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DIY Gifts: Think Inside the Box

If you love curating the right gifts the way I do, you’ve probably walked through countless stores and been inspired by their displays and gift baskets. It’s a holiday tradition for stores to create sets or DIY boxes with all the ingredients your gift recipient needs to complete the activity, like baking cookies or making perfumes. While I’ve come across some beautiful DIY boxes, I’ve never bought them. I wondered why and came up with two reasons:

  1. They lack the personal touch. When I give a gift to someone I love or adore, I want them to feel the love and thought I put into it. Some obvious or hidden message that would personalize the gift.
  2. You’ll save time but you’ll pay for it. The prepared boxes are often pricier than if you assemble them yourself. 

With our help, you can save money and minimize the time while you maximize the personal touch. Your customized box will be complete in no time.

Here are some DIY gift box ideas for teens to inspire you:

DIY Gifts for Teens: Our DIY Gift Boxes

1. Succulent Terrarium Box

Terrarium in a box for holiday presentSucculents, cacti, and air plants are one of the latest decorating trends in teenage bedrooms. They’re best displayed in some form of terrarium or planter. For starters, you need the basics: a variety of beautiful succulents, soil, moss, and decorative stones. Now, you mix in other decorative items which can be personalized to the T. These can go anywhere from garden fairies, to Marvel characters, to mementos from trips or hints to their hobbies and accomplishments. Consider good luck charms and family heirlooms that long to be displayed. There are no rules. Think outside the box, then pack it into one.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Terrarium or planting box
  • Plants: Succulents, Cacti, Air plants, Fake plants
  • Base materials: Sand, Stones, Pebbles, Gems
  • Your Delight: Garden Fairies or Gnomes, Character Figurines, Mementos, Medals, Good Luck charms, Heirlooms, Interesting Nature finds, Secret messages

2. Sunshine Box

Basket of Yellow Gifts for Sunshine Basket
Winters are often gray and dark and cold. So what better way to brighten your teen’s day than with a box of sunshine. How do you do it? You venture out and find everything fun and yellow. Here are some starter ideas: Walk through the snacks and candy aisle. Think Lays, Peanut M&Ms, and everything lemon. Next, hop over to the beauty section and start with Burt’s Bees and honey sheet masks. Consider adding a yellow packaged sunscreen to the mix. Back in my college days, my roommate swore that using it as body lotion in the winter would lift her mood. Now, look at towels, socks, underwear, fidgets, stationery, mugs, and candles. Also, check out the small games shelf and phone accessories.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box: 

  • Anything yellow that fits in a box or basket!
  • Toiletries
  • Make-up
  • Socks, Underwear, towels
  • Fidgets, Stationary, Mugs, Candles
  • Candy
  • Add sunscreen for that sunny scent.

3. Cozy Night in Box

Who doesn’t like to cozy up by the fireplace or heater and lounge the night away? Give your teen everything they need to enjoy their off-time in style and comfort. This is probably a box you’ve seen in stores, but here’s your chance to pick a blanket in your teen’s favorite color, opt for the socks or slippers they’ve been eyeing, and select the hot beverage they prefer. Other things to add: Books, Magazines, a Netflix, Spotify, or Audible subscription, cookies, popcorn, hand or foot masks, a journal, and a heating pillow.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Basic: Blanket, Pillow, Socks, Slippers
  • Beverages: Hot cocoa, Tea, Cider
  • Snacks: Popcorn, Chocolate, Cookies
  • Add-ons: Books, Magazines, a Netflix, Spotify, or Audible subscription, hand or foot masks, a journal, and a heating pillow.

4. Travel Essentials Box


Any trips in your teen’s future? Make sure they’re well equipped. Before we get to my suggestions, ponder what it is the gift receiver always loves to have or struggles with while being on the road. Are they always running out of charge on their phone? Or do they grapple with motion sickness? Whatever it is, address those issues first with the right products. Then, consider items like these: Neck pillow, eye mask, Tide pens, airport-approved soaps and lotions, travel toothbrush, hand lotion, dry shampoo, make-up wipes, clear TSA bag, luggage tags, packing cubes, anti-theft backpack or wallet, gum, travel games, cozy socks, deodorant, charging cable, air pod case, and their favorite snacks.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Comfort: Neck pillow, Eye mask, Blanket or scarf, headphones, Socks
  • Laundry: Tide pen, Packing cubes, Shoe bags
  • Toiletries: Airport-approved soaps and lotions, Travel toothbrush, Hand lotion, Dry shampoo, Make-up wipes, Deodorant, Clear TSA bag 
  • Other: luggage tags, anti-theft backpack or wallet, gum, travel games, charging cable, air pod case, and their favorite snacks.

