22 Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Boyfriend
Lend me a yuletide ear, ladies: I have the perfect homemade gift ideas for your boyfriend. Power tools, a ski pass and "Call of Duty: Black Ops" can be defined as homemade, right? No?
As a man, I know guys can be difficult to buy gifts for during the holidays. We're either into the latest gadgets, extremely picky, or give no direction whatsoever. All this leaves you out on a limb and us wondering why Christmas is the most stressful time of the year. Homemade gifts can be the solution to this conundrum. They're easy to customize, fun to create and show more thought than regurgitating a list.
Truth is, you know what your boyfriend will use or toss. The key here is to (surprise, surprise) cater to his tastes. The basic outline is there: All you need do is run with it. As for you, the gift giver, the beauty of homemade Christmas gifts is they take as much effort as you're willing to put into them. Many need only a few clicks of the mouse, some glue and a free afternoon. Others require a bandsaw, tape measure and hardcore construction know-how. In essence, for all the boyfriend "types" out there, just as many creative Christmas gift ideas exist for girlfriends to tackle.
With this in mind, I've compiled the following list of 22 man-centric homemade Christmas gifts, each with a touch of inspiration, substance and heart. Oh, yeah, they're cheap, too.
1. Cookies and Sweets
The way to a man's heart truly is through his stomach. (Then again, I think this can be said of every human being.) A tin of cookies probably won't be the only present you give, but it makes for an inexpensive Christmas gift he'll gobble in a week. Snag an old tin at a thrift store and pack it with every wintery goody possible. My personal favorites are bourbon balls. They're simple, fresh, and delicious with Jim Beam, but the recipe can be tweaked to match any man's taste in dark liquor.
2. Vintage Denim iPod Case
What's the most iconic feature of Levi Jeans? The leather waistband tag. What's the most iconic music player in the world? The iPod. Combine the two and you have an ingenious, trendy way for your boyfriend to tote his favorite music. The instructions require an old pair of jeans, a bit of measuring and some sewing prowess, but the reward is something you won't find in a store. Plus when making your own, the dimensions can be modified to fit digital cameras, other MP3 players, and even laptops.
3. No-Sew Fleece Blanket
Let's face the facts: Not everyone can or likes to sew. Some simply don't have time, others never learned, or in my case, I don't have the patience. The no-sew fleece blanket is perfect for everyone because it requires little more than fingers, fleece and a pair of scissors. My fleece blanket is a staple throughout the winter months. These instructions are made for a child-sized blanket, but proportions can easily be tailored to an adult. For something truly unique, use cloth emblazoned with your boyfriend's favorite pro or college team logo.
4. Coffee Bean Scented Candle
Your boyfriend likes candles. The only reason he won't light your store-bought ones is because they smell like fabric softener. A hand-crafted coffee bean candle is more than enough to unlock his inner wax-lover. Use these simple directions and beans from his favorite roast to evoke caffeine daydreams. If you alter the recipe with a different scent, be sure to use oil-based fragrances and not cologne. The alcohol doesn't mix right and burns quickly, leaving no smell.
5. Picture Collage and Custom Frame
A long time ago in a world far, far more analog, people printed pictures. No joke, it is. Although Flickr and Facebook are the new face of photo sharing, their existence only makes tangible photos more meaningful. When you print those digital pics, try Snapfish free shipping. The online gallery has some of the best offers year-round, including free pick-up at Walgreens and coupons for additional free prints.
A plain picture frame can be found for relatively cheap at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Target and tons of other stores. As you decorate, remember this is for your boyfriend, not an old sorority sister or favorite niece. Keep the colors simple, lines crisp and frills to a minimum.
6. Vinyl Record Bookends
Vinyl records are largely a thing of the past -- try explaining LP's to a high schooler -- but they've seen a revival as decorative accents for music lovers. Bookends are one of the easiest ways to repurpose old records. Thrift and local record stores (yes, they still exist) often have mounds of old vinyl records ripe for taking on the cheap. Stroke your boyfriend's hipster ego and include a collection of David Foster Wallace's short stories with the bookends.
7. Crocheted Beanie
Whether you're a novice at crocheting or an old pro, a beanie is good middle ground. It moves beyond the obvious scarf but requires half the time and dedication as a sweater (which, I might add, tip-toes dangerously near grandma territory). This pattern includes a material list and advice on making the hat larger or smaller. Visit the Craft Yarn Council website for basic stitches and crocheting terms.
8. Groupon Date
The jury is still out on whether coupons and dating make good bedfellows, but in general, if you're comfortable with each other there's no shame in hopping aboard the group-buying wagon. If you haven't already, register for e-mail updates from Groupon, Living Social or one of a gazillion other social coupon sites. All offer regular (and hefty) discounts for local restaurants, tours, theater shows and other date-worthy activities.
