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December is here, meaning gift-giving season is right around the corner. Heading into the holidays can be stressful as we struggle to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones. But if you have the time, homemade gifts can be a thoughtful alternative to buying presents from the store. 
“I love DIY gift-giving because there is so much time, skill and heart that goes into it,” says Allison Kelley, a Madison crafter.
Kelley’s day job is in marketing, but she spends much of her free time crafting. Her Instagram, @heyallie.xo, which has accumulated more than 5,000 followers, features her crafting projects and thrifting endeavors. She’s also @heyallie.xo on TikTok, where one of her crafting projects went viral with more than 11 million views.
If you’ve ever considered DIY holiday gifts, this may be your year. Kelley has a few ideas to get you started.
Festive wreath
For a decoration with an upcycled twist, create a wreath using thrifted ornaments. Start with a styrofoam wreath form. Wrap it with tinsel garland then use a hot glue gun to secure the ornaments around the circumference. “It’s a labor of love,” Kelley says, “but it turned out beautiful!”
This DIY ornament wreath starts with silver tinsel garland, and is decorated with thrifted holiday ornaments (Photo by Allison Kelley)
“Atomic poms” earrings
“I’ve participated in a couple of Dane Handmade craft fairs selling my pom pom earrings that I make from vintage and thrifted yarns,” Kelley says. “I lovingly call them “atomic poms.”
You can make your own pom poms with thrifted yarn like Kelley does, or use pre-made pom poms. Feed an eye pin through the pom-pom and attach it to earring hardware using pliers. Try different color combinations or stacking multiple pom poms. 
Kelley uses thrifted and vintage yarn for her “atomic poms”. (Photo by Allison Kelley)
Photo coasters
As a useful way to display meaningful photos, try these customizable coasters. Start by cutting photos into 4-inch squares and using a layer of Mod Podge to attach them to 4.25-inch white square tiles (from the hardware store). Add a layer on top of the photo, then one more once it’s dry. You can also add a layer of clear spray paint for extra durability. Attach a 4-inch cork square with peel-and-stick adhesive (you can find these on Amazon) to the back. Kelley says she usually makes these in sets of four as gifts.
Using a few layers of Mod Podge, cork squares and white tiles, you can make your own photo coasters. (Photo by Allison Kelley)
Up-cycled wool mittens
Kelley says she loves gifting mittens she makes from thrifted wool sweaters. In her college apartment, she tried this craft for the first time and made a pair for everyone she knew. While this one may take a little more time — and some sewing skills — you can find plenty of patterns online with sizing guides and other helpful tips.
Mittens made from thrifted wool sweaters make great holiday gifts. (Photo by Allison Kelley)
Kelley says giving DIY gifts is rewarding, especially when they are things her friends and family can use and love. There are also plenty of resources and sources of motivation online and in the area from other makers trying new things. Here are a few more projects from local crafters to try.
Salvaged wood tree
If you don’t have room for a real tree, make a small wooden tree like this display from Hatch Art House.

A post shared by Tammy Schreiter (@hazelgeneralstore)

Boho-inspired ornaments
Try creating these wooden star ornaments — or purchase a custom one from local maker Anne Cops — for a more sophisticated look this holiday season.

A post shared by Anne | Maker & DIY (@annecops)

Hand-carved stamps
These stamps make excellent wall accents, tea towel designs or gift wrapping decoration. Make one yourself, or find this at Good Day Shop:

A post shared by Good Day Shop (@gooddayshop__)

“It’s one thing to have a gift delivered to your house via Amazon,” Kelley says, “It’s another to spend time hand making it for a loved one.”
For more DIY and thrifting inspiration, connect with Kelley at or @heyallie.xo on Instagram and TikTok.
Celia Hiorns is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

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