Simple and Sophisticated Handmade Gifts

Handmade gifts are a thoughtful, personalized way to celebrate an event or
show a friend that you care.

Studio 5 Contributor Cara Shimizu shares easy gifts are unique, useful, and
inexpensive, and perfect for anyone on your list!

For the Hostess

Slate Cheese Serving Tile: This is a great copy of one from Williams-
Sonoma, for a lot less money! Simply buy a large slate floor tile from a
home improvement or tile store—try to choose one that has an even
surface on one side to use for the top (serving) surface. Wash thoroughly
and let dry, then attach round felt furniture sliders to the bottom. Seal the
top by rubbing a little mineral oil into its surface.

Flower Napkin Rings: To make these, you’ll need silk flowers, fabric-
wrapped ponytail holders, and hot glue or super glue. Remove flower from
stem, then attach ponytail holder to the back of flower with a dab of glue.

For a Gardener

Rope-Wrapped Plant: Remove the plant from its pot, being careful to keep
as much soil around the roots as possible. Tie each end of a chunky rope
in a knot, then wrap the rope gently around the soil. Place in a large glass
vase or jar. Assemble this just before giving it in order to prevent the roots
from drying out. This is for a plant that will be put in the ground shortly
after it’s given.

For a Chef

Towel-Wrapped Cookbook: Wrap/fold a flat-woven dish towel around a
cookbook and tie with a pretty ribbon. For a fun touch, choose a dish
towel that matches the theme of the cookbook (such as a cupcake-printed
towel for a cupcake cookbook).

Infused Sugar: These sugars give a light, yummy flavor to lemonade or
sugar cookies. To make one, gather the following: 1) sugar, 2) a clean and
dry air-tight jar or a Mason jar with gasket, and 3) a flavoring, such as
lemon zest, lime zest, vanilla beans, or lavender flowers picked off the
stem. Allow your flavoring to dry about 8 hours on a paper towel before
assembling. To assemble, pour about a 1-inch layer of sugar in the jar,
then pour in a thin layer of flavoring. Continue layering to the top of the
jar, seal, and let it sit about 5 days before using. If flavoring with lavender,
it may be preferable to sift out the flowers before using, for an even sugar
texture. Use within 2 months.

For the Pet Owner

Pet Food Canister: This canister is a copy of one from Ballard Designs, and
it’s really appreciated by pet owners because it looks so much better than a
bag of pet food on the floor. Clean and prime a metal container, such as a
Christmas popcorn tin, then paint it white, and let paint dry. Label with
“Cat Food” or “Dog Food” in vinyl lettering.

For the Graduate/College-Bound

Money or chocolate “In an emergency”: This is a really fun gift for the
graduate or just a friend who needs some cheer. Simply print “In an
emergency” at the top of a sheet of paper, and “break glass!” at the bottom
of the paper. Attach one or two $10 bills (or whatever amount you choose),
or a large chocolate candy bar, in between the lettering, then slip into a

For anyone, any time!

Shell Flower Arrangement: Find a large shell that will “stand” with the
shell’s opening facing up. Cut some florist’s foam to fit inside the opening,
soak in water, insert into shell, then place some cut flowers into the foam.
A good online source for seashells is

Chocolate-Stuffed Raspberries: Wash raspberries and let dry. Push a
chocolate chip into each raspberry, pointed end first. This gift is super fast
and easy!

About Cara: I am a pharmacist and organist turned full time homemaker
and mother to 3 children, which I love! My philosophy is “Easy Expert
Home,” that is, easy techniques that give expert results for all things home.
I love creating inexpensive, sophisticated solutions for decorating,
organizing, entertaining, and gardening, all designed to make family life
simpler and more fun!

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