Carly Rubach

Holiday Gifting Pt. 1

By - Nov 13th, 2011 04:00 am
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I know it might seem premature to be thinking about the magical season of giving, but Christmas tunes are already dominating the radio waves and I’m trying really hard not to do everything last minute this year. So, I want to share my strategy with anyone else looking to get a head start on holiday gifts. In this gifting series, I’ll brainstorm a few initial projects in Part 1. In Part 2, I will reveal a couple holiday How-tos and in Part 3, I’ll have tips on last-minute presents and DIY gift-wrapping. Hooray!

Now let’s talk strategy. How do you create a gift with a personal touch? First, you’ll need to make a list of recipients’ names with corresponding notes for each person (names have been slightly altered for privacy).

1. Samwise (recently married)
2. Frodo (moved into a new apartment)
3. Gollum (just got a new kitty)
4. Gandalf (had a baby)
5. Legolas (We met at Hooligan’s)
6. King of Gondor (Loves cooking!)

From here, you can at least narrow your scope of thinking and tailor a more personal gift that relates to what is really important to the person. Next, we can brainstorm a few project ideas for each personal event.

Recently Married = Stationery!

Sure, letter writing is a little outdated but it doesn’t hurt to encourage this artful form of correspondence. My mom often gives monogrammed stationary to newly married couples, and I remember receiving her handcrafted stationery when I went off to college. She decoupaged letters that my cousin wrote when she was young on the inside of a fabric-covered wooden box. My mom then placed monogrammed stationery inside. It made my cousin cry, and that’s always a good sign.

Another great use of letters is through the art of preservation. Do you have a stack of letters from your mother, father, grandmother, significant other, or someone else close to you? My mom had an entire box filled with correspondence between my grandma and great grandma that spanned between the years 1949-1965. She made copies of all the letters, arranged them in chronological order and found family Christmas pictures from each year as a way to divide the book. She then gifted them to her seven brothers and sisters and her mother for Christmas one year. They cried too.

Moved into a new apartment = Bicycle wheel pots/pans rack

My cousin Molly is awesome and also makes things from time to time. A couple columns back I made a kitchen rack for my pots and pans and then I was like, shoot! I should have made the bike wheel kitchen rack that my cuz made. Anyway, I think this would make a great gift for a young hip guy, gal or couple that recently moved into a new apartment. Stay tuned for this project how-to in an upcoming column.

New Kitty = Mouse toy!

Nothing says, “I love you my pet” like a handmade mouse! You can modify your pattern to be any creature. This is a great way to use all that leftover scrap fabric. No need to spend a lot of dough on your pet since they can only pay you back in love.

Baby = Name plate

This is another idea I stole from my mom. Use paint or collage on canvas to create a name plate for the newborn. You can go to and print out letters to trace if you’re not crazy about free-styling the lettering. Mothers never tire of seeing their baby’s name, especially when it is drawn out artfully with great care.

Met at a bar = Photograph

Photographs are a great personal medium. If you want to find something different than the forced-smile-arm-in-arm shot, think back to where you met this recipient or a favorite place that you share. You don’t have to be a great photographer, just go out and shoot the facade of the bar/restaurant/house and play with it in your photo editing program of choice. Using the black-and-white or sepia tone effect always makes for a better photo and gives it a classic look. Enlarge your photo if you want and place it in a cheap matted frame from Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics (you can almost always get a 40% off coupon online before you purchase). If you’d rather shop local and get better quality, check out Tradewind Products in Bay View. They do custom framing and also have a great selection of wooden and metal frames in-store. You can even pick up all of your art supplies there, including paints, brushes, canvases and more. They have online coupons available too.

Loves Cooking = Apron and Cookbook

I made personalized aprons for my sister and dear friend last Christmas and they were well received, I think. The ladies were both really getting into cooking so I thought I’d encourage that with accessories. I used a heavy canvas as the body of the apron (I traced an apron that I had for a pattern) and then added patterned embellishments and stitched on a few buttons for their initials. For the cookbook, I just covered a binder with fabric, added plastic sheet covers and dividers. I inserted a few recipes from magazines and made a list of resources and websites that I go to for cooking tips. You can always throw in a bottle or wine or a real cookbook to mix things up.

So this might not cover every personality on your holiday gift list, but at least it’s a start. Post your DIY gift ideas in the comments section or tell me who you’re stumped on this year. We can work together!

0 thoughts on “TCDIY: Holiday Gifting Pt. 1”

  1. Anonymous says:

    OUTSTANDING! Beautiful and original ideas! Something for everyone and every cat!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m a long-crafter, (I make my own soap and other bath/beauty-related prodcuts), and handmade gifts are the best. I’m definitely going to make some gifts this holiday season. My niece loves the peppermint-scented, pink glitter soap I make her.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How about gifts for older parents who seem to already have everything, and don’t have any ‘hobbies’ to really speak of?

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