Watch CBS News

Ask An Expert: DIY Gift Tips

Marcie M. Ziskind
The Expressive Hand
622 S.9th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267) 519-2626

Marcie Ziskind of The Expressive Hand, a paint-your-own-pottery and American Sign Language studio in Philadelphia, recently shared some of her top suggestions for those who want to make their own gifts. Ziskind, who studied American Sign Language and Deaf Culture for a number of years before acquiring The Expressive Hand, enjoys sharing her passion for crafting unique, personal and hand-made works of art and gifts with children and adults in a warm, welcoming environment. People come here and relax while creating a one-of-a-kind, functional piece of pottery or fused glass, she says, adding that a heart-felt gift is one that people always appreciate receiving. When it comes to creating hand-made gifts, Ziskind recommends the following tips:

Know the time-frame needed to create each gift and plan accordingly. For instance, in Ziskind's studio, the turn-around for glazing and firing pottery is generally one week after the artist has finished painting the piece.

When creating multiple gifts, set your budget and work from there, prioritizing your list to make sure you budget your time and resources accordingly.

Plan when you will take the time to create your DIY gifts. If you will be working with a studio and know that it is typically packed on weekends, try fitting your creative time into the school day. Take an evening or a quiet morning, when kids are in school and adults are generally at work. Then you can spread out and take your time.

Make your gift-project a fun occasion instead of a must-do chore. Plan to come as a group, invite your friends or relatives, bring a bottle of wine, and enjoy creating in an environment that promotes fellowship and fun.

When working with children to make gifts, do it at a time in the day that you know they won't be tired or hungry. Know their limits and be flexible with them, or bring something to hold their attention (coloring books). Have proper expectations for what your child can actually create -- don't look for a Picasso in a 2-year-old. Remain engaged with your child. Don't take business calls when you've brought your child to a special place to create memories and gifts!

Related: Top Kids Art Classes In Philadelphia

If the gift is from a child, let it be from the child rather than re-working it yourself for style, appearance or function. Don't worry about paint being splashed about on your little one's work of art. If she is very young and/or not comfortable with or able to express herself creatively, help her personalize the project by adding a hand-print or finger-prints. Show your child some examples, allow her to select her medium, and encourage her to express herself through the creative process.

Defer to the professionals! If you are creating your gift as part of a class, allow your instructor to help you come up with creative ideas and designs. Ask for tips on technique, and ask to see examples. Instructors and shop keepers usually have great ideas and are trained to help the customer come up with a project that will work well with the client's needs, budget and skill set.

Related: Homemade Father's Day Gifts Kids Of All Ages Can Make

Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.