Lifestyle and Fitness

DIY Gift Ideas for the Holidays by Sheryl Lynn Carvajal

The turkey carcasses were barely cleared from the Thanksgiving table when retail stores started peddling Black Friday specials in anticipation of the holiday shopping season.  If you’re anything like me, you torturously waited in many lines and scoured countless racks to find the best deals.  As the holidays draw near, the season of giving approaches us as well; my post-Black Friday wallet was definitely a factor when I started brainstorming ideas of what to give to my family and friends for Christmas this year.  But gifts don’t need to come from the big box stores, and holiday shopping need not be stressful and expensive.  Why not have some fun with gift-giving instead?

I’m the type of person that likes to give really personal gifts.  Whether a gift has to do with something a friend or family member is a big fan of or it has their initials or name, personal gifts are always my favorite to give (and receive!).  Rather than spending large amounts of money on store bought items people won’t use, why not make something special for them that they will remember and appreciate for a lifetime?

Thanks to social media, you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas to find some really interesting and personal gift ideas. You may already know about Pinterest, an online bulletin board for organizing and sharing pictures and ideas.  Pinterest also has a craft/DIY category where you can browse thousands of crafts, which can be the perfect inspiration for creating personalized holiday gifts.  Here are two favorite “pins” that have given me ideas for holiday gifts.

DIY photocoasters
DIY Photo Coasters Photo Source

These custom-made coasters are a perfect gift idea for anyone.  Parents can use pictures of their children, or you can display glamour shots of your pets.  Or, take a favorite photo that will prompt smiles from friends as they remember a fun and special time in their lives and turn it into a holiday present.  This is a great personalized gift that is easy to make – the instructions can be found here.  A few small tiles from the hardware store, a couple of pictures, and a little bit of Mod Podge can go a long way!

DIY Headbands Photo Source
DIY Headbands
Photo Source

This second “pin” reminds me of my sister.  She and I are both into fitness, and these headbands are perfect for a long run outside, or for a session at the gym.  Instructions on how to make these can be found here, and since the key ingredient is an old t-shirt, it certainly won’t break the bank.

As Friedman students, food is always on our minds and we know that food can make a great gift.  Growing up down south, the term “comfort food” is often used to describe the cuisine. But when you spend time making something special and delicious for someone else, that can be pretty comforting as well.  I found some great food gift ideas on the website Craftgawker, which has the same concept as Pinterest.  Through this website, you can learn how to make lots of fun DIY projects.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Kit Photo Source
Peppermint Hot Cocoa Kit
Photo Source

The presentation of this peppermint hot cocoa kit shows just how much work was put into the gift, which is something your friends and family will appreciate.  Cookie-swap parties are also a good way to show your creativity and baking skills.  Cookie kits, similar to hot cocoa kits, can be assembled and given as gifts too.

Cookie KitPhoto Source
Cookie Kit
Photo Source

Whether you choose to give a crafty DIY gift or something food-related, you can’t go wrong with homemade gifts for your family and friends.  There are countless ideas, and with the help of social media websites like Pinterest and Craftgawker, the possibilities are endless.  So give selflessly, live happily, and love unconditionally in the spirit of the holiday season!

Sheryl Lynn is a first-year Nutrition Communication student who loves to craft and sew, and finds many of her inspiration ideas on Pinterest.  Follow her at!

The Friedman Sprout is a monthly student run newspaper that aims to serve the student population at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, prospective students, and alumni. Our mission is to report on newsworthy information that affects the Friedman community including nutrition research, food policy, internship and volunteer opportunities, as well as school events. Our editorial slant is that of sustainability in food and nutrition.

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