DIY Holiday Gifts

November 30, 2010

Gift tags I made to include on my homemade food gifts this year

What kind of urban homesteader would I be if I wasn’t making at least of few of my own holiday gifts? In my family it’s always been a tradition for the women to give gifts they made themselves with ultimate care and from the heart.

One of my favorite gifts from my very talented mother - a hand-painted wine glass

My mom, the penultimate DIY crafter, has gone through homemade phases ranging from wood figurines to crocheted blankets to hand-painted wine glasses. Her sister Kathy, the family archivist, has been known to gift a handmade photo album of last year’s Christmas memories – she’s recently begun quilting as well. The younger of the sisters, Patti, has a history of framed photos and even key chains with pictures of our booties in them (it’s a long story and a family joke that will go down into history). My grandmother is a master quilter and you won’t get a hand-made gift from her every year – but when you do, it will be spectacular, representative of many months’ work.

I’m probably the least crafty of all the women in my family – I definitely put more focus on food and less on handicrafts (food-crafting? Sure, why not?). But when I do make my own gifts, whether they’re food-related or otherwise, it’s sometimes an attempt to save money, always an opportunity to give something unique, but mostly it’s what I know. It’s what people in my family have done for generations. I’d be crazy to not carry on such a beautiful tradition.

Some gifts I decorated in spent newspaper for the 18 reasons Holiday Gift Fair

I have a couple of holiday gift events coming up (Holiday Gift Fair at 18Reasons on Dec 1 & DIY Food Gift event at Omnivore Books Dec 9) so I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a wonderful home-crafted food gift. Unlike quilts and crocheting, this is right up my alley. As I thought about what I’d like to receive as a gift myself, it occurred to me that nearly any edible item made at home from scratch could make a lovely gift. All you need to make it special is festive packaging!

This is a category that publications such as Better Homes and Gardens have made a fortune from – particularly, the almost homemade variety of food. (This is where I admit I was actually gullible enough to pick up the 2010 Special Interest Publication called Food Gifts from BH&G in the grocery line. I was home before I realized I had paid $9.99 for it! I do have to admit the hefty price was nearly worth it as it was filled with cute food ideas. I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful ways they packaged some food classics. You can find some of their ideas on their website ).

Since packaging seems to be king, I decided to make my own gift tags. Nothing gives me more contentment than a sharp pair of scissors and a glue stick anyway. It’s incredibly easy and really adorable. I’ll show you how I did it.

Scrapbook paper comes in handy for projects like this.

What you’ll need:

  • Scrapbook paper or other decorative paper (two-sided cardstock is ideal for a base)
  • Paper cutter or sharp scissors
  • Glue (glue stick is ideal)
  • Fancy pens (glitter pens or permanent fine-point markers work nicely)
  • String or ribbon
  • Optional: fancy scrapbook hole-punchers

How to:

1) Cut your card stock or any heavy paper into tag-sized strips. If you don’t have a heavy two-sided paper you could glue two pieces of paper back-to-back to create a two-sided tag. I cut my card stock into 2″ by 3″ rectangles – you can cut them larger for larger gifts and smaller for smaller gifts.

2) Cut both corners off one end of your tag, giving it style.

3) Trim fun designs from your decorative paper, from newspapers or vintage post cards to dress up the tag. Layering makes a nice effect and gives the tag depth.

4) Be sure to leave a lighter colored space where you can write the gift recipients name later.

5) Glue the decorative designs to your tags.

6) Punch a hole in the tag and attach it to your gift by the ribbon!

How-To in Photos:

Trimming 2" strips from the paper

Trimming 2" strips into 3" lengths

Trim the first corner from one end of the tag

Trim the second corner from the same end of the tag

This will be the final shape of your tag

Cut out cute designs to decorate the tag

Use glue stick to attach the designs

Add the designs to your tag

Commercially available stamps can be fun!

This tag stamp adds dimension to the gift tags

Glue decorations on opposite side of the tag

Include a lighter color to write on

Now you can write on your tag!

Don't forget to punch a hole in the top to attach it to your gift


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  • Love the gift tags! We’ve been working on homemade christmas cards over here…25 down, 25 to go, and that’s not even enough to send them to everyone we love. Sigh.

  • Love your tags, Chick! I also wanted to say that your festive newspaper wrappings were always a big hit with the family. I think we all spent a little more time looking at the packages, admiring the fancy ads from New York that we don’t get to see out here on the prairie. Count that among your ‘from the heart’ successes!
    Like Lisa, (Hi Lisa!) I am making holiday cards from bits and pieces of paper. It’s a lot of fun, but sure takes up a lot of room, and time… what with letting one dry while you work on another, and getting things set up for the next one. My table is covered with odds and ends and scraps. So, if you are lucky enough to get a card from Lisa or myself, you’ll certainly know that you are loved!