In this world, some people believe that the holidays make for the best time to go shopping for gifts. In my experience, however, these folks don’t live on a college budget. We students, conversely, need to make do with the funds we can spare for this month. Thankfully, there exist plenty of ways to make gifts with little money, while still showing just how much you care. In fact, these gifts work best when crafted with your best friend in mind—someone who just seems to get you, and always helps you when you need a hand.
Without further ado, let’s get started on College Magazine’s 10 DIY gifts for your best friend!
1. Homemade Card
Our first DIY gift comes at the cheapest cost and with the lowest skill floor. This gift can get as simple as folding a piece of paper in half and writing in it, to layering multiple sheets of stationery to create an elaborate piece of art. Cards come in all shapes and sizes, and really your only limit comes from your ability to cut paper, decorate it, and write a flattering note inside.
“So I’ve just always been a super crafty person. So I have like a huge amount of cardstock and markers and different types of tapes and stickers and stuff. So I’ll just make some sort of holiday-themed card that looks kind of like something you’d find on Etsy (but obviously not that professional), just so it has a little bit more of a personal touch. I [also] definitely look on Pinterest all the time and I just decide ‘Which of these things can I reasonably do?’” Penn State sophomore Sydney McMurray said.
When making a card, try to keep in mind what exactly your best friend likes. Do they prefer something simple they don’t feel bad throwing away? Do they prefer sentimental messages over flowery designs? What colors do they like most? Really this avenue provides so many ways for you to show that you listen and care about your best friend’s interests!
Time: ½ Hr
2. Photo Frames
Do you keep a particularly good selfie of you and your best friend favorited on your phone and need a cool way to frame it? Consider decorating a picture frame this year! Michael’s and Amazon both offer countless unfinished frames of all shapes and sizes! These frames allow you to customize them in any number of ways. This could involve simply painting some cool designs or gluing on pipe cleaner flowers among other limitless options
Time: ½ -1hr
3. Personalized Ornaments
With the holidays fast approaching, Christmas trees will begin popping up in houses across the nation. Why not take advantage of this seasonal opportunity by gifting your friend an ornament just for them? In many ways, a blank ornament functions as a rounded canvas—an empty space for you to write or paint anything for your best friend. Perhaps you can use the space to write them a touching message in paint and stickers, or you could paint a neat design! With some designs, you can take advantage of the space INSIDE the ornament.
“So, there’s three friends of mine from high school [and] we usually do like a Christmas get-together sleepover type of thing. Every year we get each other gifts, [and] there was two years in particular that I made their gifts. One year [I found] one of the regular Christmas [ornaments], and the top from it would remove. So, I got a picture of the four of us together and put some fake snow in there and shoved the picture in, and then like wrote on the ball what the year was,” Penn State Senior Katlynn Rosenberry said.
Thankfully, customizable ornaments cost very little. Michael’s sells clear plastic ornaments for just two dollars each. For gift buyers looking to get ornaments for the whole friend group, consider getting a four-pack for five dollars. Whichever supplies you get after will make the price vary, but you can also use supplies from home to save money. This kind of craft allows you to get very creative with what you want on it, so just try to keep your friends’ interests in mind while working on it!
4. Embroidered Shirt
Skilled with a needle and thread? Do your friends need to update their wardrobes? Try giving the gift of embroidery! For a simple present, you only need a cheap shirt from Goodwill and some threads. After that, just keep your eye out for any designs your friends would love.
“I’m working on one right now, so hopefully my sister doesn’t read this article. I’m taking a white cardigan that I bought from Goodwill, and I’m replacing the buttons and adding embroidered trim and embellishments to make it a Taylor Swift cardigan, which saves a lot of money because those things are like 80-something dollars. The cardigan itself was like eight bucks when I got it from a thrift store, then the only thing I had to go out and buy was gray felt to make the little star decals on the elbows. That only costs like 80 cents; a sheet of felt is not very expensive,” Penn State senior Cammie Murray said.
Now with embroidery and other fiber arts, your end results may vary depending on your skill level. Do not let that intimidate you, however. Tons of how-to guides exist all across the internet, and your skill can only improve with practice. Maybe start small if you only possess a little bit of experience but remain patient! Your friends will appreciate the thought, with time you’ll learn to add personal flourishes to all kinds of clothing.
5. Baked Goods
Of course, culinary gifts make an appearance on this list. The holidays provide a prime time to practice your baking skills by cooking gifts for your close ones. Fortunately, you can bake a wide variety of treats with a limitless number of themes and flavors. On one hand, you can go the festive route and try to incorporate peppermint into your gifts, sticking to reds, whites, and greens. On the other hand, you can go for a more personal touch and make treats based on your friend’s interests. I know I’d love to receive some Daft Punk themed cookies this year.
“Thinking about how I sort of came upon [baking], I feel like it’s something that you can reasonably do as long as you have a basic idea of how to make cookies. Think back to when you made them with your parents or when you made them with your friends or something like that. It’s not something that’s incredibly difficult, if you have a recipe a lot of things are just laid out. If you find recipes on Sally’s Baking Addiction, it tends to be pretty straightforward. It’s not super complicated lingo,” McMurray said.
When starting a baking project and after picking a theme, try to think about the logistics of your project. Can you transport an entire cake to your friends’ place, or should they come to you? Will you need to serve this gift while hot? What kind of allergies do you need to work around? A little bit of extra preparation goes a long way!
Time: 30 min – 2hrs
6. Personalized Cup/Mug
Who doesn’t need a new cup? The world of health nuts runs on water; the world of college students runs on coffee. Consider taking the time to decorate a new ceramic mug to remind your friend just how much you appreciate them. With just a few paints and brushes, you can mark a blank template with your friend’s name, a holiday theme or a tribute to their interests! Fortunately, blank mugs come cheap on Amazon, and come in packs of multiples (meaning you can more easily treat the whole friend group to some personalized gifts).
Time: ½ hour
Going back to the fiber arts, crocheting provides ample opportunity for you to both craft incredible gifts and show off your skill with yarn and needles. Indeed, crocheted items make for appropriate gifts given the season, as the weather turns colder with every passing day. Imagine the relief on your friends’ face when they receive a brand-new set of hand warmers or a new hat. Perfect for the winter months!