5. Candle-Making Box

Candle making homemade kit for holiday giftGermans refer to the week before the New Year as the “Week between the Years”. Not only is it a time to ponder the past and the future, but it’s also a time to slow down and create an atmosphere of reflection. This doesn’t need to mean to sit quietly. I’d argue that some activities keep our hands busy while thinking about life. Candle-making is one of those. So go ahead, and assemble a kit for pouring candles that will surely provide fun, focus, and festivity. Pick your vessels first and get personal. These containers can range from simple jars to antique coffee mugs to the receiver’s favorite colored tins or bowls. You’ll need wax, of course, plus a melting pot and a thermometer. Pick wooden and cotton candle wicks and a centering tool. Now that you have the basics, add the recipient’s favorite scents as oils, their favorite color as a wax dye, and their favorite flower as a pressed variety.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • The Basics: Wax, Wicks, Vessels
  • The Tools: Melting pot, Thermometer, Wick centering tool
  • Your delights: Scents, Oils, Wax dye, Pressed flowers

6. Workout Box

Gift in a Box for Exercise
Got an athlete in your home? Or someone with a strong New Year’s resolution? A thoughtful workout box could be the perfect gift for them. Consider experience, strength, and goals when you’re picking items to include in their set. Sporty outfits are of course a simple way to match the giftee’s personal taste, but also weights, dumbbells, stretch bands, yoga mats, and water bottles. Think about shower sheets when they don’t have time to wash, shoe de-stinkers, and a new Fitbit band. Headphones, touchscreen-ready gloves, and a headband are great presents for the runner on your list. A lock for the locker or bike, a massage tool, and a towel go nicely with this box. Consider presenting it all in a new gym bag.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Clothing: Sweats, Shorts, Shirts, Tops, Socks, Underwear, Caps, Sweatbands, Touchscreen-ready gloves
  • Gear: Weights, Dumbbells, Stretchbands, Yoga mats and blocks
  • Accessories: Water bottles, Shower sheets, Shoe deodorant, Fitbit Band, Headphones
  • To hold it all: Gym bag

7. “Smells Good in Here” Box

Gift in a Box for Lovely Scented Products
Looking for something that fits the person who has to stop and smell the roses, the candles, and the lotions? Think about making it a set fit to please their dominant sense. If you know the receiver’s favorite smell, definitely take it as the lead but do some research on what secondary scent goes well with the first. For example, Lavender matches vanilla, cedarwood goes with orange, and ginger pairs with lemon. Then go nuts and fill your box with candles, lotions, oils, bath bombs, car fresheners, diffusers, scented pencils, and perfumes. There are even scent-infused nail polishes and slippers.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Basics: candles, lotions, oils, bath bombs, car fresheners, diffusers, perfumes
  • Unexpected: Scent-infused clothing, Socks, and Slippers, scented pencils, Dried herbs and flowers

8. Palette of Fun Box

If you have an artist or painter to choose for, or maybe the person who needs a little nudge to bring some creativity to their life, painting supplies could be a perfect choice. Start with a blank canvas or two and a sketchbook. You might want to focus on one medium, e.g., sketching, and get all the pencils, charcoal, and erasers needed. For painting, you can cover the whole “palette” or you can pick items suitable for either oil, watercolor, or chalk. However, don’t feel boxed in by what traditional painting looks like. There are many new and fun ways to create art, so if the spacy glitter palette catches your eye, go all out.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Basics: Canvas, Sketchbook, Watercolor paper
  • To start: Pencils, Erasers, Brushes, Charcoal, Watercolor, Chalk, Oil
  • To finish: Glitter, Stencils, How-to books

9. Meal in a Box

Cookie Ingredients in a box for a holiday gift
Meal delivery services have nothing on you, since they don’t know what exactly the person needs to make their old (or new) favorite meal. This box works best when you can already plan on the receiver preparing the food in the next two days. And since you’re buying as fresh as possible, it’s a great go-to present for the last minute. You don’t need a complicated recipe, but if you choose simple (say, Mac’n’Cheese), come up with ideas on how to upgrade it. E.g. you can add pots of fresh herbs, buy that aged parmesan that is too much for a regular meal, or add fancy table salt. If you’re assembling a box for a sweet tooth, put together everything you need to bake those perfect cookies!

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • All the ingredients needed to make your recipe
  • Cookbook
  • Fancy add-ons like special spices 
  • Fresh Herbs
  • A Pot, Cooking pan, or Baking form to hold it all in

10. Outdoor Survival Box

Want to foster a sense of adventure in your teen, all while knowing they’ll be okay even if they run out of cell service? If they go hiking or trekking, ensure they have the essentials in their backpack (which might be just the right thing to collect all the survival items in). You can start with a first aid kit, a flashlight, a water filtration bottle, and a pocket knife. Then look for a waterproof tarp, a fire-making kit, and a whistle. Add a rain jacket, a compass, and sun protection. Depending on how adventurous your teen is, add items that match the difficulty of the trail, forest, or mountain they’re exploring.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Injuries: First Aid Kit
  • Unexpected delays: Flashlight, Water filtration bottle, Waterproof tarp or tent, Fire Making Kit
  • Weather-related: Rain jacket, Sunblock, Quick drying towel
  • Other: Pocket Knife, Compass, Hiking Sticks

11. Bookish Box

Yay, you’ve got a bookworm, which means you have permission to stroll through the nearest bookstore and fill a basket with books from their favorite authors, graphic novels they can’t put down, or comics that fill their imagination. On top of this, add a blanket and a mug that reflects their literary style. Add bibliophile pencils, bookmarks, and candles that contribute to the best reading experience. As an added possibility, consider buying two of the chosen reading material, then reading it along with them. Add a gift card to their favorite coffee shop to meet up and discuss.

What To Buy For Your DIY Gift Box:

  • Reading materials: Books, Graphic novels, Comics, Magazines
  • Cozy: Blanket, Socks, Mug, Candles
  • Accessories: Pencils, Highlighters, Bookmarks, Gift Cards
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