Do You DWO or DIY?

Do You DWO or DIY? {Love My DIY Home}

Do You DWO or DIY?

We are now through the Christmas season and it’s time to think about perspective and balance with the new year just around the corner. I heard complaining – a LOT of complaining about the “cost” of Christmas and how it has become a boring/stressful/unremarkable/frustrating time of year. This set me to thinking.

Why do some people dread this holiday season?

  1. They forget (or don’t care) about the reason for the season.
  2. They wait until the last minute to buy gifts and end up spending too much money.
  3. They take no delight in the music or decorations, seeing them as commercial and garish – reminders of the stress of the Christmas season.
  4. They see their family and friends as sponges, trying to suck the life out of them – they are hard to buy for or appear unthankful and selfish.
  5. Their gift giving becomes an expected competition that brings no satisfaction.


Why do some people L.O.V.E. the Christmas season? 

  1. Their focus is on those they love and Christ.
  2. They’ve creatively plotted and planned all year for decorations and gift giving.
  3. The food, music and seasonal decorations are amazing and their heart is comforted.
  4. They spend more time with family realizing how blessed they are.
  5. They enjoy seeing the delight on my family and friends’ faces when they give them their Joke Gifts.

Point #5   Three days ago on December 23 my mom passed away. That’s just two days before Christmas. I surely wish I could have seen the delight on my mother’s face when she saw that I had found the corner lazy susan she searched for more than a year. My kids have bags full of gifts for a grandmother that didn’t come upstairs yesterday morning like she had for the past 13 years. Yes, we still had joy on Christmas day. Why? Our joy at Christmas is a choice. It’s all about perspective.

All day today while I was out shopping with Mark, April, Taylor and Jillian I kept thinking, “Mom could use that for Christmas next year.” Then I remembered Mom wasn’t with us any more. Sometimes you have to work hard at choosing joy – but you can do it!

It’s all about perspective.
I’m a penny pinching, clearance searching, garage saler, dyed in the wool DIY’er, which means I don’t spend the big bucks others do at Christmas time because I spend the whole year planning for Christmas. I watch for clues about what each person lacks or loves and try to find something special to “wow” them. My fave part of the gift opening is watching and waiting for that, “Ahhh! How did you know?” or “I can’t believe you did/found/made this!”
I don’t spend much money. I look for deals all year long. I make a lot of my gifts. But I don’t make those cheesy, cheap and tacky gifts that go in the trash as soon as they get home.  I have a rule – it must look professional or it’s a no-go gift.
Last year I found a really nice and solid wooden child’s rocking chair that was a bit scuffed up at Goodwill for $3.00 and I spray painted it a soft vanilla color and put a huge red bow on it for my 2 year old grandson. It looked brand new out of the box.
Do You DWO or DIY? {Love My DIY Home}
I gave that gift with great confidence. I KNEW it was right.

Rocking chair – $3.00

Spray Paint – $3.57

Look on his face when he put his favorite bear in his new rocking chair – Priceless


When my daughter, Jillian, was in high school she had told me several times she would like to have a gum ball machine. I spent years looking for one of those old wrought iron pedestal gumball machines. I found one at an auction once, but the glass was broken.  I never stopped looking. Two years ago I found one (unfortunately NOT on a pedestal) at Kohls half price and I had a $10 off $10 purchase coupon.
Do You DWO or DIY? {Love My DIY Home}
I got it for $3.00. When she opened it last Christmas she said with misty eyes, (this still makes ME misty) “I can’t believe you remembered that!”  She was 23, married and in her 6th year of college and still wished for a gumball machine.
Last year Jillian and Taylor got into an accident on the highway on their way home to Virginia (Crisis on the Home Front – Are You Prepared?). They totaled their car but they were not hurt. We knew we were very fortunate to have them this Christmas.

It’s not about the money.

Someone told me they spent $3500 on Christmas gifts last year – they were resentful. That’s not Christmas, at least not MY Christmas.
We need to keep perspective. We gift because we love others. We search for just the right gift – to make sure our statement is just right,
“I give you this gift because I want to show you that you mean a lot to me.”
We get creative partly because we want to spend as little as possible and partly because we want to send the right message.

