9/03/2009

90+ Homemade Gift Ideas


Why homemade gifts are cool:
  • They're unique;
  • They're often less expensive than store-bought gifts;
  • People tend to remember them and treasure them;
  • They can become family heirlooms;
  • They remind the person of you;
  • They demonstrate that you cared enough about the person to take trouble to make them happy.
No, that's not the list.  That's just setting up the MUCH longer list to follow.

Here's what this IS: a list of easy, fairly intuitive ideas for gifts you can make for others even if you're craft challenged.

And now, here's what this ISN'T: a list of project ideas listing materials & directions.  If that's what you're looking for, go buy a craft magazine or something! 
  1. Bookmarks.  You can create them out of practically anything, and everyone can use them.
  2. Christmas tree ornaments.  They can be as simple as origami animals or as complex as stained glass panels.  Just make them small enough (and light enough) so that they actually hang from the tree.
  3. Customized photo album.  Take lots of photos of a special person, event, vacation, or celebration and then organize them into an album to give as a special gift.   Variation: digital photo frame preloaded with photos, desktop "flip-album"
  4. Customized scrapbook.  Same idea as above, but involves combining photos with other scraps and memorabilia to create a multi-sensory keepsake.  For a bunch of themed scrapbook ideas, check out my blog entry "Scrapbook Album Ideas"
  5. Photo calendar.  Create a wall calendar that features favorite family photos for each month of the year.  Stores such as Kinkos/Fedex will prepare these for you if you provide the photos, or it only takes a little extra time to make your own.  I make one of these every year for my mother-in-law, featuring pictures of her grandchildren taken during the past year.  Taken collectively, they provide a great year-by-year review of her how her grandchildren are changing and growing. 
  6. Photo cube.  Purchase an empty photo cube from a craft or photography/framing store and then fill it with photos selected to delight your giftee.  If you're feeling even more ambitious, purchase a Rubic's cube, divide each photo into approriately sized tiles, and affix them to the sides.  (And then hope no one actually scrambles the sides, because you may never get it sorted out again!)
  7. Family tree/geneology info.  The gift can be a beautifully rendered family tree (there are many formats available), or a notebook of geneological information.  You don't have to be a historian either ... you just have to be able to type your name into geneology.com, ancestory.com, or any of the other excellent geneology websites now available to amateurs in search of their heritage.
  8. Customized cookbook.  Create a cookbook of favorite family recipes for a family member, or a book of great recipes for little children, for your friends with new babies, or a cookbook of ethnic recipes celebrating your family's heritage.  Feel free to illustrate with pictures or be more creative and add your own sketches or anecdotes.  For instance, I once created for my sister a list of favorite menus from our childhood, with a paragraph or two describing each special event (Sunday dinner, Christmas dinner, dinner at grandmoms, block party) and recipes on the following pages. 
  9. Recipe cards. You can design blank recipe cards and print them out on your own computer. (Look for 4"x6" cardstock, prepunched, available at most office supply stores.)  To make an even more special gift, include cards that you have already filled in with favorite recipes from your own collection.
  10. Business cards.  Design visiting cards and print them out on your own computer.  This makes a great gift for people who are very involved in organizations such as churches, schools or volunteer organizations, since these folk often need to give out their name and address information to others.  I once had a friend make cards for me that listed my name and, underneath, "Professional, Highly-Paid Volunteer."  I used to enjoy giving these out! 
  11. Return address labels.  This is another gift you can make utilizing unprinted label stock from the local office supply store.  The fun is in designing the pattern and choosing the appropriate font.  They can be used not just for letters, but for labeling notebooks, calculators, clothes, bag lunches and other possessions.
  12. Bookplates.  As all bibliophiles know, bookplates are pretty, often quite ornamental labels affixed to the inside covers of hardcover books in order to identify ownership.  You can design them on your home computer (ex: pretty design overlaid by words "From the library of Janice Smith" in gorgeous font) and print them on label stock from any office supply store.  The perfect homemade gift for the book geek in your life. 
  13. Potted plants.  Create a small garden that can be set in a windowsill or other lighted indoor area and plant it with spices, flowers, cactus, small vegetables, or plants.  Or, give larger plants intended for porches or floors.  Be sure to include in your gift any plant lights, fertilizer, or other materials required to keep the plant flourishing.
  14. Decorated flower pots.  For an even more special gift, plant your floral tribute in flower pots you've created yourself - either made from scratch using clay, cans, or other materials; or decorated by you using paints, beads, rhinestones, yarn, etc.  (Or give the pots without the plants if you're thumb is less than green.)
  15. Terrarium.  Purchase (or create) a transparent, fairly airtight container and fill it with soil and hardy plants.  You'll want to make this in advance and then spend a week or two "test-driving" it, to ensure you add enough water to keep plants watered but not so much as to cause condensation to collect on the walls, obscuring the view.  Kids traditionally enjoy terrariums, though they're also a great gift for folks who work in office buildings and would appreciate a little greenery without the hassle of watering.
