Fast and Easy Craft Ideas for Special Occasions

From a personalized DVD to a unique hand-made ornament, giving a gift made by hand creates a lasting impression on its recipient, since it involves time, effort, and forethought. Finding the time to craft something special can be difficult, however, especially for gift-givers new to artistic projects.

A few simple designs need only a handful of hours and a little creativity to produce a great gift. From technology-driven ideas to old-fashioned craft patterns, even beginners can master one of these basic projects.

Hand-Knitted Scarf

While knitting looks challenging in pictures of grandmothers crafting bulky sweaters, the basic principles are easy to learn. A simple stitch, a roll of yarn, and two large needles can produce a classic scarf that any recipient can wear with pride.

Basic knitting tutorials are available online, complete with how-to videos to teach the basics of casting on stitches and finishing a scarf. Trim the ends with a simple fringe for a perfect finishing touch.

Decoupaged Picture Frame

Transform a basic wooden picture frame into a personal art statement that reflects the tastes of its future recipient. A stack of old magazines or scrapbooking pages, a paintbrush, and a bottle of craft glue can create a unique decoupage surface of unique color and pattern.

Spread the surface of the picture frame with glue, then layer torn pieces of paper over each other, overlapping and touching to create a range of patterns and colors. Use anything from sheet music to newspaper, from colorful public domain images printed from the web to copies of photos. The results can be elegant, chic, or whimsical, but will always be unique.

Memory DVD

For computer geeks, making a personalized DVD or CD-ROM may be the perfect gift for a special someone. Customize a slide show of photos, artwork, text, and music to relive memories, make a special statement, or maybe remind them of a dream (for instance, a slide show itinerary of their favorite vacation fantasy).

Use a computer program that designs CD labels to add artwork; make cover art for a jewel case by using digital image software and a color printer. Artists can also craft soft cases from felt, sewing a slipcase from felt and gluing decorative ornaments to the front like sequins, buttons, or even cut-and-paste letters. Be creative, whatever the chosen design.

Unique Book Plates

Give an avid bookworm the ultimate gift for their collection: personalized decorative book plates to ensure their volumes are always identifiable. Designers savvy at digital image software and amateurs who enjoy playing around with Paintbrush or Photoshop can create them easily, using font programs, image boxes, and artwork.

Be creative with the choice of font and image, whether making colorized versions or traditional black-and-white plates. Old-fashioned images featuring books and literary symbols are available online through public domain image sites for artists feeling creatively stumped when it comes to perfect artwork for the bookplate design.

Hand-Made Ornament

A one-of-a-kind holiday ornament makes a great present for collectors and for friends who immerse themselves in the spirit of the season. Cross-stitch is the perfect choice for amateur needlecrafters, since the technique is both fast and easy to learn, with cute and elaborate designs that can be stitched in a matter of hours.

A simple cross-stitch design is perfect for crafting a miniature Christmas or holiday decoration. Use twenty-two count fabric to shrink larger designs (and fourteen count to enlarge small ones). A variety of patterns are available in inexpensive books and online, with tutorials on how to create original patterns as well.

Create a unique and memorable gift that goes beyond a generic purchase or gift card. A gift made by hand using a quick and easy pattern is a great way to be thoughtful and original in the spirit of gift-giving occasions.