If you're like most of us, you're probably running low on birthday ideas and short on time.
While you want to get your friend or family member something special, it can be tricky finding the right gift ideas when the clock's ticking. We're here to help you find the best DIY gifts, no matter your budget or deadline.
Handmade birthday gifts carry a special meaning. They require time and effort to plan, create, and wrap instead of simply buying something from the store. Here are 23 easy DIY gift ideas for the friends and family members in your life.
1. Watercolor Jewelry Dishes
Everyone has knickknacks lying around the house. Many women have spare bracelets, earrings, and studs that need a permanent home. Give your friend a place where they can store their valuables by making watercolor jewelry dishes.
The process of making one of these colorful dishes only takes an hour or so. Purchase white plates from your local crafts or kitchen appliances store.
Apply streaks of watercolor paint to the interior and let the colors dry before wrapping the dazzling dish.
2. Photo Coasters
Where do you keep your photos? The chances are that most of them are on your computer or phone or in your scrapbook. Photo coasters serve as a thoughtful way to share cherished memories with your loved ones where everyone can see them.
You'll need four-inch tiles, nail polish remover, a bone folder tool, a foam brush, color photos, and a clear sheet of acetate to complete the gift.
After cutting the photos to the proper dimensions, brush the back of the image with nail polish remover. Place it face-side up on the tile, cover with the acetate sheet, and use the bone folder to press the acetate onto the surface.
Let the coaster dry before adding another coating to this creative DIY gift.
3. Candy Wreaths
Among the best gift ideas is anything sweet! Everyone loves candy. If you want a can't-miss gift for that special person in your life, give them a wreath made out of their favorite sweets.
Attach chocolates, caramels, or chewy treatments to a frame until you've formed one big sugary circle that they're sure to love.
This project works well on any budget. All you need is a bag of candy, adhesives, and a circular frame. Feel free to purchase a foam wreath and save money since your best friend or family member won't see it behind the candy.
4. Personalized Mugs
The best-friend DIY gift ideas often include products that people use time and again. Personalized mugs serve as a practical and creative gift that will deliver precisely that. Plus, you don't need to be an artist to impress recipients with your thoughtfulness.
One approach is to decorate a mug with pictures of your friends, like the photo coasters idea. You can also cut out construction paper with your friend's initials and tape it on the cup. Then, using several different Sharpie colors, apply dots around the letters.
When you remove the construction paper, it will reveal a crisp outline of your friend's initials.
5. Couch Pillows Gift Ideas
Do you have a knack for sewing? Why not make that special someone a personalized couch pillow? The gift idea lets you flex your creativity, showcasing your style through color, sewing technique, and choice of materials.
You'll need pillow foam, three fat quarters, and sewing equipment to start. If you want to wow your friend with your gift ideas, you can add ribbons or text to the pillow.
Make sure to pick your materials carefully because you want the recipient to use the pillow when they hit the couch.
6. Custom Picture Frames
A little woodworking knowledge can go a long way for your DIY projects. A few quick cuts and some well-placed adhesive can help you create a stunning picture frame.
As a bonus, you can put a photo of your friend or loved one inside the gift before wrapping it. Photo frames make some of the best gift ideas!
If you're not a master carpenter, that's okay. You can create industrial picture frames using mesh wire. Attach photos to the wire with clothespins and dress up the perimeter with bows and ribbons for added style points.
7. Friendship Bracelets
A friendship bracelet is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only do you create a beautiful and colorful DIY friend-gift, but you also get to keep one for yourself. These one-of-a-kind gift ideas let you show your kinship with someone without saying anything at all.
You can make an eye-catching friendship bracelet with a loom, a "c" clip, a crocheting hook, and rubber hair ties.
The key is to carefully tread the bands through the loom before closing off the end of the bracelet. If you need help, search for a YouTube tutorial on bracelet-making.
