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Posts Tagged ‘homemade gift’

Today’s post marks the conclusion of the fun series I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas.  For the final installment I’d like to explore creative gift ideas that tap into services we can offer to others.  Last week we talked about using our words effectively to tell someone how much we care about them. This week we’ll look at how we accomplish the same goal, but through serving instead of saying. Not only does serving others really get at the heart of Christmas, but offering our services is an excellent last-minute homemade gift option (remember, Christmas is only a week away!).

Brainstorming ideas about how you can offer your services

Everyone has a service they can offer someone.  What’s yours?  Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Offer to shovel your neighbor’s snow
  • Offer to cook meals for someone who is sick
  • Offer to cook meals for someone who just had a baby
  • Offer to take an elderly person grocery shopping
  • Offer to clean someone’s housewalk-dog
  • Offer to do someone’s laundry
  • Offer to do someone’s dishes
  • Offer to take a friend out to a restaurant
  • Offer to babysit someone’s children
  • Offer to take care of someone’s home while they are traveling
  • Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog
  • Offer to give a loved one a massage or other special service

Brainstorming ideas about how to present your services in gift form

  • Write a letter describing your proposed service(s)
  • Explain your service in a creative Christmas card
  • Create special redeemable coupons for each offered service

An example of a homemade gift using services

There are really endless ways you can serve another person. I encourage you to run through in your mind all the people in your life and see if you can think of a way you could meet one of their needs by offering them your services this Christmas. And as I said above, since Christmas is only a week away, consider making a homemade service gift instead of tearing your hair out trying to buy a last-minute gift at the crowded mall.

Two years ago my Grandmother was remarking to me that she could no longer clean very effectively in her house due to her ailments. She specifically mentioned that she would love to clean her nice dishes set, but she could not reach the shelves safely, nor did she have the energy to thoroughly clean all those dishes anyway. This gave me an idea. I decided I wanted to help and Christmas was coming, so I described my proposed service in a special Christmas card that year. She was happy to oblige and the next time my husband and I visited, we spent the afternoon cleaning all her dishes. She was very thankful and a burden had been lifted.  That homemade gift was a success!

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using your services? Feel free to share any ideas here.

A Look Back

Today’s installment of I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas marks the end of this series.  I hope you were able to benefit from it and think of creative ideas for homemade gifts this Christmas.   Feel free to take a look back at each week’s homemade gift idea topic: photos, arts & crafts, plants, food, words, and services (today).

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Last week I continued the series I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas with some tips about making gifts that use arts and crafts. Today I would like to switch gears and offer a few ideas for homemade gifts using plants. If you come around this blog at all on Mondays, then you’ll quickly discover that I am a huge fan of plants! While there might not be as many options with this type of homemade gift as with general arts and crafts, you’ll quickly find that there are still plenty of good ideas to work with. Let’s start by brainstorming a little when it comes to gifts that can be made using plants.

Brainstorming plant gift ideas

Whether you are a green thumb or not, there are several great homemade gifts you can create using our green friends. gift-plantHere are just a few to get you started:

  • Grow a brand new plant
  • Take cuttings from one of your plants and start a new plant
  • Divide one of your plants (indoor or outdoor)
  • Save seeds from your garden plants (flower or vegetable) and package them to give away
  • Share in your garden harvest (e.g. canned tomatoes, dried herbs, etc.)
  • Decorate a pot
  • Make a pot
  • Dry flowers and create a collage
  • Pound leaves or flowers onto cloth

An example of a homemade gift using plants

A few years ago I spent a summer in Alaska working for the Unites States Forest Service. I got to meet all sorts of people who knew a lot about native plants and the interesting ways you could use them. Besides using some of the native plants for making jam and flavored honey, I also got to make some crafty gifts. My favorite was a process known as leaf or flower pounding. I discovered how fun and easy it was as soon as I struck the hammer for the first time. Let me explain.

