One of the nicest gifts to receive from a friend is one that is handmade. If you are interested in getting crafty this holiday season, here are some homemade gift ideas from peer advisor DeAnna Quietwater Noriega that people who are blind or visually impaired can make.

Dish Towel Angels

It can be fun to make gifts for friends and family or to help your children make them. Last Christmas, I helped my grandchildren make angels to give their teachers. Here’s how you can make your own “dish towel angel.”

Start by purchasing Christmas dish towels, dishcloths, and potholders from your local dollar store. (You will need one of each to make one dish towel angel.) My grandchildren and I found towels with Christmas trees, snowflakes, and holly. You can also knit your own dishcloths like Mary Hiland did for a Christmas gift for her friends and family. Be sure to pick up a spool of bright ribbon in your favorite color too.

  1. Fan fold the dish towel lengthwise. Then, fold the pleated towel in half with the fold at the top. Tie the towel three inches below the fold to secure it. This should make a head and fanned skirt for your angel.

  2. Fan fold the dishcloth in the same way as you did with the dish towel. Secure your fan fold with a tie in the middle of the dishcloth. Then, wrap the pleated dishcloth around the body of the angel and bring the two ends together in front to form two arms for your angel. Secure the arms with a piece of ribbon.

  3. The potholder is used to form the angel’s wings. Tie a ribbon tightly around the middle of the potholder. Then, tie the potholder wings on to the back of the angel’s arms.

  4. A sparkly pipe cleaner can be poked into the back of the angel (between the arms and wings) and brought up and around to form a halo.

This doesn’t require any glue or sewing, just folding and simple knot tying. I like to use the potholders that have the loop for hanging in the center of one side rather than the corner so that when the wings are attached, it can be used to hang the angel on a kitchen wall for a festive decoration. If you can’t find this kind of potholder, a loop of ribbon can be added to the back of the angel to hang it up.

Church Mice Craft

“Church mice” are little mice made out of felt with a candy cane for a tail. Here’s how you can make your own church mice.

  1. Cut an oval out of white or gray felt the size you want for the mouse body.

  2. Sew or glue a bead at the end of the body oval for a nose and two beads or small buttons for eyes to make a mouse face.

  3. Just behind the face, cut two small slits parallel to the length of the body.

  4. At the opposite end of the face, cut a small slit for the tail.

  5. Cut a second, narrower oval out of red or pink felt about a third of the length of the body. This will be used for the mouse’s ears.

  6. Fold the narrow red or pink oval in half and feed it through both the slits at the face end of the mouse. This will form the mouse’s ears. The middle of the oval should be on the bottom of the mouse to hold the candy cane tail in place.

  7. Slide the long shank of the candy cane down through the slit you cut for the tail and slip it along the underside of the mouse and through the bottom part of the ear piece.

These “church mice” make great party table favors or easy to make gifts for children to give to teachers and friends.

Cookie Trays

cookies with colorful candy mixed in

Plates of cookies make the perfect thank you gift for the people who help you get things done, read your mail, or give you a lift to meetings or activities.

I like to buy decorative plates, mugs, tins, baskets, and trays during the post-holiday sales. That way, the recipients of my kitchen creations will have a useful keepsake after the largesse has been eaten. You can also use paper products printed with holiday themes.

If you are trying to fill up a large tray or basket, start with a loaf of banana bread or half dozen muffins, bottle of apple cider, or box of hot chocolate mix. Then, fill in with heavy cookies, like oatmeal cookies, individually wrapped fudge squares, or brownies. Add the more delicate things like spritz cookies or frosted ones on top with a couple of candy canes or a handful of red and white peppermints. Wrap the whole basket in plastic wrap and top with a bright bow. A Christmas ornament, Christmas doily, or napkin can also add a festive touch.

If you are new to vision loss, here are some resources to help you master your kitchen and use safe cooking and baking techniques for your holiday cookies.

Additional Homemade Gift Ideas

For other homemade gift ideas, check out these posts from the VisionAware peer advisors.

Time to Make Crafts and Gifts for the Holidays—Part 1

Crafts and Gifts You Can Make for the Holidays—Part 2

Food Gifts You Can Make for the Holidays—Part 3