  16. Painted/decorated clothing.  A quick trip to the craft store to pick up fabric paint and a world of customized clothing is at your fingertips.  You can customize teeshirts, baseball hats, tennis shoes (plain fabric Keds work well for this), tote bags, floppy beach hats, shoelaces, or more.  Consider funny sayings ("What happens at grandmoms, stays at grandmoms"), groovy designs (for ideas, check out the printed papers for scrapbooking while you're at the craft store), tributes to the giftee's favorite hobbies/passions ("Democracy is not a spectator sport"), or messages of love ("I'm with him - forever").
  17. "The DayYou Were Born" album.  ... Because everyone's curious about the year they were born!  Using the internet, research top news stories, songs, books, movies, scientific innovations, etc. from the day your giftee was born.  For fun, include a list of famous people born on the same day, reproductions of magazine covers from that day/week, and all the funny Congressionally-approved proclaimations applying to your giftee's birthday (ex: Feb 11 is National Turnip Day, National Teddy Bear Day, and "Thank your Postman" Day.)  An hour on the internet should be long enough to give you more info than you could possibly need.Then organize the information in a scrapbook purchased from the craft store.  
  18. Music mix.  Though pretty much everyone seems to have an iPod or MP3 player these days, music to load onto these devices is still expensive.  So burn the music you know they love but don't have onto a CD and give it as a gift.  Or, create a special playlist that will remind them of something they treasure - their high school years, their college years, your friendship, your love. 
  19. Decorated photo frame.  Everyone needs photo frames, and there are so many ways to decorate commercially purchased photo frames to make them special.  You can paint messages on them, decoupage them, affix notions to them (buttons, seashells, twigs, rhinestones), carve them, distress them, or make them from scratch from any number of materials.  To enhance the value of the gift, design the frame to match a specific special photo.  (Ex: for recent high school graduate, create frame for their senior pictures decorated with the graduate's name and graduation year.
  20. Decorated bulletin board/message board.  Buy a commercially available bulletin board and jazz it up with some of the techniques mentioned above.  Either leave the cork showing, paint it, or create something more customized/elegant by covering the cork with felt or fabric.  And if you really want to get fancy, stretch ribbon diagonally across the board, tacking it down at the intersections, creating one of those lovely message boards that are so ubiquitous in craft stores.  Create a train bulletin board for a little boy, a pricess bulletin board for a little girl, a golf bulletin board for the man in your life, or an elegant victorian-style board for a mother or mother-in-law.
  21. Novelty picture matte.  Along the same lines as above, purchase a commercially available matte - wide enough to decorate - and have at it.  I suggest avoiding using a lot of colors that might detract from the photo, but simple designs, quotes or sentiments in 1-2 colors work well.  (Ex: for a new parent, buy a blue/pink matte and, using your best handwriting, inscribe it with a special quote(s) about babies.)
  22. Decorated mirror.  Many of the techniques listed above can also be applied to create beautiful keepsake wall mirrors.  Create especially striking effects by wrapping the frame in florals and/or painting words or bits of verse around the edges of the mirror in elegant cursive.
  23. Decorated gift bags.  A gift that everyone appreciates, since there's nothing more annoying than trying to wrap something that's oddly shaped, or discovering at the last minute that you've run out of wrapping paper.  Purchase commercially available gift bags in plan colors then decorate them with whatever you have on hand - fur, rhinestones, illustrations clipped from cards or magazines, permenant marker, sparkle glue, stickers, cut-out letters, ribbon, artificial/dried florals, etc.
  24. Wrapping paper.  Make your own wrapping paper by starting with a large piece or roll of paper and then decorating at will.  (White paper is most common, but colored papers often create a better looking finished product.)  Paint, spraypaint, stamps, stencils, stickers, paint pens, gelpens and other materials work well.  Pattern can be sophisticated/artsy, colorful, or funny.  Neatly fold or reroll your wrapping paper when completed.
  25. Ribbon dispenser.  To easily dispense all those rolls of ribbon that folks use for wrapping, create a decorative box with narrow slots along the sides.  Ribbon is then fed through the slots. (Trick is to make the slots very narrow so ribbon, once pulled out, stays pulled out.) 
  26. Gift tags.  Everyone needs gift tags!  Pretty much anything can be repurposed to serve as a gift tag, with the simple addition of a stamped "To:" and "From:" somewhere on them.  You can use pictures clipped from greeting/holiday cards, magazines, or the internet; patterned paper, foam, fabric, wood cutouts or other craft materials, decorated with stickers, paint, stamps or glitter; or even unique objects such as pieces of bark, pieces of tin, or cookies. 
  27. Decorated cards/stationary.  Assuming (possibly optimistically) that people out there still write letters, create something inspiring for them to write on.
  28. Holiday/novelty cards.  Even people who don't write letters usually still send cards.  Create a collection of cards they can easily sign and attach to gifts or pop in the mail.  Blank cards with matching envelopes are available at craft stores and provide a place to start - the rest is up to you and your imagination!
