"Dear Santa, I am so happy that Christmas is almost here. Are you?" Pencil and marker and a bit of photoshop - © Y.Barrage, 2007
There are people out there who have everything ready for the holidays by now. Every single present has been purchased, wrapped and tagged; all invitations have been sent out and been replied to; festive meal menus are not only printed on parchment paper, but the food itself has been cooked and frozen in anticipation of the big day. I'm sure there are people out there like that.
Well, not me. This is when I start my shopping and/or scramble to come up with home-made stuff. So if you're like me, fear not, here are some really fun ideas that won't break the bank and won't take 3 days to prepare. And if you're snowed in like we are today, chances are you might even have what you need to come up with personalized presents already somewhere around your home. Bonus: most of these ideas are environmentally responsible, frugal and easy as pie. Or tea.
Lots of interesting ideas can be found on the Buy Nothing Christmas site. But I've also found a number of hilarious offerings online, including an exploding frog, a soda-lightful bath fizz, bath bombs and jellies. They are fun, quick and easily tailored to your recipient's tastes (and sense of humour), and your own creativity.
The Family Fun website has a long list of suggestions that can be made with or for children, but I found the following most adaptable: a Velvet Notebook, a project that can also be made by wrapping a blank notebook, a small sketchbook, or even a photo album or two in coordinated paper or fabric.
Home-made clay for both kids and grown ups, safer to use that store-bought play dough or modeling clay. For children, you can include some plastic cookie cutters that can be found for pennies almost anywhere. For a hobbyist, you can include clay sculpting tools, and a printed recipe for baked clay.
Another cute idea is called Bandages for the soul, a collection of quotes and sayings. A grown-up version of this might be creating a wall decoration with some favourite inspirational words - an inexpensive stetched canvas painted in a favourite colour, and the words carefully painted out. If that's too hard, then use a beautiful hand-made paper and ink or an art marker.
How about some Emoticon magnets, similar to projects I've already shown how to do here. Now these are really easy and not two can be alike.
Another really inexpensive idea, although not very quick, only requires your time and your printer. Why not research a particular topic that your gift recipient might be interested in, and compile a folder with all the printed information? Or even varied articles on current health news, political analysis, book and movie reviews - I know that I hardly have time to keep up and miss being able to browse magazines or newspapers for more than just functional information. Other ideas could include how-tos, free crochet and knitting patterns (Lion Brand Yarns and Bernat are great for that), easy recipes (check out Bobbie's other blog and a bunch of others I'll think of in a bit; or Canadian Living Magazine's Make-it-tonight collection). You can pretty up easily.
Finally, if you know how to bake - even if it's only plain oatmeal cookies or no-bake-rice-krispie-squares - why not bake a batch of goodies and wrap it up nicely? My kids love those kinds of presents - and so do their mum and dad.
Remember also that a lot of the pleasure of giving is that it comes from the heart. It's not how much you spent, or how many mall crowds you had to battle that counts, it's that you were thinking of that person when you were creating your gift. And hopefully, the good feelings you had in your heart became part of the present too.