Super-Simple DIY Holiday Gifts For Dogs & Their Humans

Not to burst your bubble…

…but your sister’s ultra-lovable Labradoodle doesn’t give two sniffs about where you bought his holiday gift, so long as it’s delivered with love and snuggles. When it comes to gift-giving for dogs and their humans, it’s the thought—and deliciousness!—that counts. This Christmas, try making your own holiday gifts for the dog lovers in your life.

A Framed Photo

In the age of digital everything, most pet owners have lots of photos of their four-legged family members. But very few of us take the time to get those photos printed, and fewer yet have the time to get those prints framed. For a super-simple DIY gift, find—or, better yet, take—a fun photo of Fido, get it printed, and stick it in a nice-looking frame. Don’t have time to take your own photo? Browse social media—you’re guaranteed to find something frame-worthy. For bonus points, offer to take your loved one’s pet for a walk and do a secret photo shoot with props, fun accessories, and a nice backdrop. Feel free to decorate the frame, too.

A Make-Your-Own Tug Toy

Most dogs love to play tug, but roughhousing can destroy cute plush toys. So make your own tug toy! Visit your local fabric store and ask for scraps of fleece fabric (or sacrifice an old shirt, pair of jeans, or towel.) Cut the material into strips—for bigger dogs you’ll want longer strips, and for smaller dogs you’ll want shorter strips. Gather all the strips into a handful, tie in a knot, and tug to your heart’s delight! For extra holiday cheer, use festively colored fabric: red and green for Christmas, blue and yellow for Hanukah, etc.

Homemade Cinnamon-Sweet Potato Chews

For a sweet healthy treat, try making your own sweet potato doggie chews. They’re cheap, simple to make (only three ingredients!), and grain-free, so you can feel great about feeding them to all your four-legged friends. Plus they’re so chock-full of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that you’ll want to munch on them yourself!

To make the chews: preheat oven to 250 ºF, then slice 2-3 sweet potatoes into strips about ¼” thick. For large dogs, slice lengthwise; for smaller dogs, chop into narrower pieces. Toss the sweet potato slices in a large bowl with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a dash of cinnamon, then place on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 2-3 hours, then let cool completely. Stored in an airtight container, these treats will last for at least a month.

Coupons for Dog Sitting

As all dog owners know, a good pet sitter is worth their weight in gold. To give a gift that will be cherished, offer something useful: a dog walk, a weekend of pet sitting, even a coupon that can be redeemed for an hour of playing fetch. If you want something festive to put under the tree, make your own coupons, either with an online template or your own colored paper.

Meet the Author: Charlotte Austin

Charlotte Austin is a Seattle-based writer and mountain guide. She has climbed, explored, and led expeditions in North and South America, Nepal, Europe, Alaska, and Patagonia. Her writing has been featured in Women's Adventure, Alpinist, Stay Wild, and other national and international publications. When she's not guiding in the Himalayas, she's exploring her hometown (Seattle, Washington), trying new recipes, and hanging out with Huckleberry, her giant black Great Dane-Lab mix. Read more about their adventures at

Home Cooking for Pets 101
The High-Tech Doggie Gadgets You Didn't Know You Need