I’m having so much fun at the moment. This year, I made it an ambition to make as many Christmas gifts as possible, including the wrapping, cards, packaging and ornaments to go with them.
That has led me into some interesting by-waters, as my Street Team already knows, for I’ve shared some of my finished projects with them.
I picked up my first knitting needles when I was ten. While I have been a crafter, sewist and fiber artist from a very young age, not everyone is offered the same opportunities to make things that I was given.
Therefore, for this year’s gift guide, I thought I would mix it up with simple DIY ideas as well as retail products for the time-crunched.
Also, this year, I’ve broken the list up into gifts for readers and gifts from readers, which is you, of course.
For the prose-obsessed person in your life.
Kindle ebook reader.
This is the rock-bottom priced Kindle, which at only $49.99 USD is a steal. It has all the basic functions, and will soon also feature audio book play back.
It has a 6” screen, a black & white e-ink touchscreen, 4gb of memory (which is oodles for ebooks – several hundred of them will fit that space), and Wifi connectivity.
Also in the rock-bottom range, the Kobo Aura is only $99 USD. Like the Kindle, it has a 6” screen, an e-ink touchscreen. It will store up to 4,000 books, too.
In addition, the Kobo Aura has an inbuilt screen light, so while reading in sunlight is the same as reading a printed page, reading at night without a side light is possible, too.
If your reading friend reads ePub format books from retailers besides Amazon, then this is the ideal reader for them, as it reads ePubs and will allow sideloading onto the device.
Amazon’s cheapest tablet is also rock-bottom, at $49.99 USD.
Tablets are more versatile held-held devices, with access to the Internet, and if you purchase a cellular plan, they’re not dependent upon wifi networks, either. All tablets these days come with ebook reading software pre-loaded. Often, the Kindle reading app is one of them—and certainly for Amazon’s Fire Tablet. Plus, you can see in the image some of the other pre-loaded apps, too.
8” screen, 16gb or 32gb memory – but Amazon readers can keep their book collections in the cloud, freeing up drive space.
There is an even cheaper 7” screen Fire at only $29.99 USD, but it has limited memory. Still, it would be a good starter device for those completely new to ereading, including children.
Lenova Tab 4
This is one of the cheapest and best Android tablets available. Currently $109.99 USD (which, compared to the cheapest iPad, is a complete steal – see below!).
Android has hundreds of thousands of apps available and the Android operating system comes with Google Play Books for reading books. I happen to like the Google reading app a lot. I will convert other format books to ePub just to use it.
It has an 8” screen, and wifi connectivity. You can add a cellular data plan if you want.
Apple iPad Mini 4
I would be remiss if I didn’t add to the list at least one iPad. If the reader you’re shopping for is an Apple fan, then the Mini 4 is the cheapest tablet Apple currently offer. At $399 for the most basic configuration, it is not a cheap gift.
It has a 7.9” screen, 128gb of memory and WiFi connectivity. You can add cellular if you wish.
Apple’s iBooks reading app is pre-loaded.
Other gift suggestions for reading devices – pricier, too!
Kindle Oasis – the top end ereader. [link]
Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7” tablet – has a great reputation. [link]
The ReMarkable Tablet – promoted as the paper tablet for people who like paper. Watch the video on the home page – fascinating! [link]
Mark Twain said that all he needed for the ideal life was “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience”. These days, life isn’t quite that simple, even for readers.
Here’s some accessory ideas for your favourite bookworm.
These are both DIY ideas – the one on the left is a map dyed with cold tea (or coffee), and laminated with decoupage glue on cardstock.
The one on the right is even simpler. Sacrifice an old book, cut up the pages, punch the edge and thread ribbon. Voila!
This DIY origami corner bookmark (right) is made out of another old book.
Full instructions here. [link]
eReader Case out of Vintage Hardcover book
This is such a great idea!
These days, when secondhand bookstores are disappearing, and you only get a quarter for each book, anyway, you can turn old hardcovers into something useful.
Ironically, a book holds the electronic book storage device…
Full instructions here. [link]
Hot chocolate in a jar
For whiling away the hours while reading.
There are recipes for single serve hot chocolate everywhere. (here’s one)
Mason jars are cheap and available at your local grocery supermarket.
A bit of string, a piece of cardstock and you have a cute gift that says “I care.”
Furoshiki book covers.
Another DIY project and very, very easy.
Use a scarf you already own, or buy pretty fabric at the fabric store and hem it by machine or hand.
Then follow the instructions below to wrap a book or journal.
You can also give the cover fabric and the instructions to a friend as a gift, for them to cover their own books.
Leather book phone case
These are so cute!
Alison Wunderland on Etsy makes them. Check her store out here. [link]
Other bookreading accessories.
Lap rug – for curling up by the fire or on the window seat to read. Buy 2 metres of the cheap, but super cuddly minky fabric of your choice, cut it so the edges are square and hem the edge, either with a sewing machine or by hand. Minky fabric here [link] and elsewhere, including any fabric stores that still exist in your local neighbourhood.
Reading glasses – If your bookworm is an ereader, they don’t need glasses because the font can be scaled to readable level for them. If they’re a paper reader and at a point in life where they’re holding text out at the end of their arm length to read it, then simple magnifying glasses are the solution. There are thousands of designs available, including pretty fashion glasses.
