Professional Practice

5 Budget-Friendly Gifts to Make for the Holiday Season


If anyone has a right to hand out homemade gifts this holiday season it’s art teachers. Let’s be honest, when we were young most of us partook in the “make-your-own-homemade-popsicle-stick-artwork-for-your-mom” gift. When I was a kid, I even went as far as wrapping up a candle for my mom that she had up on display in the house. You better believe she was surprised when she unwrapped that beautiful, missing candle! Sure, we can easily go buy a gift, but since teacher salaries can be tight, why not tap into those creative skills we most certainly possess? Read on to find some of our favorite Do-It-Yourself gifts that you can surprise your coworkers, friends, and family members with this holiday season.

Five DIY Gifts to Create this Season

For the Technology Lover

Homemade iPad Cover

iPad cover

DIY Tutorial here.

You can’t really beat $2.99 for an iPad cover that not only looks cool but totally fits the school theme. A lot of school districts are investing in iPads and technology for their teachers to utilize. Why not surprise your co-workers with a DIY iPad cover that is a reasonable price? And hey, while you’re at it, make yourself one too. You’ll be the hippest art teacher ever.

For the Art Lover

Homemade Wrapping Paper

wrapping paper

DIY Tutorial here.

Okay okay, so this might not be a gift, but I’ve found that half the fun of receiving a present is the wrapping itself. Presents seem extra special when the outside of the gift looks like it has been wrapped with care and had a lot of thought put into it. You can easily find butcher paper at the dollar store, and I’m betting you all have some extra crafty supplies like yarn, stamps, and paint that can be put to good use this year. So let those special people know how much you love them by making the wrapping just as awesome as the gift.

For the Food Lover

Homemade Cookies or Cocoa in a Jar

gift in a jar

DIY Tutorial here.

Friends, I just got married. If there is one thing I know it’s that mason jars are cheap! You can get 12 mason jars for less than $15 at Walmart. These gifts might just be the perfect gift for your co-workers or Principal. Then all you need to do is spend some time filling them with layers of yummy ingredients. Top it all off by decorating the outside to your liking!

For the Classic Holiday Lover

Homemade Ornaments


DIY Tutorials here and here.

I’ve made a few ornaments in my time, and I am proud to say I’ve graduated from the popsicle-glue-montage to genuine glass ornaments. Any craft store is sure to sell glass ornaments at an affordable price. This project is fun to do by yourself, but it’s even better when you gather those you love around the table and create something together.

For the Fashion Lover

Homemade Scarf


DIY Tutorial here.

I’m not going to lie. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are not my forte. I have about .23 scarves that I’ve actually knitted. For those of you who might use more of your right brain than your left, that means I have none. Total crash and burn.  But recently, I found the above tutorial and allowed myself long enough to believe that I might, in fact, be able to arm knit. So I tried. And friends, I am happy to announce I now have 1.23 scarves. It took me about an hour to finish and I was so happy with the result. Plus, I bought my two skeins of yarn on clearance! That makes this a cozy and cost-effective gift to make for anyone you care about. I spy some future snow day plans to unfold (sorry all you teachers in warm locations)!

There you have it! Five easy-peasy gifts that are sure to impress anyone that receives them!

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What successful homemade gifts have you made in the past? (post a link or picture!)

Would you rather buy or make gifts for those you love? Why?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer Borel is one of AOEU’s Adjunct Instructors and Academic Advisors and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She runs her own photography business and is passionate about students exploring the medium.

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