Friday, February 24, 2006

Free Gifts With Crafts

Birthday gifts should come from the heart. We all know it, but few of us take advantage of that idea. Still if you are short on money, or even if you are not, then you may want to consider making homemade and free birthday gifts. Even if you are giving a store-bought gift as well, these ideas allow you to put more time and effort into a gift for someone else. You may just find that you are able to give them these thoughtful gifts, and you will both feel better about it.

One of the best options for a crafted gift is to give love gift certificates. No, you are not giving away love. Instead you are giving away things that you can do for someone. You can take several different angles. You can give away services, such as one home-cooked meal or one night of free babysitting, or you can offer your time, such as one long walk or two hours at a coffee shop. Think about the person receiving the gift and what he or she will appreciate most. You can make these certificates really easily by using some construction paper or cardstock. If graphics is more your thing, then try printing them up on your computer. All you need to create the booklet is a hole puncher to put a little hole in the top corner. Then run a piece of yarn through. You can even cut out a heart and attach a note. This gift is one that will remind the person throughout the year that you cared.

If you are into more sentimental gifts, think about making a customized love letter or appreciation list. Think of what you love about the person for whom you are looking for a gift. Then write them all out. You can go really low-key and write all of the things you love in a list or on a piece of paper, or you can type it up. Then just print it and take it to get laminated or get an inexpensive frame for it. If you are a parent, you could have your children write in their own handwriting and words what they love about the other parent. Get a multi-photo frame and put the love letters from the little ones in it. This gift will make a wonderful one that the recipient can continue to cherish for years to come.

Another great choice for a hobby gift is to give a photo album. You can buy a photo album for only a couple of dollars. Then go through the pictures that you have in your files. Pick out some with the special person in it. Put them together in a photo album for a gift. If you are more crafty, you may even want to consider making a scrapbook as a gift. You can include dates of the pictures as well as little comments that show how much you care.

If you are giving a gift to a younger relative, you can make a little homemade book that will tell what you wish you had known. Think about when you were the age of the recipient. These gifts are great for milestones, such as when someone is going off to college. Write down 100 things you wish you had known or 50 tips for succeeding or something similar. Type them up and print them out. Then you can take them to your local print shop and have them turned into a book for only a few bucks.

When your child reaches a milestone, commemorate the occasion by writing a letter to tell her or him what you want your child to know. Perhaps you want your child to grab the world and run with her dreams. Perhaps you want him to know that you will always be there regardless of the situation. Take the time in a letter to say it and then give it to your child. Although you may not know it now, these letters can have a lasting impact.

Thinking about your hobbies or your craft skills can help you to come up with good gift ideas. Remember that it really is the thought that counts!

By Julia Mercer

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