giving: a clay vessel.

December 4, 2019

Just about one year ago, Rose Pearlman and I began collaborating on simple, useful craft projects that could be easily made from inexpensive hardware store materials and that can serve a practical purpose in your home. In celebration of the past year of working together, we’ve designed a series of holiday gift guides that showcase just some of the ways that these humble crafts can become a part of a special holiday gift—or simply be the gift itself.


a clay vessel kit.

All of the gifts below riff on the tutorial Rose and I created for making simple clay vessels. But if you’re not feeling crafty enough to make the vessel yourself, you can give the gift of a kit to a friend or family member to make one (or two) themselves. All you need is a ball of air-dry clay, a few biodegradable water balloons (see the original post for alternatives!), a wooden dowel or rolling pin (optional), a drawstring bag, and a note pointing the recipient in the direction of the clay vessel tutorial. If you’d like to recreate the tag we made here, this is the customizable rubber stamp set we used to stamp the url and search term onto a piece of card stock.

a jewelry holder.

These simple clay vessels look especially sweet when displayed in groups on a dresser or a countertop and they can serve as the perfect spot for catching jewelry at the end of a long day. Here, we paired a few differently sized vessels with beautiful hammered brass beads: in necklace, bracelet, and earring form, as well a delicate wire cuff from Nisolo, all ethically made by independent artisans in Kenya.

a match striker.

Turning one of these clay vessels into a handsome and subtle match striker is as simple as adding a square of match strike adhesive to the bottom of your bowl. Present the vessel with loose matches and a few sticks of responsibly sourced palo santo or another favorite incense. Give two clay vessels, and the recipient will have one place to keep matches, and another for burning incense. Note: The best part about handmade gifts is that they’re customizable. We shaped this particular vessel up and around the balloon mold to achieve a narrower opening that’s more conducive to neatly propping sticks and matches.

a sewing kit.

Help ease someone you love into the mending frame of mind with the help of a beautiful sewing kit. Here, we paired vintage spools of thread, a pair of tiny scissors, and a set of needles with a clay vessel to create a simple kit that’s lovely enough to keep out in the open.

a self-care stone.

Make a just-right-sized clay vessel to pair with a Body Stone from Kate McLeod. These moisturizing “stones” are made from cocoa butter and a blend of fruit and nut oils: sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, and fractionated coconut. They’re lovely on their own and even better when given along with a discreet spot to tuck them in. (I’ve got a mini Mama Stone nestled into a clay vessel on my nightstand right this very minute.)

a treasure cache.

The youngest among us hardly need encouragement when it comes to collecting tiny treasures, but a small set of clay vessels might just be what they need to help them wrangle their collections. Given along with a few magical treasures, like tiny felted fairies, wooden mushrooms, or pocket-sized babies from Acorn Toy Shop, you might even be able to convince them to stop toting home plastic bottle caps.


As always, we’re hoping these ideas serve as a guide in the truest sense of the word and provide a bit of inspiration for making a gift yourself, with the budget you have and the holiday spirit that best suits you. If you decide to tackle any of these projects on your own—for giving away or keeping close to home—we’d love to see. Tag @readtealeaves and @rosepearlman on Instagram and share with the hashtag #simplehandmadeholidayrmtl.

This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.

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  • Reply Anon December 4, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    These are all so lovely! Hoping to try at least one of these projects this season. I wonder what your thoughts are on re-homing handmade gifts… from a parent who’s taken up knitting, a grandfather ceramics, etc., etc. 😉 Is it okay not to hold onto a gift that was made for you with love, but that just doesn’t fit – literally or aesthetically – in your home? I’m not sure.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 4, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      Of course it is!

      • Reply Anon December 4, 2019 at 12:41 pm

        Haha, thank you! I agree but do still get a knot in my stomach, wondering if a gifted item will be asked about after it’s…departed, especially one that was handmade or otherwise special to the giver.

        • Reply steph December 4, 2019 at 3:55 pm

          so i havent read marie kondo but recently saw a few episodes of her show and i loved the concept of thanking the items before you let them go. i also like to imagine their future lives… someone may find it and treasure it and there is such a joy in that.
          ps. erin, best series ever! i love how they look like bulby garlic bodies and that you’ve included items to add. i want those tiny scissors/hoping to hit up that shop before my BIL and SIL move from boston 🙂

          • Anon December 4, 2019 at 5:11 pm

            Oh man, yes! We’re very Kondo over here and I have no qualms about sending off items we’ve brought into our lives, ourselves. I just struggle with donating things like, a playmat or artwork a grandparent made for our child that we most definitely wouldn’t have selected and didn’t need but will very much be asked about haha. No guilt, just fear of hurt feelings!

  • Reply Cori December 4, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    These gift guides are so wonderful and sweet. The homemade objects makes each gift so thoughtful and unqiue. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Maryann December 4, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Really love this series on giving!

  • Reply Katie December 4, 2019 at 3:02 pm


  • Reply Helen December 4, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    I love this series too! They may not happen this year, but bookmarking for future Easter baskets and birthdays.

  • Reply Ia December 5, 2019 at 1:44 am

    Love this!!

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