“If someone’s interested in starting out learning these kinds of fiber art skills, it can seem daunting and look very challenging. But for the crocheting, I taught myself with YouTube videos. You can learn almost anything from the internet these days. So if you’re willing to dedicate the time to it, it’s not as intimidating as it looks. You have to be willing to fail your first couple of projects. When I was teaching myself, I didn’t know the difference between a slip stitch and a single crochet, so the first couple of projects I made are like weirdly proportioned, but that was just part of the learning process. Now I know how to do both. If it’s a homemade gift, usually there’s a little more goodwill from the person you’re giving it to, [if] it’s not perfect, they’ll at least appreciate that you made it for them,” Murray said.
While the hobby does indeed appear difficult from the outset, many avenues exist to help you learn. YouTube guides exist for crocheting specific items, and numerous written guides like blogs and books reside all across the web. Additionally, many of these guides account for time, making relatively quick projects easy to find. Maybe just remember to keep your expectations reasonable depending on your skill level though.
Time: 1-2 hrs
8. Cookie Jar
Alright, now say you want to give your friends the gift of some incredible cookies, but you can’t do it here and now. Perhaps they live far, far away. Maybe they just can’t spare much time this holiday season. If so, consider making a cookie jar! This revolutionary method of gift giving allows you to pack most of the dry ingredients needed for cookies into a jar, which your friends can prepare at a later date!
“A lot of the time when you don’t want to bake cookies for someone or you want to give them a gift but you don’t want to have it go bad or something like that, what I did for a church fundraiser a really long time ago, was I made these cookie jars. It has all of the dry ingredients already pre-measured in there, and then a little instruction tab on it for like, ‘Oh, just add the eggs and the butter.’ That’s something that holds for a really long time, and it’s easy to make 12 of them at a time and hand them out to your friends,” McMurray said.
This gift allows you to get creative with what you put IN the jar and what you put ON it. Obviously, you can choose any number of cookie types and recipes to put fill the jar with. However, do not shy away from using the jar itself as a festive gift. Go all out with your baking instructions! Print them out and decorate them. Embrace putting stickers or sentimental writing across the jar or the lid!
Time: .5-1 hr
9. Mini Photo Album
Now say you like the idea of sharing your favorite photos with your best friend, but want to show off more than one? In that case, maybe try gifting your best friend a mini photo album! On Amazon, you can find albums capable of holding 24 photos at a time for a pretty good price. While the photo album may or may not allow for easy decoration, you can easily wrap this gift in some festive wrapping paper or drop it in a bag with some tissue paper. Definitely piece one of these together if you want to commemorate all the great times and experiences you’ve shared with a friend.
Time: 1 Hour
10. DIY Succulent Terrarium
Okay now here me out on this one: succulents may not scream “DIY gift for your best friend,” but I still believe they warrant some consideration. For example, your friend may hold a strong fondness for nature, or enjoy taking plants. Additionally, this gift allows you to give your friend the gift of a plant without the need for high maintenance. While you may need to do a bit of research before gifting one of these, the supplies come rather cheap. Aside from the succulent itself and the container of your choosing, most of the ingredients come free from your backyard.
Time 1 Hour
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Best friend gifts can be tricky. But our DIY birthday gifts for your best friend are always a hit.
In fact, we asked best friends exactly what BFF gifts they want.
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Before we jump into our DIY list, here are some quick and easy best friend gifts that she will absolutely love. Or create your own college care packages.
If your BFF knows anything and everything about birth charts and star placements, she’ll love our Zodiac Collection.
On a typical Friday night you and your BFF—aka best friend in the whole world—order takeout and watch reruns of Parks and Rec. You know everything from her favorite color to her hopes and dreams. But every holiday season and birthday it’s not uncommon to be hit with the sudden thought, “Oh my god…what should I get her?”
In the next moment her boyfriend calls frantic, drawing a blank on what to buy her, too. Send him off to find a gift his girlfriend will actually want so you can go back to your own gift search.
Instead of spending hours at the mall in search for the perfect gifts for your best friend consider DIY. Our guide to DIY best friend birthday gifts will help you from stressing out. Instead you’ll only have to stress out about finals. Oh, wow, did I scare you there? Sorry about that.
DIY birthday gifts and best friends gifts can be fun. DIY or not, you will feel excited about your gift search with our helpful list.
Top 10 DIY Birthday and Christmas Gifts for your Best Friends
1.“Open when…” Letters
You may have seen these DIY letters on Tumblr and Pinterest. They’re normally described as a gift for a boyfriend/girlfriend, but would also work perfectly for BFF gifts. “Honestly a card means so much to me. The words in a card hold more value to me than a gift,” said Temple University sophomore Tjjani Bullock.
The concept is that you write a letter for situations such as “open when you need to laugh” or “open when you feel sad.” The collection of letters and the memories within prove more memorable than a gift card.
All you need are some envelopes, pretty stationary and anything else you have laying around your house (colored pencils, markers, glitter, stickers, etc.) Feel free to decorate the envelopes as well to give a more personal touch. Not sure what to get your best friend for her birthday? Open when letters are a hit!
Prep Time: 1-2 hours
2. BFF Care Package
Community College of Philadelphia junior Tabria Montgomery said, “I would want [my BFF] to get me something very sentimental that represents our friendship.” Cue the happy tears.
You might remember seeing this on Bridesmaids when Annie gave her BFF Lillian a decorated box filled with her favorite things. Lillian’s face lit up and it was easy to tell that the gift meant a lot to her…that is until Helen gave her tickets to Paris. Who needs Paris when you have a box filled with all the things you love? BFF Care Packages are the ultimate DIY best friend gifts.
All you need is a plain cardboard box (make sure you decorate it with pictures of the two of you) and a bunch of your BFF’s favorite—think candy, CDs (yes, people still listen to them), photos, etc. Get creative.
Prep Time: 30 min-1 hour
Need some inspo? Check this out!
3. BFF Scrapbook
Contrary to popular belief, scrapbooking isn’t just for middle-aged cat ladies. Even you, the average college student, can take it up, especially when it comes to gifts for your best friends.