8. Watercolor Portraits
Painting a watercolor portrait of your best friend might seem intimidating. It doesn't have to be. All you need is a little patience and precision to pull off one of the best birthday gifts to show thoughtfulness and heart.
You'll need a canvas, watercolor paint, a brush, and a black and white photo of your friend. Make sure the photo is ultra-saturated so that there's no gray in the image.
Trace the outline of the photo onto the canvas. Once the design looks good, fill in the "black" sections with color and let the paint dry.
9. DIY Ornaments
Give your friends and family members a Christmas gift that they can use immediately. Handmade ornaments are fabulous gift ideas that let you show off your creativity while adding to the festive spirit.
Here are a couple of different gift ideas for making ornaments:
- Filling light bulbs with potpourri and tying the top with lace
- Painting white decorations green and red
- Adding cotton to a glass bulb and drawing a snowman's face on the exterior
- A cute little animal like oranment for those close to you that love animals
10. Candied Pecans
Have you ever been to a baseball game and suddenly walked into an enveloping saccharine cloud of candy goodness? That's the magic of candied pecans. With a quick trip to the grocery store, you can make this DIY gift idea a reality.
The ingredients include:
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 pound of pecan halves
Heat your oven to 250 degrees and mix the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Whisk the egg white until it's frothy and use it to coat the pecan halves. Apply the sugar mixture to the pecans and place the nuts on a baking sheet in the oven for one hour.
Gift-giving doesn't get much better than homemade potpourri. This creative DIY present requires a baking tray, parchment paper, flowers, orris root, essential oils, and a jar or bowl. As a bonus, your house will smell amazing after you finish.
Start by snipping the petals and stems from the flowers, choosing the ones with the best color and smell. Cover the tray with the flowers and apply essential oils such as lemon, lavender, and geranium.
Let the ingredients bake for two hours before placing the final product in a jar.
12. Personalized Cutting Boards
Do you have a friend or family member who loves to cook? Give them a cutting board with their name on it. That way, they'll think of you any time they need to prepare something in the kitchen.
The easiest way to add someone's name to a cutting board is with a wood-burner or soldering iron. Use the gun to engrave your friend's name into the wood.
If you don't have a soldering iron, apply text to the cutting board with acetate, as seen with the photo coasters example above.
13. Homemade Candles
Few gift ideas can top homemade candles that evoke the scent of home. Perhaps you and your friends grew up in a coastal city, and you want to harken back to those times. This DIY gift lets you capture the essence of the cedar, suede, and ocean in one place.
This project requires a pot, stove, wax, wick, container, skewers, coloring, and fragrances. Pour the wax into the empty vessel and allow the wax to melt over a hot plate or stovetop. Add the desired color and fragrance.
Finally, insert the wick into the center and let the wax cool, using skewers to keep the wick in place.
14. Salt and Pepper Shakers
Some of the best gifts for friends are cute and fun. If you need DIY BFF gifts, consider giving them personalized salt and pepper shakers. Ideas include adding a splash of color to existing designs, which can bring life to meals whenever your friend needs to flavor their dish.
For example, your friend might adore animals. Pick up some cat or dog salt and pepper shakers from your local store. Then paint some of the animal's features a different color than the base. This simple gift is sure to win over anyone who receives it.
15. Hanging Cork Board
Hanging corkboards offer a winning gift idea in a pinch. The combination of a corkboard, some push pins, and precious items are all you need to wow your friend or family members. The beauty of this gift idea is that you can add any products you want to it and quickly swap things in the future.
Consider applying concert tickets, photos, inspirational quotes, jewelry, and fabrics to the corkboard. The only limits are in your imagination. If you want to go above and beyond, add gemstones to the border.
16. Decorative Signs
Do you and your friends have a favorite saying? Perhaps you have an inside joke that makes you both laugh every time you mention it. Turn that saying into a decorative sign that your friend can hang in her or his living room or bedroom.
