Christmas gifts to make with your laser cutter and 3D printer
It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones can be a real chore – especially if it means you have to visit the shops, or you can’t find exactly what you have in mind online. But as the old advice goes, it is the thought that counts when you’re giving a gift, and when you combine that with the challenge of finding a great gift, there’s little wonder that so many creative people are inclined to make Christmas presents.
In this post, we’re looking at ideas to inspire your laser cutter, and 3D printer makes for Christmas gifts. Bear in mind that where we’ve linked to makes, you don’t have to follow them exactly. You might use the project we link to in its entirety, in part, or to inspire a completely different design – whatever you do, as long as the recipient of the gift is happy, that’s the main thing!
The great thing about making gifts with your laser cutter or 3D printer (or both!) is that as long as you have the right materials, you can make the items so they are completely bespoke. So, if you spot an idea for a friend but it isn’t quite the right colour, shape, or texture, then you can use your makerspace to make one that is perfect for them.
While making presents for friends and family might not work out cheaper than buying them in some cases, if you already have the filament, or other materials available to you, then making gifts gives you the opportunity to work on your design skills. Not only that, but if you already have plenty of materials to hand, it gives you the chance to use up offcuts and so on that might otherwise sit there for ages – there are only so many ways to use up sheets of glitter acrylic, or Perspex frosts and fluorescents, after all!
If you’re aiming to make this Christmas the year that you start to give sustainable gifts, then not only can you ensure that what you’re making is what the person will love and use, you can use natural materials like wood, cork, and eco rubber too.
Each year you’ve probably checked the most popular gifts and been put off buying anything from those lists because they include loud and irritating toys that kids will only love for 3.4 seconds before they are on to the next thing. When you make something for a child, they might head for the noisy and annoying presents first. Chances are though, a handmade, bespoke item you’ve made with your laser cutter or 3D printer will be the gift that goes the distance, and will be the one they will remember with fondness for years to come.
Sure, kids might be desperate for the newest Barbie house, or Hot Wheels toys that they have seen on TV or reviewed on YouTube – but wouldn’t they adore one that absolutely nobody else in the world has? Once upon a time, this type of project would have been made from wood and painted, and would have been a labour of love for the child. Today, these types of products are of course still created out of love for the child, but there are so many more options! If you’ve got a 3D printer, you can print those brightly coloured pieces that they crave, while if you’re using a laser cutter, you might use acrylic sheets or wood veneer to create the pieces that you need.
For kids that love playing house, this laser cut cottage doll house is great, as is this multi-level car garage – and if the lucky recipient is a massive car fan and could do with storage, how about this laser cut wall storage? The kid will love it, and when they get used to tidying their cars away, so will their parents!!! Whichever project that you use, or design you create or make for the kids in your life, adding little personal touches will make their day, and mean they will treasure their gift long after they received it.
Being able to create their own Christmas scene for the holiday period is a great way to help kids feel festive, and they can move things around as they wish – unlike in the main areas of the home! You can buy this type of thing, but if you’re a keen modeller and they’re fascinated with your 3D printer or laser cutter, then creating their own seasonal scene means you can continue to add new pieces to it each year. If they really treasure it, it is likely that they will continue to bring it out year after year, even into adulthood. If you’re planning to add to the collection year on year, you might want to add the year you make each piece – and don’t forget to keep measurements to hand, so that pieces in subsequent years don’t look out of place.
Depending on the religious beliefs of the household, you might create a nativity scene, or simply a snowy town scene. There are some lovely trees in this project, while this Mandalorian manger scene complete with Baby Yoda might appeal to older kids. If their home doesn’t have enough space to store or display lots of models, then use your laser cutter to create 2D models and add magnets to the back of them, so they can go on a magnetic board.
This tiny desktop version of the Simpsons TV that has a 3.5” screen that loops videos is perhaps the most kitsch thing ever! It takes a bit of building, and of course, there are electronics involved, but for lifelong fans of The Simpsons, this is a brilliant gift idea – whether they’re an actual child, or just a big kid at heart! Find the files here.