Head to your nearest craft store and pick up scrapbook materials (paper, stickers, glue, etc.) and you’re good to go. You can never go wrong with pictures of you and your BFF through the years. To make things more exciting, you can also include screenshots of funny texts you’ve sent to each other, movie and concert ticket stubs and anything else that makes your friendship special. Yes, this definitely includes those embarrassing pictures of your drunk, dad-like dance moves. You could turn this into a DIY project to work on together by bringing a bunch of scrapbook supplies over to her house for a BFF date night. The possibilities are endless.
Prep Time: 1-2 hours
4. Infinity Scarf and Comfy Socks
Staying warm in winter is a must. Sure, you could make a quick run to the store and pick up a scarf for your BFF but think how much more your best friend will appreciate a handmade creation. The infinity scarf is really trendy right now and can be worn in so many different ways.
All you need is a crotchet hook and yarn (pick a color your BFF likes). Don’t worry if you’ve never crotched anything before – as the video shows, it’s not that difficult.
Prep Time: 1-2 hours
Or you could always ditch the crotchet needles and go with the most snuggly, delicious pair of socks you’ve ever sunk your feet into for those cold winter days. And you know your BFF will love them. “I usually just want the simplest gifts like fuzzy socks or anything soft and comfy,” said Indiana University freshman Rachel Ong.
For more gift ideas, check out gifts girls actually want and gifts guys actually want.
5. Personalized Sharpie Mug
Coffee is basically everybody’s BFF so what could be better than drinking it out of a personalized mug? Nothing. Your best friend will love this easy DIY birthday gift. All you need is a plain white mug (check out the dollar store) and oil based sharpies. Make sure the sharpies are oil based; otherwise, the colors will fade when you wash the mug.
You can even make yourself a matching BFF mug so when Monday morning rolls around you can take a selfie for Instagram. #twinning
Prep time: 1 hour
Need those special sharpies? Look no further!
6. Spa in a Jar
With our busy lives, it’s often hard to find time for ourselves and your BFF is no exception. This perfect “me time” gift is so easy to put together.
Simply get a large mason jar and fill it with health/beauty minis like body lotion, nail polish and bath bombs. Your best friend will thank you for giving her an excuse to pamper herself on her birthday. She might even share some facial scrub.
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Need those bath bombs ASAP? We got you covered.
7. Cookies in a Jar
You can never go wrong with cookies. Instead of buying those prepackaged holiday cookie tins, put together this jar that layers the dry ingredients to make cookies.
Find a recipe for your BFF’s favorite cookies and layer the dry ingredients into a jar. Feel free to invite yourself over and make the cookies together. Quality time baking is like best friend gifts on steroids. You get to hang out with your friend and eat deliciousness. It’s a win-win.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yes, stores actually sell these too. And they’re delicious. Like, you might want to hide them.
8. Monogrammed Wall Art
Nothing says you’re fancy and sophisticated like monogrammed wall art and your BFF is definitely both of these things (most of the time). Let everyone know it by making her this beautiful wall art, which consists of three things: a frame, scrapbook paper and letter cut-outs which you can find at craft stores.
University of Connecticut junior said the ultimate DIY gift she would want is painted letters of her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi. If your BFF wears her Greek letters loud and proud, you can DIY those instead of her initials.
If you’re really not sure what to get your best friend for her birthday, this unique gift is clutch. Besides, everyone loves room decor. Who knew class was so cheap? #winning
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes
Want to paint that letter cut-out, but need some spicy paint variety? Don’t stress!
9. Decorative Pillow
Who doesn’t love sleep? No one. Make your BFF silently thank you each night before she drifts off to sleep by making her this cute pillow for her birthday or the holidays.
Get fabric, stencils and craft markers before following a simple sewing tutorial. What you write on the pillow is completely up to you, it could be her name, a joke or those cheesy One Direction lyrics she loves.
Prep Time: 1-2 hours
If you don’t have time to decorate one, go with a throw pillow that represents your best friend’s motto for life.
10. Fancy Friendship Bracelets
You can never go wrong with a friendship bracelet. Columbia State Community College student Emily Larocque said, “Hand made jewelry is cool, cause you know someone really put time and effort into it.” These are perfect as far as best friend gifts go.
While tying and knotting may take you back to summer camp days, these bracelets get a much-needed update with the use of chain instead of string and rhinestone beads.
Friendship bracelets are a stylish way to proclaim your friendship to others.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
If you don’t know how to make a friendship bracelet after all these years, you might want to invest in this cute helper.
Still not sure what to get your best friend for her birthday?
If all else fails when it comes to gifts for best friends, we’ve got you covered. You are a sweet and thoughtful best friend for finding a t-shirt that is perfect for just about every situation—from class to a hot study date. These college tees say adorakable and the perfect best friend gift all wrapped in one.
Need more Best Friend Birthday Gifts?
Remember that night you sang “Don’t stop believing” all the way home from the bars? Or maybe your best friend is cat-obsessed. Your best friend deserves these shirts.
11. Drunk Corgi Tee
12. Yikes Sticker
13. Ocean Sunset Tapestry
At the end of the day, your best friend will love you no matter what you get her. Our best friend gifts are just a guide to get your thoughtful ideas going.
Hopefully you find the perfect gifts for your best friends with our help. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. And it’s your incredible friendship that counts the most.
Need even more ideas and best friend gifts?
Picture this: you’re standing in the middle of Target with a pair of socks in one hand and a bottle of shampoo in the other frantically trying to decide between the two for what to get your best friend for her birthday. She like socks, right? But she also uses shampoo, too?
While you and your bestie may be able to finish each other’s sentences, trying to find the perfect gifts for best friends is a whole other story. Avoid the holiday stress—here’s a list of gifts ideas for every BFF that doesn’t include another pair of fuzzy socks or Pantene shampoo.
14. For your hipster friend: A punny sweatshirt
Mew Yorker Long Sleeve: $28.98
Is your friend an avid reader? Is she a clever cat? Combine all her interests into one with a Mew Yorker long sleeve.
15. For your sporty friend: Work-out clothes
Nike Women’s Shorts: $25.00-$38.48
Not all of us can sport lululemon leggings on the reg’ with bank account balances lower than you when the club plays “Closer.” Help your fitness-obsessed friend out and buy them some cute workout clothes. You don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money either because trendy Nike running shorts only cost around $25. Make sure you clarify that you are not implying that your friend needs to start working out more—that could foster a very awkward conversation.