To get started with leaf or flower pounding, you need a hammer, some cloth, and some leaves or flowers. The cloth we used was muslin because it has the qualities needed to get good results. Find a flat protected surface and lay down some newspaper or cardboard. Then choose your leaves or flowers. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Arrange your specimens in a pleasing way and then cover your design with the muslin. At this point you are ready to begin pounding. This part is pretty fun because not only do you get to pound a lot, but you also get to see the beautiful pigments from your leaves or flowers start to show through in your cloth. It’s really remarkable actually!

leaf-pounding

After you finish your design, you can let it dry and then find a creative way to display it. Framing is nice, but you might also choose to sew it onto something or make a collage. Keep in mind that you can leave it as is, but you can also try to treat your creation to help it last longer. I found a good resource about this here.

Having trouble finding a living plant because it’s winter where you live? You can certainly try leaves or flowers from your houseplants and you can also take a trip to the flower shop or a greenhouse to find good specimens. You’ll soon discover that not only will people love your gift, but you will become addicted to this fun process!

Homemade plant gift ideas from around the web

There are many great ideas floating around the web when it comes to interesting and creative plant gifts. Here are just a few I found:

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using plants? Feel free to share any ideas here.

Coming up next week

Next week we will learn about creative gifts you can make using food!

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Last week I continued the series I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas with some tips about making gifts that use photos. Today I would like to switch gears only slightly and offer a few ideas for gifts using general arts and crafts. If you’re like me and love using all sorts of arts and crafts, then you will undoubtedly know that there are endless options when it comes to creating homemade gifts. In the same way, so many options can often be a little overwhelming, especially if you don’t feel particularly creative. So let’s brainstorm together and get started making homemade gifts using arts and crafts.

beads

Brainstorming arts and crafts gift ideas

Since there are so many gifts you can make using such materials, I thought a list would be best to get our creative minds rolling. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Make an ornament
  • Draw a picture
  • Paint a picture
  • Make paper-mâché
  • Sew something
  • Knit a sweater
  • Crochet a scarf
  • Make a fleece blanket
  • Sculpt something
  • Make pottery
  • Decorate a picture frame
  • Carve wood
  • Make a candle
  • Do a cross-stitch
  • Make jewelry

An example of a homemade gift using arts and crafts

I have used a number of the above examples of crafty gifts in past holidays, but one I have used with a considerable amount of success is homemade jewelry, or more specifically, beaded necklaces. Homemade beaded necklaces make excellent gifts, mostly for women, and have a very special quality to them. On top of that, they are actually quite easy and fun to make! I’d like to offer a simple step-by-step process below so you too can make your own beaded necklace.

beaded-necklaces

  • Step 1: Purchase your supplies. You will need the following to make a beaded necklace: beads (any you choose!), necklace wire or string, 2 end clasps, 2 crimper beads, a needle-nose pliers, and a scissors. You don’t even need to go to a specialty beading store to get beads these days. In fact, even though I like to explore bead stores, I often buy inexpensive beads from stores like Walmart. Another option to make the process less complicated is to buy a necklace set that includes everything you need except the scissors and pliers. In that case, however, you have limited options for choosing the design since it is chosen for you.
  • Step 2: Choose your necklace length and cut your wire/string. It is important to cut your necklace length a few inches longer than you desire, so you have some extra room to work with for stringing your clasps or in case you make a mistake. I make necklaces using wire and my favorite length is just longer than a choker (about 13-15 inches). So in my case I would cut the wire to the length of about 17-21 inches to start with.
  • Step 3: Attach a clasp to one end of the wire/string. First take one of your two crimper beads and string it onto your wire/string. Next follow that with one of your two clasps (it doesn’t matter which one). Loop the end of the wire/string back through the crimper bead and pull tightly. You want to leave about an inch of wire/string sticking out past the crimper bead. Once you have it correctly positioned, take your pliers and squeeze the crimper bead tightly until the wire cannot move anymore through the bead. You have now clasped one end of your necklace.clasp-and-crimper-step-1 clasp-and-crimper-step-2 clasp-and-crimper-step-3
  • Step 4: Make a plan for your necklace design. It’s best to simply create a pattern you will stick with throughout the beading process. Be sure to consider the length of your necklace when choosing your pattern.
  • Step 5: Bead your necklace. Carefully string the beads according to your pattern. In the beginning, you will be placing beads through a little of your extra wire/string that is sticking out of your crimper bead. You may also choose to cut this piece off. Once you reach the end of the wire/string, leave about an inch or two of room for the final clasp.
  • Step 6: Attach the closing clasp to finish your necklace. Using the same process as in step 3, necklace-claspssimply take your second crimper bead and slide it next to the last bead on your wire/string. Then add the other clasp. String the wire/string through the crimper bead and any nearby beads, being careful to pull it tightly so as not to leave any slack. Then, as before, take your pliers and squeeze the crimper bead until it is flat. Cut off any extra wire/string sticking out and you have finished your necklace!

