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Easy and Relaxing Gifts to Make for the Holidays

Homemade crafts don’t have to be complicated or expensive—they just have to come from the heart.

Holiday crafts as gifts
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Homemade holiday gifts are such treasures to give and receive. And when the making itself is relaxing and satisfying, the gifting is that much more joyful.

What makes a relaxing craft? To me, one that meets three criteria:

–It must involve materials that are pleasing to handle and work with.
–It must be easy yet require enough of my attention to let me get “lost” in it.
–I must be able to complete it in a short period of time.

Often, I’ll bake gifts for my neighbors and friends. Last year, I made loaves of chocolate-y, decadent babka for my friends. I loved baking them, but just as much, I loved packing them up for gifting—wrapping each loaf in cellophane and tying it with a cheerful ribbon. Now that was relaxing.

So this year, I’m thinking about easy, low-stress gift ideas that will satisfy my desire to stay calm and joy-filled throughout the holiday season. Here are some possibilities I’m playing with.

Mason Jar Kits
A lidded Mason jar (or Ball jar, or any jar!) is a gift-maker’s blank canvas, ready to decorate with glued-on autumn leaves, small seashells, cloth or paint. But it’s also a terrific vessel to fill with the makings of a DIY moment for the recipient of your gift. Line up a row of clean, dry jars and fill them with layered, pre-measured ingredients for granola, brownies, soup, potpourri or even salad dressing (minus the liquid). Attach a card with instructions on how to finish and enjoy, and know that your loved one will have the gift of a relaxing activity of their own.

Dot Painting
A smooth stone, a tile or a found piece of wood can be your launch pad for a relaxing and beautiful piece of art your friends and family will love to receive. Pick up some paints in your favorite colors, and purchase a set of “dotting tools” from a craft store (you can get a good set for $10 or even less). Paint a solid color as a backdrop and then use the tools to make patterns—stars, circles, swirls, smaller dots inside larger ones or anything your imagination illuminates for you.

String Art
Sometimes, the most “relaxing” activity is the one that gives us the chance to smack something with a hammer. String art is an easy way to scratch that itch. A piece of wood, a pile of flat-topped nails and some colorful cross-stitch floss or other thin yarn are all that’s needed for this pleasing craft. 

Tap your nails into the wood just so they’re secure—you can outline your gift recipient’s initial, or make a heart like this sweet example. Then tap nails around the border of your wood, and start looping your string or yarn around each nail, either all in one color, or in a multi-colored pattern of your choosing. Before long, you’ll see your shape in the middle of a colorful background that you got to chill out while making. 

What are some relaxing crafts you’re making as holiday gifts this year?

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