16. For your artsy friend: Adult coloring book
An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book: $11.88
Time to throw it back to your beloved childhood days of coloring for hours without a worry in the world. Now, unfortunately you’re an adult with real problems like laundry, finals and frat boys. If your friend is artistically inclined, or just in need of a little de-stresser, an adult coloring book is the perfect gift to transport her back to those care-free.
17. For your smart friend: Designed brain laptop cover
Left and Right Brain Hard Cover for MacBook Air: $20.99
“My BFF and roommate is a Psychology major and I’m looking into getting her a cool Skin-It for her laptop that displays the difference between the left and right brain,” said Kirstin Redfield a senior at Florida State University.
This one goes out to your best friend who spends every Friday night of the semester buried in her textbooks, but it’s worth it when she scores that 4.0 GPA. Make even her Netflix binges educational with a laptop case that’s both sturdy and informative.
18. For your Yogi friend: Book on Meditation
Meditation for Beginners: $12.79
This book on meditation is perfect for your rave going, hula-hooping, yoga-obsessed bestie. It takes you through meditation as a beginner and serves as a practical gift that your friend can actually use in their daily life.
“Right now my best friend is really into the practice of mindfulness, so I found a great book that offers tips and exercises people can use to center themselves and find peace wherever they are, regardless of the situation and it also has space to self-reflect and journal,” Florida State University senior Ashlie Head said. Namaste.
19. For your nerdy friend: Stethoscope
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope: $48.50
When you get a little older, sometimes a practical gift is desired more than a material gift. I mean, how clutch is it to get someone else to pay for something that you actually need? For your friends heading off to law school or med school after graduation, how about a gift they could use in their future career? Like a stethoscope, brief case or even a cute blazer for all their looming interviews.
20. For your coffee-addict friend: BFF Coffee Mug
You’re My Person mug: $11.99
She’s the Cristina to your Meredith, and the Serena to your Blair, tell her “she’s your person” with this trendy coffee mug. Your best friend probably loves coffee more than she loves you (just kidding), but this gift still will make her your favorite this holiday season.
21. For your sweet (or equally broke) friend: Time
Your friend’s birthday is around the corner, but your budget’s looking a little tight, so why not gift them with your presence? All jokes aside, quality time often trumps an expensive gift, and taking the time out of your hectic college schedule to hang out with your friend can mean a lot. Especially if you make an effort to do something with your friend that they enjoy, like taking them on a hike, going out to dinner at their favorite restaurant or binge watching Gilmore Girls while you share a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
“The best gift [my friends] could give me is simply their presence,” University of Florida junior Brad Pace said. “Our friend group is fragmented these days with some people at UF, Duke…active duty military…Our breaks hardly ever sync up. This holiday break…most of us will be in the same place at the same time…we’ve decided to all go camping as a throwback to our days a Boy Scouts.” Even just a couple hours can go a long way and often be more memorable than a material gift.
Need some cute bowls for that Ben & Jerry’s?
Healing Crystal Wands: $9.99
“I like receiving crystals or rocks as gift not just because I’m one of ‘those’ people but because usually the giver of the gift has to think about the powers of the crystal and what the receiver needs,” said University of Vermont sophomore Cai Shapiro. “The whole thing is a really thoughtful process and I like that.”
23. A picture frame of you + your BFF
Umbra White Prism Frame: $18.00
Make your mark in your BFF’s dorm room. If you go to college hours apart, your roomies’ new college squad will know who her day one is. And if you go to the same college, her roomie will know who gets unlimited access to BFF sleepovers. “The ultimate DIY gift I received was probably a picture frame with my friend and I in the frame,” said Bullock.
24. A onesie, any onesie
Stitch Onesie: $35.99
You know your BFF better than anyone. Does she adore Stitch? Try a onesie of everyone’s favorite alien, then! “My best friend bought me a Batman onesie last Christmas and I was beyond happy about it. Batman has been my favorite superhero since I was six years old,” said University of West Florida sophomore Baylee Merritt. Let her reminisce on her childhood on a cold winter night with a onesie.
25. Matching necklaces
Treat yo self while treating your BFF to her favorite new necklace. Being long distance with your BFF sucks, but matching necklaces reminds your BFF she can call on you for anything. “I will definitely get my close friend a heart locket necklace, because we’ll have each other whereever we go,” said Temple University sophomore Sally Sagnia. Pro tip: Matching necklaces make for adorable Insta pics.
26. Merch from her favorite show
Plush Throw, Christmas Lights Alphabet From Stranger Things: $29.99
In a world of tens, treat your BFF like an 11. Yes, that means buying her Stranger Things merch or whatever show she obsesses over daily. “I would give to my friend… any kind of merchandise from their favorite movie or tv show,” said Temple University senior Elizabeth Siegel. “I always think those are the perfect gifts.”
27. A new memory
You’ve been with your BFF for all of his firsts: first relationship, first breakup, first college party. Keep the firsts going and make a new memory with your BFF. “For my birthday this year my best friend got us tickets to a Badger Hockey game,” said University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point senior Nicole Sullivan. “It was fun that it was something we could do together.” Take your BFF to a sports game or even try a mud run.
Love the idea of a DIY gift for your BFF? Check out what DIY gifts your BFF actually wants
28. Shadow box
Shadowbox Frames: $19.99
Your friend will appreciate any DIY craft that she can tell you put time and effort into. University of Virginia second year Courtney Peters said, “One of the most thoughtful gifts I ever got from a friend was a graduation gift. My friend printed out all of these pictures we had together and put them in a wooden box that he carved himself. I could tell how much time and thought went into making the gift. It was really touching.”
29. A surprise party
Birthday Decorations with String Lights: $32.98
Position your camera perfectly to get the genuine surprised face your BFF will make when she walks into a room of her favorite people on her birthday. Planning your own birthday can get stressful. Convince your BFF to go out to a quiet dinner and then prep her big party so she doesn’t need to break a sweat.
30. Homemade Sugar Scrub
DIY sugar scrubs take a few minutes to make and a few ingredients out of your kitchen. But it’ll let your BFF pamper herself after a long day running around campus. “I’d probably want to receive a homemade sugar scrub because they smell good and they’re useful,” said Sullivan.
Life hack: if you can’t manage to get ahold of the ingredients in time to make your scrub, you can never go wrong with Lush Cosmetics. Their products are made fresh anyway so it’s technically DIY… But even Tree Hut’s ethically sourced and made scrubs could make your mouth water with their scents.
