If there’s one thing I’ve learned from blowing off holiday shopping, it’s that there is a painfully thin line between a cute DIY project and absolutely losing the security deposit on your small, already questionable apartment. With the rise of sites like Pinterest, it has become easier than ever to make gifts on a budget, and since my third-grade cousin has a monopoly on quality macaroni art, I’ve had to up my game. With everything from home improvement to vegan hair dye under my belt, I’ve come up with a few basic rules of thumb to help you avoid the disaster that is 90% of the holidays.
Measure twice, cut once.
Accidents happen, and that’s usually ok, but you get bragging rights if you get it right the first time. Double checking measurements, ingredients, steps, and even results can save you from a whole mess of issues. Like an embarrassing dye job… or third-degree chemical burns on your scalp.
Are you really saving money or are you a damn hipster?
I’m convinced that the DIY trend train exists because young people can make anything seem cool, including being poor. Even though the initial idea was to save some cash by making at-home, knockoff versions of your favorite things, upper middle class soccer moms everywhere have hijacked the genre and turned it into a talking point instead of an actual way to make rent this month. This should be obvious, but just in case — if you’re spending more money making the thing than you would just buying the thing, you are wasting your time. Don’t be a Brenda.
CAN YOU COMMIT?
This might not apply to the festive cupcakes you’re throwing together, but it definitely applies to the wall you’re trying to knock down. You probably aren’t a professional, and you have to be ready to commit to the potentially garbage fruits of your labor. I’ve found that calling the new hole in your wall “bohemian” creates the illusion of innovativeness and throws visitors off the scent of your complete and undeniable lack of skill.
You may want to test that homemade acid peel on a discrete part of your arm before you slather it all over your very vulnerable, not-so-great-for-acid face. Duh.
You’re not a doctor.
Lip contouring with leftover eyeshadow? Super cute and innovative. Trying to give yourself Botox? Not so much. Whether you live that DIY life to save money or to brag to your way less artsy friends, it’s never a good idea to cut yourself open. And while I personally love pantry remedies for the occasional cuts and coughs, you won’t be any less trendy, hip, or cool if you stop by the hospital for that broken leg.
Do your research. You have the internet.
There is no such thing as a stupid mistake, but there are mistakes that make you look stupid. Luckily, we have Google, so if you make one, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Before you blindly follow instructions, consult your local Google to make sure that you’re making the cheapest, smartest, and most effective choice. Then don’t tell anybody that you checked the internet, because we’ll all laugh at you for not knowing exactly what we know. Which is like, so much more than you.
Asses the risk.
Messing up a tie-dye craft with your kid sister is not a big deal. She doesn’t have any fashion sense anyway. Worst-case scenario, you disappoint an 11-year-old; best case scenario, you get to be the stylish sibling for a few weeks while the rest of your family pretends that tie-dye is still a thing. On the contrary, doing your own electric work can lead to house fires and death. Best case scenario, you get a nifty new light switch; worst case scenario, you burn down your apartment. It’s super embarrassing. Hundreds are dead.
Don’t risk your life.
This is a good life lesson. You should approach every situation with an open mind, because opportunity is everywhere. Everywhere but death. That just hurts.