In her comment on my stocking stuffer post, Julia asked if I could do a round-up of handmade stocking stuffer ideas. As one of the world's least crafty people, I may not be the right person to take this on, but what I lack in crafting ability I make up for in wasted time on Pinterest, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I tried to focus on handmade ideas that require neither special skills nor expensive materials. Here are a few of the best handmade stocking stuffer ideas I found:
Christmas Potpourri Packets
At Dandee, Danyelle gives instructions on how to create a Christmas-y scent blend that can then be packaged and gifted. The user needs only to boil the contents with some water to make his/her house smell lovely. The ingredients are easy to come by--spices and dried fruit--and not too spendy if you hit an ethnic market for bulk spices. Dandee's version is packaged pretty simply in cellophane bags, but the packaging options for this would be pretty endless.
Photo via Splitcoaststampers.
Paint Chips Book Marks
Splitcoaststampers member sbgalone suggests making simple bookmarks from stamped paint sample strips, and I love the way they look! If you happen to already have ink and stamps, the cost here is almost nothing--you can pick up the sample strips for free at a hardware store/Lowe's/Home Depot and you'll only need a small amount of ribbon for the tassels. The time commitment and crafting talent needed are negligible, too!
Sure, all types of candy are stocking stuffer basics, but rock candy is so pretty, so easy to make at home, and so cheap! All you need is string or sticks, sugar, water, and food coloring! The internet abounds with recipes, but I think this one is a good start.
An even easier, though slightly spendier, candy-themed stocking stuffer is the Candy Sleigh, as described by Ellyn's Place. Really, this is just a cute way to package candy bars, but it's easy and pretty inexpensive. Each sleigh uses two candy canes, a Kit Kat bar, and 10 mini-Hershey bars, plus ribbon and bows, so maybe a couple of bucks each?
Photo via Betty Crocker.
Cookie Cutter Fudge
I love this for it's simplicity and adorableness. The Betty Crocker website gives instructions on how to make their fudge inside a cookie cutter, but I'm thinking any fudge recipe should work. Cookie cutters can be had very cheaply at the Dollar Store or similar this time of year, and fudge doesn't require anything too spendy, so this would be pretty cost effective.
Photo via marthastewartweddings.com
Rosemary Sea Salt
Martha Stewart's lineup of wedding favor ideas has several things in it that would be great for stocking stuffers, but my favorite are these cute, practical jars of rosemary infused sea salt. Again, cost and time are negligible--you'll need bulk sea salt, rosemary, jars, and labels. Presentation is key here, I think, and the Weck jars Martha's picture shows go a long way in making simple salt look and feel like a gift. They are a bit spendier than regular jars--$18.70 for a dozen of the 2.7 oz variety--but this is still a pretty cheap gift. If you're absolutely counting pennies, though, you could fairly easily substitute out used jam jars or similar to keep costs lower.
Salted Caramel Sauce
Recipe Girl's little jelly jars of salted caramel sauce are neither quite so easy nor quite so cheap as Martha's salt, but wouldn't they be great in a stocking? Making caramel sauce is a little bit tricky for a novice cook, but not unmanageable. The ingredients are bit spendier, too, since you'll need cream and butter, but a only 1 cup of cream and 1.5 tablespoons of butter to make four little jars, so not too bad. Again, presentation is key, so you'd need to either buy some jelly jars (which typically are less than $1 each) or figure out a way to clean and re-label used jars.
Another super cheap and simple gift-in-a-jar is a sourdough starter. Armommy gives great advice on how to get one going, as well as a printable label for your jar. Aside from the vessel, all you need is yeast, flour, sugar, and water!
Spice Blends/Grill Rubs
Spice blends and rubs are a great stocking stuffer, especially if you're already a cook and have your own concoctions to share. If you don't, there are some starter ideas at Kojo Designs. Bulk spices should make this pretty cost effective. Package your spice mix in a cute container (even better if it's a reused one) and slap on a cute label and viola! a gift!
Photo via Repeat (cr)After Me.
