You don’t have to be a crafter to make things. The items on this list are all things that anyone can make, whether you’re super artsy or have never crafted a thing in your life.
Back when I was first starting hosting craft nights at my house, I had a girlfriend who didn’t consider herself crafty. She would come, have a glass of wine, and chat, but she never brought a project to work on. She’d grown up in a house where making just wasn’t a thing. Her parents weren’t artsy, and she felt like that history meant she couldn’t be crafty.
The first time she participated in a craft night, I was decoupaging old glass jars and invited her to do one, too. It was a simple project, but she felt incredibly overwhelmed at even the idea of making something. I showed her how to paint on the glass with thinned glue and use strips of paper to cover the glass. As she painted the final coat over the paper, she almost burst into tears. It was moving to see someone realize that anyone can make things. You just have to start with what’s doable for you.
I firmly believe that: anyone can make things. You don’t have to be a painter, potter, knitter, or woodworker to create by hand. The items below are all things that anyone can make. No special skills required. They’re also cheaper, healthier, and better for the planet when we make them ourselves.
12 Things that are Better to Make than Buy
One last thing before we get to the list! I think that a big part of discovering your inner maker is looking hard at what you consider “crafting.” I consider something crafty if I made it myself and feel gratified when it’s done. You might be surprised at how good it feels to make even the simplest DIY cleaning, beauty, or kitchen staple.
1. all purpose cleaner – Homemade cleaning supplies can range from the super simple to the more complex. This recipe is one that anyone can create.
How to make it: Mix 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle. Screw the top back on, give it a shake, and you’re ready to clean!
2. baking extracts – Store-bought extracts are convenient, but all that it really takes to make your own extracts at home are a few minutes of work and then a few weeks of waiting. Homemade extracts blow store-bought out of the water in terms of price and ease. Plus, you can package your homemade extracts in glass instead of plastic.
How to make it: To make a basic extract, you steep your flavor ingredient in alcohol to create a flavor concentrate. Try these recipes for homemade vanilla, almond, and mint extracts.
3. plant markers – Unless you’re only growing one or two things, future-you will thank present-you for marking those plants.
How to make it: My two favorite DIY plant markers are made with clothespins or old wine corks. Just use a permanent marker or paint pen to write down what you’re growing. Clip the clothespin to a stick and stake it in the ground. For the cork, use a bamboo skewer, and stab it into the bottom. The chalkboard painted pot pictured above is a little bit more involved, but still easy to make. You can grab that tutorial here.
4. granola – Homemade granola is so much healthier than store-bought. It contains no chemical preservatives, and you can control what goes into it. A lot of granola recipes contain more sugar than they really need to. I’ve had success cutting the sugar in half. You can make up the sweetness by mixing in dried fruit at the end. Dried fruit is also sugary, but it’s unrefined, so you get a healthy dose of fiber with your sugar.
How to make it: Start with a basic recipe, and improvise! This is a good jumping-off recipe. You can play with cutting back on the sweeteners, mixing in your favorite dried fruit at the end, and trying different nuts and seeds.
5. air freshener – Store-bought air fresheners tend to be terrible for your home. They contain chemical fragrance, which is bad, bad news for your home’s indoor air quality. They might make the air smell better, but it’s at the expense of our health.
How to make it: My favorite DIY air freshener couldn’t be simpler. In a teacup, combine 1/4 cup baking soda with 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil. Give it a stir, and stick the cup wherever you’d normally use a plug in or spray freshener. Baking soda absorbs odors, and the essential oil emits a nice scent. You can freshen it up when needed by mixing in more essential oil. You can use the same batch basically until the oil starts to make the baking soda seem clumpy.
6. cleaning rags -Packs of store-bought rags are cheap, but there’s no reason to spend even a few dollars on them. Making your own rags saves you a little cash and keeps fabric out of landfills, no sewing required! We have a stash of rags made from old, cut up towels that we’ve used and washed dozens of times. They’re still going strong.
How to make it: Don’t toss things like old socks, worn out tees, and stained or torn towels. Grab a pair of sharp scissors, and cut them up into rag sizes. Socks don’t even need cutting up. For tees and towels, go for something around 6″x6″ to 8″x8″.
7. disinfecting wipes – Back away from the Clorox wipes, you guys. They may get the job done, but they also leave residues behind that are bad news. Homemade wipes are reusable and much healthier for your family.
How to make it: Grab a small storage container, some of those rags that you just made, and a few other ingredients and make a batch of disinfecting wipes. You want to use these up within two weeks, since they don’t contain chemical preservatives like the ones from the store do.
8. cold brew coffee – Cold brew is super hip, but man, is it expensive! You can make your own cold brew with no special equipment and no barista skills.
How to make it: Cold brew is just coffee that uses time instead of heat to extract the caffeinated goodness. This recipe for making a single serving of cold brew is perfect! Just set it up before bed, and in the morning you have a to go mason jar of iced cold brew.
9. deodorant – You guys, I have tried a lot of natural deodorants in my time. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect one for probably 10 years. For me, the perfect natural deodorant is effective and affordable.
How to make it: You only need two ingredients to make your own deodorant: baking soda and essential oil. The recipe might sound a lot like that room deodorizer. That’s because it’s basically the same thing. Here’s how to make your own two-ingredient natural deodorant that works!
10. perfume – That chemical fragrance that’s in air freshener also lurks in most commercial brands of perfume. I love making my own custom perfumes, because I can mix up whatever scents I want. And when folks find out that you make your own perfume or cologne, they will be so impressed!
How to make it: Combine around 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil (or essential oil blend) with an ounce of rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol in a small spray bottle. If you want my favorite homemade perfume recipe, you can grab it here.
11. brown sugar – I discovered how easy it is to make brown sugar the day that I realized mid-cookie recipe that we didn’t have any. Brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses. I busted into a jar of blackstrap molasses in the back of our pantry, and was back to baking in just a few minutes
How to make it: For light brown sugar, combine 1 cup organic white sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses. Stir to combine. For dark brown, up your molasses to 2 tablespoons.
12. seed starter pots – Plastic starter pots get the job done, but you can easily make your own recycled seed starter pots. They’re cheaper and less wasteful!
How to make it: There are so many ways to start seeds in DIY starter pots! Here are five options to get you started.