Those of us who have names that aren’t in the most popular lists found that we didn’t get anything with our name printed on it as a kid. While that is changing somewhat now as print on demand services make it easier than ever to get a mug, pencil case, or key ring with an unusual name on it, the novelty of being gifted anything with our name on it as part of the design is a cause for excitement. Not only that, if whatever you make them ends up going to school, there is a reduced chance of someone stealing it – and of course, you can always make them another if the item does get lost somehow.
Creative types, and people who are super-focused on their career can be tricky to buy for, especially if they already seem to have something for every occasion. If you’ve been listening to them throughout the year though, there are nearly always points of irritation, or something that could just be easier. If that’s the case, have a think on how you can make it better with something you can make – or just make something beautiful that they can show off when they’re in the office.
Got someone in your life that is a photographer, or who needs SD cards for their Raspberry Pi? When they’re working with multiple SD cards, it is way too easy to lose them – especially if they’re out and about regularly, like so many technicians are. This Swiss army style SD card holder is a great idea, and you could adapt the outer edges so that their name, or the name of their company is on it too – and there are other projects that are just as portable and desirable.
Although many of us have made the switch to using online calendars for scheduling appointments and work now, there’s something really nice about the act of writing in a real book to keep track of things and record what was happening. Creating a bespoke leather-bound journal that allows them to keep notes about their day, projects, their feelings, health goals or more is a lovely gift that they’ll enjoy using all year long. There is a great tutorial here, but get inspired – you can create all kinds of beautiful designs to engrave on the front of the journal.
While we’ve put it in this category, it is also a great gift idea for those who have become recently engaged, are planning a wedding in the next year, or are going on their travels – although bear in mind airline weight restrictions if they’re travelling! If they might need to be able to add more sheets, consider whether a ring binder version might suit their needs better.
Whether you’re creating a gift for someone who is firmly established in their career, they’re just starting out, or they’re a budding entrepreneur that is starting their own business, desk name plates are a formality that we think should be brought back into style. You might create a name plate with their current job title on it (especially if they’ve already snagged their dream role!), the on they intend to reach ‘one day’, or one with a joke title on it. Joke name plates are great for retirees – “Head of Relaxation and Travel Bookings” is a great idea!
Most of us know someone who is almost surgically attached to their PC, PlayStation, Nintendo, or Xbox – and buying them gifts for their gaming systems either gets expensive really quickly, or means buying credit for their respective accounts. If you’re not up for spending money like that, then giving them a gift that you’ve made that can enhance their playing experience (even if for a while) without costing a fortune is a great plan. Here are a few ideas that you can have a go at making for gamers of any age.
Gamers who enjoy driving games sometimes complain about their controllers not being quite as sensitive as they might like (of course, it wouldn’t be their thumbs at fault!). For these players, a mini wheel that they can strap onto their controller could be a great little stocking filler – and if it means that they are more likely to break into the next level on their game, that’s going to be a huge success. You can see the rack and pinion design here – but there are so many other add-on projects for all types of consoles. Just be sure to check which version of the console they have before you start 3D printing, or laser cutting your gift – it is very easy to get it wrong!
Anyone with teenagers (especially boys!) will know how often headphones are taken off and abandoned in front of the games console – and especially if they have been gifted a decent pair for their gaming, that can easily end up with breakages. A great headphone stand that can be placed alongside the console is a perfect gift idea, and is a simple make – and if they’re currently obsessed with a certain game or movie franchise, there are loads of projects that have already been created. There are headphone holders featuring Call of Duty or Lord of the Rings, which can make a great gift, especially if they have asked for other merchandise from those franchises – or a new set of headphones, of course. If they’re always losing earbud type headphones or complaining about them getting tangled, you’ll find hundreds of ideas for holding them too.
You’ll find plenty of Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo controller stands available on the different maker websites too – and for gamers that have amassed multiple consoles and controllers, consider making them a modular controller stand to help them keep things neat and tidy.
