By Jennifer Ballot

We’re all feeling strapped for cash this holiday season, and while anyone can go out to Target or Walmart and grab last minute bargains off the shelves, people really appreciate the personal touch and care that go into making a handmade gift.  Even though we’re three weeks past Black Friday, there are tons of things you can make at home for memorable holiday gift-giving:

*ETCHED DRINKING GLASSES:  Every year, our family used to go through tons of drinking glasses when we’d get together.  So, one year I made an entire set of personalized drinking glasses for my family. I purchased pint tumblers from Ikea, got some glass etching cream from my local crafts store, rounded up some alphabet stickers and punched out cute shapes onto adhesive-backed paper.  One hour later, I had 12 one-of-a-kind drinking glasses.

*CHUNKY KNIT SCARVES: If you’re a knitter, then you can whip up some beautiful scarves in no time at all.  The key is to go for bulkier weight yarns and high-number needles.  You’ll only need one ball of yarn for a simple scarf, so go ahead and splurge on some scrumptious yarn. ( is a great resource for finding yarn and knitting patterns.

*APPLIQUED T-SHIRTS: You can spruce up plain t-shirts with a little bit of whimsical appliqué. Anthropologie looks at Old Navy prices!  Choose t-shirts in bright colors, scour your local fabric store for some cute cotton fabrics. (If you don’t feel like taking the curlers out of your hair, shop for fabrics in the comfort of your housecoat—Repro Depot and (  and Purl Soho ( are two of the best.) You’ll also want to pick up some supplies, like fusible web, embroidery floss, etc.  Then, just cut out a patch of your fabric in any shape that you choose and follow the fusible web instructions for attaching the fabric to the t-shirt.  If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can sew a quick zig-zag or satin stitch in a contrasting color around the patch to make it really pop.

*TEACUP CANDLES: Here’s a great way to give new life to a family heirloom.  Take your grandmother’s vintage teacups and saucers—garage-sale finds will also do—and fill with melted soy wax.  Add a wick and the fragrance of your choice, and voila!, a classy gift in less time than it takes for the ice to melt in your highball! Candlemaking supplies are at your local crafting store.

*MARBLE MAGNETS: Don’t throw out those thumbnail photo proof sheets that came with your Snapfish order! Cut them out—or cut out small pictures from magazines, catalogs, old books, wrapping paper, last year’s Chippendale’s calendar, etc…  Get a bag of flat-bottomed clear glass marbles (find them in the floral department at most craft stores—and while you’re there, pick up some heavy-duty round magnets and a tube of clear silicone caulk/adhesive). Dab a little caulk onto the marble, affix your picture, then a little more goop to stick the magnet to the back of the picture.  Bada-bing, bada-boom, your shopping list just got shorter.

Jennifer Ballot is co-owner of The Craft Lounge ( in Leonia, NJ (suburb of NYC), a unique creative space where shoppers can purchase hip, handmade goods or learn how to do everything from knitting and crochet to soap and candle making. She’s our go-to person for craft projects that would charm recipients, rather than creep them out. (Yes, we’re talking to YOU, acrylic-yarn-with-doll’s-head-toilet-paper-roll-cozy-maker. )