For some people, the best gift is more than a simple object; it’s a project. These kits will let those DIYers on your list build everything from a miniature spacecraft to a larger-than-life insect. Or show off your own talents and gift handmade tie-dyed fabric and personalized perfumes.
For the would-be astronaut.
From nothing more than a few thin sheets of metal and some deft work with a pair of tweezers comes this shining replica of the International Space Station. For the crafters on your list who don’t have quite enough patience for this more challenging model, manufacturer Metal Earth also offers more accessible space-bound miniatures, such as the Space Shuttle Discovery or the Hubble Telescope.
For the fashion plate.
Atlas Obscura course instructor Erin Eggenburg finds inspiration in the art of sashiko, the Japanese tradition of visible mending. At her online store, Wren Bird Arts, she sells the perfect starter kit for the sashiko-curious on your gift list with all the materials they’ll need to patch up their pants with intricate stitched patterns.
For the amateur Egyptologist.
The ancient Egyptians made paper from a reedy wetland plant known as papyrus—and so can the recipient of this kit, which includes the dried piths of the Nile native. The process requires several days and a lot of soaking, but the end result is a sheet of papyrus that would make a convincing ancient scroll.
For the colorful.
The Japanese art of kanoko shibori—an ancient technique of twisting and binding fabric to create complex dye patterns—is better known in the West as tie-dye. This kit includes the tools (and the instructions!) you need to create elaborate designs in brilliant indigo.
For the music lover.
Anyone can become a music-box maker with this old-fashioned crank mechanism and a specially designed hole punch. Wrap this up for your classical music-loving cousin, hard-rock sister, or the completely original composer in the family.
For the sun worshiper.
Cyanotypes have been around for nearly 200 years, and the process for creating these photograms hasn’t changed all that much since the 1840s. When sunlight hits paper that has been treated with photosensitive chemicals, it sets off a reaction. When you rinse the paper off, any part that wasn’t covered turns a deep blue color. These kits with pretreated cyanotype paper are a great way to create art while learning a little about the science behind photography.
For the astronomer.
This foot-tall 3D wooden puzzle lets you put your arms around the solar system. Enjoy the process of creating the heavens—this is a great family gift—and the result: When the puzzle is complete, a crank turns the planets in their orbits and lights the sun.
For the olfactory artist.
The Institute for Art and Olfaction teamed up with Perfumer’s Apprentice and Atlas Obscura to offer a kit of perfumery materials for newcomers to the craft. Explore the main notes from the perfumer’s organ—from woody to floral, boozy to sweet—and make your first blends. Want to learn more? Sign up for Making Scents: Experimental Perfumery With Saskia Wilson-Brown through Atlas Obscura.
For the entomophile.
Beetles can be beautiful. With this kit, the papercrafter in your life can construct some colorful, much-larger-than-life specimens that are pretty enough to hang on a wall or display on a desk.