Make-It-Yourself Christmas

by Dian Thomas

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    A homemade gift at Christmastime says so much. It says that you care enough to give of your time, not just your money. It sends along a little of your personality, and it includes a lot of your love. Here are some fun make-it-yourself Christmas gifts you might like to try.

    Good-bye Goodie. The holiday season means visits from relatives and friends. Here’s a good way to always have a treat on hand while adding a little Christmas decor to your home. Using your favorite recipe, bake and decorate gingerbread men or holiday-shaped sugar cookies. Roll out 10 to 12 feet of plastic wrap, and place the cookies, decorated side down, lengthwise down the wrap, about two inches apart. Fold the wrap in from both sides to overlap the cookies. Using red or green Christmas ribbon, tie a bow between each cookie and at the bottom of the last cookie. Hang the string of Christmas treats near the front door. Place a pair of scissors nearby, or hang the scissors on a long string of ribbon next to the treats. As holiday guests leave your home, invite them to snip off a special treat.

    A Memory Box. Parents and grandparents appreciate this thoughtful gift which has so many uses. You will need scissors, spray glue, newspaper, decoupage, a cardboard file box, and favorite snapshots and portraits of family members. Place each photo on a photocopy machine and make several pages of prints. Study each print and decide the best way to cut out the figures. You will want to use a combination of individuals and groups. After cutting out the photos, place them face down on newspaper and spray the backs with glue. Then begin arranging the pictures on the box. Cover every inch of the box with the copies of your special family photos. You may wish to place vacation photos on one side, family groups on another, grandparents on a third side, and photos of your home and neighborhood last. A family tree, with photos of family members on each branch, makes an attractive lid. Once finished, decoupage the entire box to seal the photos, and you have your own special heritage gift.

    Special “Kits.” A personalized kit makes a gift that’s both practical and fun. Combine several related items in an attractive box or decorated bag. For instance, a distant friend might enjoy a letter-writing kit containing stationery, an inexpensive pen, and a book of stamps. A babysitters survival kit could include a favorite paperback book, a small book for emergency phone numbers, activities and books for children, plus some tasty treats. You might like to give your mother a new recipe and the ingredients and utensils to make it. For example, include with a gelatin salad recipe a box of gelatin, any canned fruit that the recipe calls for, and a pretty salad mold. Use your imagination to make many special kits.

    Long-lasting Stories. Every child likes to listen to stories, and this gift allows a child to enjoy a story told by you over and over again. First, purchase an inexpensive storybook and a 15- to 30-minute cassette tape. Practice reading the story aloud a few times, and then tape record the story. Each time you turn a page, pause to tap a glass tumbler or ring a bell. The sound will indicate to the child when to turn the page. Wrap the tape and the book together for a delightful gift.

    Coupon Gifts. A gift of time can be a valuable gift to anyone, especially to a younger brother or sister, niece or nephew, or neighbor child. Use 3-by-5 cards to construct service coupons which the recipient can redeem at any time for your services. Coupons might read, “Good for one movie,” “Good for one overnight camping trip,” “Good for three hour’s babysitting,” or even “Good for one game of your choice.”

    Giving Money. Little Children enjoy receiving money with which to buy a new toy, a book, or an ice cream treat. This year, try giving money in an unusual way. Place a large amount of change in your pocket and allow a child to keep as much as he or she can gather in one handful. You could also put the money in a Christmas stocking or make a small bag with a drawstring. Allow a child to reach in and take as much change as he can hold.

    Christmas Tree Box. If a friend or family member will be away from home for Christmas—on a mission or away at school—send gifts in a box that includes its own Christmas tree. You’ll need a shoe box or dress box, preferably one with a hinged lid; Christmas wrap; construction paper; and scissors. If the box you’ve chosen has a separate lid, fasten the lid to the box with masking tape “hinges” so that it opens in only one direction. Cover the box and lid with Christmas wrap. Next, cut a Christmas tree shape from green construction paper and paste it on the inside of the lid. Use your imagination to decorate the tree. Tiny circles made with a hole punch look like miniature ornaments. Arrange your gifts inside the box. When your friend opens the box, he or she will enjoy both the gifts and your special Christmas tree.

    Something for the Birds. This outdoor Christmas decoration adds festive cheer to your yard while it doubles as a functional bird feeder. You will need four to six 12-inch evergreen boughs; wire or strong cording; berries, nuts, popcorn, bread cubes, popped popcorn, and/or birdseed; and thread or dental floss. Arrange the evergreen boughs to form a tree, and tie firmly together with cord or wire. Attach additional wire or cording with which to secure the tree to the eaves of your house or to a handy branch in a nearby tree. Decorate the tree by stringing garlands of nuts, berries, bread cubes, popcorn, and the like on thread or dental floss. Sprinkle birdseed over the entire tree. (If you have a small evergreen near a window, you may want to decorate it instead of making a tree.) You’ll enjoy watching the birds feast on this special holiday present.

    Photos by Jed Clark