Let's face it: Most of the time, handmade gifts are the kind of time-consuming, utterly thoughtful items that you have every intention of making and....never quite get around to.
But these seven projects are a little different: They're easy enough to make last minute, with (potentially) less than an hour of time spent.
As an added bonus, they highlight the use of materials you probably already have at home (or can get at a thrift store on the cheap) so they're also good for your wallet and your reuse goals.DON'T MISS: Green Gift Guide 2011: The DIY'er
1. Painted China
If you're handy with a brush then the painting part of this project won't take long (and if you're not, try using inspirational words or a simple geometric pattern instead), but you will need to make sure you don't leave this project for the last minute: While the painting may not take long, the paint needs to dry for 24 hours before its baked in the oven to make the resulting project dishwasher safe.
2. Seed Bombs
Help your friends and family spread a love of gardening with handmade seed bombs from Craftster.
The materials aren't complicated -- you just need newspaper, water, and seeds, plus a mold if you want to make a certain shape -- and in the end, you can hand over a bag of tiny seed bombs that will grow a patch of wildflowers wherever they're dropped.
3. Rose Petal Frame
This rose petal frame will be easier to make with silk rose petals -- real ones, though gorgeous, are most likely too delicate -- but if you have a handful leftover from your wedding or your, ahem, romantic Valentine's Day celebration, then this is a simple way to dress up a plain frame.
The silk rose at the bottom adds visual interest and -- if you're out of rose petals -- you could make a similar version using scalloped paper.
4. Repurposed Calendar Cards
For this brilliant calendar reuse project, a Craftster user cut up a dollar-store calendar to keep her material investment low -- but you could also use last year's wall calendar or an oversized planner for a similar result.
The artist took the index images from the back of the calendar and attached them to plain white cards, matting them with coordinating colors, and then turned the full-size interior photos into envelopes.
While the kittens are a crowd-pleasing choice, this would also work with calendars that highlight famous works of art, vintage photography, or your favorite movie characters.
5. Ruffle Fabric Necklaces
You don't have to be a queen of the sewing machine to turn out this ruffled fabric scrap necklace in a hurry: All you need is a spare piece of cloth (artist Jessica Fediw made hers from a piece that was 20 by 3 inches but you can use one that's shorter or longer, or you can combine several different patterns).
Sew it in half longways, and then slide it onto a necklace chain -- if you didn't have time to stop at the craft store, a spare chain from your jewelry box will do the trick. Compress the fabric to get the bunched-up look and then watch as your most stylish friends fawn all over your handiwork.
6. Beauty Treatments
Beauty treatments -- think masks, scrubs, lip gloss -- are the kind of go-to gift that you can give to everyone from the neighbor who waters your plants to your favorite niece.
And the possibilities for making them are just about endless, so you can tailor the flavors, scents, and products to each recipient. Start with these 10 Do-It-Yourself Beauty Treatments for Maximum Glam (many of which you can make with items you have in your pantry -- sugar, fruits and vegetables, honey) and then get creative by inventing your own recipes. Wrap them up in a pretty, airtight jar or bottle with a ribbon.
Making a clock doesn't take very long -- at least not if you follow this tutorial from New York Clocks owner Andria Alefhi -- but you will need to plan ahead enough to have the clock mechanisms on hand (Alefhi orders them online, but you could also take apart a clock you have at home in a pinch).
The quick-and-easy part is finding a background: Use an old postcard, a favorite photo, a black-and-white magazine spread, a newspaper-covered piece of cardboard, or any other sturdy item -- like this empty storage tin.