  29. Journal/blank book/diary.  Bookmaking can be a hugely elaborate art ... or a half-an-hour project.  You'll find directions for making a variety of blank books/journals in almost every craft book or craft website.  The fun is in picking the papers, ribbons and other supplies you'll use.  For instance, create a nature themed blank book (stamped pinecones on every page) for the nature lover in your family; a beach/water-themed blank book (water-patterned paper highlighted with blue sparkle glue) for someone who loves the beach; or a blank book with specially-selected inspirational quotations at the bottom of each page to show your love and support for someone special in your life.
  30. Customized candles.  Purchase commercially available candles and pretty them up with paint, rhinestones, dyes, stamps, or other materials.  Or, leave the candles alone but bundle/present them in some creative or attractive way - for instance, wrapping them in bands of gorgeous paper & raffia.  Or, get creative and make your own from scratch (supplies are availabel at any craft store), choosing color, size, shape and imbedding in them any number of beautiful, seasonal items (ex: candy canes, small pine cones, seaglass, coffee beans). 
  31. Customized soaps.  Pretty much everything I just said about candles applies to soaps.  Or, why not be ambitious and create matching candles & soaps for your giftee's guest bath? 
  32. Painted glasswear.  Craft stores sell special paints optimized for painting on glass (won't wash off, assuming careful treatment).  Use them to create customized wine glasses, candy dishes, flower vases, and more.
  33. Photo-printed objects.  Have a remarkable photo that you know someone would love to have?  Turn it into a gift by having it printed onto canvas, a coffee mug, a mousepad, a teeshirt, a tote bag, or more.  Plenty of companies out there that will do the printing for you, including some affiliated with Walmart and Costco. 
  34. Basket - special interest/hobby.  The "homemade" part is figuring out the theme, what items to include, and what to put them in, "basket" being a blanket term for pretty much anything - a box, a trunk, a suitcase - with storage capacity, and what items to include.  For instance, create a movie basket (movies, popcorn, candy, fleece blanket) for someone who enjoys movies, a baseball basket for someone who loves the game (batting gloves, scoring books, cracker jacks, glove wax), or a craft basket for a child who enjoys making things (pom poms, googly eyes, fur, gluegun). 
  35. Basket - food.  The great thing about food gifts is that even the hardest person on your list has to eat something, and the gift doesn't take up space in the house once it's consumed.  Assemble a gourmet basket (exotic ingredients, kitchen utensils, cookbooks) for the foodie in your family, or a sweets basket (cookies, fudge, candy) for your friend with the sweet tooth, or a wine & cheese basket (wine, cheese, crackers, nuts) for someone with more sophisticated tastes.  Consider packaging the gift in something food-related: a cooking pot, a wine crate, a picnic basket.
  36. Basket - gag gifts.  Normally I shy away from gag gifts since they typically become junk 30 seconds after you finish laughing.  However, with a little thought and creativity, gag gifts can be funny and useful.  For instance, consider creating a "College Essentials" basket for a new college grad (laundry soap, quarters, obnoxious alarm clock, bottles of 5 Hour Energy), or a "Teacher Essentials" basket for a teacher (red grading pens, electric pencil sharpener, huge bottle of aspirin), or a "Motherhood Essentials" basket for a new mother (burp clothes, tape of lullabys for soothing baby to sleep, funny mobile, stain remover). 
  37. Video.  Use your video camera to create memories someone will treasure.  Your video can be footage of a special person, a special event, or a special memory.  For instance, you might create a video featuring footage of a person's beloved hometown; or a video featuring highlights from a particular organization or team; footage of people delivering special messages to a beloved teacher, neighbor, or coach; or footage of the special events in a child's year for sending to out-of-state grandparents.
  38. Lists.  Something as simple as a list can be the best gift ever - if you pick the right list!  Some good choices include 101 Reasons I Love You, 101 Reasons I'm Glad You're My _____, and/or 101 Things I Love Doing Together.  The final list can be framed, copied into a blank book, turned into a scrapbook, or presented in my number of other ways. 
  39. Simple toys.  There are lots of kids' toys that can be made without much effort or cost, to include pinwheels, puppets, beanbags, painted wooden blocks, paper dolls, marble set, ABC books, pillows, and more. 
  40. Floral arrangement (live or artificial).  Craft stores are full of materials - you just need to bring your imagination, creativity, and thoughfulness to the task.  Consider trying to match your project to the person's personality and interests - for instance, a tasteful orchid for someone who works in an office, a vase of bright flowers for a kindergarten teacher, or an arrangement of dried seagrasses and beach plants for someone who loves the beach.  Consider using unconventional items as vases - a Starbucks coffee cup for someone who loves coffee, an antique teacup for someone dainty, a weathered food tin for someone who prefers a more rustic look.
  41. Potpourri.  Assemble your own from scratch using dried seedpods, flowers, pinecones, wood curls, etc. from your own yard, or mix naturals with other eclectic objects (miniature Christmas balls, miniature painted easter eggs, miniature paper mache pumpkins, miniature stuffed fabric hearts) to create a customized blend.  You'll find a variety of scented oils at craft stores which you can toss with the items to make them smell lovely.  For a final touch, create imaginative packaging for your final product.