Use a durable medium such as canvas or poster board as the sign's base. These products hold up better against wear and tear than printer paper. Then, you can either print the quote and apply it to the surface or write it freehand on the canvas or poster board directly.
17. DIY Bath Bombs
Spice up your friends' birthdays with personalized bath bombs. These scintillating scents make the bathing experience exponentially more enjoyable. Plus, it's hard to go wrong when giving a great-smelling gift.
Feel free to experiment with essential oil combinations and colors. You can always give someone more than one type of bath bomb, too.
According to the National Candle Association, the most popular scents include citron blossom cassis, sandalwood, vanilla blossom, and huckleberry sugar blossom.
18. Polaroid Collages
Looking for simple and straightforward gift ideas? It doesn't get much easier than a polaroid collage. The kitschy throwback lets you create a vintage tribute to some of the best memories between you and your friend.
There's no right or wrong way to make a polaroid collage. If you want a clean and modern aesthetic, place each photo next to one another inside a frame.
If you're feeling more ambitious with your gift box, you can attach the pictures to long strings that your friend can hang up at their home.
19. Custom Jewelry
We've all made that Google search for "DIY Gifts for best friend's birthday." It's not a great feeling.
Fortunately, there's a solution: custom jewelry. You can create a gift that suits your friend's interests or style, ensuring that they get an item that they love and will wear all the time.
Bird nest necklaces are a fun and easy-to-make gift idea. Wrap a thin piece of metal wire several times in a small circle before closing it with "c" clips to form the nest. Attach birthstones or pearls to the center for some flair and attach the nest to a chain.
20. Wooden Flower Vases
Simple gift ideas can still be home runs. One gift that's sure to win over friends and family members is wooden flower vases. They provide sturdy and chic places for people to keep their flowers while enhancing their interior decor.
You can have free reign when decorating the outside of the vase. You can add string, paint, or even glitter to ensure that it receives much-needed pizazz.
If you know how to navigate a woodshop, you can even carve the vase yourself. And if you've got the kind of woodworking skills worth bragging about, you could always attempt something super intricate like what is pictured below.
21. Knitted Socks and Scarves
If you can knit, you won't have to worry about gift buying for a while. There's a never-ending demand for new and fresh clothes.
You can provide gift after gift, ranging from scarves to socks to gloves, thanks to the power of your knitting needles.
Knitted items convey a level of intimacy. Not only do they take time to make, but the recipient also wears the gift. It's a present from the heart that will keep on giving and also enhances your friend's style in the process.
22. Wine Racks
Friend gift ideas don't have to be complicated or expensive to be worthwhile. A simple wine rack might be all that your friend needs for their home or apartment.
If you want a minimalist aesthetic, cut holes into a single wooden plank that they can attach to their wall like a shelf. When your friend has a spare bottle of wine, they can store it by placing it upside down in the hole.
If you want more creative DIY projects, consider making a criss-cross wine holder. The wine rack serves as a horizontal shelf where each wine bottle gets an individual compartment. That way, your friend has a place to store their wines safely and securely.
23. "52 Reasons Why I Love You" Cards
A list of reasons why you love a person can capture their heart and mind. One creative way to do that is to place those reasons on a decade of cards. When they go through the decade, the cards reveal something new and thoughtful on each one.
First, write and print the reason why you love the person you're gifting. The text should fit approximately in a one-inch by two-inch box. Cut and apply the text to each card one at a time.
If you want to secure your gift, use a hole-puncher to perforate the deck and add some loose-leaf book rings.
The Bottom Line on Hand-Crafted Gifts for a Friend
Great gifts don't have to cost a fortune. Things as simple as jewelry or gift boxes can win over a friend, family member, or significant other.
These thoughtful gift ideas show that you've put a personalized touch into your present.
Best of all, DIY gifts are one-of-a-kind. While anyone can buy the latest action figure or video game for a birthday party, DIY presents are as unique as the recipient.
Plus, these gift ideas are an ideal way to make sure your best friends' special day stays that way.