Sunday, December 31, 2006

Creating Keepsakes From Children's Words

After this Christmas, I am considered making more personal gifts in the future. I found that some people spend far more on gifts than we do, and then I feel terrible about the difference in expense. Although I try to make myself feel better by realizing that with a child, we have an additional obligation. Plus my very large extended family makes it tough to spend a lot on everyone. We only spend cash instead of running up credit to pay for gifts. Still I feel a bit of guilt about it. Then I feel remorse for spending as much as we did.

So my solution is to think of as many personalized gifts as I can for this year. I figure that if I make many of the gifts, then I will feel better about them. I think that in the end, we all pay lip service to this idea that the holiday season is about giving and being with family, but few people are willing to put their money on it. In 2007, my family is going to work to do just that. It does not mean that we will not be purchasing anything, but I collecting ideas that will give me something to do with my time and that will give others pleasure.

These ideas work for people who are not very crafty. If you are just interested in putting together one gift, then variations of this idea may work really well for you. Think creatively and you can make a great gift that you will enjoy making as much as the recipient enjoys receiving.

My in-laws have eight grandchildren with one on the way. I am thinking that the best gift for them would be something dealing with each of the grandchildren. If you are looking for a gift for a mom or a grandmother (or even a teacher), then you could try out a framed piece of art featuring each of the children. At some point during the year, have the children each write something about the person who will receive the gift. For little ones, it may just be that they love Mommy or that Mommy smells good. Older children may want to include something more substantial.

Then take a picture of each child and mount it onto the page where that child wrote (or dictated) the message. Now you have a couple of options with the gift, depending on the number of children and the space the person has available for the gift. If you are dealing with only a couple of kids, then put the pieces together and have them framed. The picture will be a wonderful keepsake for years to come.

If you have more children or if the recipient does not have the place to hang the picture, then you could create a book instead. With current technology, making a small book is a pretty simple process. You can get the book bound at a professional print shop for less than $5 if you want to go that route. You also can go online to a print on demand publisher and put together the book by scanning and downloading the images. This plan works if you want more than one copy because you simply order them through the website.

Another option is to create the old-fashioned yarn-bound books. Put the pages together and decide on the orientation you want. Make a cover with your own art and lettering that includes the year and the occasion for the craft. Then punch holes in the book and wrap and tie yarn around each of the holes.

Another option for this type of gift is to mount the piece on wood backing. While it is a more professional look, it can be pricier than the other options and really works only if you have one child. You would go to a trophy shop to begin your search for this gift. Take the picture with you and ask for the options for creating a plaque from what you have. You should get a number of great ideas there. Keep your eyes open for other ways to display this sentimental gift to others. Chances are you will find something that the recipient loves.

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