'Tis the season for togetherness, and jewelry making allows each individual a little space to do their own thing while nurturing warm'n'fuzzy feelings in a group. So gather round the table with some materials and refreshments and pa-rum-pa-pum-pum. The gifts will follow.
The easiest jewelry technique is beading. Just get some organic cotton thread and recycled glass beads and you're in business. Long, single-strand bead necklaces are so easy a toddler can make them (but with big, noncomestible beads, please), and they've been in style since the 1920s.
If you want to branch out into earrings, bracelets and chokers, you'll need the right tools and some basic knowledge. For more sophisticated accessories, try mixing up your beaded creations with found objects, broken jewelry or even seeds and feathers. Craftbits is full of instructions and patterns for turning broken or found jewelry into your own signature bling, as is Jewelry-Making.com and of course, Martha Stewart.
Men can get in on the action, too. Every surfer, beach bum and college activist needs his hand-woven hemp jewelry. Hemp can be bought at most craft stores, or online from Hemp Sisters or Global Hemp Store. So make your list, check it twice, and remember, hand-made is always nice, so check out the following:
More holiday DIY projects:
* Ornaments with a surprise inside: craft this new take on the traditional "advent" calendar for Christmas or Hanukkah!
* An easy-to-make,elegant (and economical) green wreath.
* Wrap your jewelry and other gifts in recycled, hand-decorated paper.
* Another group activity: origami gifts for your loved ones this holiday season.
Story by Rachel Brown. This article originally appeared in Plenty in December 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.