This is why I DIY.

  1. It saves money.
  2. It allows me to personalize my gifts.
  3. I love to be creative and use my gifts to bless others.
  4. One-of-a-kind gifts are, well, one-of-a-kind.
  5. I believe we should reuse/upcycle/remake/transform rather than buy new if possible. (I’m not a tree hugger, but I do believe we waste a lot of our resources whether it be money, time, or possessions).
  6. I don’t believe we need to “Do WithOut” to bless others. I “Do It Yourself” for myself as well as others.

Let me explain #6


I no longer DWO, I DIY…

I used to live like a poor person – at least in my head. I thought that since we were short on cash I couldn’t have nice things. I thought my ability to bless others required lots of cash and if I blessed others, I had to DWO (Do WithOut). Bonkers, I know. I’ve wised up and now I want you to wise up too.

Is this you?

You can’t justify buying things for yourself or your house because you’re so tight financially? Yet, you never think twice about spending money on the kids, giving to charity, or supporting ministry. I honestly thought it was my Christian duty to DWO. DWO was a way we could show humility and be a blessing to others.

But doing without, or DWO, always leaves you with a little dull nagging pain that never goes away. In the back of your mind you tell yourself you DWO so others might have what they need – so you can be a blessing to others. Honestly? That stinks. Oops, did I say that out loud?


Seriously. There is no reason you can’t do both.

You can bless others and have a fabulous home. Just Do.It.Yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. I know that for a fact. Don’t wait for your ship to come in. Don’t wait until someone sees your need (they never will) and don’t wait for things to get better. Just DIY.
Few of us can go out and buy whatever we want. Most of us must manage what we have, being careful not to waste our resources. There is no better way to stretch that dollar than to DIY both to have a fab home and to bless others.

Frugality ≠ DWO

Frugality means you are keeping your eyes peeled for good deals or opportunities, knowing what to do with them, and can change them (DIY) to suit personal needs or desires. To DIY to take something that is not usable by someone else, is out of date, broken, or just plain ugly, and turn it into something fabulous for home or family, or come up with a product or method that meets a need, saves money, effort or time. 

Are you a DIY’er or DWO’er?

You can see Christmas in a new light. Adjust your buying habits. Begin next year with a new perspective. Make a list of those you wish to gift and then listen and watch for clues. Frequent second hand and consignment shops. Hey, dumpster dive if you’re adventuresome (Dresser Turned TV Stand)! Watch for garage sales and “junk” alongside the road. Constantly be looking for deals and then paint, add to, or replace parts to make it one of a kind gift. DIY and stop DWOing!
Click here for some project ideas.
You will find yourself much more content if you surround yourself with DIY décor and you will save your budget and your sanity if you focus on DIY gifting.
Balance. Try it, you’ll like it, and be better for it.
You don’t have to DWO to be a blessing to others.
Do You DWO or DIY? {Love My DIY Home}
We at Love My DIY Home hope you had a blessed Christmas.
We did.
VAL @ Love My DIY Home

30 thoughts on “Do You DWO or DIY?”

  1. I've found that, especially as we get older, the DIY gifts are just so much more meaningful. My brother and I always struggle with what to get our grandfather. He truly doesn't need or want anything except for time with family. On Saturday, still giftless for him, I had a brainstorm. My brother and I wrote down some of our favorite memories of him and our grandma. There were about 45 of them in the old mason jar. The intent was for him to read one a day. He read them all that night while we were all sleeping. He then declared it the best gift ever and told us he was going to share that idea with others. It was a simple mason jar filled with rolled pieces of scrapbook paper. Total cost: free because it was stuff I'd had for years. But for him it was truly a priceless and treasured gift. 

    • Great idea, Sarah. Last year on her 85th birthday we surprised G’ma and she said it was the only surprise b’day party she’d ever had. The most priceless gifts are the ones that were thought out that show a person is treasured like what you did for your g’pa. She talked about that a dozen times since that night and was so touched that so many showed up and called over the next few days. It is such a good memory for us too.

