12 Days of Gift Guides: Homemade Gifts for When the Supply Chain Isn’t Working

A crafting gift guide to satisfy everyone on your list.

Photo: Kelly Conaboy / Art: Jack Koloskus
gawker gift guides
12 Days of Gift Guides

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style … in the air there's a feeling of Christmas. Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile. And on every street corner you'll hear about the supply chain, and how it may ruin holiday shopping.

Yes it seems possible — likely, even — that this year’s gift giving festivities will be made more difficult due to various shortages: raw materials, labor, trucks or ... ships, maybe. Brother might not get his gizmo; mother may not get her crème. And they’ve waited all year! But not to fret.

Handmade gifts are part of the great tradition of gift giving. And you don’t have to be a Martha (or Marthur) Stewart to create something special. You don’t even have to shell out big bucks on gift-making supplies. I bet we have wonderful things around the house right now that could go into the creation of items your family and friends are going to love. Let’s look around and see.


What to give a child? They have small hands and beautiful eyelashes. They love their trucks, and they’re gathering trauma no matter how hard you try to do right by them. What’s on their minds? It’s impossible to know, unless they tell you, and then it’s impossible to stop hearing about it.

Looking around my apartment for a child’s perfect gift, I see an empty matchbox. A former house of matches, now bereft. While an empty matchbox might make a lovely gift for a child on its own — an interesting place to store a coin, or a button — I think we should add a little something special. It is the holidays, after all. But what to add? A secret, or some nail clippings? A postage stamp would be generous, though a child might waste it on a letter to a fictional character, or the president. No, I’ve got it.

What does a child want more than companionship, a confidant, a small consigliere with whom they might discuss their business? Nothing. Indeed, with the additional help of just magazine clippings, paper mâché paste, and two paperclips (and a sprinkle of Santa’s fairy dust!), watch your child’s (or your child acquaintance’s) face alight in wonder this holiday at the sight of:

A new friend.


Now, a parent’s gift is tricky. It has to communicate respect and the desire to offer comforts that a parent might not otherwise allow themselves to indulge in. Yes, parents are always making sacrifices, and contacting you to tell you about who died, and now is the time to tell them about who died: our Lord and savior, though we’re primarily focusing on His birth right now. So let’s look around.

What could represent all the love we have for a parent? I’d say I have almost 20 fluid ounces worth of love, myself, and that’s not even to mention all of my admiration. If only I had a vessel to hold it … and, why, in fact I do. An empty seltzer bottle, from the recycling.

Now, unlike a matchbox, an empty seltzer bottle is not a particularly good gift on its own. We’ll have to do a little more thinking. We could fill it with sand, of course, or water. “Each grain of sand represents a wish I have for your joy in the coming year,” we could say, or we could say each drop of water if we chose water. But a 20 oz bottle of sand or water might be a bit difficult to haul home, and the reminder of our sand or water wishes might make our parent sad that we are not there in non-holiday times.

To bring them a little more comfort, fill your empty bottle of seltzer with amity and goodwill. Fill it with a steady presence. Fill it with 20 oz of company. Fill it, with the help of seemingly ordinary magazine clippings, paper mâché paste, and two paperclips, with:

A new friend.


A sibling always wants the latest gadget. They’re up on what’s new, and they know how to use most technological devices within their first moments of testing them. They’re eager for the metaverse, and they’re secretly looking forward to the next pandemic. When they see an iPhone 8 Plus box under the tree this year, their heart will flutter with the joy of newly imagined worlds of hi-tech telecommunications. But when they see what’s inside? Well, then their gadget-laden heart will really be full, won’t it? I can’t wait for them to open their gift and find, aided by what a non-crafty mind might see as simply magazine clippings, paper mâché paste, and two paperclips:

A new friend.


Your significant other is everything to you, and you are everything to them. Your relationship is a world of wonder built just for two, or more than two if you are poly or ethically non-monogamous. But as Ani Difranco sings, “In the end the world comes down to just a few people, but for you it comes down to one. But no one ever asked me if I thought I could be everything to someone.” And isn’t that true?

This gift-giving season, remind your significant other that you love them enough to share them. Give them what they need, even if they don’t know it yet. Open up their world beyond your gravitational pull, if you can. Invite them into a sparkling new universe featuring the best of what magazine clippings, paper mâché paste, and two paperclips has to offer. Give them:

A new friend.


Who are our aunts and uncles? They are completely unknowable, and yet we do know them. They probably are interested in things like music from the ‘70s and riding their bicycle. Or maybe they like books or television. Certainly if it weren’t for the supply chain, we could purchase them a humorous apron, or a scarf. But this year we have to rely on our wits, and on the contents of our apartment.

Let’s see, what do we have around here. Some envelopes. They could make a nice gift; a carrying case for all of our dreams and desires. What’s inside? It’s a wonderful secret for only you and the sender to know. When empty, they’re full of hope. When full, they’re full of wonder. And when given to your aunt or uncle, they’re full of:

Magazine clippings, paper mâché paste, and two paperclips.


Why, no one knows the value of a friendship better than a friend. Remind your friend of friendship this year by giving them:

Earpods you’re not using that came with the iPhone 8 Plus.

Here at Gawker we’re running 12 Days of Gift Guides.