  42. Wall Sign.  Stores sell these, but there's no reason you can't make them almost as easily.  Pick a sentiment: funny (Member, U.S. Olympic Shopping Team), informative (Michael's room), sentimental (Live - Laugh - Love).  Then, use paint, stencils, woodburning, embossing, needlecraft or another medium to create a final product suitable for display.  Variation: door hanger(s)
  43. Artwork - sketch, drawing, painting.  If you're talented in this area, many ideas present themselves: present someone with original artwork, or a picture of themself/their house/their pet, or have one of your sketches made up into cards, stationary, or some other gift.  If you're not particularly talented, however, don't let that hold you back ... it sure didn't hold back whoever it was that designed all those "Life is Good" products.  You just need to be a little more creative, and possibly a little more abstract.
  44. Artwork - pottery.  Create a vase, platter, candy bowl, flowerpot, spoonrest, item of jewelry, or piece of original art.  For children, consider ceramic animals, checkers pieces, or pottery pieces that can be used as piggy banks.
  45. Artwork - needlecraft.  You can give pretty much anything that's been knit, crochetted, embroidered, quilted, or cross-stitched as a gift.  Needlecraft items are always labors of love and often become heirlooms.  
  46. Artwork - carpentry.  If you're handy with tools and wood, there are many beautiful gifts you can create: frames, wooden toys, cookbook stands, shelves, jewelry boxes, trays (including lazy susans), furniture and more.  With a bandsaw you can create name puzzles or other toys for children.  With a lathe, you can turn beautiful wood into even more beautiful holiday ornaments.
  47. Artwork - calligraphy.  Use your skill to create treasured gifts: copies of beloved poems, artwork, cards, stationary, luggage tags, wall signs, etc.  Or, monogram something ordinary to make it extraordinary: a cloth tablecloth, cloth placemats, cloth napkins, pillowcases, etc.
  48. Artwork - jewelry.  This vast category includes necklaces, bracelets (wrist, ankle), broaches, earrings, pins, and rings (finger and toe) crafted from an extraorinary variety of materials to include porcelain bead, fabric, glass, metal, stones, clay, and more.  Projects range from simple to incredibly complex. Projects range from startlingly simple (ex: basic friendship bracelets, simple beaded necklaces, pretty things glued onto pins to create broaches) to intricately complex.
  49. Artwork - creative writing. Turn your creativity into a variety of gifts, to include: simple stories or ABC books for children; adventure stories that feature the giftee as the hero for tweens; poems or collections of poetry; family "end of year" newsletters; or entertaining stories/short stories (funny works well) for all ages.
  50. Sewing project.  If you have some talent, the possibilities are endless: clothes, pillows, stuffed animals, costumes, linens, etc.  However, you don't have to be a seamstress to produce simple projects such as sachets, pillowcases, play capes (for the children/superheroes on your list) and sling purses.
  51. Coupon book.  Create a book with "coupons" redeemable for services.  This is a great gift for children to give to their parents (ex: Good for one clean room; good for one breakfast in bed; good for one car cleaning) or for lovers to give to their significant others (ex: Good for one free backrub; good for one entire evening of remote control rights).
  52. Windchimes (or mobile).  This is a fairly easy craft and fun to customize, since you can incorporate almost any imaginable materials.  For example, string up small stuffed animals to hang over a baby's crib; a collection of old tin airplanes for a man's study; or a collection of shells collected at the beach for a sister or friend.
  53. Jewelry/keepsake box.  This is a simple gift with many, many uses, and is easily adapted as a project for very small children who enjoy decorating boxes/cans with pictures, tissue paper, yarn and more.
  54. Snow globe.  Purchase a basic bell jar (these work well because of the tight seals), fill it with items that are decorative or that have some special significance to the recipient (ex: small porcelain statues, collection of seashells, glued down if necessary or allowed to move/float), add glitter and water, seal tightly, and decorate with bows, beads, raffia, etc.  As long as no air enters the jar & the materials you enclose are fairly impervious to water, these will last forever.
  55. Food gift - Dry ingredients.  Store dry ingredients in bowl/jar/container, seal, include preparation directions, and add a jaunty ribbon for color.  Foods that lend themselves to this method of giving include baked goods, soup mixes, beverages (tea, cocoa), and some pasta dishes.  Spice mixes also make nice gifts.
  56. Food gift - Prepared food.  Some goods that are always appreciated as gifts: baked goods, candy, fudge, snack mixes.  Be sure to pay attention to the packaging; consider presenting your gift in a beautiful gift tin, basket, box, or mug.
  57. Food gift - Pet.  Don't forget Fido!  There are plenty of recipes for treats suitable for dogs, cats, and other critters.  Whip up a batch and present it in a pretty box, bag, or tin.
  58. Seasoned vinegar/oil.  The web is rich with suggestions for adding herbs and other seasonings to basic olive oil and vinegars which can then be enclosed in attractive, commercially available bottles in order to create gifts that are as attractive as they are tasty.
  59. Tie dye gift.  Embrace your inner hippy and tie dye all your gifts - teeshirts, tote bags, neckerchiefs, aprons, shoelaces, etc. - this year.