Tree Hut Vitamin C Shea Sugar Scrub: $6.48
Teal Agate Bookends: $29.99
Give your BFF’s book the TLC they need. Merritt said, “I saw some really cute bookends on Pinterest that I thought about making for my best friend because we’re both huge book worms and I love crafting.” You can make bookends out of basically anything as long as you attach it to a solid block that’ll stop the books from falling. Paint a figurine of her favorite animal a chic color like black or gold and superglue it to an L-shaped block. Or use geometric shapes for a cleaner look. Even hot glueing a favorite crystal to the block will give it a super sleek and shiny look!
32. Wall Decor to Show Off Your Whole Squad
DIY Picture Frames Collage Set, White: $19.99
Print pictures of your favorite memories and let your BFF do the decorating. Larocque said, “Brenda gave me a bunch of photos from throughout the year. It was all pictures of our friend group. I was able to hang them and stick them on my wall.” Tabria also said she’d want a photo collage of moments shared with her friends and family to hang on the wall. “I’m a very family-oriented person, so I would like something that reminds me of my loved ones.”
33. A Painting by YOU
U.S. Art Supply 21-Piece Acrylic Painting Table Easel Set: $27.96
Ong said, “The best DIY gift I received was a painting made by one of my best friends for my 18th birthday. It was meaningful to be because there was a quote on the painting that really reflected what I was experiencing.”
34. A Timeline of Your Friendship
Fabric Memory/Memo Photo Bulletin Board: $29.99
You met on the first day of kindergarten, graduated high school together, but now, you’re headed to different colleges. Your friendship can and will survive the distance, but reminding your BFF of all your time together will keep you close. University of California, Los Angeles second year Kayla Shroeder said the best DIY gift she received was a photo board of pictures of her and her BFF growing up.
35. A Knit Blanket
Crochet Mermaid Blanket for Adult: $14.99
“When I was going away to college my friend made me a blanket. I loved it because she personally made it herself and it was one of my favorite designs, Hello Kitty,” said Eastern Illinois University senior Danielle Kappel.
Ten More DIY gifts for your BFF
Written by Rose Destra
Want to get even more creative with gifts? You don’t need crazy crafting skills to pull these off and the supplies are mostly found at a quick AC Moore run. Show your BFF how much she means to you with a one-of-a-kind gift. Whether you’re DIY-ing for a birthday, going away, housewarming or congratulations, these one-of-a-kind and totally post-worthy gifts will have them all up in their feels.
36. Homemade buttons
Pins are the accessory to have on your backpacks, jean jackets or anything you can stick one to. If you want a professional look and plan to make a lot, invest in a button maker. But all you need is a pack of clear plastic buttons and a design to insert into them. Print out a small picture of you and your BFF, their dog, a meme or anything that makes them smile and voilà. Your BFF will gladly stick with you after giving them this gift.
37. Disposable Camera
Say goodbye to polaroids and welcome back to disposable cameras. With this, she won’t need to filter her pics to look like it came from the 90s. The grainy style of a 35mm pictures give off a vintage-y vibe that says good times. Take this on your summer adventures together to festivals and the beach to snap candid, printable moments. Because you can only snap the pic once, it’s even more exciting to see how they come out in the end.
38. Bullet Journal and Pens
For the creative gal in your group, a bullet journal and pens make a great gift. These can be used for anything from daily reminders, inspirational quotes or simply her grocery list. “I like this better than an agenda because you can be more creative with it,” Rowan University senior Whitney Smith said. There are tons of videos on how to organize and decorate pages so she’ll have hours of fun drawing. Adding in a pack of nice colorful pens also inspires creativity. Let her express herself in doodles and lists that inspire her beautiful mind.
39. Drink and Chaser Set
This makes a perfect gift for a 21st birthday. Buy mini 50ml bottles of liquor and tie a can of the chaser with it. Jack Daniels and Coke, pineapple juice and Malibu and tequila with lime are a few options. To drink responsibly, you can add a mini water bottle. Throw in some cute coasters and her 21st birthday is set. This cute two-in-one gift may be used right away, but will be enjoyed nonetheless. Plus these duos represent you and your BFF—better together.
Have the big bottles of liquor, but don’t want to hunt for the minis? Make your own mini bottles with this set!
40. Painted Mason Jar Mug
Mason jars are a crafter’s go-to and they’re super useful in literally any situation. Find one with a handle and turn it into a quirky cup for your BFF. When stenciling and coloring your jar, make sure your utensils are made for glass, such as an oil-based paint marker. You can even find dishwasher-safe ones to ensure your design survives a wash cycle. Your BFF will be sipping tea out of this for a long time.
41. Personalized Guess Who? Game
Bring back this childhood game and revamp it to your friend’s liking. Swap out the original character cards for celebs you both love. All you need is the game and some glue. Compile a list of 24 people she loves but make sure there is a good balance of physical features because you still don’t want to make the guesses obvious. Find their pics online and resize them to match that of the card’s. After printing three sets of them out (two for each board and one for the cards), glue the pics to another layer of paper so they’re not see-through from the back. You can also spray paint the color of the board if you want a classier look. Then pop the pics in the game board and voila—her personalized game is ready. “It’s one of my favorite gifts ever because it is so personalized and the fact that my friend took the time to actually create something and DIY such a thoughtful thing to me was so special. Also because it was a combination of my two favorite things, celebrities and board games,” Montclair State University senior Sam Easterday said. This is a great gift idea for your pop-culture obsessed friend. You’ll have hours of fun asking, “Has your person ever been to jail?” “Is your person bald?” and “Is your person on TV?”
42. Garden in a Jar
Balance her room out with a pop of nature. DIY garden jars not only look cute, but they bring a bit of magic to a room. “I like taking care of things and plants bring a sense of nature to my space,” Rowan University senior Jessica Golden said. It’s up to you to decide whether to add real soil and plants to the jar or to make it everlasting with fake accents. Start off by pouring a layer of soil in the jar until midway. From here, sprinkle some moss and small rocks on top. Decorate these in any way you like. You can also incorporate her favorite colors in the plants. If you want to be extra, find mini figurines like gnomes and mushrooms to put inside. The outside of the jar can also be painted or tied with a ribbon. To transform this to a hanging piece, use an open glass terrarium. Every time she see it, she’s reminded of the peace from outdoors. Even make it different themes, like a fairy village!
