Easy Gift Idea: Warm Heart and Hands With DIY Reusable Handwarmers

Looking for an easy holiday gift to make that’s eco-friendly, too? These reusable handwarmers ought to do the trick…

While these sunny, 60-degree November days sure have been delightful, I know all too well that, not long from now, the weather outside will soon be frightful. In our not-too-distant future, much of the world will be waking to frosted windowpanes, sluggish car engines, and slushy sidewalks…and a long, cold commute to boot. I can’t complain too much. Personally, I love this time of year, but an affection for cold weather doesn’t make keeping warm any less of a battle.

Hats, mittens, heavy socks…it’s all piled on before venturing outdoors, and if you’re lucky, maybe you even have a handwarmer or two stashed away in your pocket. Something luxurious and warming to grasp on those frigid walks to the train, or while you (not so) patiently wait for your car to warm up. If you’ve relied on the disposable variety often found in stores, today I’m offering an alternative. These easy to make DIY handwarmers are not only a snap to whip up, they make the perfect eco-friendly gift for friends, family, and coworkers alike. Make a set for yourself or someone you love and you’ll be warmed from the inside out by the time the snow flies.

Handwarmers 7 Small

Handwarmers 1 Small

DIY Reusable Handwarmers


100% wool sweater (hit the thrift store to grab one you don’t care about chopping up)



Sewing machine (optional, but handy)



Dry rice (I used sushi rice)

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First thing’s first. You need to felt the sweater — this ensures the weave is tight enough to not allow the rice to sneak through. To felt a wool sweater, wash the sweater in hot water and dry on high heat. As long as it’s 100% wool, you should end up with a smaller, tightly felted sweater in the end. I happened to have some felted wool left over from last year’s DIY stocking project, which I used here.

Next, decide on the shape you’d like your handwarmers to be. I chose a heart and cut a template from a piece of construction paper. Once you have your template, cut four of that same shape from the sweater, leaving about 1/4-inch hem along the edge. Use straight pins to fasten two and two together.

Handwarmers 3 Small

Using the needle and thread or a sewing machine, sew around the shape, leaving 1/8- to 1/4-inch hem along the edge. Be sure not to sew the pieces shut, leaving a 1-inch gap to pour the rice into.

Handwarmers 4 Small

Next, add the rice. I found it helpful to use the paper template as a scoop. Pack each handwarmer full of rice, using your fingers to evenly distribute the grains.

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Once full, use your needle and thread to tightly sew each handwarmer closed.

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Double check for any gaps in your sewing to be sure the rice doesn’t escape.

To use: Heat handwarmers in the microwave for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until hot. If you don’t have a microwave, pop these in the oven (heated to about 150 degrees F) when you wake up in the morning and they’ll be warmed up and ready to go by the time you head out the door. Stash a handwarmer in each of your coat pockets to keep your fingers from freezing on your walk to work!


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+ What other holiday ideas would you like to see on BLDG 25? Let us know in the comments!

Check out more holiday DIY ideas here!

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