  60. Blinged-out cellphone case.  Purchase a commercially available cellphone case or create one of your own out of craft foam ... then have a ball adding rhinestones, glitter, charms and other bling to create a cellphone case that dazzles.  Makes a great gift for a teenage girl.
  61. Handprint/footprint gift.  These are common gifts for doting parents/grandparents, as the main feature is the handprint or footprint of a beloved child.  The prints can be preserved in paint, ink, or plaster.  Lots of cute ideas in craft books and on the webs.
  62. Firestarters.  Dip pinecones or kindling in scented wax, let them dry, and gather them into a pretty gift basket.  They look especially pretty when only the bottom halves of the objects have been dipped. 
  63. Birdhouse/birdfeeder.  You can create these from scratch or alter commercially purchased versions.  With a little research, you can create birdhouses/feeders customized to attract certain kinds of fowl - for example, finches, cardinals, or hummingbirds.  Smaller children will enjoy making "birdballs" - pinecones dipped in peanutbutter and then rolled in birdseed, designed to be dangled from wire or thrown into the woods for the birds to find.  (Assuming the squirrels don't find them first.)
  64. Pencil holder.  These can be made from materials as basic as repurposed frozen orange juice cans or as elaborate as mosaic jars.  To improve the chances of your gift being treasured, suit the style/material to your giftee's personality and decor.
  65. Coasters/trivets.  A variety of materials can be used to fashion drink coasters or trivets including decorative stone, tile or foam.  Nicer home repair stores carry a variety of pretty tiles that, with the application of some felt feet, can be turned into lovely coasters/trivets; or, start with a plain tile and then pretty it up with paint.  (Just make sure your paint will be able to withstand heat.)
  66. Garden stepping stone.  Most craft stores sell kits for making these. What's fun is deciding what materials to press into the drying stone and in what pattern.  Mosaic tiles, colored stones, marbles and seaglass all look great and can be easily arranged into words, spirals or other patterns.
  67. Refrigerator magnets.  Anything - lists, photographs, frames, tiles - can become refrigerator magnets with the addition of a magnet or two on the back.  Magnets come in a variety of forms these days: traditional disk-shaped magnets for relatively light objects, magnetic tape for larger objects, and  magnetic sheets that can be attached to the reverse of heavy objects to maximize adhesion.
  68. Luminaries.  Punch patterns into the sides of tin cans, boxes, or paper bags, then add tea candles and sand (if necessary) in order to enable them to be used them as luminaries.  You can fashion all-purpose luminaries for the home, or create luminaries customized for a particular event or season(Christmas, birthday, graduation, wedding, etc.) by decorating the cans, boxes or bags to match the decor and punching an appropriate design into the material.
  69. Dress-up box (for kids).  Kids adore dressing up, and this gift is so easy it's a wonder every parent doesn't do it.  Simply go to the nearest goodwill store and purchase a dozen or so fun items of clothing: ties, gloves, novelty hats, skirts, tutus, necklaces, opera capes, boas, etc.  Then place the items in a trunk or box and let the kids (and their imaginations) do the rest. 
  70. Placemats/tablemats.  Everyone with a dinner table needs them, and they can be made from an enormous variety of materials: fabric, foam, felt, leather, paper, etc.  Create your own from scratch (may require a little sewing around the edges), or purchase commercially available placemats and customize them using thread, paint, ink, or stamps.  A nice addition to the gift is matching napkins/napkin rings. 
  71. Centerpieces.  A good place to start is with a commercially available candlabra or candle holder - then, add artificial or dried florals, ribbon, decorative stones or other features to create something customized.  Or forget tradition and go for novelty: create a sports team centerpiece (complete with team colors, shiny paper and banners), a beach centerpiece (shells and sand), a winter centerpiece (snowmen and fake snow), a birthday centerpiece (hats, horns, banners, curling ribbon), a holiday centerpiece (Christmas ornaments, fresh pine cuttings, cranberry & popcorn strands), or a picnic centerpiece (sunflowers, BBQ implements, ants).
  72. Silhouette.  At the turn of the century cutting sillhouettes was a legitimate art form - in fact, I suppose it still is, just a rarely practiced one.  One of the easiest sillhouette projects is to create a sillhouette of a child's profile, which you then frame and give as a gift.  I found this to be a very easy project (intructions available pretty much everywhere) and my sons' grandparents treat them like heirlooms.  (A treatment that tuna can diorama I created for them in kindergarten certainly never received!)
  73. Book on tape/story on tape.  You can buy these at the bookstore for a fortune, or you can record your own.  Children will enjoy being able to hear you read their favorite stories over (and over, and over) again; and teens/siblings/grandparents will enjoy hearing you tell your version of family stories (and "interview format" works well for this). 
  74. Fleece gifts.  Fleece lends itself to a variety of different, extraordinarily easy crafts.  This year, give everyone on your list fleece blankets, fleece scarves, and/or fleece play mats (for babies).  Fabric stores carry a wonderful variety of colors and patterns.
