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Easy, Cheap DIY Gifts for Teens

DIY Gifts
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Whether you’re ready or not, the holiday season is here.  And if you’re not ready, don’t worry!  There’s plenty of time to put together some gifts for your friends and family without breaking the bank.  In fact, everything on this list can be made with items purchased from dollar stores or other low-price retailers.  So, let’s get gifting!   

For the friend/family member with whom you have awesome memories… 

Make a personalized picture frame or memory jar.  Picture frames and jars can be purchased for pretty cheap, as can a variety of knick knacks to match your theme.  For the picture frame, simply glue items to the frame.  For example, if the memory involves heading to the beach, glue a variety of shells (bonus points if you use ones you collected on the trip!) and glass beads (similar to sea glass).  You can also use paint pens or metallic markers to write on some of the frames! Then add pictures to the frame.  You can print 4×6 or 5×7 photos often for less than a dollar, or make a strip/collage of photos from Instagram.  (Smaller photos like that can be printed at the Library for cheap, too!)  For the jar, simply fill it up with items.  Continuing the beach theme, fill the jar with sand, shells, and small photos from your trip.  Or, if you bonded over a movie, fill a jar with popcorn kernels, ticket stubs, and little things that reminds you of the movie (such as a spider for Black Widow).   

This is a memory jar one of my kids made after our trip to the Outer Banks using sand and seashells from the beach.  The jar was purchased at Dollar Tree, and the markers were already at my house. 


For the friend/family member who’s obsessed with video games… 

Gift them your time.  Make a coupon, if you need to, that offers up a set amount of your time for playing their game of choice.  If you’re artistic, try drawing the coupon out yourself.  If art isn’t your strong suit (like me), you can always make one in a variety of programs.  (And again, these can be printed at the Library!)  You can get a decent selection of snacks from dollar stores, so if you can, add that you’ll purchase a set dollar amount of snacks and drinks.  Make sure, though, that you add the stipulation that the time must be scheduled in advance! 

I made this coupon using a free predesigned template on 

For the friend/family member who loves to read… 

Give them a handmade bookmark.  It’s really not as difficult as it sounds.  A simple Google search will bring up a variety of DIY placeholders.  From origami animals and characters to dried flowers, you’ll find inspiration in no time!  You can even use washi tape or duct tape, which come in a variety of designs and can be found in dollar stores.  Simply stick the tape to paper, and then cut the shape you want to the bookmark to be.  You can also add extra flair by punching a hole at the top and adding some yarn or thread. 

Here’s a bookmark I made by cutting the corner off an envelope and then covering it with washi tape. 

While these are just a few ideas to get your DIY holidays under way, this will hopefully get you going on crossing things off of your gift giving list.  Now go be creative! 

Happy Holidays, and happy gifting! 


Sarah is a youth services librarian in Canfield. She pretty much only reads YA books, but she is easily distracted by a good picture book or anything Doctor Who related. Sarah loves to crochet and knit and can usually be found with a pile of yarn in her lap with one of her three dogs nearby. Originally from Texas, she still says “y’all” all the time and refuses to call carbonated beverages “pop.”