If you’re finding yourself having a tough financial year, you’re not alone. More and more families and couples are making pacts not to buy anything for each other at all, but let’s face it, we all still want to give something to (and enjoy receiving something from) the ones we care about.
These gift ideas can be used merely as stocking stuffers to help you keep within your budget, or, if you have no budget this year, can be used as your main gift. What’s important is the love that goes into it, not the price tag it carried at the store.
Remember those little coupon booklets you used to give your mom on her birthday? They’re not just for children anymore. Purchase blank index cards in a nice color.
If you have a sewing machine, run the cards through it (no thread) about an inch from the edge, so you get a straight vertical line of holes. This creates a perforated line to make them easy to rip them out.
Use your artistic skills, rubber stamps, stickers, or a printer to design your coupons. Make a nice cover to personalize it. Think of some fun things to promise, such as:
– good for one candle lit dinner
– good for one bubble bath with a glass of wine
– good for one breakfast in bed
– good for one neck massage
– good for one major household chore, no grumbling
– good for one day of babysitting
– good for one day of uninterrupted television watching
– good for one night of passion
– good for one morning of sleeping in
About ½ inch from the left end, the edge with the perforations if you ran it through a sewing machine, punch two holes. String a ribbon through the holes.
Your Own Family Recipe Cook Book
If your family has always gathered together for holiday feasts, make a big cook book featuring favorite family recipes. Or, gather favorite recipes from everyone in the family and place them all in the book.
Try to include photos, if you can, of people cooking or sitting around the table eating together.
Print each recipe out on a piece of paper. Bind them in a three-ring binder, or a folder with page fasteners. Make a nice cover and give it as gifts to your extended family.
Children’s Artwork “Quilt”
A great gift for your children to make for a parent, favorite aunts, uncles or grandparents is an artwork quilt. This is not a real quilt that can be used as bedding, but a wall decoration resembling a quilt. You don’t even have to know how to sew for this project. All you need is a few things from a craft store: some discount fabric in colors that you like, some fusible interfacing, and a box of iron-on transferrable crayons from a craft store.
For the fabric, heavy cottons, such as broadcloth, work best. The artwork will show up best on light colors, but if you’re making a patchwork-style quilt you can mix light colors with artwork, and dark colors that are plain or have felt shapes glued on. Search the discount fabric bin, where you can find fabric for just a couple of dollars a yard.
Decide how big you want the quilt to be- a square yard or two is probably as big as you want to go for a wall hanging.
You’re going to be cutting the fabric into one-foot squares. A square yard is nine feet (3X3), so you would need nine square feet of fabric for each yard.
Fusible interfacing is used to back the fabric swatches to give the quilt stability. This sheet should be in the size you want the entire finished product. It will remain whole.
Give the children plain white typing paper and the iron-on transferrable crayons. Allow them to make whatever designs they want.
Cut your fabric into one-foot square pieces. On the front of the fabric, place one picture drawn by the children with the special crayons. Follow the crayon box’s instructions to iron-on the drawing so it transfers to the fabric.
When you have all your squares, arrange them on the fusible interfacing. Make a pleasing arrangement, and make sure no spaces are between the squares- the edges should just meet. Trim edges slightly if necessary.
Cover it with a sheet, and iron over it to fuse the squares to the interfacing. Trim around the edges, if needed. To make them straight and sharp.
This makes a great gift that can be used as a garden stepping stone, or placed on the hearth or a shelf. For this craft, get a small box of plaster of paris, a pie tin, and some things to decorate it with. You can use small pebbles or shells, some colored glass pebbles (usually used to fill a glass vase), some 1 inch tiles, or get some cheap dishes at a thrift shop or dollar store that are bright colors- wrap them in a towel and break them into small pieces with a hammer- instant mosaic pieces. The side benefit of this is it relieves a lot of holiday tension.
Prepare the plaster of paris as the box directs in a large, disposable container (such as an old ice cream tub). Leave it to sit for a few minutes until it has the consistency of cake batter. Pour it about 1 ½ to 2 inches high in the pie plate.
Use your items to decorate it with a nice design by pressing the pieces into the plaster just enough for them to hold. If a small child is helping with the gift, have them make a hand print in the center of it and decorate the border.
Allow it to dry thoroughly as directed on the package.
Personalized Serving Tray
Great for people who love to entertain, or to display in the kitchen. You can make this easily with an inexpensive 11 X 14 wooden picture frame, and two handles from the hardware store.
Open the frame. Gather pictures to make a collage. These can be pictures from your family’s past holidays, or from magazines. Try to make them have a theme the person likes, for example:
– fruits and veggies
– coffee, tea, wine, etc.
– cultural (designs from specific cultures, such as Italian or African American or Japanese)
– family photos
Cut out the pictures and arrange them. If they’re going to be a collage where all the pictures overlap and nothing can be seen underneath, you can do this right on the cardboard backing of the picture frame. Or, if the design will be more sparse, you can put them on a nice sheet of paper, wall paper scraps, scrapbooking paper or stationary. Place the collage in the frame. Screw the handles on the sides, and it’s all set for serving.