If money is tight and you have decided to make all your gifts this year, you’re in good company. Lots of people are choosing to share something of themselves as they craft gifts for their friends and loved ones. You chose a wonderful time too, since now more than ever it is possible to learn online how to do everything from assembling your own lamp to leather crafting to creating fabulous recipes. The best thing is that each offering can be customized to match the receiver perfectly. So don’t feel like you have to alarm everyone on your list with Aunt Madge’s famous fruit cake, or resort to paint by numbers kits in order to have a present for each person on your list. You can satisfy your creative nature and give gifts that will be appreciated enough to become family heirlooms.
This first item would make an unexpected gift, or you can use it for a holiday party this year. Have you ever made your own piñata? They are fun to make using the paper mâché method with a large balloon and plenty of newspapers. You can make it in any shape you choose. Is the gift for a football fan? What better present than a football shaped piñata with treats and special prizes tucked inside? If you need help getting started, try this site: http://familycrafts.about.com/cs/papermache/a/051500pm.htm. ModPodge enthusiasts, like http://modpodgerocksblog.com/, are quick to point out that you can craft almost anything with this simple substance. Try this technique whenever you want to preserve anything decorative made of paper that can be varnished. Trays, plates and blocks of wood are easy to dress up by using decoupage. Here is another site for you: http://decoupage.org/faq.htm. The paper you use can also be handcrafted or can be something as simple as magazine cut-outs or wrapping paper remnants. You can take into account the interests of the person to whom you are presenting the gift when you choose your materials.
There is no end to the ornaments you can make by hand. A little vision, creativity and just a few supplies and you can turn out beautiful treasures for the tree. This site http://www.exploreasheville.com/what-to-
do/seasonal-fun/holidays/homemade-christmas-ornaments/index.aspx will give you a smattering of ideas, but know that there are oodles more, just search online. Some easy things to make are felt ornaments. Find or invent a pattern you like and cut out the pieces of felt, adding embroidery details and a loop for hanging and you have yourself a lovely addition for anyone’s Christmas tree. You can even make them three-dimensional by putting in a bit of batting before you sew them up. Bring back the tradition of making your own garlands from materials you have available. You can use popcorn and cranberries or string less usual items like spools of thread and bobbins for the seamstress on your list.
Every child needs ideas for things to do on a rainy day. Put together a kid craft kit for future solutions to the oft-heard complaint from your kids, “I’m borrrrrred.” You can whip up puzzles by using enlarged photos of your children mounted on cardboard and protected with clear contact paper. Consider including homemade play dough, pudding paint (This is just a box of pudding-water can be added to proper consistency to make a terrific finger painting medium.) Be sure to enclose plenty of craft papers, paints, string and brushes. Include newspapers to contain the mess and a smock to keep any goop from their clothes.
Crocheting and knitting patterns can be found free of charge on the yarn labels or online. This may be a good springboard for future projects for you: http://www.allcrafts.net/crochetknit.htm. If every member of your family already has a homemade afghan from you, consider branching out to other items such as bibs, dolls or Christmas decorations. Angels, snowflakes and snowmen lend themselves well to being crocheted. Knitted sweaters make beautiful gifts. Just look around - you can find inspiration and patterns in many places.
Paper crafts include easily assembled items such as hand crafted envelopes (Here’s a site with a pattern to print: http://www.scrapbooksetc.com/printables/patterns/printable-envelope-pattern/.) Paper can also be used for involved and delicate decorations. You can find books and websites dedicated to the art of assembling pretty things from paper. You can make your own personalized bookmarks, put together a piece of work suitable for framing or make decorative note cards for invitations, thank yous and so on.
A pleasant memory is something to be treasured forever. If you are an avid scrapbooker or would like to learn this way of chronicling your life, build a page for each family member to start their own albums. You can take this same technique and create a customized calendar that will be perused long after the year ends. These free printables can get you started on this lasting gift: http://www.printpicnic.com/seasonal-plaidscalendar.html
To round out the list, here are a few more ideas for you. Customized magnets are not difficult to make from clear glass baubles, small magnets and cut-outs to match the person’s kitchen and personality. Here’s a good site for this project: http://www.notmartha.org/tomake/marblemagnets/. Use fabric transfers, puff paints or fabric paint to draw anything on fabric. You can create aprons, pillowcases, canvas totes and backpacks that are personalized to suit. Embroidery is another way you can decorate these items. Puppets (sock puppets are easy, cheap and versatile – this site will help you with the how-tos: http://www.dannyandkim.com/SockPuppets.html). Homemade candles make very nice gifts. You can add crayons for color and scent can also be stirred in the mix to further customize this for gift giving.
Celebrate the interests and talents of the people on your gift list this season by crafting a personalized treasure just for them. If you have not found anything on this list that matches your needs, you can pull up page after page of ideas online. Plan to give something of yourself as you lovingly create homemade gifts for those you hold dear. Everyone will know how much you cared as they appreciate their very own personalized present this Christmas.
About the AuthorMargo Smith graduated with a B.S. degree from BYU. She draws from her experiences as a modern day children’s governess, her time spent in New England, her years in the corporate world and an author’s perspective on life when compiling articles about a variety of subjects from organic food to online classes to women’s issues.