Earlier this year I gave my younger brother a tea-related gift, inspired by his asking me about loose-leaf tea over bagged: A teapot that came with a strainer for loose tea. It was no plain, simple teapot, however, as I spent fourteen hours carefully painting seven delicate and colorful koi on the surface of the teapot.

With the previous in mind and knowing we’re going into the holiday season, I thought I would list a few holiday tea gifts that can be crafted or assembled yourself for that special, personal touch.

Painted Teapot, Tea Set, or Mug
There are always numerous teapots, teacups, saucers, creamers, sugar dishes, and mugs to be found at thrift stores. Plain or fancy, you can add whatever embellishment you like or think the recipient would enjoy. This isn’t limited to drawing, either: Words or phrases such as “Joe’s Tea” “Special Blend” “Morning Survival” or “Sophisticated Addiction” are easy to do as well. I personally used these paint pens (though there were only eight colors when I bought them, leaving me a bit more limited) for easier and cleaner application. And remember that stencils work great if you don’t want to draw or write it yourself! Be sure to use a paint or pens that are food-safe, and follow the instructions for how to best ensure the paints are permanently dry before gifting. For the ones I used, it needed to air-dry for one day and then I baked it in the oven to set.

Custom Tea Blend
For those of us who enjoy blending their own tea or tisanes, it’s always an option to give a custom blend as a gift! Most loose herbs are very cheap and not too difficult to acquire. Small holiday tins or jars can be found at many stores–including thrift stores!–and can easily be labeled and decorated with a ribbon. I’ve made tea blends as gifts (sometimes even by request), and my biggest advice would be: Make sure to write down the recipe you end up using! I still wish I could remember everything I put in the chocolate and licorice black tea I made for a girlfriend to give her father years ago.

Doilies or Table Covers
If you have the amazing ability to make lace by hand (or are game to teach yourself the art using YouTube videos or whatever resources you have available) you can always make delicate lace doilies or table covers. Another option is to crochet them with a fine thread or yarn. A fun alternative would be to sew them out of many pieces of cut fabric like one would a quilt! Doilies and table covers add a touch of class and pomp to tea’s presentation and can make the everyday that little bit more special.

Personalized Tea Ball
While I generally consider tea balls to be too much effort, they can make a simple but practical gift for many people. All you need to do is find a cheap basic tea ball and remove the weight from the end of the chain by snipping the ring holding it on with wire cutters. Then affix a charm or charms that the recipient will like. The easiest way to add charms is to use a split ring (think of the kind of ring typically used for keys on a keychain). Carefully separate the ring with a butter knife (or whatever method you use for keys) and slide the charm or charms onto it. Both split rings and charms can be found online or at your local craft store.

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To be concluded tomorrow…