The Best Gifts

When it comes to giving gifts, I always follow the rule that “it’s the thought that counts.” I try to make my gifts that are in some way symbolic to each the recipient, which is why I often make gifts, find out personal preferences like favorite colors, and begin brainstorming rather early in the season about what type of gifts I will be giving to my family each year.

Homemade Gifts

Here’s a list of some of the “homemade” gifts we’ve created and given over the years:

Beaded Jewelry

I used to make and sell beaded jewelry, but when it became more of an expensive hobby than business, I chose to design items only for gifts.

Turquoise stone chips with a center turquoise pendant and sterling clasp.

Turquoise stone chips with a center turquoise pendant and sterling clasp.

I’ve made jewelry for the women in my family for years to the point that they’ve even made requests! Several years in row, I made sets of jewelry – matching and coordinating necklace, bracelet and earrings.

Carnelian pendant with various stone beads and gold-plated chain.

Carnelian pendant with various stone beads and gold-plated chain.

Since I already have a lot of the tools and basic supplies, it only takes a few items – a particular pendant, a certain color bead or crystal, or a special piece like screw-on earring bases or a unique clasp – to create what I’ve designed.

Tie Blankets

One Christmas, I dubbed “keeping cozy”. I made make fleece tie blankets for my many nieces and nephews, and several other family members. I had to plan patterns and colors for a dozen different blankets.

Mackenzie (in heaven) helped me make nearly a dozen "tie" blankets.

Mackenzie (in heaven) helped me make nearly a dozen “tie” blankets.

Thankfully, I started early, so I searched online and visited local fabric stores to find the right prints at an affordable price. Coupons, sales and online coupon codes helped me stay in budget (I hope to discuss savvy shopping tips in another post!).

The huge "Arkansas Razorbacks" blanket that I made for my hubby. Once again, a cat is overseeing the whole operation.

The huge “Arkansas Razorbacks” blanket that I made for my hubby. Once again, a cat is overseeing the whole operation.

One of my sisters travels a lot with her family, and years later, her three kids still bring their blankets with them for long car rides.

Photo Gifts

Each year, my husband and I get calendars made at Vistaprint.com. We can choose layouts, themes, and put our own photos in them. You can add notations for special days like birthdays and anniversaries.

A great gift for less than $20.

A great gift for less than $20.

We’ve also given and received Photo Mugs. They run about $13 and you can personalize it with a photo and two lines of text.

Perfect way for Daddy to start his morning!

Perfect way for Daddy to start his morning!

Photo gifts are fun because they are personal and help us hold onto memories. They are also very affordable at Vistaprint.com (do an internet search for “Coupon code” and “Vistaprint” to get the best prices).

Mini Flashlights

Here’s a gift that just keeping giving. I carry a small flashlight on my key chain and my finger gets tired of holding down the tiny “squishy” button to keep it lit.  Flashlights are pretty handy, whether you’re walking in a parking lot at night alone or need to see where your going, when you’re trying to get the key into your car or front door lock, or if there’s a power outage in the middle of the night and you need to make your way down a dark hallway and stairs for some reason.

What can you do with the $1 aisle at Target and some fun nail polish?

What can you do with the $1 aisle at Target and some fun nail polish?

I found these little push-button LED flashlights in the $1 aisle are Target. I bought a few, hoping to experiment, researching different things to use as a decoration.

Why stick with drag when you can have Sparkly, Bright and Colorful?

Why stick with drab when you can have Sparkly, Bright and Colorful?

I finally settled on using nail polish in fun colors with dots and glitter. They make such cute stocking stuffers, as well.

Candy is Dandy

My hubby plays darts competitively and captains a local team. While hanging out with his friends, one of them had him taste Candy Corn Vodka he had made. Yep, you heard correctly. Candy. Corn. Vodka.

He looked up different recipes online and found out how to make Jolly Rancher infused Vodka.

Jolly Ranchers!

Jolly Ranchers!

So he decided to make a rainbow of different flavored spirits as gifts for the team and the owner of the pub who sponsors the team.

Too pretty to open!

Too pretty to open!

He bought a bunch of “flask” bottles online and a sack of Jolly Ranchers, and the result is so festive! Of course, I had to help “wrap” and tag them!

Not Crafty? No problem!

Even if you have an aversion to glitter doesn’t mean that they can’t give thoughtful, personal gifts.

I know people think it’s cliché, but I believe that the joy in giving and receiving comes from the thought the giver put into gift-planning. I think that many people would prefer a gift that was well thought-about, rather than a trendy new “thing”. As the giver, I find joy in giving something that is somehow symbolic to the recipient.

The Joy of Giving something that I put some thought into…

While I’ve certainly made a habit of making many of the gifts I give, there are many times when I’ve bought manufactured gifts. However, I always try to think of favorite colors and styles for each person.

I sometimes give gifts along a “theme” Two years ago, I bought all the nieces and nephews those draw-string backpacks with a personalized water bottle, and every one of them loved it. Each had their own color/style – one pink, one light blue, a few with favorite sports teams, etc.

and the Joy of Receiving something that I know the giver had thought about.

For my birthday last month, one of my sisters gave me a cute lounge-wear/pajama set, the kind that’s perfect for those chilly days and nights when I’m not going out anywhere. She explained that since I’m sick a lot, I deserve to feel comfy and cute, and these fit the bill! 

All Wrapped Up

Another way I try to make to put a special touch on my gifts is to pick one style of gift wrap each year. It’s fun, and it also makes things easier when at the family gift exchange so they know who gave which gift.

In 2011, I used Green paper with pictures of Santa.

In 2011, I used Green paper with pictures of Santa.

Last year, I used shiny Silver wrapping paper with candy canes.

Last year, I used shiny Silver wrapping paper with candy canes.

As you can tell, the cats always want to help wrap gifts!

Part of the fun is arranging the gifts under the tree.

Part of the fun is arranging the gifts under the tree.

This year, I bought several packs of all-white gift bags in two sizes. I bought tissue paper in red, green, white and snowflake, and used stickers and ribbons to complete the look.

Some holiday stickers, red and green ribbon, and  pinking shears!

Some holiday stickers, red and green ribbon, and craft shears!

I haven’t yet tied the ribbon on these gifts yet, because little Miss Molly likes to chew on the ribbon.

The Misfits watch over the gifts under the tree.

The Misfits watch over the gifts under the tree.

I love arranging the gifts under the tree with my Misfit dolls. It’s an annual photo that I take, and it’s always very tempting to the kitties, too!

I hope that some of these ideas will help you add some creative touches to the gifts you give. As we all know, the biggest gift is love, and you can never go wrong when you give of yourself.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

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2 thoughts on “The Best Gifts

  1. Love this Post, I’m making my gifts this year. I love doing crafty things too! This year, I’m doing frosted (handmande design etch) wine glasses ($1 a dollar tree), some ornaments, etc. Love the flash light idea! I’m writing a blog about my ideas too, but the couple friends getting them this yearwill see it on my blog if I post before Xmas..LOL so I guess I’ll keep it in my drafts untl next Xmas Season. lol. can I share the flashlight idea, and then add a shoutout to your blog?

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