As you’ll know if you have a gamer in the house, atmosphere is everything when they’re concentrating on a game! While full darkness might be the way forward for many gamers, having a little light might be desirable – especially if it is on-brand for their console. Knocking up lights is easier than ever now that LEDs are easily available (they are inexpensive to buy and simple use in your projects) – this project includes PlayStation icons, while old school gamer fans will love this retro Commodore light box. If they’re into a certain game in particular on their PC or console – look at creating them a lamp that suits – this Minecraft diamond ore lamp is a great example.
One of the things that 3D printing is famous for is creating replicas of models from movies and computer games – and whatever the latest favourite is, there are all kinds of props to print. Whether they are currently into Fortnite, Minecraft, Call of Duty or something else entirely, you’ll find plenty of projects that have already been created ready to inspire you on any of the maker websites. We’ve suggested this as for the gamers, but if you’ve got a big fan of a certain genre of fiction, movie, or TV show, then this idea works for those people too – search the maker websites for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Pokémon and you’ll quickly understand what we mean.
Christmas is the time of year that we all indulge – even if it is just a little! With that in mind, there are some great gift ideas to put together for the home, whether you choose food-related gifts, or something that can be enjoyed all year round. Many of these ideas are easy to add to and make into something a bit more special, alongside some delicious cheese, wine, or whiskey.
There are loads of glass and decanter sets to be found online, relatively inexpensively. Buy one, and add a bottle of their favourite tipple (or one they have yet to try!) and you’ve got a pretty decent present – but by using your laser cutter to etch a design on the glasses and the decanter, and you’ve got yourself an outstanding gift. Engrave a festive message or pattern, maybe add a bottle of something if you’re feeling generous, and you’re done.
Instagram and Pinterest might be partly responsible for the rise in popularity when it comes to cheese boards coming back into style, but let’s face it, there are few of us that would say no to a delicious plate of cheese and crackers at Christmas. Pop a piece of wood or slate into your laser cutter, shape it, and just like our previous suggestion – engrave a message, pattern, or design on it. When you’re giving it to the gift recipient, add some truckles of cheese, maybe a cheese knife – and don’t forget to invite yourself round to enjoy some cheese and biscuits sometime.
If you’ve got a bird watcher in your family, then gifting them with their own unique bird house can be something that they enjoy all year long. When spring rolls around and birds are looking for places to nest, there will be much excitement as they find that their gift has become home to new parents and baby birds. There are loads of ways you can create a great bird box. This 3D printed caravan birdbox is very sweet, and the ‘towing bar’ at the front will make an ideal spot for fledglings to take their first flight from.
If you want something a bit more subtle and natural, there are some sweet design files for your laser cutter here. If you want to take this idea up a notch, add a tiny wireless camera to the design, so that they can monitor their new arrivals via their PC or their phone.
This is a particularly great gift for new home owners – especially if you know they’ve moved in with just the bare essentials. There are loads of ways that you can go about creating a beautiful vase for their home – if you’ve got a 3D printer, there are all kinds of vases that you can find the files for on Thingiverse, while laser cutter owners might decide to buy a simple vase and engrave it. Whichever way you decide to do this, be sure to pop a bunch of Christmassy flowers with it – red blooms, plenty of greenery and dots of snowy white gypsophila.
If you prefer giving a traditional potted plant over cut flowers – amaryllis or poinsettia, for example – then a festive plant pot that you’ve printed with your 3D printer, or a planter that you’ve made with your laser cutter are just as great.
For those who love flowers but lack the green fingers to keep them alive, what about this 3D printed poinsettia – it could easily be made into a tree ornament too.
That first Christmas with a new born baby is a precious one to treasure – and while there are no end of practical gifts that parents might be looking for, making them a lovely keepsake with your laser cutter or 3D printer is a great way to mark the occasion.
You see these absolutely everywhere around Christmas time – baubles, and decorative photo frames with the year on and words to the effect of ‘Baby’s First Christmas’. If you’ve got a laser cutter, then we’re certain that you can do much, much better than the commercially available ones.
In addition to being able to personalise the decoration with the child’s name, if you have a great photo of the baby, and a great laser photo package, you can engrave the photo onto the decoration too. Whether you design a bauble, photo frame, or another type of Christmas decoration for new parents, it is sure to make for a much more treasured gift than those tacky versions that you see in the shops, and it will come out year after year.
