There always seems to be a gift-giving occasion right around the corner…especially birthdays. We all want to recognize and celebrate our friends and family, but it can be tough to keep up with everyone’s special day.
Financially, we each have limits, and sooner or later, everyone runs out of ideas for gift-buying and resorts to gift certificates. It’s hard to muster excitement over unwrapping a $20 card for Amazon.com!
Don’t settle for store-bought presents when you can make cute DIY birthday gifts for friends and family that are ridiculously affordable and are “one-of-a-kind” from your heart. Making your gifts yourself shows how special the receiver is because you’ve invested your time and energy into creating something just for them.
Truly, something homemade is always the best. And there’s always something you can make whether you are a talented artist, baker, crafter, or none of the above.
No need to return to the macaroni frames of your youth either – we have 27 great options at a range of skill levels.
Make something unique for someone unique. They’ll appreciate the gesture and know how much you care.
1. “Lifesaver” in a Jar
Image from Here Comes the Sun
This is an easy starter. You need a mason jar, a bag of lifesavers, and either construction paper and some markers, or a computer and printer.
Fill your mason jar with lifesavers.Then take the construction paper and markers and let your friend know just how much they mean to you.
They are your “lifesaver!” Write a little note to affix to the outside of the jar. Check out Here Comes the Sun for more fun ideas like this!
2. Coffee Bean Soap
Image via Living Well Spending Less
Another great tutorial from Living Well Spending Less – Coffee Bean Soap. This is perfect for for your coffee-loving friend, or even when you need a little extra shot of caffeine for your day! Unlike traditional homemade soap, this doesn’t require you to work with lye, which is a dangerous chemical.
All you need is a 1 pound package of melt-and-pour soap base, ground coffee beans, and a fragrance oil of your choice to add just a little extra scent. (Sometimes, soap base can wash out the smell of whatever else you are adding, so this is why you may want the extra oil.) But go check it out here.
3. Homemade Bath Products
Image via Martha Stewart
Do you have a friend with any sort of allergies? When you have a friend with specific requirements for what she (or he) can have in her bath products, consider making some for your friend!
All it takes are some Epsom salts, sea salts, baking soda, and possibly a little essential oil. Learn how with the video at Martha Stewart.
4. A Potted Plant With a Special Note
Image via Stuffed Suitcase
Next time you want to gift some fruits to your friend, don’t just use Sherri’s Berries, or 1-800-Pro-Flowers (although, they’re great too, in a pinch). Try gifting them with something they can nurture and appreciate completely for themselves!
This is another really easy DIY that shows a little bit of thoughtfulness for not too much trouble. Just pick up a strawberry plant (or other type of berry if you desire), and get the free printable!
5. Funky Coasters
Image via Funky Junk Interiors
These may look a little complicated at first glance, but they only require a little bit of time. You just need some strips of wood (or old rulers), a saw, a screw gun, some old washers, and of course, a few screws.
You may also require a saw if you don’t have the proper sized bits of wood lying around your house. Check out the full tutorial on how to make the funkiest coasters around.
6. Sweet Sayings
Image via The Dating Divas
Say something more with these fun printables and your friend’s favorite candy! Let them know just how much you “Love her to pieces!” with a pack of Reese’s Pieces. Check out The Dating Divas for more ideas and the printable tags.
7. Fishtail Loom Bracelet
Image from I Should Be Mopping the Floor
If you are feeling particularly ambitious, or if your friend especially loves bright colors, this fishtail loom bracelet is a great way to go! All you need are a bunch of colored rubber hair ties, a crocheting hook, a single loom, one little “c” clip and a few minutes with the tutorial, and you’ll have a wonderful new friendship bracelet!
8. Paperclip Earrings
Image via Sunny Vanilla
These are great for your independently-fashioned friend. All you need are some earring clips, paper clips, a quick-drying clear glue, and embroidery floss to knock these out! See how to make them happen here.
9. The Chocolate Filled Tumbler
Image via The Girl Who Ate Everything
This is like two presents in one! It’s pretty straightforward, just like the Lifesaver Jar.
Just fill up a tumbler with their favorite chocolates and add that sweet note, and then voila! Visit The Girl Who Ate Everything to get the exact printable.
10. Buckets of Fun
Image via Craftiness Is Not Optional
Similar to our Tumbler of Chocolate, just fill up on your friend’s favorite candy and check out a wide variety of printables here.
11. Otter Pop Gift
Image via Somewhat Simple
Slightly less birthday-centered, but still a great way to let someone know you care. This just requires an old can, a bunch of Otter Pops, probably some glue, and this fun printable. Check out Somewhat Simple, for the full how-to.
12. Diet Coke Kit
Image via Pink Peppermint Design
For your carbonated, caffeine-addicted friend, let us present this great present of the Diet Coke Kit! You just need a little gable box (or an old 6-pack carrier box), the associated printables, and of course, plenty of Diet Coke. This site has everything you need for this cute idea.
