Short on cash or ideas for holiday gifts?  Here are nine low-cost, easy DIY ideas you can try at home.


Fleece scarf and/or hat

Materials: fleece

Cost of fleece: $12/yard

You can purchase fleece from any fabric store and some craft stores, or reuse something you already have–like an old fleece blanket.

There are several methods you can find online. Here are four of the versions we tried here at the library. All of these are no-sew styles.



Materials:  clock kit, and clock face supplies

Cost of clock kit: $6-11

We’ve made clocks here at the library, too, using an old book and paint, but you can put the clock kit in any item to make it into a clock–a circle plastic plate, a cardboard box, a plastic toy. The only trick is:  you must be able to cut out a small hole into the item in order to insert the clock kit. You can get a clock kit from an electronics store like Frys, or online from Amazon. Most use AA batteries.

You can view the instructions on how to make a book clock, and adapt the method to fit your clock face.

Click on the image for instructions on how to make a book clock:

clock by Katie Ferguson


Painted boxes

Materials: paper mache box, paint

Cost of box: $1-6

You can get creative on the shape of your box. These paper mache boxes are available in many shapes and sizes like a treasure chest, a mini house, a heart, or book shaped. The creative shaped paper mache boxes can be ordered online or purchased from a craft store like Michaels. You could also use a sturdy old gift box and paint over it. Gift boxes are also available at Michaels, but are probably cheaper at a dollar store or Target.

Click on the image for more images for painted book boxes:

by Jane Gov, librarian



Materials: blank tshirt, fabric paint

Cost of tshirt: $2+

Cost of fabric paint: $4 for each tube or get a whole color set for $20

You can use a not-too-old blank tshirt and fabric markers (which are cheaper than paint), but the results may not be great. Instead, I recommend using fabric paint and picking up a new shirt from Michaels, Target, or Old Navy. The cost of the shirt is really up to the style you want. You can get higher quality shirts, of course, or get a shirt from a craft store–which are usually about $5.

Click on the image for instructions for tshirt painting:


Personalized tote bags

Materials: blank tote bag, fabric paint

Cost of tote bag: $1-8

Same as the tshirts, you can personalize a tote bag as a gift (or something to put a gift in). You can pick up a cheap blank tote from Target or canvas totes from Michaels. Use the same instructions as the tshirt painting (above).



Materials: pair of shoes, fabric paint

Cost of shoes:  $7+

Yep, you guessed it! This is the same as painting a tshirt or tote bag. You can pick up a pair of shoes from Payless or Target. Below are examples.

image source:


Personalized mugs

Materials: mug, oil-based markers

Cost of mug: $1

Cost of oil-based markers:  $5 for one, or $17 for a set

This is pretty self-explanatory and super easy and fun to do. If you can’t draw and have a bit more to spend, I recommend getting some stencils from a craft store. The markers are not as easy to find. You’ll have to check Michaels or Blicks or order online.

Click on the image for instructions on how to paint and set a mug:



Materials: wax or candle, glass or ceramic holder

Cost of candle: $1-2

Not everyone is a fan of candles, but perhaps with the right name and scent, it’ll be a great gift for someone you know. Give your candle a fun name like, “Forbidden Forest” or “Ashes of Panem.” You can reuse an old candle and teacup or mini glass cup (like a shot glass), or buy them at Dollar Tree or 99cent Store.

Here are instructions on how to make a new candle from an old one:


Snow Globes

Materials: jar, glycerin, glitter, figurine

Cost of mason jar: $2

Cost of glycerin: $1.59

Cost of figurine: $1

This is also another fun one which you can make as easy or complicated as you like. You can purchase jars specifically from Oriental Trading, but if you don’t need to make a dozen, just get a mason jar from Michaels or Target. Glycerin is available at Michaels.

Click on the image for instructions:



For more ideas, check out these other blogs:

50 DIY Christmas Gifts

Best DIY Gifts

45 Awesome DIY Gifts Anyone Can Do

31 Cheap and Easy Last-Minute DIY Gifts They’ll Actually Want

25 Handmade Gifts Under $5


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