Rock Vegetable Garden Markers
Maybe it's just me, but I think these hand-painted rock veggie garden markers, featured by Sarah at Repeat (cr)After Me, are just too cute for words. Also? Cheap and easy! All you'd need is rocks, acrylic paint, and possibly stamps for the words.
52 Things I Love About You
This is an almost free idea that takes no great skills or fancy supplies--using a couple of large binder rings, turn a deck of cards into a 52-page love letter. This would be great for a partner, obviously, but could be modified for parents, too, with each card containing a memory.
Photo via Hammer & Thread.
T-Shirt PJ Pants
This kid-friendly stocking stuffer idea requires a little more skill--you have to be able to sew. However, it is too cute and too cheap not to include. Ruth at Hammer & Thread gives a great tutorial on how to sew up used adult t-shirts into adorable pj/lounge pants for little ones. I know very little about sewing, but she says she can whip up several pairs during a nap time, so I'm guess these would be pretty easy for someone who can sew. Supplies are cheap, too--used t-shirts are easy to come by for free or almost-free, and the only notions needed are thread and elastic.
Photo via The Purl Bee.
Little lavender sachets are a handmade gift staple for a reason--they're cheap, easy, and cute! Even a non-sewer can usually manage these.The Purl Bee has a great tutorial for making these little jewels. The fabric she uses, a Dutch Chintz Garden Roll, isn't cheap ($78), but these could be made with any small amounts of fabric. The other materials--dried lavender, thread, and plain cotton canvas--should be pretty inexpensive.
Though this idea requires a bit more skill in sewing, the supplies are still cheap, and they're too cute not to include. Soubelle's gives clear instructions on how to turn scrap fabric, stabilizer, thread, ribbon, and vinyl into custom luggage tags. This would be a particularly good plan for those who already sew, as they're likely to have enough bits and bobs on hand to make these with no additional materials needed. This is one I'd love in my stocking!
Photo via Martha Stewart.
This is one I've actually done before, so I can vouch for how easy it is. Martha Stewart gives great instructions, but basically you simply melt down old candle bits (or use new wax, but that ups the cost), add a new wick, and make a little candle in a teacup! Mismatched tea cups are easy to find for less than $1 each at the thrift store, and candle wicking is cheap at the craft store. Even if you have to buy wax, these don't add up to much, as they're pretty small. Other kinds of vessels can be used, as well, but there is something about using tea cups that makes these so quaint and cute.
Emergency Purse Kit
This idea is one of my favorites, and it could be all-but free. Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge posted it back in 2008, but it's still a great idea. Basically, you modify an old cassette tape holder (remember those?) and fill it with tiny necessities, most of which you can get free or for pennies--sugar and salt and pepper packets, toothpicks, Band-Aids, a mini-calendar, safety pins, etc. Again, packaging is everything in making regular stuff into a cute present!
Photo via Oh! Sweetbabies.
Wee Mouse Tin House
The Wee Mouse Tin House instructions for sale on Etsy look a bit complicated for my liking, but I think this idea has real merit. If you could buy a small toy/doll to fit into an Altoids tin (Dollar Store, maybe?), all you'd need for the bedding is tiny scraps of fabric. This is one that could really be as simple or as complicated as you'd like, but the basic idea, a sort of handmade Polly Pocket, is a great one.
Photo via Katherine Marie.
Sunshine in a Box
Much as it makes me smile, Katherine Marie's Sunshine in a Box won't work as a stocking stuffer--it's too big! However, the same concept, on a smaller scale, would be great in a stocking! Like Katherine Marie, you could use all yellow items (candies, erasers, craft supplies, etc.) for a smaller box of sunshine, or you could go with another theme. The important thing here, I think, is the color coding and the careful packaging.
The DIY Nesting Dolls featured at Yes to Hoboken are probably a bit too crafty for this non-crafter, but man, if you have any skills, please make these! They're just the cutest thing ever. The blanks will run about $10 or more, depending on how many you get and where, so they aren't that cheap, but the rest of the supplies are sort of anything goes, and these could so be worth it...
Clearly, the list of possible handmade stocking stuffers could go on forever! I'm tossing new ideas I find after writing this post up on Pinterest, so subscribe to that board if you'd like. Happy, thrifty crafting!