13. Funfetti Birthday Cake Balls
Image via Salt and Pepper Moms
This project is a little bit more involved, but the end result is definitely worth it. These tasty creations require cake mix, funfetti frosting, vanilla candy coating, and all the ingredients required to actually make the cake mix (as per its original directions). Salt and Pepper Moms has the full tutorial for making these birthday cake pops!
14. Birthday Manicure Kit
Image via Blooming Homestead
For the lady (or fella!) who needs some extra pampering on their special day, try throwing together this low-cost gem. The full instructions for making the little box, or just the printable are available from here. Suggested items: travel size manicure set, mini nail polish, and other miscellaneous nail treatment items.
15. Printed Candles
Image via The 36th Avenue
This is perfect for the literary-loving, candle aficionado in your life. All you need is some ink, a few candles of your choosing, a stamp, and you are set to go! This comes from The 36th Avenue.
16. Picture Perfect Pearls
Image via My DIY Envy
A unique way to present a classic gift to any woman. This DIY gift idea doesn’t really require much instruction. Make the quote however you want, frame it, and present it with the pearls.
17. Customizable Photo Holder
Image via Shanty-2-Chic
For your friend who still prints out her (or his!) photos, this little block of beauty would be perfect. This is a pretty cheap option, especially because you likely already have a lot of the needed materials out in your garage.
You’ll need a wooden block, a drill, ornament hooks, pliers, and hot glue. To make yours just like this, visit here for the full tutorial.
18. Jar of Nothing
Image via Daisy Chain Online
For your comedy-loving friend, consider the jar of nothing. I have actually done this before. I worked as a server and a man (jokingly) asked for a “diet water”, and wouldn’t give me a real drink order.
So I brought him back an empty cup and then walked away to take care of my other tables. It was a well-received joke, and he and his friend even tipped well.
So when your friend says not to get him (or her) anything, give them exactly what they asked for! Check out Daisy Chain Online to see an example.
19. Tea Cup Succulent
Image via Your Homebased Mom
The Tea Cup Succulent comes from Your Homebased Mom. This one is simple and ideal for the tea-drinking, plant-lover in your life.
Just pick up a succulent at any grocery store, find an old tea cup, some potting soil, a few pebbles for the bottom of the cup (to provide drainage), and you have a cute and unique gift.
20. Hanging Bud Vase Holder
Image via Andrea’s Notebook
The hanging bud vase holder is a new way to present the classic and timeless gift of flowers to your friend. You will need three metal hoops (pictured 12”, 11”, & 10”), four 1” wooden beads, leather lace, three 4” plastic storage tubes, double sided tape, and scissors. Check out the full details on completing this fun project.
21. On The Go Reading Pillow
Image via Polka Dot Chair
This is quite possibly the greatest idea I have ever seen in the history of DIY projects! I may be biased because reading is, and has always been, one of my favorite activities.
22. Candy Quarter Roll
Image via Buzzfeed
This is good for anyone who relies on coin-operated laundry machines. These would also be handy if you live somewhere that deals with a ton of toll roads.
Just take a roll of quarters and wrap it up just like a piece of candy. This quick-and-easy gift is courtesy of Buzzfeed.
23. Personalized Cutting Boards
Image via Design Mom
This is another project for the more advanced (or ambitious!) DIYer. You’ll need a cutting board, an etching tool, and inspiration for whatever word, design, or symbol you’d like to do.
Check out Design Mom for the complete guide to making a personalized cutting board for the aspiring chef in your life.
24. Vintage Ribbon Camera Strap
Image via The House That Lars Built
Your photo taking friend will love this. It’s a little bit more difficult to make, but will keep her looking cute the whole time she’s out on a shoot. Visit here for full instructions.
25. Dinosaur iPhone Tripod Stand
Image via Eat Sleep Make
This is a fun gift for the dinosaur-lover in your life. All you need for this is a dollar store dino, a suction cup, caulking and a paint brush. Eat Sleep Make has provided the inspiration for this fun little stand.
26. “Latte” Fun
Image via Our Thrifty Ideas
This is great for your coffee-obsessed friend (if the coffee soap didn’t work out too well). This is a fun, free little printable via Our Thrifty Ideas.
This gift is super quick and easy, perfect for when you’re in a fix as to what to get. Or you totally forgot and have fifteen minutes before you have to get to that party. Just print out the free printable, grab some tape, and slap on a gift card.
27. Orange You Glad It’s Your Birthday
Image via Artsy Fartsy Mama
This comes with a free printable but is another quick, easy idea…especially for a last minute gift. This is just a fun way to combine lots of different orange-themed items: a tumbler and fill it with Reese’s, nail polish, gum, etc. The possibilities are endless. This one comes from Artsy Fartsy Mama.
So next time you need gift ideas, turn to your creativity rather than running to the store. Most of these take less time than a trip to the mall, and cost less as well – which lets you give more birthday gifts! Remember, with gifts, it’s always the thought that really matters.