43. Matching Popsockets
If you have a clumsy BFF who’s always dropping her phone, get her a popsocket to stick on the back of her phone. You can customize one by heading to their website and creating your own design. Does she have her own business? Put her logo on the socket. What’s her favorite meme? Kermit would make her laugh every time she saw it. Got bitmojis? Find a perfect one with both of your characters on it. “I got the idea from looking at my boyfriend’s and my bitmojis and I found out I can put it on a popsocket. We both like popsockets and ours were already falling apart so I got two for both of use,” Camden County College junior Anna Destra said. This makes a fun way to switch up her phone and reminds her of you when she pops it up. Or, you can try your hand with a plain popsocket and some paint pens!
44. DIY Card
There’s nothing better than seeing the effort someone put into a gift, even down to the card. Let’s face it, store-bought cards are easy to get, and the excitement fades away as soon as we read them. Making a card means just as much as the message you wrote inside it. You don’t have to be a great artist or have a fancy design program to design it. Buy a pack of plain colored cards from the store and add whatever you like. Go all out with supplies like stickers, washi tape, markers and ribbon. Just like a proud parent, she’ll cherish your card forever.
45. Handmade Candle
Who needs a $25 BBW candle when you can create multiple for half the price? The supplies you need include: wax, wick, color, scent, container, thermometer and a pot. Place the wax into a heated pot and wait until it melted to its listed melting point. Meanwhile, cut the wick to the size of your container and stick it to the bottom of it. When it’s melted, put in the color and scent then pour it into the container and wait until cooled. She’ll instantly want to relax with a bubble bath with this.
Nothing else screams best friend forever than a homemade gift done by yourself. For any holiday out of the year including birthdays, DIY’s add a personalized sentiment that can outshine any other gift. Check out below a list of fun and meaningful gifts to make your BFF.
Still haven’t found the perfect gift for your BFF? Check out 10 more gift ideas to take you from BFF to BFFL.
Written by Kalyn Womack
46. Affirmation Jar
College impacts our positivity when things get stressful. A great gift to lift your buddy’s mood could be a jar full of self-affirmations. They choose to post them around their room or just randomly pick one up to start the day. “I read one a day right before I went to bed to remind myself I was loved,” said Vassar College junior Meghan Rodick. It is always helpful to know that someone believes in you.
47. Customized Ornament
Holiday season has arrived! Though your friend may have more than enough ornaments (or follow a strict color scheme), another addition to decorating the tree can be your own personal touch. Grab an empty ornament and fill it with whatever you think will make your BFF smile when they pass it hanging there under the lights. Whether it’s printed music lyrics or the reindeer painted on the outside, a handmade gift will always put a hint of you on their tree.
48. Personalized Picture Frame
A popular dorm decoration is a framed picture of you and your best friends. “There’s a popular misconception that more gifts mean more love, but a simple picture frame still means a lot to me,” said Kean University junior Lucien Edme. Create a template yourself to encase a favorite picture of you and your bestie for their room.
49. Homemade Soap
Lathering up with a bar of soap is one thing. But, one made from scratch is so much more special! “It isn’t a common gift at all. You know that person put a lot of thought into it,” said George Washington University junior Sasha Tolliver. Gather a couple ingredients that compliment your bestie’s favorite go-to body wash to complete their bath collection.
Here’s some of the main ingredients you’ll need:
50. Care Package
From candy to a pair of fuzzy socks, there are a few things that can come together to make the ultimate care package for your BFF. “It shows that someone cares enough to pay attention to what you like. Some things don’t have to about their monetary value,” said Villanova University junior Catherine Vivenzio. Ask them for some things they need and wish they had handy. Then, find a gift box they can stash under their bed or in their desk drawer.
51. Homemade Pillow
It may seem complicated, but it is the definition of a gift made with love. “You just know there was a lot of care into it. Picking out the fabric, deciding what kind of pillow I’d like, it’s a really nice gesture,” said St. John’s University junior Madeline Bradford. Also, who doesn’t love pillows? Your BFF may even have enough but they’ll be reluctant to turn down your hard work.
52. Room Spray
A unique addition to your friend’s room, at home or college, is a customized room spray. Work with a combination of scents you know will make their room smell fresh every time they come back to it. Be creative with mixing natural herbs and oils. Don’t forget to tie a ribbon around the bottle!
53. Tea Christmas Tree
If your BFF isn’t a coffee drinker, they may be a tea kind of person. Pick out a box or two of their favorite flavors and assort them into a super cute tabletop decoration. Resourceful and in the holiday spirit. Plus, you can spill the tea over tea.
54. Body Butter
If your bestie likes to stay stocked up on moisturizers, this is a great addition to their supply. Body butters are a great way to keep soft skin during any type of weather, especially winter! “Whenever I used it, I thought of the person who made it for me,” said George Washington University senior Udochi Esomonu. Make some and store it in a mason jar to complete your BFF’s post-shower routine.
55. Soak Bomb
If your BFF has a full bathtub, a homemade soak bomb is the gift they deserve. Get a mason jar and fill it with bath essentials to help them relax and unwind from the college stress.
Want more? Keep reading for 10 more do-it-yourself gifts for your person.
Written by Laura Rosen
Short on cash? DIY gifts still remain a valid option whether it’s a Christmas gift, Valentine’s Day gift or any random holiday you and your BFFs love to celebrate. You shouldn’t opt for just sending out a ‘Merry Christmas’ text because you can still go all out, especially when it comes to your best friends. This list will assist you on your journey as the friend group’s personal Santa without injuring your wallet!
Read on for 10 DIY gifts for your BFF that won’t make you overspend.
1. A Shawty Pass
A lovely addition to your keychain, the shawty pass only requires that you have a functional printer. You might have seen some of these beauties over the summer when making these skyrocketed as a TikTok trend. Make an ID-sized custom card that has their Snap code on the back (or maybe a Spotify of their favorite song). Fill it up with as many zany traits as you want.
2. An Anime Painting
You don’t even need art skills for these DIY gifts. Simply trace an anime character outline on a glass picture frame. The tricky part lies in layering the paints. Whether you selected Emma from Promised Neverland or Luffy from One Piece, your BFF will surely cherish this gift. It will literally look like an exact screenshot from the show.
