Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Simple Gifts

Step away from the Bedazzler.
When I was a kid, I thought a handmade gift was really thoughtful and meaningful.  Also, I was a kid and didn't exactly have a lot of cash.  I often set about making my mother her birthday or Chistmas gifts (I don't think I ever did this with my Dad.  Mom: from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for inflicting my, er, craft ability upon you).  I tried to hand sew her an apron.  Keep in mind, I had never sewed before--if there was ever an undead apron, it was the monstrosity I made my mother.  For her birthday one year, I made her a tanning kit (look, the woman could probably reside on Mercury, that's how much her skin loves the sun.  Alas, I do not have this trait).  This kit consisted of an old Cool Whip container retrofitted with a mirror and a wire hanger (the better to direct the sun to herself when she was outside tanning).  You put water in the bowl part of the container to keep cool.  Yes, I thought it was brilliant.  My mother. . .well, to her credit, she was gracious.  But as far as handmade gifts having lots of meaning, well, let's just put it this way: I figured other people's handmade gifts had lots of meaning.  My handmade gifts had meaning, but the meaning was: WARNING! ASPIRING MAD SCIENTIST OR TRAINWRECKY CRAFTER AHEAD.  I thought "Here is a nice sweater you might like" or "Here's a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant, there, now you don't have to cook!" would be a better meaning as I got older.

If you are determined to make a hand made gift for someone, please look at the two examples above and promise yourself you will not try those.  Unless you want to alienate the recipient.  Then have at it!  Otherwise, there are simple things you can make or pull together that will go over well.

First, if you're handy with a needle and thread, Bryallen found instructions on how to make a bag out of an old sweater.  Actually, she has a lot of good ideas.  Mulled wine sachets, tissue holders, USB covers, handmade envelopes, cookies, chocolates, and herb garden and a framed drawing are all ideas she covers in her post.

You can do a homemade soup mix.  There are a bunch of sites with recipes.  Put them in a clean sauce jar or a canning jar, wrap some ribbon around it, and you have something for a busy person who sometimes needs an option for a quick meal.

You can decoupage something for someone who likes decorative things.  If they like candles, decoupage a jar with some shimmery tissue paper and put a tea light in it.  If they need storage boxes, decoupage some boxes with scrap cloth that goes with their decor.  You get the idea. 

You can make drink mixes or spice mixes

Chocolate covered spoons are also a nice option.  I mean, think about it--stirring chocolate into your coffee or hot chocolate, letting it melt. . .oh, lord, my moouth is watering now.

You can take a photograph you know the recipient will enjoy and frame it.  I did that for my Dad one year; I took a sweet picture of him and my niece, had a copy made, and framed it for him.  Or burn a CD of their favorite songs (I did that for my mother one year--and they did enjoy it on road trips, so yay!)

If you figure people are already going to be buried under a mound of cakes and cookies, you can make them spiced nuts.

If you can can things, then pickles, jelly, jams, salsa, or preserves are almost always welcome.  If you can knit, sew, crochet, carve, draw, or do something else that can be creative, then I think the gift world is your oyster.  (I'm not great at those things.)

Just remember. . .no ugly sweaters.  No Bedazzler.  And no retrofitted Cool Whip containers.


  1. Haha, LOVE the tanning kit story! I want to try preserves next! Are you planning to make any homemade gifts? :)

  2. I may do some spice mixes and a soup mix for someone I know (it would come in quite handy for them).

  3. Spiced nuts are a great idea, I might actually do that, inspired by your post. I have a killer recipe from Kathy Gunst: http://www.tasteoftheseacoast.com/Recipes/Page-12.html
    Scroll down to see the recipe.

  4. Denise, that recipe looks delectable--and easy!

  5. I made my dad a paper tie once and he wore it to work. Well he wore it out the door I dont know if he wore it all the way to work.

  6. Oh, I'll bet he wore it to work, or at least showed it off to his coworkers.