It’s that time of year—in fact, make that the specific day every year—that people scramble to piece together the remaining gifts that need to make it under the Christmas tree.


Though the standard chain store at the mall boasts last-minute special savings, the truth is that mass-produced gifts never feel quite as special as something thoughtful and handmade. Sites like Etsy have made it a lot easier to buy such things, but with a little determination, even at the 11th hour there are plenty of homemade Christmas gift ideas for people at all levels of crafty skills.


CD ornaments: It’s an oldie but a goody, plus it offers a slightly greener alternative to disposing of that 100-count box of blank discs many 30- and 40-somethings still have leftover from the pre-iPod days. Design options range from more complex star pieces resembling stars or ornate crosses, to something as simple as a cutout family photo or decorated paper affixed to the front and back of the disc. If you’ve been trying to figure out a way to use up broken, dated or generally unwearable costume jewelry, so long as they’re lightweight enough, these pieces can make for a great alternative to store-bought rhinestones.


Candles: Although it’s a more complex craft that requires supplies the average person doesn’t have around the house, a homemade candle always feels a little special for the person receiving it (even when it doesn’t turn out quite right). For a simple option kids can help with, try making one with a cookie cutter, and for the more ambitious, consider a scented candle — they say scent is the strongest trigger for memories, so this option is a doubly memorable gift.


Homemade Christmas cardHandmade Christmas Cards: Depending on how ambitious the design is, these can be tricky time-wise, but also less complicated than meets the eye. In many cases, gluing small parts together can be the most complicated part, with the glue drying time representing the longest single piece of the project. Make one addressed to your most special of friends and thread a ribbon through cut-out holes to create an ornament for the following years, or make a set of ten for one very special person who won’t be able to claim they didn’t have time to buy Christmas cards next year.


Infused Spirits: Thanks to the proliferation of custom cocktails at restaurants and n increased appreciation for well-made liquors, many friends and family would be delighted by spirits made with their personal taste at heart. Bourbon gets a spicy kick courtesy of cinnamon in this recipe that also calls for vanilla and apples. For something that looks as appealing in the bottle as it does in a drink, consider adding almost any fruit to vodka.


Christmas Candy: If you have stove and can make it to the grocery store, candy can be the easiest of all, and bonus points for attractive reusable containers—even when the edibles are gone, this makes it a gift that keeps on giving. Truffles always please, and anything minty brings to mind the ultimate seasonal sweet: the candy cane, which also can be the key ingredient.


Finger Puppets: The thought of another kid-made sock puppet might make parents groan, but these colorful finger puppets are complex enough to keep older kids busy and cute enough that younger kids might even put good use to them. They do, however, require a number of supplies not readily lying around the average home (think felt and wooden beads), so this is another one where braving a trip to the craft store might be in order.


Have other thoughts on homemade Christmas gift ideas? Leave us a note in the comments below.


Photo: Lauren Manning/Flickr

Homemade Christmas gift ideas
It's that time of year—in fact, make that the specific day every year—that people scramble to piece together the remaining gifts that need to make it under