People displaying what they made at Board & Brush in Portland. Courtesy of Board & Brush

Remember when you were a little kid and you’d come home from school and give your mom a Christmas card you made yourself? It featured a creatively-spelled holiday greeting written in smudged magic marker and lots of glue, and she loved it.

Never underestimate the emotional power of a homemade gift, especially right now. Plus, with the pandemic raging, you probably don’t want to go shopping at the malls as much as in past years. So take advantage of time on your hands and make a gift for someone this holiday season.

Not very handy or crafty, you say? Lucky for you, others in Maine are; in fact, some make a living at it. So it’s not hard to find a workshop or lesson where somebody is willing to teach you the skill you need to make a DIY gift.

Some teach in person, some online, and some offer free workshops and pointers. Here are a few ideas for how you might make like an elf this year and get busy in your own holiday workshop, with some help. Check websites or call for COVID-19 safety precautions at individual venues, especially since state guidelines could change.

A design people can make at one of the Artful Nights Maine paint parties hosted by artist Nicole White. Courtesy of Nicole White


Gardiner artist Nicole White of Artful Nights Maine is hosting free online paint parties this month, with Christmas scenes in mind. She’s hosting one Sunday and another Dec. 20, both at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live. White will guide people through a specific design – a gnome or snowmen – so they can later surprise someone with their handiwork. For more information on the paint parties, including what colors you’ll need for each session, go to the Artful Nights Maine Facebook page.

White is also holding in-person Artful Nights Maine events in various locations this holiday season, where she helps people paint a holiday scene on a wood pallet, materials and wood included. She’ll be walking people through painting a scene of a red truck on snow Thursday at the Fairground Cafe in Topsham, and she’ll help people create a snowman scene on a lighted wood pallet Saturday at The Fusion in Windsor. She’s also got events Dec. 15 in Lewiston and Dec. 16 in Sabattus. Prices range from about $35 to $65, depending on the size and style of the artwork. To register and for more information, go to and search “Artful Nights Maine.” Class sizes are limited, tables are spaced and masks are required.

Artist and printmaker Jaime Wing will teach you to make greeting cards online. Courtesy of Jaime Wing


Why pay someone to write a funny/heartwarming Christmas card when you could do it yourself? Portland artist and printmaker Jaime Wing can help you make your own holiday cards in an online workshop for just you ($50) or for a group of five or more people ($25 per person). Wing can suggest materials you will need, including an ink roller, and then show you how to make stamps and use them to create your card. Or he can show you how to do paper embroidery to create an eye-catching card or to print your own textiles. To register for an online workshop, go to or email Wing at [email protected]


In Greater Portland, there are places where you can build a gift out of solid wood yourself without getting sawdust on your kitchen floor. One is the Board & Brush on Cross Street in Portland, which will host pick-your-project workshops at 6 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, as well as on Dec. 18, 19 and 20. The cost is $68 and includes the wood and all materials, like stains and paints, as well as step-by-step instruction by staff. People can choose from hundreds of designs, including signs, planters, wall-hangings, frames, boxes or trays. Whatever you build can be personalized with family names or dates. Space is limited because of COVID-19, and masks are required. For more information and to register for a workshop, go to Private workshops for groups of six and virtual workshops can also be arranged, and take-home project kits are available.

An example of one of the designs people can make at The Workshop in Scarborough. Courtesy of The Workshop

Another place to come with nothing and leave with a finished product is The Workshop on Route 1 in Scarborough, hosted by Oak Hill and Dunstan Ace Hardware. Projects people can choose from include signs, flower boxes, trays, sconces, lanterns, a Lego tray and more, mostly made of pine from Hancock Lumber in Saco. Many of the designs can be customized. The Workshop has “make-and-take” sessions scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m., Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. and two on Dec. 19, as well as other workshop sessions. People can go online to choose a project by browsing dozens of images. Prices range from about $35 to $60, all materials included. Classes are limited to six people to maintain social distancing. To see projects and to register for a workshop, go to


Impress the folks on your Christmas gift list with not only your gift-making skills, but your commitment to the environment. Rockland artist Kim Bernard will hold a free online workshop Saturday at noon with ideas on how to make 12 “upcycled” gifts. She’s calling the two-hour workshop “12 on 12/12 at 12.” People will need to have an array of colorful plastic bags, an ironing board, towel, parchment paper, scissors and an iron on hand, plus just stuff you have hanging around the house. Projects include a pendant made from a plastic lid, a chip bag wallet, a bracelet and earrings out of plastic straws, and several things made from plastic bags, including a purse, a kite, a doily, a wind sock, a sun catcher and a change purse. Bernard says the workshop is appropriate for ages 12 and up. For more information on Bernard and to access her event via Zoom and Facebook Live, go to If you want more ideas of creative things to make on your own, Bernard sells Daily Art Prompt kits, and you can find the link on her website.

Rockland artist Kim Bernard will hold an online workshop Saturday showing how to make 12 “upcycled” gifts from stuff around the house. Courtesy of Kim Bernard

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