Handmade gifts are the best gifts. It’s a fact of life. Knowing that a real person took the time and effort to create something just for you makes any gift-giving occasion a little more special. Unfortunately, not all of us have been gifted with the ability to create clever gifts using only our hands and the tools we have available, not to mention the time to try. Luckily, thanks to the Internet and the magic of Etsy, the crafter’s marketplace, you can give an original work of art at a reasonable price.
1. Dog Comfort Zone You Can Wash
Floridian Shawn Bing is making custom fabric back-seat mats for your pet. What a thoughtful gift for somebody you know who travels with a dog or two in the back seat. Made of colorful quilted fabric, the seat cover fits adjustably in the back seat with Velcro and comes out to get tossed in the washing machine. It comes in sizes up to XL for the capacious back seat of an SUV, and it costs a mere $69.
Here are some car-related gift ideas we loved on the Etsy site. Many have a turnaround time, so shop early if you're looking for Christmas delivery.
2. Washable Car Seat Covers
Etsy user Elizabeth West's Liz's Stitches creates customized baby and toddler seat covers using colorful fabrics. Customers can pick out a fabric and design, and West will sew a cover and embroider a name on the front. She offers fabric choices from camo to polka dots, so your specifications are almost certain to be met. The best part? These pieces of personalization cost as little as $30.
3. Colorful Organizers
It is a truth universally acknowledged that children on long car rides need a lot of distractions to keep them happy. Books, crayons, games, snacks, and other items to help kids tolerate being strapped to a seat right next to their siblings for five hours in a row. There are many sources on Etsy for car organizers. They hook over the back of the front seat like a shoe organizer on a closet door. Like any good organizer, they provide you with plenty of little pockets for water bottles, snacks, toys, and board books. The organizers are available in an almost endless array of colors and designs, and most cost around $30. Check out shops like ashleyNEF and khloes.
4. Vinyl Self-Expression to Order
Etsy is a great spot for locating unusual vinyl car stickers or ordering one made to order. Two popular applications shown on the site are formal monograms and variations on the stick figure family theme, all sized for the back window of an automobile. Many of the decals are less than $5 a pop. Check out PerfectlyAligned (specializing in Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter designs) and EpicFamilyDecals.
5. Rename the Car, Perhaps in Klingon
Getting tired of cars with alphabet soup names? Yeah, us, too. If you’re looking for a name with a little more character, head over to the EmpiraCraft Etsy shop. Owner Jason Davies molds clever car names from plastic and silicon. They may not be as shiny as the emblem that came with your automobile, but they are probably more culturally resonant. Shop owner Jason Davies gets his inspiration from sci-fi books and movies. Some of the plaques bear the names of ships from Star Wars, others are Doctor Who, Harry Potter, or Simpsons references, and they all cost $15.
6. Get on the Stick-Figure Bandwagon...Or Not
Go ahead and proclaim your family togetherness with some of those vinyl stick figures that show how many kids, dogs, and parents you've got. In a mood? That's covered, too, with stick figure variants that range all the way up to the HouseHold Words' hilariously aggressive "Run, You Stick Bastards" decal (only $6, and think about all the people you'll get to talk to in parking lots!).
7. Holidays Not Complete without a Zombie Gnome
If you ask me, the zombie gnome rear-view mirror mascot is a little gruesome, but it could be just the thing for a teenager looking to make a statement. The ornaments are a riff on garden gnomes. Yes, you can dangle an undead green face with blood red paint and prominent skull bones off your rear-view mirror. Shop owners Chris Stever and Jane DeRosa say on their page that they can expedite orders for the $6 gnome heads. Get your order in by December 7 to get it before Christmas.
Of course, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg with Etsy. If you’ve got a few hours and a credit card, you can buy from craftspeople all over the country without getting off the couch, and give your friends and relatives some homemade gifts for the car without getting near a sewing machine or a glue gun.