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Make handcrafted gifts with these 6 classes and kits

Through Alabama Chanin’s The School of Making classes, aspiring sartorialists can craft pieces from regionally sourced organic cotton. Photo by Robert Rausch

During the holidays, crafting together gives families and friends a chance to create memories and one-of-a-kind gifts together. Luckily, Alabama makers have plenty of talent to share.

From glazed pottery to candles inspired by celebrities to pieces of musical Americana, ’tis the season to find your inner artist. Gather your favorite people to try these 6 at-home crafting kits and in-person workshops. 

1. Pour personalized candles

A Pour Bar workstation with a jar, wick, spoon, measuring jigger, and instructions.

During hour-long sessions at the Pour Bar, a scent stylist guides you through the blending process. Photo courtesy Auburn Candle Company

Design a signature scent at the Alabama candle shop that went viral on TikTok. Inside Auburn Candle Company’s cute cottage studio, you can choose from more than 85 fragrances to blend into into soy candles, wax melts, and reed diffusers.

During hour-long sessions at the Pour Bar, a scent stylist guides you through the blending process. Keep it classic with floral, citrus, and woody options, or choose from this plucky young company’s seasonal scents. Fireside, flannel, or first snow, anyone? 

Someone pouring a scented oil into a measuring jigger.

Keep your scent classic with floral, citrus, and woody options. Photo courtesy Auburn Candle Company

Co-founders Quentin and Tifani Bowden opened their doors just as the pandemic shut things down. To keep the business going, their team turned to TikTok, inventing wildly successful pop culture scents inspired by the likes of Harry Styles and Taylor Swift. Yes, there’s a Cardigan candle. From $24, depending on the vessel.

You may also like: Top hotels in Alabama for a cozy getaway

2. Twang together on handmade instruments

A handmade cigar box guitar leaned against a brick wall.

The Cigar Box Guitar Store offers simple guitar-making kits—no drilling or cutting required. Photo courtesy The Cigar Box Guitar Store

Upcycling never sounded so good! Huntsville’s Cigar Box Guitar Store—the only one of its kind in the country—lets you build a piece of musical history at home. The design of the cigar box guitar hasn’t changed much since its origins in the 1800s. Back then, clever musicians crafted the simple instruments from empty cigar box packaging, broomsticks, and strings.

The shop’s kits are designed so even those of us who are all thumbs will be strumming in no time. There’s no drilling or cutting required, and the kits even include the screwdriver. 

Schedule private or group classes, or pop into the shop on Saturdays for free music lessons. True aficionados make the pilgrimage to Huntsville in late May for the world’s longest-running cigar box guitar festival, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024. At-home kits, $125, plus shipping.

You may also like: Huntsville’s Craft Coffee Trail offers a caffeinated tour through the city

3. Create ceramics

Get your hands dirty at Cahaba ClayWorks at Earthborn Potteryled by ceramicist Tena Payne, whose dishes have graced the tables at some of Alabama’s most celebrated restaurants.

Artists at the Leeds studio teach students how to throw, trim, glaze, and adorn pottery during 4- and 6-week workshops. Spend as much studio time as you like between classes perfecting your pots, platters, and other creations. 

One-off classes, workshops, and youth instruction are offered periodically throughout the year with multiple days and time slots available. Is this your chance to make up for that lumpy ashtray you gave Mom way back when? Maybe! From $167.

You may also like: Alabama gift guide

4. Sew like a pro

Pin cushion, needles, thread and more sewing tools from Alabama Chanin.

Alabama Chanin holds virtual hand-sewing lessons and in-person workshops throughout the year. Photo by Robert Rausch

Make a winter warmer from one of the state’s most iconic homespun brands. Known for hand sewing, chic embroidery, and regionally sourced organic cotton, Alabama Chanin was defining slow fashion long before it became a trend. Founder Natalie Chanin’s trailblazing designs have grabbed headlines in magazines like Vogue and GQ

A pile of sequins on the table during a sewing workshop.

Sewers can read more about hand-embroidery techniques in Chanin’s book The Geometry of Hand-Sewing. Photo by Robert Rausch

Through Chanin’s School of Making, aspiring sartorialists can craft pieces from the collection. Beginner kits include the Stripe Scarf, which showcases hand-embroidery techniques outlined in Chanin’s book The Geometry of Hand-Sewing. More advanced sewers can opt for jackets, skirts, and corset tops. Virtual hand-sewing lessons and in-person workshops are held throughout the year. Virtual classes, $375–$475; in-person, $1,998–$3,998.

5. Make a mighty fine pen

Someone using a wood turner to shape a pen.

Shape a block of wood into a work of art during a workshop on the heritage craft of wood turning at Red Mountain Makers. Photo by Monique Johnson

Shape a block of wood into a work of art during a workshop on the heritage craft of wood turning. The president of the Alabama Woodturners Association and other experts lead sessions in the Birmingham-based Red Mountain Makers space. Learn lathe safety and how to create a one-of-a-kind wooden pen from start to finish. (Montblanc, eat your heart out.) 

The community maker space moved to new Hardware Park digs last year, roughly doubling its footprint. Members get access to metal, wood, fiber, an electronics lab, plus specialized tools like 3-D printers and welders.

Past gift-worthy winter workshops have included crafting holiday ornaments from stained glass, forging jewelry and tools, and building display-worthy cutting boards. Classes are open to the general public. From $60.

You may also like: How to have a magical visit to Birmingham

6. Add a custom sugar scrub to your tub

Bags of citrus and sandalwood salt soak from Aqualime Skincare.

Infuse your favorite ahhh-inducing essential oils, dried botanicals, and herbs into a scrub. Photo by Tenesha Carter

Can self-care be crafted? It can with Montgomery-based Aqualime Skincare. Tenesha Carter mixed her first batch of oatmeal bath for her son with eczema more than a decade ago. Thus, her love of natural, botanically based bath products was born.

Her concoctions include lavender whipped body butters, luxurious citrus sandalwood soaks, and a clever series of sugar scrubs inspired by iconic cocktails. 

Jar of Aqualime Skincare lavender whipped body butter.

Create your own body butter during one of Aqualime Skincare’s 90-minute workshops. Photo by Tenesha Carter

During 90-minute workshops, Carter brings her bag of tricks to your group. Infuse your favorite ahhh-inducing essential oils, dried botanicals, and herbs into a jar of sugar scrub, and pick up skin-care tips from a pro along the way. Price dependent on group size.  

Travel pro and guide author Jessica Fender loves to craft in her free time (and has the hot glue–gun burns to prove it). Follow her adventures at

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