My DIY Rules To Live By & Totally Useless DIY Gift Ideas

I’m very frugal, very crafty, and love to make something myself instead of spending money on it if I can. I also love to make things for people. As I’ve been a hardcore DIYer/crafter for a good 5 or 6 years (or you know, since birth, since I basically came out of the womb with art supplies in my hands) I’ve learned the dos and don’ts of DIY gifting, and mos DIY in general.

Before I get into the Totally Useless Gifts, I’m gonna lay down a few rules I set for myself when it comes to handmade gifting, that I think a lot of overly eager people could benefit from.

  1. Be patient. Don’t get in a big hurry! Take your time, make sure it’s QUALITY work. When I was helping my Papaw build my house, he would always say, “Now don’t get in such a big hurry.. Take your time and do it right. You wear yourself out doing it real quick and it doesn’t look as good.” I apply this to everything, because there it is so true! It is especially true with tedious projects or gifts. You don’t want to hand something over to someone looking like you didn’t put any effort into it because well, you didn’t.
  2. Don’t half-ass it. Ever. If you’re making something for the first time and the deadline (aka the holiday, birthday, baby/wedding shower, etc) is within a couple of days, get the heck on it. If it turns out a little wonky, you have time to either buy more supplies, take it apart/edit it or make another one in better shape. And if it turns out terribly, you have time to make an entirely new one, which leads me to…
  3. Have a backup plan. I don’t always go by this one because I try to stick with rules 1 and 2 (I feel like Gibbs.. rules to live by.. NCIS fans? Anyone?) and because.. I can kind of procrastinate or either can’t decide on what to make/what I like better. But it’s very handy to have a back up plan, not only in the crafting world, for obvious reasons.
  4. If you have the gut feeling it will sit around collecting dust, don’t make it. I’ve made my fair share of gifts that I thought were totally awesome that my friends/family kind of didn’t want. It’s funny now because they probably don’t even remember them whatsoever but I remember feeling really dumb and being able to notice the “oh, you got me this?” expression. Just because you think it’s really cool, it doesn’t mean everyone is gonna think it’s cool. If it’s just some neat little guy like a crocheted monogram key chain or a tiny plush of their favorite character/animal/whatever, then that’s alright of course, but don’t let that be your only gift.
  5. Don’t be so eager to point out the flaws! You know, you get nervous about whether or not they’ll like it so you feel you should admit that you know some things are wrong with it and then you point them out, and then they check those places on it out and realize they probably would not have even noticed it at all, unless they’re ridiculously observant. If you feel a little self-conscious about a certain part of it, just be really casual about it and laugh it off a little bit, saying something like, “it might be a little wonky in a couple of places!” that way you aren’t pointing them out, but you still want to seem modest about it.

So there you have it. Those are the 5 most important things I keep in mind when gifting something I’ve made myself. 🙂 Now, onto the Totally Useless Gifts!

Before anyone gets offended… I’m sorry if you see this and discover I’ve used a photo that you took of one of your own projects. This is purely a list of opinion and I’m sure some people would really like these gifts.

A couple of these I have not personally made for anyone, I just think they seem a little ridiculous to give to someone, but a lot of these I’ve made myself and have discovered I completely wasted my time! Here we go.

Printable Love Coupon Book #freeprintable on ...such a great idea for Valentines!

Coupon books. Most coupon books have something to do with lovable gestures or sexy time. The coupons themselves are freaking adorable and it’s a shame that they would probably get thrown in a drawer and forgotten about! That’s what has happened for me. I made a cute coupon book once, with sweet things like breakfast in bed, epic back rub, dinner of your choice, free car wash, etc. I quickly realized these were things I did on the regular, and therefore this was not a special gift whatsoever. Therefore, it got stuck in a drawer and was forgotten about.

Certain coupon books, however, can be really adorable and fun! Like this V-Day coupon book for kids from mom or this Daddy Time coupon book. Both of these are totally thoughtful and endearing, even!

PaperVine: 52 Reasons I Love You Cards Tutorial You've heard about the '52 reasons I love you book' (completed on a deck of cards) ... This one is done with the alphabet so it's only ½ has many, but they're alphabetized - Gotta do this for Valentine's Day Reasons "I love you" can

Any kind of display/list of reasons you love someone. Also tried this one. It takes a lot of time and effort to make something this sweet, thoughtful and emotional, only to watch your partner awkwardly read the reasons in front of you (which if you’ve listed 52 reasons on a deck of cards you will now never play with, would take forever) and after the 8th reason or so, the aww‘s and this is so sweet!‘s will become redundant. SO unless the guy/girl you’re dating is sensitive and emotional enough to appreciate this for longer than the time it takes to read (I would die if Brian made me something like this, revisiting it frequently, crying every single time – pregnant or not!), I wouldn’t suggest making such a big effort! Instead, fill the entire inside of a card with sweet things! No one throws away cards and when you rediscover a card from a couple of years ago, it’s always fun and interesting to read through. 🙂 Picture 1 credited on image | Picture 2 credit | Picture 3 credit

November 2012 043

Coasters. I thought about giving pretty scrapbook Mod Podge coasters as a gift once after I made some pretty ones of my own, and then I realized if someone gave me that as a gift I’d feel like they really couldn’t think of anything else to give me and had no idea what kind of person I was/what my interests were. So unless your coasters are super personalized and have meaning, I wouldn’t bother!
Picture credit


Homemade soap. Unless this is only PART of your gift and you know the person’s favorite scents and know they don’t have sensitive skin (like me!), I can promise you. If you give someone homemade soap for Christmas, a birthday, basically any holiday or any celebration, unless they specifically asked for it, no matter how cute you wrapped it…. no one wants a gift box full of soap you made for Christmas. Sorry. 😦 I do however love the idea of making my own soap since it seems like a rewarding project, and also because I do have sensitive skin and I’d know exactly what is going into it!Picture credit Martha Stewart

So there are some useless diy gifts for you to think about. Hopefully I wasn’t too harsh about it but I opened a few minds about which gift would be worth making! If you really want to make one of those things and think no one would like/appreciate it, make it for yourself. 🙂 It’s much more enjoyable and could be slightly less painful or embarrassing!

Anyone want to suggest some bad handmade gift ideas? Experiences? Feel free!



2 thoughts on “My DIY Rules To Live By & Totally Useless DIY Gift Ideas

  1. Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would value your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

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