Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Great Gifts You Can Make

By Brandi M. Seals

The holidays are all about giving, but if you do not have money to run out and buy everyone something, why not make them a gift? Gift making is not just reserved for those with limited funding. It is for anyone who wants to have a more hands on experience when it comes to gift giving.

If you are already a crafter, you have a leg up on everyone else. What is it that you like to make? Do you sew? Do you knit? Look at what you already like to do to come up with something to make for friends and family. Granted, if you have a labor-intensive craft that you like to do, you may need to plan well in advance to have everything done in time for the holidays.

For all those who may not be crafters, I have some great gift ideas for you. They are simple to make and most do not require all that much time.

Make a Scarf
If you know how to knit or crochet you can make a scarf. Heck, even if you do not know how to do it, it may take a lesson or two but you should quickly pick up the skill. Once you learn to knit or crochet you can get started. Keep in mind that making a scarf can take quite a bit of time. If you have waited too long and now need to crank out some gifts, consider making wash clothes, coasters, or any other small gift that can be done quickly using your crocheting or knitting skills.

Next year, if you give yourself enough time, you could even make everyone a hat, scarf, and mittens. Or, spice things up and crank out some blankets.

Give a Plant
This gift also requires a little for thought and can be done for minimal cost. Go to the store and buy a terra cotta plant container and the water-catching bottom for it. Depending on the size you buy, expect to pay anywhere from $1 to around $5.

Take the pieces home and get creative. Paint them however you like. I like the idea of painting the entire pot and bottom a base coat of white. Then add red dots around the top and bottom edge of the pot and along the edge of the bottom. That was simple and should not have taken any time at all.

Next, paint a design on the center of the pot. Your artistic skills will come into play here. Go to town on it if you work well with paints. For those like me, I suggest making some sort of template. Say I was going to put a poinsettia in the pot when I gave it away. I would go online and find a cool poinsettia picture. I would print it out to the size I wanted and then cut it out and trace it on the pot. Then paint it in using your picture as a guide.

The last step is to actually buy the plant of choice and plant it in the pot. Then tie a bow around the piece and give it to anyone you want.

Bake Cookies or Other Treats
Most people have at least one recipe that people absolutely go crazy for. For me, it is Island Cookies. They are basic chocolate chip cookies with a little coconut thrown in. I do not know what it is about them, but everyone seems to love them; even those who hate coconut.

Take whatever recipe you have the wows people (or find one that sounds good in a cookbook or online) and make it. If you can add a little holiday flavor to it. For example, sprinkle red and green sprinkles on the top of brownies or make green peppermint rock candy. Get creative; I'm sure you can come up with something.

Next, box the treats up in tins you bought at the local craft store. You could also put them in any sort of container you have lying around the house. Even a decorated paper bag can be a great container.

Baked goods are an easy gift and can be made for a fraction of the cost of buying gourmet treats for friends and relatives.

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