Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Want to make holiday gifts yourself or just looking to shrink the budget? DIY gifts can be fun for individuals or something fun for the whole family. Follow these tips from expert Debra Bracco. She has work showcased in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Marketing Portfolio and owns Fired Up Pottery Studios. Debra provided five tips for people who want to make holiday gifts themselves.

Debra Bracco
Fired Up Pottery Studios
4151 Washington Rd.
McMurray, PA 15317
(724) 941-0302

National award-winning artist Debra Bracco is the owner of Fired Up Pottery Studio, LLC. She is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in Graphic Design, and her work has been showcased and exhibited in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Marketing Portfolio. She has been an active graphic designer and artist for over 25 years. She resides in Upper St. Clair with two sons and one neurotic dog.


Think of the person you want to gift. Do you know their interests, hobbies or favorite colors? If you’re having a tough time thinking of the colors, consider colors that you see them wear most. People often wear colors that make them feel good about themselves. Does she love pink? Is she a coffee drinker? Does she bird-watch? How about a mug with a picture of her favorite bird painted on a pink background, or maybe a bed-side tray with some feathers silk-screened on top?

Related: Best Consignment Stores In Pittsburgh


Think of the function of the gift. Gifts can be a useful item or an item for display. You can create an item that hangs on the wall, sits on the mantle, comes out every holiday or gets used every day. Maybe the person loves animals and likes going to the zoo over the summer. Create a fused glass photo frame with zebra stripes and put a photo of the two of you inside.

Get Inspired

Look for inspiration before you start to create. Taking a walk and getting in touch with nature can help. A good resource from the Internet is Pinterest. Pinterest is filled with ideas to help get creative. Pin a few things that really speak to you, then print and bring them into the studio. We have many cool ways to help you in the creative process like silk screens, stencils and other great painting tips.

Time Management

Give yourself time to create. Start coming up with ideas a month or so before the holiday or event. Gather all of those ideas you found and bring them in. Decide if you want to paint pottery, fuse glass or create a mosaic, then leave yourself time not just to paint, but to have the item kilned. A window of two weeks takes the pressure off.


Don’t apologize! Own that great piece of art. A hand-made gift is a gift from the heart. It is a one-of-a-kind gift earnestly made with love. It does not require any great creativity or skill and can often be created for less money than a store-bought gift. This is your masterpiece.

Related: Best Places To Buy A Hat In Pittsburgh

Diane Straka is a freelance writer whose work can be found on