Another Etsy find. (Etsy is a mortal time sink. Don’t go there unless you have a clear plan for getting in and getting out by the most direct route possible, or you’ll be there all day!)
These wallets that look like books are gorgeous.
Lights to Read By
DIY Beeswax Candles
The original and perfect romantic light for reading.
Make your own beeswax candles for gifts for everyone, not just readers, although readers will enjoy them too.
Wellness Mama uses all natural ingrediants and gives full instructions. [link]
Other Lighting Ideas
Carrying Books with you
Book bags and ways to carry more books (for the paper reader).
This is a more advanced project – although not that advanced. If you can sew a straight line and follow the instructions, bags and totes are completely do-able.
Link for instructions for this quilted tote here.
DIY recycled jeans tote
Alas, there are no instructions for this one. However, the picture is pretty clear and you can nut it out from there.
Most jeans upcycle projects use the flat denim fabric in the legs. This is one of the few upcycle projects I’ve seen that use up the often discarded waistbands.
If you don’t have enough old jeans already, your local op shop will have bags and bags of them, going very cheap. Jeans are like weeds, these days…
The designer fabric makes this backpack something special. If your bookworm prefers the backpack style of carrier, this is a good option.
All instructions and lots of pictures to help with construction here.
There’s never enough shelf storage for books. For the seriously budget conscious, or if you just like the idea of conservation and recycling, have a look at these cardboard bookshelf ideas.
This bookshelf resembles Ikea’s Kallax series of shelves. The photo on the left shows you how it is put together. If you’re not familiar with the idea of cardboard furniture, do some searching on Google. You’ll be amazed.
Built right, cardboard furniture is rigid and can take a serious amount of weight.
It is also very green and environmentally friendly, as you’re re-using a material that is cheap and easy to find.
These shelves are built on the same principals, but use the heavy duty reinforced cardboard you find in some boxes. The heavy duty card of this type is not as common as the one layer cardboard that contains most of our retail purchase, but the cut and construction is the same no matter what type of cardboard you use.
I’ve included this photo to show you what is possible with cardboard furniture.
When I was buying and reading paper books, there was never enough shelf space. If I’d known it was possible to build shelving units like this from simple cardboard, my problems would have been solved.
Search on Google for “Cardboard Furniture Construction” (or click here) and comb through some of the mind-boggling possibilities.
USB Key Fob
For the e-reader who doesn’t like to use cloud storage, a USB memory stick is a good alternative, and one they can take with them.
These instructions are for a lip balm holder –and you could slide lip balm in there, too. But they work just as well for a USB stick, which you could pop in as part of gift…loaded with new books, too!
Click here for instructions.
Journals & Logs
Readers are often journal-keepers, too. Rabid readers like to keep track of the books they’ve read. A hand-made journal is a great gift.
Saddle stitched Journals
There is a full tutorial on this page, showing you how to build a journal from scratch, and how to stitch the spine. There are also some awe-inspiring examples, too.
There are some more basic journals and a tutorial for making them, here.
If you’d rather just buy the journal, then making a tailored cover for it is another alternative.
Rhonda Buss has full instructions in this image-heavy tutorial, here.
From Readers (You!)
As you are the reader, you have some unique resources for making/buying gifts that are so you.
Jewellery made from old books. Sounds weird, but you should see the lovely stuff that can be made!
Malena Valcarcel on Etsy does nothing but make things from old books, including this adorable pendant on the left. Click here to see her shop.
If you’d like to do the DIY thing, here’s inspiration for a simple rolled paper bead bracelet (right). Alas, no instructions for this one, but the image is pretty clear.
Book covered cellphone case
No instructions for this one, either, but I can give you a simple how-to:
- Buy a clear acrylic cellphone case to match the phone of your gift recipient.
- Tint or dye a sheet from an old book – depending on which book you pick and which page you choose, the results could be very interesting!
- Use decoupage glue or simple paper glue (that dries clear) to fix the page onto the case.
- When it is completely dry, seal the case with a layer or two of clear acrylic sealer.
A bouquet of flowers
Probably one of the more unusual but endearing uses for old books.
There are dozens of paper flower tutorials online (here)
The photos on the right are for inspiration, but here’s a visual tutorial for a stunning bouquet:
Woven paper bag from old books
The YouTube tutorial I’ve linked to here is for making a bag from magazine pages, but you can use old books just as easily. A coat of clear acrylic will seal the paper and making it splash proof (but not waterproof!).
Once you’ve got the principals nailed, you can use the same process to make totes and baskets and lots more.
Book planter with succulents
Such a cute idea! For the plant lover – the succulents don’t require huge amounts of water, which would help keep the book itself drier, but the DIY tutorial here tells you how to water proof the interior, anyway.
Bookstacked Table and Desk accessories.
No instructions for these. Just wanted to put then out there as possibilities. Some diligent searching on Google may unearth a how-to or tutorial, though.
This adorable hedgehog, on the other hand, does come with instructions, via Instructables.
Old Book Picture Frame
There are thousands of ways to use old books. I may feature more of them in posts to come. For now, here’s a last idea.
A book frame for pictures. (Right)
Complete tutorial here.
Gift wrapping, ornaments and decorations
And finally, one of the best ways to use your old books, and get more joy from them.
Gift wrapping, tags, bows and inspiration.