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5 great, creative DIY gifts

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | December 11, 2015

DIY gift ideasFew things say "I love you" like handmade gifts. If you are a handy homeowner, go a step further with DIY gifts that will make them smile for years to come.

Create a meaningful sign or plaque

You have certainly seen those generic plaques on houses and near the driveway: "The Millers, Est. 2003." Though these signs can be quite handsome, they impart little character to the place. Remedy that with your own plaque or sign, one that is unique to your home and family.

To make your own, choose a high-quality wood, outdoor paints that complement the colors of your home, and maybe even a wood-burning kit to create lovely effects and make the look even more special. You'll create something that is very meaningful to all who live there.

Build a reading nook for your little one

Make reading fun for your kids by creating an engaging spot just for them and their books. If you happen to have a spare walk-in closet, that's the perfect place. But for most of us, space is at a premium, which means carving that nook out of an area already in use.

To create the perfect reading area, go with a few screens that set up easily and block out the rest of the world. Add in a few chairs that are just the right size for kids, as well as bookshelves perfect for tiny book sizes. You can make these yourself for a more personal touch, and even build them into the wall to save space.

Make life easier with slide-out shelves

Slide-out shelving systems are a must for serious cooks, but they are also fantastic for those who have trouble getting into lower cabinets -- which is virtually everyone! As an added bonus, look for shelves that can hold a great deal of weight, so you never have to worry about how many cans are stacked on them.

Slide out shelves work with your existing cabinet boxes and can be installed over a weekend. Consider what your gift recipient really needs; do they need shorter shelves to hold cans, or shelves with more space to hold those big pots and pans? This will determine how many shelves you need to purchase.

Keep them safe with a DIY security system

Few things are sweeter than the feeling of being safe and secure in your own home. Give your family that gift by installing your own high-tech security system. Do careful research into systems that fit your lifestyle. For instance, do you need something that allows for complete remote access, or something that simply sends an alarm when the system is tripped?

Gather all the things you will need for installation, such as your toolbox with the essentials, a ladder, wire cutting and crimping tools, and the like. Then make installation a family affair by asking them to test it out after you install each component.

Anticipate spring with a new outdoor space

Is everyone itching to get outside even before the holidays are over? Do they scowl at the sight of snow and long for spring to get here? Lift their spirits by creating the gift of a new outdoor space, one that they will all bask in on those warm, sunny days.

This could include whatever suits your recipient. Does she love gardening and stares longingly at the neighbor's pergola? Does he enjoy grilling and covets that shiny new grill his brother just got? From a new table and chair set to a full-scale outdoor kitchen, let your DIY abilities and your budget be your guide.

Presenting the present

Remember that timing is the key to success. So how do you avoid spoiling the surprise? Consider actually building your gift after the holidays, and providing a small token the day-of that hints at what's to come.

For the reading nook, give a stack of good books along with a card announcing your intentions. For the slide out shelves, offer a new set of pots and pans. For the outdoor space, give a fine scroll of blueprints and an image of what the finished project will look like. Your recipient will be delighted!

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.