3. A Photoshop Collage
Thankfully, Photoshop comes free with enrollment at some universities, and otherwise discounted with an .edu email address. Making a collage is a wholesome way to show the people you love that you cherish the memories made together—collages will never fall out of fashion. Besides, you can also resize it into an iPhone or desktop wallpaper with relative ease. You have ample options with artistic DIY gifts like this, from your friend’s pet to pictures of you both. You also need a super cute frame!
4. A Jar of Origami Stars
Although origami paper won’t be required for this endeavor, it will save you time. Cut paper into long rectangular strips and watch a YouTube video on how to fold these crazy little things. If looking for something more precise and fuss-free, Amazon offers specific star-folding paper as well.
“I love origami and this is literally the easiest type of origami to make,” UCI sophomore Ashley Fraser said.
Stick your lovely handmade stars in a mini jar for extra cuteness points.
5. Face Masks
No, I don’t mean the skincare kind; think more 2020-themed. Masks can be made so easily at home. From Joanne’s fabrics to using your own socks, the possibilities prove limitless. Also, nobody can have enough extra masks in the car. Every person has gone out and then realized they left their mask at home so your bestie will be eternally grateful.
6. Bath Bombs
We all need a spa day sometimes. Bath bombs haven’t fallen from grace yet and as we all spend more time at home, more of us have time for a spa day. From sparkles to fruity scents, the customization and personalization potential of this present makes it extra special.
“I love bath bombs so much. They literally make me feel so relaxed,” UCLA sophomore Christine Park said.
Expect to see aesthetic, sparkly water on your Snapchat feed if you decide on making this sweet-smelling present.
7. A Chart Reading
This option has to be one of the most superstitious DIY gifts to date. You would have to ask your bestie for their birth time but other than that, chart readings won’t prove too challenging to perform, especially for an astrology noob. Focus on your friend’s “big three” aka their sun sign, rising and moon. If you happen to possess astrology prowess, then you know that the other planets can seem equally interesting. Making predictions about your friend’s life can be fun for both of you even if they have a skeptical attitude about this sort of thing. Need a guide? Check this out!
Stylish and fairly simplistic. Scrunchies show that you genuinely care for your friend’s hair health because no other hair ties can compare. They take only a few minutes to make and will please your eco-friendly friends who want you to save any fabrics lying around. Grab some elastic and get to stitching these fashionable DIY gifts!
9. A Pair of Customized Shoes
Let your art skills shine through with this one. Canvas shoes at Michael’s won’t cost you more than ten dollars and designs for inspiration come to you free.
“I think there’s something so cool about having your own unique pair. Nobody else has the same,” Orange Coast College sophomore Roselyn Iskender said.
An infinite amount of possibilities exist at your fingertips: from your friend’s favorite shows to maybe just drawing a cool abstract design, you can safely assume that painted shoes will never go out of style. Make sure to use fabric paint and sealer!
10. A Kitty Defense Resin Keychain
Life-saving DIY gifts never go out of style. But since resin contains toxic chemicals, always tread carefully when using the material. While inhaling the substance won’t provide a fun time, its uses will surprise you. Most recently, there has been an influx of people using cat molds to make resin self-defense keychains. I mean, as a college student, I can attest that one can never have enough self-defense accessories. And the sparkly, clear resin will ensure that your self-defense keychain looks more cute than dangerous, making it perfect for use.
Looking for more? Keep Reading to Find Out 10 More Spectacular Gifts
The smell of gingerbread and pine trees fills the air. The whipping cold breeze touches your skin and as you exhale you watch the puff of smoke leave your mouth. But the holiday season truly arrives when the malls become jam-packed with people like sardines in a can. Yup, the good old scramble for gifts will never get old. Year after year, people wait until the day before to go out and purchase those shoes for their SO, or that doll for their sister. But what do you do if everything sells out?
Why, DIY of course! Let’s lighten the load for you. Get creative this time and make your gifts. Trust us, you’ll be saving money.
Here are ten more DIY gifts to add to your never-ending list.
10. Easy Money Umbrella
What could possibly beat receiving an umbrella filled with money? Honestly, nothing at all. When this nifty umbrella opens, a sea of single dollar bills will touch the tip of your head. For this one, you’ll need a (preferable cute or fashionable) umbrella, some string, tape and lots of dollar bills. Make it rain!
“When I received a closed umbrella for my birthday, I was really confused. I thought it was a strange gift, to be honest. But when I opened it and saw the money, I was absolutely dumbfounded. The easy money umbrella was single handedly the most creative and wild gift I have ever received. My friend has always been super creative, but I never thought she’d go as far as to stick dollar bills into an umbrella as a gift.” St. John’s University junior Christina Brusgard said.
This creative and interesting gift requires little effort, since you merely tape money to some string on one end and the umbrella on the other. If your parents or friends love corny gifts, you might want to take the “raining cats and dogs” route. Print some adorable kittens and puppies, tape them to a string and voila. Amazing, creative, and funny all in one.
9. Tie-Dye Kit
If you want to express your creativity, consider tie dying some t-shirts for your bestie—especially if you make matching ones. Amazon and Michael’s conveniently sell tie dye kits, where you purchase the dye and a t-shirt to transform any outfit. Don’t feel limited to tie dying only t-shirts—many love the look of tie-dyed sweatpants and tank tops too.
“My friends and I love tie dying t-shirts together. When she gave me a special tie dye shirt for Christmas, I was so excited because I knew she made it just for me. I love meaningful gifts like that… they mean something to me,” St. John’s University sophomore Christena Armento said.
Plus, this easy and cheap option will remain a practical choice for your bestie – they will wear the tie dye fit to school, bed or when out and about. You might even feel inspired to kick-start your own tie dye career, working on shirts and sweats for your friends and family. If you want to save money on gifts during the holidays, DIY will always remain the way to go.
8. Letter Board
Time for a Target trip, y’all. Your bestie will love a customizable letter board, where you may write anything to brighten their day. Some write a motivational quote, while others write funny anecdotes to make their friend smile. Regardless, after buying the customizable letter board set aside around ten minutes to assemble the saying or quote of your choosing. Then wrap the gift and get giving!