Personalised wooden blocks are a great gift for a new born baby – and depending on the shape and size of the blocks that you cut, you might add their name or just their initial, their date of birth, their birth weight, and the names of their parents. Your gift of laser cut blocks will be treasured by the child’s parents, and by making them yourself, you can guarantee that they won’t have anything else like it.
Whether the child has moved into their own bedroom yet or not, there are lots of options when it comes to this gift idea. Whether you have a laser cutter, a 3D printer, or both at your disposal, the interior design style of home that the family lives, and the gender the baby is will make a difference to the approach that you take. You might go for a simple wooden bar with the name etched into it, an intricately designed initial cut from card or wood veneer, or a bright and colourful 3D printed design. It might not be the most exciting of gifts, but a great name plate, thoughtfully made, will be something the parents will cherish, and that the child will love for years to come.
There are educational gifts, and there are the sort of fun gifts that might get parents of toddlers a few more minutes of precious sleep in the morning – and there are the sort of gifts that might satisfy both! A laser cut busy board is a great idea to help little hands to learn how things work, and especially if it is made for them from non-toxic materials. This is a great little gift idea, and is the sort of project that you can customise to use up bits and pieces that you have laying around pretty easily. If you’re not quite sure where to begin, this is a good project to take a look at and get your creative juices flowing.
Sometimes, you might be at a loss for ideas of what to buy or make for people – it happens to even the best shoppers! Luckily, if you’ve got a laser cutter or a 3D printer at your disposal, then you can make even a boring, standard Christmas gift feel considered and well-thought out.
Making little gift tags for presents might feel a bit over the top, but bear with us. If you can make pretty tags that can be repurposed as Christmas tree decorations, or used again, then you’re actually adding to the gift! Create a tag shaped design, or a tag that is based on decorative handwriting featuring ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Season’s Greetings’ or ‘Joyeux Noel’. If you’ve got thick stock cardboard, thin wood veneer, or other offcuts that are taking up space, these are great ways to use them up. If you’ve got a little one in the family, you could copy their handwriting for the laser cutter to replicate too – a lovely personal touch.
Gift cards might not be a very personal present to receive, but when you’re really not sure what someone might like or want, they are a great standby gift – especially for teenagers, or couples. A gift card for their favourite store or restaurant means that they can enjoy the money that you’d have spent on them, and you won’t be buying stuff they won’t like or use. A 3D gift card box won’t take too long to print, and they’ll almost certainly appreciate the extra effort that you have put in – here is a great project, and if you’re laser cutting then this pretty project might inspire you.
If you’re giving a bottle as a gift, then knocking up a quick presentation box with your laser cutter makes buying them a bottle or two of wine, or a nice scotch that much more thoughtful. A good wooden box always comes in handy somewhere after all, and you can use your laser to etch a message or design on it for good measure.
If you’re not even sure which store a person likes to shop at, or they have asked for contributions towards a trip, or a bigger gift, then sometimes giving them cash is the simplest option. If that’s the case, rather than giving them loose notes in a card, why not create a little puzzle box to keep them entertained for a while? There are loads of projects that you might make with your laser cutter or 3D printer, from byte boxes with up to 256 possible combinations, magic money boxes, through to complex cryptex boxes. Of course, when they have unlocked it (finally!) they can use it again to hide precious pieces away!
While making Christmas gifts can be a massive undertaking and at times you might wonder if it wasn’t just better to browse Amazon, there is a lot to be said for making presents with your 3D printer, or your laser cutter. Personalised gifts, and fun items are much more likely to be remembered for all the right reasons – and even if you’re gifting cash or gift cards, there are some great ways to make those gifts memorable too. If you’re in need of materials, we’ve got a great range, and if you’re looking for something specific, get in touch. If you’ve been inspired by this post, be sure to tag us on your social media posts – we’re @hobartsgroup on Facebook and Twitter, and @hobartslasers on Instagram.
All that is left for us to say is to wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous new year – we look forward to working with you in 2022!