  75. House address sign.  Make an easy address sign that can be inserted in the ground or hung from a garage or wall.  A variety of materials can be adapted to serve the purpose, but tiles glued to a plaque work especially well, with the numbers carefully painted onto the tiles.  You'll find this idea as well as others on the internet.  Makes a practical gift, and a nice keepsake/remembrance when the family moves on to their next residence.
  76. Website.  Give someone the advantage of your computer expertise (you must have some sort of computer expertise to have found your way to this obscure blog!) and set up a website or blog for their use.  This is a particularly great gift for relatives who live out of town - a chance for them to keep the rest of the family updated on family news - or for people (coaches, church committee chairs, etc.) who lead activities that require pushing information out to the public.
  77. Hair accessories (clips, hairbands). You can make your own fairly easily, though probably even easier to buy commercially available accessories and then "bling" them out with beads, ribbon, buttons, feather or bows. 
  78. Child growth chart. This is a perfect gift for parents of small children (or the children themselves).  Create a tall (~5') chart from paper, wood, or some other material. Include a ruled line with inches/feet marked so that the parent and child can use it to track their growth.  Customize it with the child's name.
  79. Wine glass charms.  You've seen them at wine stores, but there's no reason to buy them when you can make them.  Beads and charms from the jewelry section of the craft store should offer lots of options. 
  80. Blackboard gifts.  I'm loving this new "blackboard" paint you can buy at the big-box home repair stores.  You can use it to turn anything - picture frames, wood blocks, whole doors or walls - into blackboards.  Just add chalk ...!
  81. Food gift - flavored alcohol.  A friend of mine receives a bottle of "bubble bath" from her sister every Christmas - except it's not bubblebath, it's vodka that's been seeped in fresh, handpicked blackberries.  Better than any bottled cordial on the market!  There are recipes for other such combinations all over the interet.
  82. CD envelopes.  Go to a craft store, pick out fun paper(s), and fold it/them into CD envelopes.  You can make the envelopes the gift, or use them to enclose CDs you have created.
  83. Dry Erase Board.  Basically, you can laminate anything and make it into a dry erase board.  And if you put a magnet on the back of it, you can create such useful items as refrigerator-mounted to do lists, grocery lists, weekly schedules, or babysitter instructions.  Or, create a cheerful dry erase board with the child's name on it for their door - handy for leaving them notes!
  84. Monogrammed gifts. Traditionally, this means embroidering initials in a scripty-type font on towels or handkerchiefs.  But if you aren't the embroidering sort, consider burning a monogram into something wooden (ex: chest) or etching it into glass (ex: wine glasses) or painting it on the surface (ex: tote bag).
  85. Remote control holder.  Everything seems to come with a remote control these days.  Create a box that will store remotes upright so that they can be easily accessed.  (Note: Just make sure the base is weighted so that it doesn't tip over.)
  86. Wreath.  Create a wreath for a wall or door.  A simple search on the internet will yield about 500 ideas utilizing materials to include candy, hay, flowers, fruit, vegetables, twigs, feathers, toys, lapel buttons, sports memorabilia, and (seriously) tools ... so you ought to be able to find *something* your giftee will appreciate!
  87. Craft/Hobby Kit.  The "homemade" part of the gift is choosing the theme and the materials/tools/instruction books to include in the kit. Just choose a craft that you think your giftee will enjoy (ex: stamping kit, greeting card kit, knitting kit, bowmaking kit, baseball scoring kit, picture matting kit) and assemble the items (including instruction/inspiration books) that will make it possible.
  88. CD of family pix and memorabilia.  Most families have one person - a grandmom, an aunt - who is the "keeper" of the old family pictures and memorabilia.  To allow everyone in the family to enjoy these relics, scan them, burn them onto DVDs, and distribute them to family members.  It's a lot of work, but usually hugely appreciated.
  89. Memory book.  No matter what your age, your memories, life experiences, anecdotes and dreams are bound to be of interest to your loved ones.  So brainstorm a list of questions that you think would be of interest to your closest family members, and then take the time to answer them thoughtfully.  (Sample questions: what are your five happiest memories; what are your five saddest memories; what did you want to be when you grew up; what was your first job)  This is another one of those gifts that often ends up being a family heirloom.
  90. Lanyard.  Fabric stores sell the necessary thick ribbon, which you can decorate using stamps or stencils in combination with fabric paint.  Then attach a clip - something suitable for affixing an ID or key.  This is a great gift for kids - even if they don't wear the lanyard, when affixed to keys or stick drives it keeps these small items from being lost or misplaced
  91. CD of old time radio programs (or history programs). I'm constantly amazed what you can get on the internet for free.  For instance, literally 1000s of radio programs & broadcasts from the 1930s-1960s are available online for anyone to download.  Just visit archive.org or one of the other sites, see what's available, figure out what would appeal to the person you're gifting, and download at will. 
  92. xxx of the month.  If there's something you do well - cook, bake, design scrapbook pages, create great mix CDs, etc. - give the gift that lasts all year; a new casserole, cookie platter, kit or CD each month for the following year.
