After yesterday's wildly off-topic post, I'll hopefully stick to the topic today. Maybe.
I would like to give those of you making crafty holiday gifts, a little someum' someum' to think about. I know for a fact that anyone can make a spectacular gift - all anyone needs is a little time and the right tools. Maybe some instructions - or at least a creative idea - and some patience. Those few things, plus the points I'll discuss below, will help to make your gift fantastic - rather than fugly. Read on for my thoughts - and a few ideas - about making gifts for the holidays.
I've done so many different things for holiday gifts - and they've changed a lot over the years. Since having childebeasts (which would make it sound like I remember what life was like before they came along...NOT! lol), I've tried to do things they can help with - but are still wanted by the recipient. There is nothing worse than getting something the parent considers cute - but you have no idea a) what it is, b) what it's used for, and c) what to do with it. I'm all for giving gifts made by the kids - but certain things are items only grandparents adore. Let's not force those things on the unsuspecting (or unwilling)!
Also, another quick note - know your skill level. There are so many different projects online (all it takes is a quick Google search), it's easy to find one that fits with your talents, skill level, budget, and style. If you run across something you really want to make - and it takes you 5 hours to make one, that may not be the best thing to make for all 100 of your office mates. Trust me. I've done this to myself before - and rather than enjoying the process, I wind up cursing the recipients existence. That isn't really what the holiday spirit is about...
Edibles are always great - especially for people you work with. If you have (or can find!) a dynamite recipe for fudge or other holiday confection, you'll endear yourself to those you give it to...forever. This is one of the easiest things I've done - and has saved my backside more than once. Great for last minute gifts - or to keep on hand to give to those people who give you something...and you don't have anything to give back.
Ornaments are also appreciated. These are great things for associates or acquaintances - maybe those who are closer to you than the majority of people at the office, but not a real close friend. These can also be good for teachers because they are so easy to customize. Last year, we did a lot of ornaments. (I thought I made a tutorial for this - but I can't find it, so evidently I didn't.) Since we live in Denver, we made "melted snowman" ornaments. Clear glass ornaments, clear (and a few white) seed beads, black (eyes & buttons), orange (nose), and red & white (hats & scarves) polymer clay, and acetate (overhead projector sheets) cut to fit inside the ornaments. I made a pattern for the acetate so it would fill the diameter of the ornament - and before cutting them out of the full sheet, I stamped white (and embossed iridescent) snowflakes all over. Then I wrote, "Happy Holidays from the _______ 2008" on the acetate, taking up most of the room. Around the bottom I wrote, "Genuine snowman from Denver, CO". I cut these out, rolled them up to fit through the neck of the ornament, and used a pencil to center the writing. Dump in the seed beads and little accessories you've made out of polymer clay, tie a ribbon around the top, and you're done! You can make a lot of these quickly - and inexpensively.
The other things I've/we've made...homemade potpourri, sun catchers with dried flowers/leaves/seeds (this one takes some forethought if you want to save by drying your own flowers/leaves/seeds), wreathes, lip balm kits (for my daughter's friends), personalized stationery, mini/art quilts, and memory boxes. If you are looking for something to give a pet lover, homemade treats for their pet are appreciated, as is an easy-to-make personalized food or water dish.
Whatever you decide to make, whether it's from scratch or you're just altering something you've bought, personalizing it to the recipient is easy - and appreciated. It shows you've taken the time and made the effort to make it special. Which would you rather receive - something someone made 100 of...or something personalized? Personalization doesn't take that much longer - but can really make your gift special.
I know I said I would only talk about this for one day...but it's now lapsed into two. And I'll open it up for questions...if you are going to be crafty this holiday season, and you have questions, let me have 'em. From questions about how to make something, to wanting me to write a tutorial about a project...or needing ideas for a certain skill level - or particular recipients...or wanting to know where to get a supply (at a great price)...or anything else, leave a comment with your question. If there are enough questions, I'll make a Q&A post.
Just don't ask me about the meaning of life.