10 Awesome Handmade Gifts

Holy cow, December is upon us, and I am slacking in the Holiday department. I better get off my tush and start making my handmade gifts for this year. If I am this far behind in my holiday gifting, I thought you may need a hand. I have rounded up a few of my favorite DIY gift projects that we have made in the last few years. Happy crafting!

Kristen’s Awesome List of Handmade Gifts


Maple and Oak Cutting Boards

Maple & Oak DIY Cutting Boards

These boards are a fab gift for the foodie or the entertainer. You can make them a traditional shape, or simple & modern. This gift also goes beyond the holidays, and is great for a house warming. Check out the how to here.


Cutting Board Oil/Wax

Cutting Board Oil and Wax

While you’re making your cutting board, make up a batch of Cutting Board Oil/Wax and a pretty tag, and give it along with the cutting board. This oil/wax is the perfect wood conditioner for all your wooden items. From Grandmas vintage salad bowl, to your every day wooden spoons. See the how to here.


House Shaped Candle Holder

House Shaped Candle Holder

This makes for a perfect housewarming or hostess gift. Its a small gift that you can give in addition to a bottle of wine, or just a little something for a teacher or coworker. Check out the how to here.


Beer Can Carrier & Custom Pint Glasses


This is the gift for the beer lover in your life. You know you have one. Pair it with their fave beer, or better yet some new microbrews. Check out the how to here.


Wood & Nail Bottle Opener

DIY Wood and Nail Bottle Opener

This is another good man gift. Its also a small enough that it can slip easily in a stocking, or pairs well with a six pack at a holiday party. Check out the how to here.


Chevron Cheese Board

Chevron Cheese Board

Another awesome board, but this time just for cheese. This chevron cheese board is perfect for setting up a cheese tray. You can arrange one or multiple boards along the center of a table and let your inner foodie out. This is the perfect gift for the entertainer in your life. Pair with a nice cheese knife, and a bottle of wine, and expect to be invited over for the next party. View the how to here.


Custom Door Mat

Custom Door Mat

A custom door mat is a great for the newlyweds, or a first time homeowner.  Heck, its even a great gift for the in-laws. For a classic look, use a monogram, or for the hipster in your life consider a cheeky saying. Check out the tutorial here.


Custom Mailbox

Custom Mailbox

A custom mailbox is another great home owner gift. You can personalize it with their address, or their family name. See the how to here.


Wooden Bath Table

DIY Bath Table

This is a gift perfect for the overworked, stressed out people in your life. Bathtime (when you’re over the age of 8) is a time for relaxation, and a moment of peace and quiet. Pair the bath table with some swanky bath products or a fluffy robe and a bottle of time, and the Moms, sisters, or athletes in your life will love you forever. Bonus points if you offer to take the kids/dog/whining husband out of the house so they can really enjoy their bath. Check out the super simple instructions here.


Concrete Clock

DIY Concrete Clock

Last but not least is the awesome concrete clock project we showed you earlier this week. It would be a great gift for your secret santa, your city dwelling brother, or surprise your spouse with it for their office. See the full tutorial here.


I hope these ideas help you out with your handmade gift ideas! Happy gifting!

10 Awesome Handmade Gifts


Dreaming of a Scandinavian Christmas

I got REALLY inspired after my trip to Denmark this year. You can see a more streamlined Scandinavian style slipping into my home (hello, the powder room!). My trip fell over the Easter holiday. All of the stores were decked out for the holidays, and there were candles everywhere. As I am starting to plan for the Christmas season, my mind keeps drifting back to Denmark and to Scandinavian Christmas decor consisting of  candelabras, fresh greenery and wood.

I have a few DIY ideas in mind, but have also been sourcing some awesome holiday decor from great European sources. Here are some of my picks.

Ferm Living Christmas Calendar:

Ferm Living House Christmas Calendar
Ferm Living House Christmas Calendar

Granit Wooden Tree:

Granit Wooden Tree
Granit Wooden Tree

Lassen Kubis Candle Holder:

Lassen Kubus Candle Holder
Lassen Kubus Candle Holder

Granit Candelabra:

Granit Candelabra
Granit Candelabra

Ferm Living Christmas Tree Blanket:

Ferm Living Christmas Tree Skirt
Ferm Living Christmas Tree Blanket

 Trip Trap Teak & Brass Tree Stand:

Trip Trap Teak & Brass Tree Stand
Trip Trap Teak & Brass Tree Stand

Kahler Urban Lanterns:

Kahler Urban Lanterns
Kahler Urban Lanterns

Ferm Living Brass Ornament:

Ferm Living Brass Ornament
Ferm Living Brass Ornament

Also check out my Holiday Decor board on Pinterest for more inspiration.