  2. First, I’m sorry for your loss, I can tell from your post that your mother was special. I loved the post and plan to share it with friends who will enjoy it.
    I too love watching the faces of friends and family as they open gifts, more often than not I hear how do you always come up with such good gifts. I try to find items all through out the year for people. This year one of the best comments I got was from a coworker who said “Oh my gosh, you always give the best gifts! I don’t know how you always find the right thing.” The answer is I always look for items through out the year and I usually find something for everyone I’m looking for. The item I got her that she loved was a adorable ginger bread man for her collection that I got at an estate sale for $3 with a price tag still on it for $35. What a score, it was inexpensive and i knew she would love it and she did. Another friend and I have been talking for months of a need to get organized, so for Christmas I told her I’d help her organize her bedroom. It cost me my time and some gas money, to her it’s priceless. She doesn’t drive and had no way of getting rid of the boxes of clothes and other items we got rid of. It even inspired me to start on my own bedroom.
    Blessings to you and your family in this time.

    • Andi, thanks for coming by. I like shopping at estate sales too. You never know when you will find that “just right” piece for a friend. It says a lot when you pay attention to what they like and think of them when you’re out and about. I love scoring great deals too, expecially if it will make someone’s eyes light up in surprise. Thanks for sharing my post – I hope it will help someone you know.

  3. Sorry for the loss of your mother.

    But it sounds like you have a great perspective on life and especially Christmas. I chose a no-stress Christmas (well, aside from the breakdown about Christmas cards). Half of my decorations didn't get put up, I didn't bake everything I had planned, I took a two week break from blogging. I made simple things for everyone (food blogger, hello!) and just spent the days enjoying being with my husband and son who were off of school. BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

    • Simple is good – in the hustle bustle of life sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break and choose a different way. We chose simple and I’m glad we did. Rather than go crazy decorating, I bought a bunch of poinsettias and made our home festive that way. Easy peasy.

    • Keri, sometimes it takes us time to find what works for us – it would be so much easier if we’d stop comparing our lives to others and feeling the pressure to keep up or “do it like them.” We all need to find what is best for our family.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. 

    Christ is the reason for the season. I often see discontentment in the people who aren't celebrating his birth… or the people who've gotten caught up in the material/superficial practices.

    I love finding the perfect gift… and I especially love it when I found it at a good price or if I'm able to make something special.

    It looks like you were able to make some lovely Christmas moments.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    God bless-


  5. Very nice post.  With 11 children and many more grandchildren, my parents are not in the position to lay out a lot of money.  My mom likes to remind us that "gifts are a token of our affection, not a measure of our affection."  Used books make great gifts and they can be had for a dollar. I send my brother's boys (4 & 6) one of those musical cards every year.  They love it, and it drives the parents crazy — a double win :-D.  Most of us don't need things — we have too much junk already.  So little things are great and show us that we're remembered.  That's what most people want anyway.

    • I totally agree. We have so much as Americans and I’m very glad to see the trends change toward used and DIY gifts. We don’t need to buy new all the time – I like well thought out gifts that say something. Thanks fir visiting, Julie.

  6. Hi, Val. I'm sorry to hear about your mother. My mom, 93, died earlier this year. Thanksgiving was very difficult but things were not as bleak by Christmas. Last Christmas we struggled, as always, with gift ideas for her. We purchased an electronic frame and I spent weeks/months loading every photo I could find in dozens of scrapbooks of her childhood, long-gone relatives, her children and our families. She loved it and watched the slideshow every morning as she drank her coffee. By the way, I saw your link at Dwellings: Amaze Me Monday link party.

  7. Hi Val! I've been a DWOer and a DIYer! I have had the same mind frame that doing without is my Christian duty but recently have realized that being a good steward also means doing the best you can and making things look nice. IT's ok to have nice things. I also love the idea of making something for each family member for Christmas (something I've been talking about for a long time but never have done).  I do love to diy, something I haven't been able to do for the last couple of years. I plan to start doing more of it in the near future.  

    • Good for you, Renee! Your mindset is perfect and will bring you so many great things!

      We’ve talked about having a handmade Christmas too. It would be fun. I’d love to hear how yours goes this year – inspire us!