  93. Fountain.  Buy an inexpensive pump from the craft store and create a desk fountain. You can use traditional materials such as stones, bowls, columns and walls, or think out-of-the-box and use materials that will appeal to your giftee: for example, a plant fountain for someone with a green thumb, a fountain incorporating ceramic apples and books for a teacher; or a fountain incorporating a variety of frog statuettes for someone who collects frogs.
  94. Memory box.  Acknowledge someone's passion for an organization, sport, hobby or other passion by creating a sealed memory box that displays treasured programs, mementoes, photos and more.  For instance, my Dad gave my husband a memory box that displays the signed baseballs he's received from the Little League teams he's coached through the years; and we are planning to present to our son this Christmas (don't tell him!) a box displaying memorabilia from his recent trip to Philmont Boy Scout Camp.  Done right, sure to become a treasured keepsake.
  95. Windchimes.  They can be made out of all manner of inexpensive items and are easy to tailor to the taste/preferences of the givee: create create seashell chimes for that sister-in-law who loves the beach; wine bottle chimes for a friend who loves vino; or fashion a terra cotta pot and painted terra cotta fragments into chimes for that special someone with a green thumb.  This project is easy enough not to require instructions, but if you're looking for inspiration, there's plenty to be found online.
  96. Autographed items.  Speaking of passions, if your giftee has a passion for a writer, athlete, sports team or other celebrity, consider giving them an item autographed by their favorite(s).  Obviously this isn't going to be possible if the person is hugely famous, but plenty of folks are still willing to sign autographs, particularly if they are amateur athletes, struggling artists/musicians/writers, politicians/scientists, or others still modest enough to be grateful for their fame.
  97. Gift of time and/or skill.  Last but definitely not least, consider giving the best gift of all, the gift of yourself.  Offer your services as tutor, cook, baker, home decorator, coach, repairman or accountant.  Or, offer to volunteer your time to help someone with a time-consuming, difficult, or dreaded task (sorting through old photos, for instance; or cleaning out a garage).  Sure to be very appreciated.

9/01/2009

Scrapbook Album Ideas



I've finally come to accept that I enjoy the idea of scrapbooking (and buying scrapbooking supplies) somewhat better than I actually enjoy scrapbooking. As such, I read a lot of scrapbooking magazines and think a lot about scrapbooks I might one day make, though I seldom actually make them. Here's a list of scrapbook ideas I've considered at one time or another, included here in hopes of inspiring others:


 
Holiday Albums. Include a spread for each year and watch your family grow up before your eyes!
  1. Christmas album. Pages to include: letters to Santa, visits with Santa, acquiring/decorating the tree, favorite decorations (indoor, outdoor), family traditions, favorite recipes, parties, letters/pictures from friends/family, etc.
  2. Hannukah album. Pages to include: family traditions, recipes, etc.
  3. Halloween album. Do a spread for each year and make sure to capture in your journaling the significance of your childrens' costume choices.
  4. Easter album. Consider doing page for each of the following: Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts, best dyed Easter eggs, best Easter hats, Easter traditions, etc.
  5. Birthday album. Do a spread for each year and make sure to include the following: venue, theme, guests, the cake, special gifts, special memories.
  6. Anniversary album. Do a spread for each year and add journling that talks about the memories you've made together during the past year. 
Geneology/Heritage Albums. Sure to become family heirlooms!
  1. Family Tree album. Create an album with spreads for each "branch" (family) of the tree.
  2. Heritage album. Gather/copy family documents and photos and preserve them in a way that tells a story
  3. Family Recipe album. Gather the best family recipes and collect them into a single album. This could be particularly special if you can arrange for each recipe to be handwritten by the person who submitted it.
  4. Family Reunion album. Pages to include: guest list, venue, activities, collected stories, superlatives ("funniest," "best preserved," "biggest heart," etc.)
  5. Tribute album. Have you lost someone dear? Create an album celebrating their life and reflecting upon the ways they have shaped your life.
Family Albums
  1. Wedding album. Why use one of those pre-made wedding memory books that never has spaces to record the memories you really care about? Make your own!
  2. Where We've Lived album. Scrapbook all the places your family has lived. Include journaling that explains the reason for each move.
  3. Siblings/cousins/grandchildren album. Create a scrapbook that celebrates the special relationships that form between family members.
  4. Family Pets album. Don't neglect the fuzzy members of the family!
  5. Home improvement/Renovation album. Because the only thing more satisfying than finishing a major home improvement project is being able to look back at photos that show just how far you've come!
  6. Year in Review album. Display what your family gets up to in a year by devoting a page to each month
  7. Neighborhood/Community album. Celebrate the community in which you live. Pages to include: Neighbors, favorite places, favorite restaurants, etc.
Children/School Albums
  1. Baby album/book. Why use one of those pre-made baby books that never has spaces to record the memories you really care about? Make your own!
  2. School Memories album. Be sure to include pages for friends, clubs/activities, class schedules, report cards, special events, etc.(Variations: elementary school, middle school, high school, college)
  3. School Photo/Timeline album. Put those envelopes of school photos to good use - create a timeline album that shows your child growing up.
  4. Artwork album. What to do with all those pictures your darlings haul back from Kindergarten? Give your refrigerator a break and scrap them in an album.