Follow Kristen – Storefront Life’s board Holiday Decor on Pinterest.

Chalkboard Menu

My family is rolling into town for the holidays in less than 24 hours. My to-do list is a mile long, I am contemplating giving up sleep to get it all done.

So it why on earth was I standing on a ladder drawing on our new chalkboard wall at 10pm? It was because I had a vision. I wanted a Christmas dinner chalkboard menu, and dammit I was gonna have one.

I had already planned out the menu, I just needed to decide how it was going to look on the wall. I decide to start small. While I love the amazing chalkboards on Pinterest, those are all done by chalkboard artists, and frankly the last time I touched chalk was writing lines on the blackboard in grade school. So I decided to set the bar low, and make a simple menu.

I laid out my type in illustrator on a canvas the same size as my wall.

Then I taped off the spacing on my wall, so I would know where each line of text was supposed to go, and so that the last line of dessert did not dip below the height of the table, so that everyone could see the menu. Once that was done, I started drawing.

“Menu” drawn, and all my tape marks for the rest of the text

I had the computer open beside me and I kept referencing my layout and tried to draw the “Menu” all pretty. Its not perfect, but I have absolutely horrid hand writing. For the actual menu I just wrote in my normal uppercase printing.

Chalkboard Menu Done

I don’t think it turned out that bad. I am by no means a chalkboard artist, but at least its legible. (Although El Granto thinks my “P” ‘s look like D’s. And that people will think we’re having “Dave Potatoes” for dinner…

Dining Room & Menu

Now all I need to do is clean the house, set the table, and cook all the food…

Last Minute Man Gifts

It’s days before Christmas and you have nothing under the tree for the men in your life. Why are men always so hard to buy for? It’s because when they want something, they go out and buy it for themselves. New smartphone? They have it the day it comes out. So what do we do? Buy them socks or blindly guess what they want. So here are my fail-safe last minute gifts for men. Continue reading “Last Minute Man Gifts”

Outdoor Planters

We made a large planter box for our cement front yard a few years ago. It served two purposes, it gave some greenery to an otherwise paved front yard and secondly it made people aware that it was our property not just a very large sidewalk, and thus in turn got them to stop walking right by my front window. It has worked quite well. We still get the odd person who will take the route up by our window, but generally it gives us much more privacy.

In the spring I have bulbs planted and get lovely spring flowers. In the summer I plant bright annuals which last mostly into the fall.

For the holidays (and the rest of the winter) I like to have some fresh greenery and a little bit of rustic winter charm. So this year I hit up a local grocer who sells Christmas trees and greenery. I purchased about 5 bunches of assorted greenery, and my Mom and I set to decorating the planter. We also had some left over garland from another project. We’re not florists, and our only mission was to give it a bit of height and fullness. I also purchased a package of pine cones at my local dollar store, hot glued them to coffee stir sticks, and tucked them in here and there.

We also did a small urn under our mailbox by our front door.

So even though we don’t have Christmas lights up (we don’t have any outdoor electrical boxes!) it still looks festive. That combined with a wreath on the front door has our storefront in the holiday spirit.

DIY Holiday – Chrismas Carol Art

I have taken to decorating the little shelf over our front hall coat rack as a would-be mantle. It got decorated for Halloween, Thanksgiving and now its getting a little Christmas cheer. My local dollar store sells 12×16 stretched artist canvases for the low price of $2. They also sell $1 acrylic paint. I figured this was an excellent excuse to make some inexpensive holiday art.

The Coat Rack Mantle without any decoration

While singing Christmas carols at my desk one day (yep I’m one of those holiday spirit kinda people)  I decided that my art project should revolve around Christmas carols. I promptly went home and laid down some type in Illustrator of  the lyrics “Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more”.  Hopefully our visiting friends and family will feel welcome this holiday season!

Type laid out in Adobe Illustrator

After I was happy with my type layout and font selection, I cut out the type using my Silhouette SD onto adhesive vinyl. If you don’t have a silhouette, you can pick up alphabet stickers from craft stores, or you can cut your own out of adhesive material. After my stickers were cut, I removed the excess vinyl (called weeding) and transferred my stickers using transfer paper (it’s sticky paper which pulls off the vinyl from their backing, then you place it where you want your stickers and apply using a credit card.)

