A Homemade Christmas: Gifts Made by Hand, Made with Love

By Rita Chavez

Christmas is a season of giving, a time when many are searching for gifts to share with their loved ones.  My husband and I love to make homemade gifts for our friends and family at Christmas, most especially for our daughters.  From handmade bonnets to wooden trains, the love and time we spend into making each gift brings us joy, and we can tailor each gift to suit our budget and our giftees’ preferences.   With the holidays fast approaching, I would love to share some of my favorite, easy and customizable homemade gift ideas that would be sure to bring a smile to your children’s faces. 

Homemade Stick Horse

What You’ll Need-

One adult sized tube sock (I love using fuzzy house socks!)

Stuffing (you can purchase a small bag OR you can use the stuffing from an extra bed pillow)

One small sheet of felt (you can find sheets in any craft store near the scrap book aisle)

One wooden dowel (1 inch diameter) about 2.5-3 feet long (Home Depot or Lowes can cut dowels to size for you at no extra charge!)


45-50 7 inch strips of Chunky yarn

A Yarn needle

Two buttons

Sewing needle and thread

Tacky Glue

 How to Make It-

Cut two small triangles (about tortilla chip size) out of the felt for the ears, and set aside.  Fill your sock as much as you can with the stuffing until it is firm and holds its shape well; the “nose” of the horse is going to be the toe of the sock, and the “neck” is going to be the opening.  Thread a strip of chunky yarn onto your knitting needle.  Starting at the heel of your sock, thread the yarn into the sock and pull the needle back out until the yarn is even on both sides.  Double knot both ends and this is the start of your mane! For a full bushy mane, make three rows of yarn going from the heel all the way to the opening of the sock (or wherever you prefer to stop the mane).  Thread, sew in, and knot each strip of yarn until your mane is complete.  This will be the most time consuming part of your project, but after this is a breeze.  Once your mane is done, use your sewing needle and thread to hand stitch the felt ears on each side of the heel of the sock.  Next, stitch on your buttons for eyes (I like to eyeball this to see what looks best).  Then, stick your dowel into the sock, making sure it goes through the middle of the stuffing, and push it all the way until it almost reaches the heel of the sock.  Once your dowel is in completely, apply some glue about an inch inside of the sock opening about an inch or two from the rim, close the sock around the dowel, and hold pressure for about five minutes to let the glue stick.  Last, take your twine and tightly wrap it around the glued down sock a few times, then double knot.  Cut off the excess twine, and your stick horse is complete!  This would be a great gift idea for children who love pretend play and really would get them moving around and using their imagination!

Hand-painted Peg Dolls:


What You’ll Need-

Wooden peg dolls (many craft stores carry different sizes)

Acrylic paint, puff paint, Ultra Fine tip Sharpie markers

Fine detail paint brushes

ModPodge gloss

How to Make It-

Using a pencil, roughly draw onto the peg doll how you want it to be decorated, and then paint!  Sharpies work best to draw in faces, puff paint is great for adding texture and fun details, and the acrylic paint is great for larger sections of color on the dolls.  You can be as detailed or as simple as you would like with your designs, or be as creative as painting green faces or even your favorite characters!  Once the paint on your doll is completely dry, seal it with the ModPodge. Create as many peg dolls as you like, you can make family sets, friend sets, and can even make them to resemble your own family or friends!  Peg dolls would make a great stocking stuffer, and a very travel friendly gift since they are compact.


Glitter Bottles:

What You’ll Need-

Empty plastic water bottles with caps (I really like the Voss water bottles since the labels are easy to peel and they have a nice shape).

Glitter (fine and large)

Food Coloring

Super glue

Warm Water

Glitter Glue

 How to Make It-

Fill your water bottle about ¾ full with warm water.  For every cup of warm water in your bottle, add about 1-2 tablespoons of glitter glue into the bottle.  Next, pour your glitter into the bottle until it is about ¾ inch thick settled at the bottom of the bottle, then add a few drops of food coloring.  Once all your ingredients are in, apply super glue to the threads on the inside of the cap, then screw it onto the bottle tightly to seal it permanently, and shake to mix it all up.  You can make glitter bottles each with a different color to make a rainbow set, or you can mix a few glitter colors in one bottle.  Glitter bottles would be a great gift for little ones who are learning to engage in sensory play, and are also very inexpensive to make!


Rita is an Army wife of ten years and a mom to two little girls.  She graduated from University of Hawaii: West Oahu in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Public Administration, but has a passion for helping animals and most recently worked for the oldest no-kill animal shelter in San Antonio, TX.  As a recent military move led her family to bid goodbye to San Antonio, she now volunteers with The Carrying On Project in Fort Drum, NY, where she shares her love and knowledge of babywearing with other caregivers.  When she is not volunteering, Rita enjoys taking photos of her daughters and dogs, and her hobbies include cooking and crafting.

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