“I was shocked and impressed that my friend remembered the lyrics to my favorite Pop Smoke song and put them on my letterboard. I always love receiving personalized gifts for my birthday because it makes me feel more appreciated by my friends and family. I displayed my beautiful letterboard in my room right away for my squishmallows to see,” St. John’s senior Alyssa Giorgio-Graham said.
Letterboards always remain customizable; you may put them into use time and time again. Some people alter their messages weekly, monthly seasonally or yearly. For inspiration on what to put on your board, always consult the ever-helpful Pinterest or Tik Tok. You won’t feel disappointed by the various vine references and TV show quotes that pop up.
7. Memory Box
Looking for that sappy and somewhat time-consuming gift? We got you covered. The tear-jerking memory box will put your bestie in their feels, including many pictures of your times together throughout the years. Good news—you’ll find most of the supplies you need around your house. Once you brush up on your origami and measuring skills, you’ll be all set.
Print out the cutest pics of you and your bestie, paste them on the box, and the DIY will look fantastic in no time.
6. Custom Blanket
Nothing would surprise your friend more than a picture of their face on a blanket. Yup – a customizable blanket, filled with all your favorite and sappy pictures of the two of you and overused friendship quotes. Now, of course you may also go down the funny route and include blackmails only, or you might create a collage of your bestie’s fav celebrities. Feel free to also utilize photoshop, planting their head onto the body of Troy Bolton or creating a wedding scene between your bestie and Harry Styles. Endless possibilities await.
Shutterfly and collage.com will help you create the unique and hilarious blanket of your choosing.
5. Message in a Bottle (AKA Pill)
Personal messages as b-day and holiday gifts always hit the spot. But did you roll those personal messages up and put them in mini pills with smiley faces on them? This might sound fake but let us assure you that these mini pill messages exist and will make your bestie cry.
These little pill people already keep little papers inside for you to write your message on. They also come with an adorable glass jar to showcase the happy essence of the gift to the universe. If you need help crafting little messages, Pinterest will help a lot. Simply look up “short quotes” and all the adorable Winnie the Pooh quotes and depressing things you read in middle school will immediately pop up.
On a bad day, your bestie might feel the need to pop a happy pill and read your encouraging message for support. Nothing says happiness like a jar of motivation.
4. Collage on the First letter of their First Name
Let’s face it. Collages will forever remain one of the most basic gifts. But if you spice up your collage in the right way, you make up for the dullness. Take a trip down to your local craft store and buy a wooden letter of the first letter of your bestie’s first name. Then, create a collage of your greatest memories or even your funniest blackmails.
“I was thinking of giving a collage to my friend for the holiday season, but I wasn’t sure which would be most creative. I like the idea of using the first letter of their first name – it personalizes it. It is such a cute and thoughtful idea,” St. John’s University senior Jasmine Chan said.
Similarly to the blanket, this collage might be funny, serious or anything in between. Sure, you might include sappy pictures with sentimental value. Or, you might create a montage of your bestie’s celeb crushes. You may take many different routes, but all leading to a smiling best friend.
3. Hoodie with your Bestie’s Face on it
If you and your bestie consider yourselves the life of the party or the constant source of comedic relief in the friend group, congratulations. You self-identify as the “funny” members of the group. By default, you must exchange hilarious gifts. Sure, you could give your bestie wrapped toilet paper. But if you wish to go down a more creative route, consider exchanging hoodies with your bestie’s face plastered on the front.
“I got one of my best friends a hoodie with my face on it last year, and I made one with her face on it for myself,” St. John’s senior Angelena Low said. “She’s been my bestie for 13 years and we always get each other funky gifts for our birthday’s. Her birthday is a month after Christmas, so I always have a hard time coming up with the perfect idea. When this one came to me, I ran straight to Etsy and found some really cute designs.”
Nothing says “I love you” more than walking around with your bestie’s face spread across your chest. If you own a cricut, you already know the deal. If you don’t, various DIY videos on YouTube explain how to iron an image onto fabric the cheap way. Otherwise, you might want to create them through a website that will ship them directly to your house.
2. Bedazzled Starbucks Cup
Almost every basic white girl owns a Starbucks cup by now. If you hope to show some love and appreciate for your bestie and feed into their Starbies addiction all in one this holiday season, a bedazzled cup from scratch would completely blow their mind.
“I have a HUGE collection of Starbucks cups in my basement, and I’m constantly adding to it,” St. John’s University senior Victoria Bongiovanni said. “If a friend bedazzled a Starbucks cup just for me, I would feel honored, blessed, and on Cloud 9. I think I would have to display it in a glass case.”
For this one you’ll need a hot glue gun, bedazzling beads, and perhaps some glitter to really make the cup shine. Check out Michael’s for all your crafting needs.
1. Annotated Poetry Book
The best ideas originate on Tik Tok. This will forever remain one of them. Imagine receiving a poetry book with commentary from your BFF. Many add insight into the poems, while others add funny comments and some attach advice and encouragement in the margins. Regardless, this thoughtful and beautiful gift idea will tear at the heart strings of your bestie and prove just how much you care for them.
“I loved getting my annotated poetry book because it was like I was reading the book with my best friend even though she wasn’t there. It was a very personalized and thoughtful gift, and every time I read it, I am comforted by her advice and laugh at her funny comments on the side,” The College of New Jersey sophomore Jenna Saldi said.
You can enhance the gift by adding your own commentary to the already annotated poems, then give the book back to your bestie for their birthday. You might even want to create a tradition of trading books and adding personal comments of encouragement and love.
Need gifts for parents too?
*Updated December 16, 2016 to include even more gifts for best friends and ideas for what to get your best friend for her birthday.
*Updated November 28, 2017 by Celina Pelaez to include quotes plus more store-bought and DIY gift ideas (22-35) for your best friend.
*Updated November 11, 2019 by Rose Destra to include items 36-45.
*Updated December 17, 2019 by Kalyn Womack to include items 46-55.
*Updated November 25, 2020 by Laura Rosen to include items 56-65.
*Updated November 7, 2021 by Nicole Sutherland to include items 66-75.
*Updated November 22, 2021 by Jillian Delaney to include even more gifts for best friends and ideas for what to get your best friend for her birthday.
* Updated November 27, 2022 by Ayden Mateo Herold to include gifts 1-10