Create DIY gifts with your own personal stamp

Photo by Jason Plotkin for Smart.

Holiday gift-giving doesn’t have to break the budget. If you’re feeling the financial crunch this year, consider getting crafty.

Homemade, do-it-yourself presents are inexpensive and more thoughtful than a gift card.

Jacki Mack of Gettysburg knows a bit about DIY gifting. In fact, she made a business out of it. Dawg Gone Bees Honey & Gifts features pure, raw, local and all-natural honey and honey-bee products, including candles, candies and teas.

The origin of Mack’s business can be traced back through 140 years of family beekeeping. Mack’s grandfather, Floyd Wesley, kept bees with Mack’s husband, Hal, for 25 years.

“Beekeeping is his hobby that I hijacked into a business in 2009,” Mack said. She began taking their honey to markets and eventually developed more products. Her daughter Merissa makes all of their moisturizing products, including hand and body butters and lip balms, while her mother, Marietta, contributes an assortment of all-natural jams and jellies.

“It’s not about promoting myself, but continuing what my grandfather started and giving of myself. I don’t give a gift of cash or something, but a gift of my craft, my own making,” Mack said.

Get inspired by Mack and create DIY presents with your own personal stamp this holiday season.


Go beyond fruitcake. A simple tin of homemade baked goods for your potluck host is always appreciated when breaking bread around the holidays.

Find a homemade truffle recipe online, or consider made-from-scratch cookie or bread kits. Just measure out and mix all dry ingredients in a Mason jar and attach a hand-printed recipe card with a ribbon.

If you preserve fruits or vegetables from your garden, think about adding interesting herbs and spices — such as lavender or mint — to a small batch and setting those aside for gifts. You can also make homemade labels for salsas and other pantry items to hand out.


Even the biggest Scrooge’s heart will be warmed by a photo of her loved ones.

Load up a digital picture frame for your mom. Or, if Grandma prefers physical prints, opt for a sturdy, hand-decorated photo box over a traditional album. Big box stores and chain pharmacies have a number of custom photo gift options, as do online stores such as Café Press and Shutterfly.

Think about printouts in DIY frames for best friends, close-knit office crews and in-laws.

Recipe boxes

Photo by Jason Plotkin for Smart.

You can work wonders with index card boxes and a can of textured spray paint from your local home improvement store.

If your hand gets tired of copying all your gourmet awesomeness, break out the digital camera and snap pictures of your handwritten recipes instead. You can crop them on your computer and have copies printed for a few cents each.

While you have your recipes and camera out, get busy in the kitchen, snapping photos of the finished products to glue on the backside of the recipe cards.

Felted sweater or upcycled fabric accessories

Felting old sweaters tangles and strengthens the knits for repurposing. A washing machine will transform wool, alpaca, cashmere and other animal-derived fabrics so you can cut without leaving ragged or unraveling ends that need finishing.

Thick wool fishermen sweaters can be turned into laptop and book covers. And that soft cashmere sweater you wore until it got a hole in it would make a lovely scarf. Embellish these items with lace, buttons or felted cut-outs.

Felted accessories can also be part of the packaging. After wrapping a gift, go the extra mile and add a flower pin that the recipient can put on her winter coat.

Want more holiday ideas? Visit Smart’s Holiday Countdown page.

Stacia M. Fleegal

York Daily Record multiplatform journalist. Degrees in creative writing from Lycoming College and Spalding University, and a coupla books with my name on them. Central PA native who came home after floating around for a while, but always grounded by words and the places and people I remember.

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1 Response

  1. November 29, 2012

    [...] Check out these DIY gift ideas from staffer Stacia Fleegal. The York Free Store will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at [...]

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