9. Homemade Dog Treats
Ok, this isn't exactly a gift idea for your boyfriend, but like many a man, my pup is an extension of myself. In other words, anything she likes I like, because it means I don't have to buy it for her. The website Bullwrinkle has over 60 pet-friendly recipes straight from its canine kitchen, including biscuits, cookies and even pasta. Most can be made with ingredients you already own.
Scrapbooking is loved by 16 and 60 year olds alike, especially when the subject of the book is a certain special man friend. Any number of memory-laden items can be collected and pasted together, including movie tickets, pictures, notes and doodles. When I lived in another country several years back, my sweetheart made me one for Christmas before I left. Like Linus and his blanket, I toted it with me everywhere, so have faith: We may not browse them nightly, but simply having one is a blessing. (Check out ScrapbookingAlley for all your supplies.)
11. Digital Scrapbook
You can argue for the aesthetic pleasure of an old-school scrapbook, but nothing beats the selection and ease of a digital one through Scrapblog. Basic features like slideshows and online scrapbooks are free to build and share through Facebook or e-mail. Other personalized goodies, like calendars, books and cards, can be printed for reasonable prices. Certain features and templates are locked for free users, but you can easily expand with site "credits," sold in increments from $5 to $50.
If you have years of corporate presentation experience, harness your old buddy Powerpoint and meld photos with music, videos and animation, then burn it to a disc. If you have a bit of creative skill, check out the online scrapbook creativity at Shutterfly.
12. Duct Tape Wallet
Sure you could buy a duct tape wallet (yes, they do sell them), but it goes against the very DIY nature of this veritable fix-it-all. There are loads of designs floating around the Internet, so take your pick. These directions are some of the best, complete with written instructions, clear diagrams and photos of each step.
13. Reusable Grocery Bag
If scientists or the staff at The Onion have anything to do with it, global warming is here to stay. Rather than spend cash on a reusable grocery bag, join the international Morsbags movement. Dubbed "gorilla bagging," the non-profit provides easy instructions on how to turn a now useless bedsheet or curtain into a sturdy food-toting machine. If you haven't quite jumped on the bandwagon like your greenie boyfriend, consider this: A single reusable bag keeps 80 plastic ones off the streets. Think about the children...er, environment.
14. Handmade Organic Soap
My mom claims guys ooze odors. To this day I hate the word ooze but, unfortunately, I tend to agree with her. Quell the man-stank problem with organic homemade soap. Yes, it seems like more of a girly present at first, but making these home-spun versions means you can control the scent. If you happen to share a bathroom, this also means the end of liquid soap stains (not to mention you can use the bar yourself).
15. Home-Roasted Coffee
Roasting your own coffee beans at home is definitely more work than a lot of gifts on this list, but the pay-off is something you and your boyfriend can enjoy beyond Christmas. Read our post, "Craft Gourmet Coffee Beans with a Homemade Roaster," which includes a detailed blueprint, step-by-step instructions and where to snag all the materials for cheap.
This could be tacky, but if your boyfriend enjoys tinkering with gadgets himself, buy the roaster supplies and let him construct the beast. Honestly, it's pretty in-depth and not for everyone.
16. Pinecone Ornaments
A homemade Christmas ornament makes a quirky and inexpensive stocking stuffer. Pinecones have an innate yuletide vibe, but dressing one up to resemble your boyfriend (and yourself) will elicit plenty of chuckles. Some of my favorite looks include the snowboarder, quarterback, guitar player and nerd. If you get in the groove, feel free to go wild and create little pinecone facsimiles of the entire family.
17. Food Mixes in a Jar
Again, food is key to a man's soul. The only downside with these delectable jars is that the artful ingredients look so cool the stratified deliciousness may never get made. You can follow one of these holiday-themed recipes or layer dry ingredients from your boyfriend's favorites (soups, baked goods and salsas work best). Mason jars are available at most hardware and some hobby stores. Be sure to print the instructions and attach them with a gift tag.
18. Broken Skateboard Art
If your boyfriend is a current or former skate rat, he likely has a couple old decks lying around. If you're at all artistic, use them as your canvas and paint, draw, or otherwise upcycle the busted boards. If you're truly adventurous, turn them into stools, lamps or similar modern furniture. Not convinced skateboard art can be aesthetically pleasing? Check out the cool creations from Sk8lamps, Deckstool and Sevenply, all crafted from old skateboard parts.
19. Tailgate Games
Football season is nearly half over, but there's plenty of time to update your boyfriend's tailgating arsenal. If he doesn't already own a bean bag toss or horseballs set, build him one. Although they require some woodworking, homemade versions are cheaper than store-bought kits and can be built as a joint gift. When finished, hand-paint them with his favorite team's colors.
20. Christmas Gift Basket
I consider this a smorgasbord gift; it's basically an amalgam of anything on the list, along with a smattering of your squeeze's favorite DVDs, CDs, couture candy and a gift card or two. It makes a great present for a boyfriend who's out of town the day of gift-giving. Leave it on his bed or deliver it to his home for a welcome surprise when he returns.
You can make it, buy it, or simply chill what he already has. Either way, he'll be thrilled.
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