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Great gifts to make and give this season

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The holidays are just around the corner, which means stores are stocking their shelves and marking up their prices. But why pay expensive retail prices when you can make the same must-have items yourself for a fraction of the cost? Here are some trendy DIY gift ideas to put a smile on the recipient's face without hurting your wallet.

Infinity scarf

Infinity scarves are the hottest trend this winter, and it will only cost you the price of one yard of fabric to make one. All you'll need is a 60-by-36-inch piece of fabric (jersey cotton works well) and a needle and thread or sewing machine.

Fold the fabric in half, so you have a 30-by-36-inch piece. (If your fabric has a design, make sure that's facing inward.) Then sew the long side together and turn the fabric right side out. Bring the two short ends together (so you have a circle) and sew them.

Ta da! You've got a cute infinity scarf that will make the perfect gift.

Earring display

Practical yet stylish, an earring display is a perfect gift for anyone with pierced ears. To make one, you need a picture frame, wire, wire cutters and a staple gun or tacks.

After you've picked out the perfect frame, pop out the back, so you just have an empty frame. Cut two pieces of wire so they are about an inch longer than the frame on either side.

Next, twist the wires together loosely (so there is space between the wires for studs to hang). Finally, staple or tack the wires to both sides of the back of the frame and trim the excess.

You can repeat with more wire, depending on how many rows you want on your display.

Decorated tote bag

Tote bags are essential accessories, making them great gifts. To put a creative and personal spin on a plain canvas tote, all you need is a blank bag, paint, paper, scissors and paintbrushes or a pencil/pencils with a fresh eraser.

First, decide on your design, and trace it on paper. Next, cut out the design so the paper around it forms an outline. Finally, simply place the outline on the tote bag and start painting!

To add some creativity, use a pencil-top eraser (unused) instead of a paintbrush. Dip the eraser into some paint and dot in the outline, so your design is made of dots.

 

Leg warmers

Another easy fashion-forward gift idea is leg warmers. Any style-loving teen would love to have a pair of these to wear with her favorite boots. The only supplies you need are an old sweater, scissors and a needle and thread or sewing machine.

Cut the sleeves off an old, out-of-style sweater and discard the sweater. Then, take the sleeves and sew a seam around the edges you cut off, so it creates an even edge.

It's that easy! You made a stylish gift and cleared an old sweater out of your closet!

Skinny ties

Skinny ties can be hard to find and expensive. They make great gifts, and all you need to make your own is a little time, an old tie, some scissors and a needle and thread or sewing machine.

With your tie backside up, cut open the seam and remove the inside piece that gives the tie its shape. Trim both sides of that piece so you're left with about a one-and-a-half-inch wide piece at the widest part, and put it back into the tie.

Next, take one of the sides of the tie and trim it, tapering inward as the inside piece gets skinnier. Fold the fabric over the inside piece and press with an iron. Do the same with the other side.

The tie should be looking like a skinny tie now! All that's left to do in sew the pieces of folded fabric back together.

Decorative mirror

Jazz up an old or plain mirror to give as a decorative and functional gift. All you need is a mirror, hot glue and some old tile, stones or whatever other decorative items you want to use.  Simply hot glue the decorative pieces around the edges of a mirror to turn a boring mirror into a cool, embellished, expensive-looking gift.

No-sew blanket

No-sew blankets make perfect gifts because everyone loves them, and you can personalize them to the recipient's favorite colors and patterns. You'll need two pieces of two-and-a-half by one-and-a-half yard soft or fluffy fabric and scissors.

Put one piece of fabric on top of the other. Cutting both pieces at once, begin cutting strands about an inch-and-a-half wide and six inches long. (Make sure you don't cut them off; they need to stay attached.) Do this on all four sides. Then, start tying the strands from both pieces of fabric together until you've tied them all.

For more ideas and inexpensive gifts, check out our local secondhand and thrift shops such as Goodwill, the Habitat for Humanity Restore, and YWCA Second Seating. There, you can shop while also supporting great causes!


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