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The Purple Tide

The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)

The Purple Tide

The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)

The Purple Tide

DIY gifts spark thoughtfulness, creativity

Shopping carts screech against tiled floors reflecting the fluorescent light from above as shoppers scramble to find last minute holiday gifts for family members, friends and other important people in their lives. 

Such a trend has become quite common, to the point where 79% of shoppers surveyed left their holiday shopping to the last minute and planned to finish buying gifts in the small window of time before Christmas, per Klarna. Yet there is a way to avoid the annual chaos and stress that may accompany holiday gift shopping, one which requires a mix of time, care and consideration: crafting DIY or handmade gifts. 

According to the Lindley General Store, there are many benefits of making and gifting handmade items, including how affordable the process can be, the unlimited range of possibilities and the ability to express love for others without feeling societal pressure.

“Last year I made homemade vanilla extract, and I designed labels for the bottles and gave that out to a bunch of people,” art teacher Gretchen Mull said. “I think handmade gifts add a more personal note to each gift instead of just spending money.”

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Collaging, making pieces of art

Using only the primary colors (red, blue and yellow) in addition to black and white, individuals can create a whole spectrum of colors that can contribute to the aesthetic quality of their artwork. Not only can collages and other pieces of art brighten up one’s home or workspace and prove to be one-of-a-kind gifts, they also allow individuals to unleash their creative potential and convey messages or ideas in inventive ways.

“I got into collaging because I love pretty images and compiling them to make a pretty spread,” senior Paparda Tanadumrongsakd said. “I like how I can just take something and improve it to fit my tastes better, and end up with a cool art piece.”

A collage created using photographs, a myriad of drawings, and cutouts from different magazines. (Paparda Tanadumrongsakd)


The images used to form collages can come from a variety of different materials, such as newspaper clippings, print advertisements, photographs, coloring book pages or greeting cards.

“Once I’ve got a bunch of pictures and images, I’ll think of a way to connect them all together and I’ll lay down a base, which is usually a big picture or watercolor,” Tanadumrongsakd said. “Then I’ll either tear out or cut other pieces to add on top. I’ll also add additional things such as dried flowers and drawings on top if I feel like it.”

Repurposing recyclable materials

A cutout from a plastic croissant box that was used as one part of an upcycled desk organizer. Once the plastic was removed from the box, the piece was painted and glued to the side of the waffle box base. (Sakina Tahir)


In order to combat the effects of plastic pollution as a result of only 9% of plastic waste being recycled globally, individuals can partake in upcycling, which is essentially reusing waste materials or recyclable products in order to create a new product of higher quality, one which can serve as a household item or a personalized gift.

Upcycling can also help individuals who are on a budget spend less on their holiday shopping while still creating a meaningful and aesthetically-pleasing gift. For instance, by saving their oyster shells from a restaurant or seafood market, individuals can create intricate trinket dishes or elegant home decor and a ladder and some scrap wood can become an easy-access clothing rack.

The base of an upcycled desk organizer (made from a waffle box that was then covered in paper and painted). After the base was created, the top of a juice carton was cut open, and the entire carton was covered in paper, then painted. Lastly, two rectangular butter boxes had their bases removed, and were also covered in paper and painted, after which they were glued horizontally to the waffle box base, with the juice carton in the middle. (Sakina Tahir)


Other examples of upcycling include transforming empty drink containers into objects like sunglasses cases, makeup brush holders or sewing kits, and taking apart old or outdated chandeliers to make stylish crystal necklaces or other jewelry, with the help of materials like suede cord and lobster clasps.

“Recycling takes a lot of energy, especially breaking down glass, tin or aluminum,” science teacher Anne Fenton said. “By upcycling, you’re saving energy that could be used for other products, so that’s a benefit to the environment as well.”

Creating origami 

A student made and gifted this origami vase and flowers to one of her teachers. (Sakina Tahir)


For some individuals, the chaos of the holiday season can prove to be an obstacle to their handmade gift endeavors, since they either will not have the time to utilize their creative process or would be unwilling to take on a time-consuming art project. Fortunately, making origami is one way for an individual to dabble in the expansive world of arts and crafts while exercising time management. Not only does origami provide stress relief and promote relaxation, it can also improve concentration and hand-eye coordination in addition to further developing problem-solving skills as individuals take on more challenging designs.

Furthermore, individuals are not limited to the paper cranes or plethora of different plants or animals typically associated with the art; origami–albeit in a more complex form–can function as items for everyday use, such as desk organizers, document folders and advent calendar or interlocking boxes, all which can serve as handmade gifts with a colorful and creative flare.

“When I first started making origami, I mostly wanted to make paper airplanes, then I saw books at my elementary school library and got interested in other more intricate stuff,” senior Arsenii Zharkov said. “You can create basically anything as long as you have the time and a good understanding of geometric techniques and symmetry.”

Sewing or crocheting items

Plushies are just one of many handmade gifts individuals can design to their liking and sew using easy-to-follow techniques that can be found online. The pineapple plushie above was first sketched, and the individual parts were then traced and cut out, first on paper and later on the felt used for the end product. Afterwards, all accessories were sewn onto the frontside of the plushie, which was then sewn to the backside and stuffed with poly-fill fiber. (Sakina Tahir)

From boba cows and bumblebees to trendy fall sweaters, crocheting has taken the world by storm, with many content creators sharing their work on social media platforms and online stores. As a result, there is an abundance of digital inspiration, tutorials and tips available for individuals who may be new to crocheting or plan on gifting something crocheted during the holiday season. Alternatively, individuals can also sew a lot of the same handmade gifts that can be crocheted.

“There’s a lot of tutorials and easy patterns to try out,” Mull said. “I think it makes it really easy to get overwhelmed because there’s so many cool things happening out there. So it’s important to find something simple to start with to build your confidence.”

Sakina Tahir

Even though most materials for different sewing and crocheting projects are available online, the prices of these items may exceed one’s budget for holiday shopping. Instead, individuals can seek out art supply stores in their area, with the added bonus of being able to consult others with more creative expertise.

“They’re called creative reuse stores, and they’re thrift stores but for things like art and craft supplies,” Mull said. “People will donate stuff that’s then sold at a really, really reduced price, and you can get everything from paints, fabric and collage supplies to random things that maybe you wouldn’t think are meant for art but can be worked into a project.”



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Sakina Tahir, Copy Editor
Sakina is a senior in her second year with The Purple Tide. In her free time, you can find her reading, gardening, making jewelry or doing crosswords. She is also an absolute whiz at checkers, and enjoys baking for the people around her.
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