Holiday Spirit Contest Winners and Favorites

We got so many incredible entries for our Holiday Spirit contest that we wanted to showcase several of our favorites here for you.

Here at Family Handyman, we know we have talented readers, so we love seeing the things you all create.

We had hundreds of entries in our Holiday Spirit contest. And while we can’t show all of them in one article, we did want to showcase the winners, as well as some others that captured our attention.

1 / 10

Vespa Rocker
Courtesy Chase Young

Winner: Gift

Chase Young submitted the coolest Christmas gift: a vespa rocker. Young’s husband is quite handy and loves to make gifts for the whole family.

“My talented husband is constantly making creative and special gifts for my three boys and I from a jewelry box made from a walnut tree near the house I grew up, to tool boxes, to picture frames, to an Evil Knieval themed mini bike to a gorgeous custom mid century modern home,” she says. “He loves projects!”

This project was their new baby’s first gift.

“Our baby (born on Christmas Eve) just got his first incredible Dad gift,” she says. “It’s a rocking horse Vespa pattern after my husband’s own 1958 Vespa. It’s made from 3/4-in. plywood, has a working tap headlight, adjustable seat and reflective tail light.

“The most exciting part is that the Vespa detaches and becomes its own balance bike with real wheels. Our baby smiles every time he’s on it. He knows it’s his gift and makes vroom sounds as us other family members push him around.”

2 / 10

carousel
Courtesy Jason Adamson

Winner: Decoration

Jason Adamson created a clever winter decoration: a carousel. Adamson says it was “inspired by German candle carousels (but without an open flame).”

Adamson used four kinds of wood to create this: maple, cherry, red oak, and walnut. Adamson said he made it with a bandsaw, router, CNC machine and small lathe.

3 / 10

glass-on-glass decorative globe
Courtesy Joanne Grant

Winner: Editor’s Choice

JoAnne Grant submitted a stunning four seasons themed light that now sits in the children’s department of her local public library. “Hids love to gaze at the lighted globe and watch as the colored glass reveals the images,” she says.

The glass-on-glass decorative globe features several seasonal motifs. Among them: a cat in full fall colors; an [Inuk] and dog watching a shooting star in winter; a white pony racing through a field of spring flowers; and a parrot and toucan enjoying the heat of summer.

Grant described how it was made. “Small pieces of glass were cut and softened in a stone tumbler and affixed in the design with silicone,” she says. “After the adhesive cured, the globe was then grouted, cleaned and polished. A basic lamp fixture was installed in the metal vase [actually an IKEA candle dish.] The dimensions are 20-in. high and 16-in. wide.”

4 / 10

sushi plates
Courtesy O.j. Vallejo

Honorable Mention

O.J. Vallejo’s sushi plates stunned our judges. They’re a beautiful example of woodworking.

“I made these Sushi serving plates as a Christmas gift for my sushi loving son,” Vallejo says.  “They were inspired by [a] woodworker in Arizona and my own chevron design using cherry, maple and poplar.  They are finished with Howard’s food grade Mineral Oil and Outlaw’s Board Butter, a mixture of mineral oil and beeswax.”

5 / 10

"Fender style" guitar bottle openers.
Courtesy Rudy Kane

Guitar Bottle Openers

Rudy Kane submitted some incredible “Fender style” guitar bottle openers. Kane says they were a gift for “a guitar and beer loving brother.”

The collection includes a Def Leopardwood‚ a telecaster and a Red Heart Stratocaster. Kane says that these guitars were made with “blood, sweat and beers.”

6 / 10

Chess Set
Courtesy Amelia Johnson

Chess Set

Amelia Johnson submitted this stunning pinewood and epoxy chess set, a gift from her husband to her son. “My husband made this light-up chess board with Pokemon [inspired] game pieces for our son, who is learning how to play chess,” she says. “Our son loves his new chess board, and his brothers love to stare, mesmerized, as the squares light up!”

This was an intensive project. “He bought pinewood, cut it into squares, and arranged it within a bordering wooden frame to keep the pieces in place,” Johnson says. “He then poured clear epoxy mixed with white coloring powder and stirred it around to create dimension for the LED lights to shine through from beneath the translucent board.

“After drying, he ran the board through a planer and then sanded it with 60, 80, 150, then 320 with an orbital sander.”

The board can also store the pieces when not in use. “Next he created a base which he connected the board to with soft-close hinges to store the LED light pucks and game pieces when not playing,” she says.

Johnson’s husband even made the actual pieces. “He wanted to use LED strips, but the package was lost, so he innovated!” she says. “Christopher used the Anycubic Mono X resin 3-D printer to print the chess pieces.”

7 / 10

dog house
Courtesy Paul Bronson

Decked Out Dog House

Paul Bronson’s dog house is one of the most festive out there! “We built this dog house and themed it for Holidays,” he says. “Our dogs love it!” What lucky pups!

8 / 10

rocking horse
Courtesy Tom Regan

Rocking Horse

Tom Regan built a rocking horse as a Christmas gift for his first grandson, Connor. “This will be his second Christmas,” he says. “I’m hoping that it will be a family heirloom that he can pass down to his kids. Lots of love went into this build.”

He made some safety modifications to the original plans, and the horse turned out great!

“I got the plans from Woodcraft and made the build using maple, cherry and walnut hardwoods,” he says. “The original plans called for leather reins, but I felt that they could cause a choking hazard if he somehow fell while tangled in them. I think the handles behind the eyes is plenty to hang onto safely.

“This project forced me to use many of the tools in my shop, making me happy that I had them all to utilize.”

9 / 10

bread board
Courtesy Zev Adler

Bread Board

Zev Adler showed us an incredible Challah board. It’s such a clever use of the different types of wood.

“This was a gift I made during COVID,” Adler says. “It is a bread board [aka Challah board] that used well over 1,000 pieces of wood.  I used mahogany to sandwich the colorful strips [which honestly is edged plywood] that make up all the squares and walnut for the sides.  Took forever to make but this one of kind board was well worth it.”

10 / 10

garden hod
Courtesy Leeanne Nowicki

Garden Hod

Leeane Nowicki submitted this garden hod she made for her sister, and found she really likes woodworking. “I really enjoyed working with my hands, learning something new, and having a gift that will be used all summer long!” she says. “I’m excited to find more projects to make!

“This was my first woodworking project! I made this garden hod for my sister because she has an excellent green thumb and I wanted to give her something useful. I found the plans online and used scrap plywood to practice using the jigsaw.”

Nowicki says, “I learned to stay patient on the curves as I slowly pushed the saw along. I borrowed my neighbors hole saw to affix the dowel handle and used a natural stain to finish it off.”

Rebecca Wright Brown
Rebecca has been her dad’s DIY assistant since she was old enough to walk. Prior to Family Handyman, she worked as a freelance writer and editor across industries.