  8. You sumed it up perfectly. I love your definition of FRUGAL. People say I'm CHEAP… But frugal is certainly more descriptive of who I am. Putting effort and thought into a home-made or re-vamped made better item holds fsr more meaning in my eyes than purchasing a gift card or an expensive gift that has no emotional value.

  9. I am  a DIYer. There were only 5 of us and my parents but I always made gifts. Now I am old and I still make gifts. My sister loves elves. I made her an elf wreath of her and him.She cried. This year for her birthday she will be getting a Peace wreath. Tie dyed my little hippy sister. I made two mice to a set 17 sets of them from toilet paper rolls with cute ears and tails. 27 tin can snowmen. Cute as could be. With a micro blanket and rice I made stick in the microwave heat doggies for aches and pains. Grinch ball decorations. Bunnies out of craft sticks. We are all older now and do not need fancy things. My table in the dining room is non usable til Christmas Day. Our baby Jesus was born all those years ago. No one was disappointed in their gifts and I love making them. Hippy sis and Florida sis get homemade bath salts and lip gloss and what ever else I find to make in my saved for gifts folders. This year FL girl is getting a coastal windchimes which she has always wanted. Merry all year long to those of us who see what we can do with a jar. And not everyone is crafty. We still love you. 

  10. Thanks, I needed this post! I don't enjoy the Christmas season, because most of us go out of our way to buy too much stuff; stuff that the children pass over. 

    I live on $1,000/month very close to NYC where prices are high for shelter. It wasn't easy finding good housing in a good area. But I did. I knit and. crochet each year for gifts; wedding gifts too! 

    Altho my husband and I separated over 20 years ago, (well mainly because our dreams turned into disappointments.) I've never dated – finding another partner was not what it was all about.

    however difficult it was to raise 3 children reaching their teens, they never went without good food, clothing, first 'junker' cars, you name it. I still buy most of my clothes and housewares at thrift stores! But i choose to live this way. My special gifts for my children are items that I have had for a very long time. Even Christmas ornaments!

    Thank you for this article.

    • Yes, Dina, too often we overextend because we think it is expected. Our family is working at paring down and keeping it personal and not buying into the worlds’s philosophy. It sounds like you certainly have the right mindset. Have a great Christmas!

  11. I, too, love Christmas.  I love decorating, the music, cold weather and hope for snow, most of all the reason for the season.  We have 10 grandchildren and a great on the way, that live nearby.  It is expensive to buy gifts so I DIY a lot of mine these days as well.  I made sports necklaces for the boys that play ball, duffel bags for the girls last year.  It was fun but I have a tendency to procrastinate so I usually end up finishing the projects the wee hours of the morning the day we are having Christmas.  Several years ago I started having a skit, devotional, reading the Christmas story straight from the Bible, etc. before I'd let anyone open presents.  Now they all expect it and sit in the living room to quietly listen.  I pray each year that God will touch their hearts and draw them closer to Him or draw them to Him period.  Thank you for your beautiful inspiration.  (15 children, wow!! Talk about a busy mom.  You must have been SUPER MOM!! LOL, Love it!!! What a blessing).

  12. I agree with you. Christmas is so much more than gifts. My mother loved Christmas, she shopped throughout the year, and usually booked a toy party. We never lacked. , gifts love ,attention. She was a single mother after she and my fa there divorced. That was back in the 60's. She always taught us the story of saint Nickolas.   That Santa followed that example in giving to little children. 

    I am now getting into diy, on a small level. Always have stew n. Crafted. Enjoy cooking… Baking my fave. Have a vey blessed Christmas.

  13. I so love following you Val. Your my kind of lady. I too shop frugal. We live paycheck to paycheck. And go ally hunting. Which means we go down ally’s to find free things that we can redo. Or garage/yard sales. Thrift stores and stuff like that. Love what I’m doing. And your blogs and videos have been helping a lot. 

    Thank you for what you do. And God Bless you…



  14. What a precious read. I am a diyer, or I try my best to be. Thank you so much for the homemade chalk recipes. Im on your Facebook site and love seeing everyone’s work.

  15. I definitely am DIY! Half of the thrill is the hunt & the rest is refurbishing it or restoring it & then gifting it. Sometimes I end up keeping it & gifting it later.


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