Handmade from the Heart: Our Favorite Gifts

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There is nothing better than a handmade gift—whether it comes from the hands of a child or a master craftsman. We asked some of your favorite makers: What is the most meaningful gift you have ever given...and received? Here is what they had to say. 

What is the most meaningful handmade gift you have ever received?

My older sister, who I’ve always idolized, made me a quilt when I was 13 that I still use on my bed today. I’ve always been cold, so she made me a super thick blanket to cuddle up in.” – Anne Briggs, Anne of All Trades

“Growing up in a big family, my parents always made us gifts for Christmas every year. My dad made me a shelf that I still have. When I was 18 or 19, my mom sewed me a quilt. At that age, I was always on the run, staying at friends’ houses, and I always took it with me. It was the coziest thing ever. Gifts like that mean so much, especially looking back.” – Jory Brigham, Jory Brigham Design

“We are Jewish and we celebrate Hanukkah. When my kids were in preschool they would make Menorahs for us to use over the holiday and I still have each one displayed. So those are very meaningful to me.” – Tamar Hannah, 3x3 Custom

“I am blessed to have an incredible circle of ‘Buds’ – my high school best friends who are truly one of my life’s greatest blessings. A few years ago, my dad turned a redbud pen for each of us because he felt our friendship was so extraordinary. Incidentally, when one girl’s mother died around that same time, we bought her a redbud tree to remember her mother by. We chose that tree because of the ‘buds’ name and the beautiful blooms, but also because the leaves are shaped like hearts. So that pen means an awful lot to me.” – Lori Harper, Woodcraft’s Woodworking Adventures

“The most meaningful gift I ever received was from my grandfather. He made me a coffee table for Christmas one year. He’s the one who got me into woodworking and it really meant a lot.” – Carl Jacobson, The Woodshop TV

My Dad has always traveled a lot and in his travels, he started buying me souvenir keychains from all over the country. One year he built me a wall hung shelf unit with small nails on the front edge of the shelves to hang my dozens of keychains. On the shelves I displayed my trophies from all different sports teams I was on.” – Chelsea Lipford Wolf, Checking in with Chelsea

“Simple gifts are nice. When my three girls were growing up, they always surprised me with their ‘artwork’ they created at school. Some were very creative. I saved every one of them. I will be moving soon to a new house, and I am looking forward to finding the box where they are all stored.” Danny Lipford, Today’s Homeowner

“The most meaningful handmade gifts I have received from Scott would have to be a bandsaw box and standing mirror. Scott made the bandsawn box when we were dating. It was a box within a box and inside was two hearts. Very romantic. He definitely scored points on that one! And for our first Christmas he gave me the beautiful mirror—which I love!” Suzy Phillips, The American Woodshop

To Suzy from Scott with love!

Handcrafted mirror from Scott to Suzy

“At Christmas when it’s so busy you have to plan ahead. So this year Suzy gave me my Christmas present in October. It symbolizes all the good things that people should be. Enough words. The picture says it all. It’s my favorite gift.” – Scott Phillips, The American Woodshop

“My most meaningful handmade Christmas gifts are probably the ones from my kids. They’ve made several ornaments for the tree and given them to my wife and I over the years.  And they usually have a little picture of themselves or a handprint on them. As my kids get older those mean even more being able to look back at how they’ve grown and remember them when they were younger.” – Brad Rodriguez, Fix This Build That

What is the most meaningful handmade gift you have ever given?

“Right before my husband and I got married, he had to leave for six months. I made him a dovetailed box with 24 handwritten letters, one for each day of December, for him to read while he was away.” – Anne Briggs, Anne of All Trades

“When I started dating [my wife] Ali, she really loved the quilt my mom made me. So our first Christmas together, I made her a smaller version of mine and she totally loved it.” – Jory Brigham, Jory Brigham Design

“I’ve always enjoyed making gifts for others. As a craftsman, there is nothing more special. One of the more meaningful gifts made was a wooden jewelry box for my, at the time, wife. This was built in 1999, and I used curly maple, padauk, and an inlay. I remember struggling with the padauk staining the maple while sanding. At the time, I didn’t know how to minimize that. All the materials were purchased at the same Woodcraft store I shop at today. What makes it so unique for me is that the jewelry box has been handed down to our daughter. Now my daughter can use it daily and continue its history.” – Eric Gorges, A Craftsman’s Legacy

“Each year since I have been woodworking, I try to make something that the kids have been asking for. I made a longboard for my daughter, which was the most exciting gift I have made for them.” – Tamar Hannah, 3x3 Custom

“My grandfather passed away before I really got into woodworking, and I gave my grandmother a Christmas ornament one year. She started crying and said, ‘Your grandfather would be so proud of you.’ So I think that would be the most meaningful gift I have ever given someone.” – Carl Jacobson, The Woodshop TV

Growing up, we always went on really nice family vacations, but all of our pictures were digital. So last year my sisters and I compiled pictures from all of our trips into a beautiful scrapbook for our Mom. Now she keeps it on her coffee table and constantly shows it off to everyone that comes to their house.” – Chelsea Lipford Wolf, Checking in with Chelsea    

“One gift I gave that will be in our family forever is the cedar headboard I built for Chelsea. The process started when she bought her first house and we had to remove a cedar tree that had grown too close to the house. Instead of throwing it away, we saved a ten-foot section of the tree and stored it for a year to allow it to dry and season. Then I took it to a small saw mill and had it milled into 1" boards. It was really pretty wood. I then had Chelsea help me plane the boards and build the headboard. And we even taped an episode of my national TV show about the process.” - Danny Lipford, Today’s Homeowner

Click this link to see the complete episode featuring the cedar tree and Chelsea’s upcycled headboard on Today’s Homeowner: Building DIY Bed Headboard from Cedar Tree

“The wenge jewelry box I made for my wife is pretty special. I reused material from a client’s old TV stand and added white oak hand-cut half-blind dovetail drawers and custom brass drawer pulls. I gave it to her for Valentine’s Day, which was about a week before I proposed to her.” – John Malecki, John The Builder

Watch John’s YouTube tutorial on the process he followed to complete the jewelry box here

“I would have to say my favorites are the fun things Scott has made for my nephews. He’s made them swords and boomerangs. They love them! Plus he made a beautiful mahogany cradle for my sister’s baby.” Suzy Phillips, The American Woodshop

“One of the gifts I think that meant a lot was a necklace I made for my wife. It’s a solid brass pendant that I shaped and put our initials on. I also made her some neat metal flowers that she kept on her desk at work for a long time. But people kept touching them to check them out, so she finally brought them home.” – Jason Radcliffe, 44 STEEL

“I think the most meaningful gift I’ve given is your good ole standby cutting board.  I used to make a lot of cutting boards and I made a special one for my brother-in-law that was a big walnut end grain board that was nice and thick.  He’s a big BBQ guy and he loved it and gets a ton of use out of it.  So it wasn’t as much about the project and special meaning but how much use it gets and how much he loved it.  It’s always awesome to see a gift get loved and used a lot!” – Brad Rodriguez, Fix This Build That

Do you have a favorite handmade gift? Would you like to make something really special this year? Stop by your local Woodcraft store and let us help you with all of the tools, supplies and advice to make your gift extra memorable. 

We hope you’ll be inspired!

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  • MB from Rolla
    Very inspiring! Now that I (almost) have my retirement-era workshop up and running I guess I had better get going for the next holiday season. I thought it was very nice that you included everything from quilts to metalwork. My Woodcraft store is in St Louis - just over 100 miles away. Everyone there is very nice.

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