Homemade arts and crafts gift ideas from around the web

Several blogs are participating in a great series called Holidays By Hand and so far there have been wonderful ideas for homemade gifts using arts and crafts:

Don’t forget to ask Google too!  Here are just a couple of ideas I found in a search today:

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using arts and crafts? Feel free to share any ideas here.

Coming up next week

Next week we will switch gears a bit and talk about homemade gift ideas using plants!

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Last week I introduced the new series, I’ll Be Homemade for Christmas and today for its first official installment, I’d like to feature homemade gifts using photos. I am a professional photographer, but you do not need to even be a photographer at all to use photos in your homemade gifts. The possibilities are endless when it comes to pictures: photo albums, collages, scrapbooks, posters, prints, cards, magnets, frames, the list goes on. How do you creatively choose a homemade photo gift that suits your style? Read on.

taking-a-photo

Brainstorming photo gift ideas

As I said above, there are literally countless ways you can use photos in homemade gifts, but where do you start? Here are some tips to help you brainstorm:

  • Recall events. Remember weddings, graduations, parties, vacations, special trips, weekend getaways, holidays, celebrations, and any other fun events. Nothing helps a person reminisce about a special event like photos.
  • Spotlight a person. Highlight a person’s character or review a season or aspect of their life. Find pictures that tell a story about who that person is.
  • Get sentimental. Show someone how much you care by using photos to describe your feelings. Demonstrate how much you love them, or how proud you are of them.

Getting started making homemade photo gifts

Once you’ve got an idea, you need to create it! Here are some general guidelines you can follow when it comes time to actually make your photo gift:

  • Sort through your own collection of digital images or get photos from family and friends
  • Scan prints of old photos onto your computer
  • Use a photo editing program to manipulate your photos or add text
  • If you have a photo printer, print at home
  • If you don’t have a way to print from home, then use an inexpensive online photo service
  • Buy any necessary supporting materials, like an album, scrapbook, or frame
  • Use special arts and crafts supplies to enhance your work
  • Put it all together and be creative!

An example of a homemade photo gift

I make photo gifts for friends and family for all occasions, not just Christmas. There’s just so much potential and photos really do speak a thousand words. Plus, I have a collection of close to 50,000 photos that continues to grow—I will never run out of ideas! To help you think of your own photo ideas I’d like to spotlight a photo collage I made for my parents a few years ago that is a simple concept anyone can adapt.

The concept relies on family resemblance, something pretty much every family can count on. In my family, I tend to look more like my dad, while my brother tends to look more like my mom. Furthermore, as far as personality goes, I seemed to have turned out more like my dad, while my brother seems to have turned out more like my mom.   I decided to take advantage of this and search for pictures that would creatively illustrate this phenomenon. After perusing old family photos and scanning what I needed, I used my photo editing program, Paint Shop Pro, and created a collage digitally with text (but you can just as easily print the individual photos and make a scrapbook-type collage with paper & glue). Finally, I printed the collage and framed it. My parents loved it!

family-photo-collage

Homemade photo gift ideas from around the web

As I said in my introduction to this series, each week I’d like to provide some useful links to other resources on the internet for homemade gift ideas. Here are a few I found that creatively use photos:

Reader Reflection

Have you ever made homemade gifts using photos? Feel free to share any ideas here.

Coming up next week

This week we talked about homemade photo gifts, and next week we’ll look at some creative homemade gift ideas using other arts and crafts.

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