Instead of buying cheap, mass-produced gewgaws to give out this season, show your loved ones you care with a little DIY. During Grist’s 12 days of DIY gifts, we’ll share some crafty projects, with instructions that even we can follow. There’s sure to be a whatsit or wowsit for everyone.

You did it again. You threw your headphones into the bottom of your purse all willy-nilly, and now you can’t tell left earbud from audio jack with all the tangles. If only there were a better way! (Hint: There is, and it makes a great gift, but we won’t judge you if you test it on yourself first.)

 

Do it yourself: Never-Tangle Headphones

For the audiophile in your life, how about some never-tangle headphones? While these do take some time (and lots of thread), they are a cheap and attractive fix to the very annoying problem of headphone wires turning into a frustrating knot.

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Headphones

First, you’ll need a pair of headphones — if you’re sneaky, you may even be able to borrow your giftee’s headphones for a few days, or at least take some hints about brand preference.

Thread

Next, get a bunch of embroidery thread. And I mean a bunch — you’ll need at least three or four times the length of the headphone wires themselves. Luckily this stuff is cheap and you can get it in whatever whimsical colors you fancy.

Wrapping the thread

To wrap the wires, start by double-knotting three pieces of thread at the end of the wire near the jack, and then tape the jack to a surface so it’s not flopping around all over the place while you work.

Two pieces of the thread will stay to the side with the wire

Two pieces of the thread will stay to the side with the wire, while you loop the third around the whole thing and pull it upwards, creating a knot. (If you’re confused, there are plenty of video tutorials out there.) Once you get the movement down, it’s easy to get into a nice rhythm, switching the thread you’re knotting every once in a while.

Covering the length of the headphones will be pretty time consuming, but it makes for good busy work — you can do it when you’re on the bus, while you’re watching TV, or, if you’re bold enough, you can sneak it in at the office when you don’t feel like being a productive member of society.

All done!

When you’re all done with the wrapping, just tie off the threads in a double knot, and there you have it: never-tangle headphones!

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