Half the words adhered to the canvas

After my stickers were adhered I took a look and loved it just the way it was! I know, lazy me! If you want to do it right,  paint around the edges of the stickers with some white acrylic paint. You do this so that if any of the paint bleeds under the stickers, its white like the canvas so it wont be visible. After it dries,  coat the whole canvas in 2 coats of black, red or green paint.

After the paint dries, remove your stickers, and reveal the white canvas below. Or be lazy like me and just put stickers on canvas, then go drink some rum laced eggnog instead.

Where was I? Eggnog? Oops. Right. Project…

Then I placed it up on my mini mantle with a small artificial tree, candles, fresh greenery and a ceramic pear.


12×16 Art Canvas
Adhesive Vinyl
White & Black Acrylic Paint
Eggnog for extra holiday cheer

Tools Used:
Silhouette SD
Paint Brush

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

One out of five

Total Cost: $2 ($4 if you paint it)

Gift Ideas for the Handy Woman

The themed latte’s at Starbucks, and the Christmas music at the mall may have given you an indication that the Holidays are soon upon us. I am a bit of a procrastinator, so I try to start early in my holiday to do’s and my gift shopping. So to get myself started, and to give you all a hand, I will be DIY’ing and shopping for you in the next coming weeks. Hopefully I can give you a few ideas on how to make your holidays extra amazeballs.

So first up, do you have a DIYing Handy Woman in your life? Need some holiday gift ideas. Here are a few of my best bets this holiday season.

  • A small, lightweight drill. Just because we’re girls, doesn’t mean we cant use power tools! It does mean however that most tools just were not meant for our more petite hands and muscles.  So treat your lady to a drill made for her, but for Gods sake, do not, under any circumstances buy her pink tools. You heard me. NO. PINK.TOOLS. We want to be taken seriously. No one takes a woman wielding a pink hammer seriously…
  • A small hammer. Just like my comments above on drills, I cant stand El Granto’s framing hammer. It’s giant, heavy and unwieldy. Years ago when I moved out on my own, my Dad sent me off on my own with a small toolbox packed with things from his own garage. Included in that was a seemingly Kristen sized hammer. I have used it ever since. Its the right weight, fits well in my hand and I can swing it like a lumberjack.
  • A Sewing Machine – This one is a bit stereotypical, but its oh so useful. You don’t realize how many sew-able items we have in our homes. If the lady in your life knows how to sew, but lacks a machine, buy her one! If she doesn’t know how to sew, include a few lesson in her gift. (I recommend the workroom in Toronto.)
  • 2 tape measures. Yep, that’s right two. One regular framing tape measure (although again make sure its a reasonable size and weight! The last thing a girl needs is a tape measure so heavy it pulls down their jeans when they attach it to their belt!) And secondly get a tailors measuring tape for her to keep in her purse (cause we’re always out at furniture stores asking sales people for measuring tapes so we can see if it’ll fit in the car or in the living room). Bonus points if you find a retractable tailors tape. That way it will stay neat and tidy in the bottom of her purse.
  • Her own work gloves. Oh I know, you handed her an old pair of yours last time you were working together in the garage, but they were giant, and terrible, and useless. So get your lady her own work gloves. They don’t even need to be work gloves, a (non dorky) pair of gardening gloves will work. Just make sure they’re made for women’s hands.
  • A set of commonly used tools that stays in the house. Do you like your flatware? Do you want to keep it looking nice/not have to buy a new set next year? Then make sure you have a set of easily accessible tools in the house, or your wife will be using that butter knife as a screw driver.
  • A Dremel. Why? Cause you can do a ton of stuff with that mini tool. You can cut, grind, sand, buff, polish etc. Buy a good accessory pack to go along with it, and she will get a ton of use out from it.
  • A staple gun. Useful for all sorts of upholstery projects, and a generally handy tool with a small price tag.
  • A palm sander. I don’t know why but sanding, painting and finishing tasks always seem to land on my plate (and my Mom’s plate from my childhood memories.) Make this easier and get her a palm sander!

What is your gals favourite type of DIY? Is she a painter, a tiler, a wood worker? I personally am the trim/detail person. I do all the finikity work, and finish and trim work. So my ideal gift would be a sliding compound miter saw.

Good luck on your Christmas shopping, and if all else fails, buy her some diamonds!