  5. Prom album. Pages/items to include: invitation, placecard, pressed flower from corsage, photos, journaling commemorating the big day
  6. Graduation album. Pages/items to include: announcement, program, graduation photo, party details, gifts
Hobby Albums
  1. Sports album. Do you participate in a sport, either as a player or coach? Create an album to capture your memories and memorabilia
  2. Fan album. Are you passionate about a sports team, celebrity, band, or musical style? Preserve and share your obsession with others via a fan album. Include stats, memorabilia, articles, ticket stubs, CD covers, etc.
  3. Club/activity album. Do you participate in a club or activity that's an important part of your life? Create an album to help capture you memories and memorabilia. (Variations: scouting, PTA, book club, service club, church, etc.)
  4. Hobby album. (Variations: fishing, camping, gardening, coaching, cooking, hunting, needlework, carpentry, etc.) Celebrate your passion! A fishing album might celebrate all the trips you've taken and your best fishing stories; a gardening album might contain spreads devoted to your favorite varieties; a needlework album might create lists of handmade gifts you've created and pictures/samples of some of your best work ... so many choices!
  5. Collection album. What do you collect? Create an album that displays the highlights of your collection and shares stories about how your collection came to be.
Travel Albums
  1. Vacation album. (Variation: Honeymoon album) Collect your photos, brochures, ticket stubs, road maps and other memorabilia, add journaling, and presto ... you can relive the trip over and over again!
  2. Annual Family Trip album. Does your family visit the same relative every year? The same beach? The same cabin? Dedication like that deserves an album. Since the snapshots you take from year to year may be somewhat similar, consider organizing the scrapbook by "activities" rather than chronology. For instance, if your family always goes to the same beach, consolidate photos from multiple years to create pages devoted to best sandcastles, great tans, sleeping in the sun, bathing beauties, muscle men, buried alive, playing in the surf, etc.
  3. That's Entertainment album. Create a scrapbook to show off all the shows you've attended. Include programs, ticket stub, reviews from the newspaper, and your own personal rememberances from the event.
Gift Albums for Adults
  1. Wedding Shower album. Gather photos, scraps, ribbon, guest lists, gift lists, etc. and create a keepsake the bride and groom will treasure forever.
  2. Baby Shower album. Gather photos, scraps, guest lists, gift lists, etc. and create a keepsake that the new mom will be sure to treasure.
  3. Teacher Year-End album. Create an album that captures photos and memories from the past school year & present it to your child's teacher. Makes a great end-of-year gift!
  4. Cookbook album. Share treasured recipes & family food traditions with members of the family ... old and new.
Gift Albums for Children
  1. ABC album. Consider illustrating each letter with photos of objects from your own house; for instance, instead of a generic picture of a cat, include a picture of YOUR cat. If you really want to get creative, incorporate tactile materials ("fur", "sticky", bumpy")
  2. Colors album. Consider devoting a page to each color and including pictures of objects from around your own house - the front door, toys, vases, curtains, etc., to serve as examples.
  3. Animals album. You can decide to include a mix of all animals, or stick to a particular favorite category (ex: jungle animals, farm animals, pets, sea creatures, dangerous animals, bugs, snakes, etc.)
  4. Nursery Rhymes album. You don't have to include a comprehensive lsit of nursery rhymes - just the ones with which your child is familiar or that have a special meaning for you/your family.
  5. "People In Your Family" album. Devote a page to each of your child's favorite people. A great way to refresh their memory of out-of-town grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins!
  6. "Your Favorite Things" album. Devote a spread to each of the usual categories: favorite foods, favorite places, favorite people, favorite toys, favorite songs, favorite cartoons, etc.
Gift Albums/Ageless!
  1. 101 Reasons I Love You. Anyone will melt upon receiving this one! Be sure to include a mix of serious reasons, sentimental reasons, and silly reasons, embellished with photos, quotes, pressed flowers and any other keepsakes that illustrate your point
  2. 101 Reasons I'm Glad You're My [variations: mother, sister, husband, best friend, etc.]. Try mixing "big" reasons (ex: "Because you're compassionate") with more special, intimate reasons (ex: "Because you cry at Hallmark commercials," "Because you still pack Twinkees in your bag lunch," "Because you always wear your lucky underwear to football games," etc.)
  3. Congratulations album. Celebrate a special accomplishment or award. (Variations: Eagle Scout album)
  4. The Year You Were Born album. Create a visual snapshot of the year in which someone dear to you was born. Include spreads devoted to music, TV, politics, world events, advertisements, most popular baby names, inventions, etc.
  5. VIP album. Celebrate the important people in their life (variations: Friends, siblings, cousins, grandchildren, work colleagues, neighbors, club members, etc.)
Albums About You
  1. Seasons album. Scrapbook your favorite things about each season
  2. Poetry album. (variations: bible verses, books, quotes/sayings) Scrapbook your favorite poetry.
  3. My Favorite Things album. Pages to include: food/restaurants, fashion, movies/TV, books, poetry, flowers, etc.
  4. Career Album. Reflect upon the places you've been as well as the places you'll go.