This Christmas Comes with DIY Presents!

Making something with one’s own hands has become more and more popular each year. With Christmas almost here, a group of DIY-girls is challenging everyone to be the true creators of the presents and join the “This Christmas Comes with DIY Presents!” campaign.

The campaign started two years ago when four girls – Eliise Ott, Helena Maripuu, Liina Kuzemtšenko and Kai Reinfeldt – all communication students at the University of Tartu at the time, initiated it as a part of their studies. They all share a certain interest in handicraft. For Liina, it’s baking; Eliise repairs her home; Helena has sold jewellery she makes herself; and Kai loves to knit.

The initiators of the “This Christmas Comes with DIY Presents” campaign – Liina Kuzemtšenko, Kai Reinfeldt, Eliise Ott, and Helena Maripuu.

For many people, buying Christmas presents has become a frustrating task, so they just grab things from the shelves of a supermarket – an act that causes no joy to the maker of the gift, and the same can be said of the receiver. These girls believe that a self-created present, on the other hand, is a wonderful opportunity to send a signal to close ones about how much they mean to us. They see that you have made an effort, put your time and skills into the making of an unique object, and that’s what makes a self-produced gift much more special in comparison to something bought from a store. No gadget that you can find in the shop can have this kind of meaning. In addition to all this, the habit of buying mass products as so-called “last minute gifts” can be broken this way, and this is a good thing ecologically.

The DIY campaign points out that you don’t necessarily have to always make the whole present on your own, but the important thing is that each gift should have a little bit of your own personality in it, be it the content, appearance, or even the packaging. It’s also important to be a little bit creative when making gifts on your own. On the campaign’s website, the girls share different ways of how to create gifts, but their followers are fully encouraged to make changes, add things, or even use a fully different angle altogether! The important thing is to start.

The girls feel that lately all kinds of DIY have become more and more popular. A good example would be baking bread in Estonian households. Another factor is that people are becoming more aware of the environment: many things can be recycled, resulting in really beautiful and groovy things. Additionally, they believe that one of the factors that make the site popular is the fact that the ideas they share tend to be quite simple.  On the other hand, they do admit that their own experiments at gift-making don’t always succeed. But then they can give advice about what not to do! With this project the girls try to set an example for all those who complain about a lack of time. When the campaign started, all of them were students and full-time employees at the same time.  If they can find the time, then so can you!

So, have a good time making stuff from scratch! We will share four easily doable gift ideas below. If you’d like to see more of these, have a look at their website, Facebook, or Instagram.

Jars, Jars, Jars… (by Liina Kuzemtšenko)

I started wondering what could be done with jars that remain empty, if I don’t put mushrooms or jam into them, and the possibilities are actually endless. As Christmas is getting closer, I decided to make candle holders out of the jars. I doing so, I had my own personal taste as a starting point and then let the fantasy flow freely.

It must be said that I’m not much of a handicraftsman, so a manual task should be as quick and easy as possible for me to accomplish it. If it isn’t, then I become antsy and probably won’t finish the project.

So, what materials are required?  A clean jar, some colourful banding, some lace that has glue added onto it, and a special kind of glue that is transparent when dried. The task itself is really simple – the lace was set around the jar, the banding used for making a bow, then, just in case, I “burnt” the edge of the banding, exposing it briefly to an open flame, so it would not fray. Voilà! The decorated jar does not only have to be used as a candle holder. If you put something tasty in it, then you have an ideal gift for a dear one as well.

A jar that turned into a candle holder. Photo credit: www.teeise.com

In conclusion: decorating a single jar took about five minutes, with the glue needing a bit more time to dry (about half an hour).  The jar now had a purpose, and I got such a boost out of it that I ended up producing two more candle holders right away, in different sizes. The small jars of baby food laying around in the house were now put to some use. If your friend loves to cook, then why not make a nice basketful of personal spice jars for him/her?  Let’s be frank, fantasy has no limits, and if you just think about your friend and his/her interests, you will come up with a suitable, personalized idea, unexpected to the person nonetheless! I encourage everyone to repurpose their jars, with the bonus of surprising friends with a lovely gift!

A Simple Gift Tip for Men: A Romantic Can of Promises for the Significant Other! (by Helena Maripuu)

We will share a nice tutorial for a gift that is really suitable for guys to make as well! To turn the idea into reality, one needs a jar and something nice to decorate it with, as well as some strong paper and scissors.  One can check the previous gift idea for more tips about decorating a jar!

The idea is a present to your special one. Fill a jar with small (folded) pieces of paper, with something nice that you promise to your partner written on all of them. For example, one of those paper slips could have “making your favourite dessert” written on it, another could promise going to the theatre together, a third could have a promise of going to a cozy massage together… It’s up to the maker how many paper slips there should be. Certainly one has no obligation to go with the lipstick traces depicted on the accompanying picture. Let your fantasy run wild instead – colourful papers, slips tied to candies, etc.!  The one who gets the present from you, on the other hand, can choose the time when he/she opens up another paper slip. And believe me, this gift just makes your loved ones’ hearts melt! 

Romantic jar of promises for the significant other! Photo credit: www.teeise.com

Apple Snacks (by Eliise Ott)

I vividly remember the taste of dried apples from my childhood.  It was so great to have them while watching TV in the evening.  There was no need for potato crisps or candies at all.  Now, glancing at the abundance of apples in my garden, I recalled this memory again, and I decided to find out how apples are dried.

First, you have to wash the apples, then wipe them, then remove the apple cores, if needed. The next steps are cutting the apples into thin slices (about 0.5 cm) and putting them on the pan. Don’t forget the baking paper! Then you can just lay them on top of a warm oven to dry. Apples need quite some time and enough warmth to dry.

If your home doesn’t have such an oven, you can place them on a pan, then put it into a baking oven with the temperature of 40-60 degrees Celsius.  The door of the oven should not be completely closed, so the apple moisture can evaporate. The apples should be left there for 4-5 hours. After oven-drying, let the apples remain exposed to air for a couple of days, while you carefully stir them each day. Then they are ready to be stored – in a nice jar, for example!

Delicious and healthy apple snacks. Photo credit: www.teeise.com

A Sweet Bite (by Eliise Ott)

I found a quick and simple recipe for making muffins. Actually, it’s more like a sweet bite, consisting of cookies, chocolate, and marshmallow. I gave it a try!

The recipe: you will need 2 packs of biscuits made by Kalev (I used the orange-flavoured ones), 100 g of butter (Taluvõi), 100 g of chocolate, also made by Kalev, and some marshmallows.

Crush the biscuits and add the melted butter. Mix it all together and put the dough in the muffin tray, with one spoonful for each small muffin tin. Press the dough with a spoon or your fingers so it will become thick. Put a small square of chocolate on top of it. Then put a half of a marshmallow on top of the chocolate and bake it in the oven at 175 degrees for 15 minutes.

Fast, simple, and really delicious!

A sweet bite – fast, simple, and really delicious!

This story was originally published in the Universitas Tartuensis magazine.

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  • Aisha Begum

    For Christmas presents for women, you could give candles. Candeberg LED candles, for example.

    • Kaija Pook

      Thank you, Aisha, for a great idea!