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If you haven’t looked at your calender recently, you might be surprised to know that it is already December. Yup – that wonderful month when we can get together with family and friends and be thankful for each other’s company (or just thankful that you haven’t killed each other yet). A lot of people like to mark the occasion with the dreaded gift giving – that exchanging of something that has some kind of meaning to you both. But what to do? Either you’re short on cash (understandable), or you have that one person who has everything that they want or need. And yet, you still feel the need to get them something. If you’re reading this article, you can forget going to department stores and malls. You just need to know how to get to your local craft store and dollar store. Seriously – this stuff is junky on its own, but you can turn it into something interesting. Best part – you’ll never find another present like yours.
Disclaimer: You take on these projects at your own risk. I am not responsible for burnt or pinched fingers, sewing needle injuries, paper cuts, sore backs, weight gain, or other normal injuries that might occur during craft production.
There are so many things that you can do with paper. Write on it, paper mache, paper airplanes, basketballs, confetti, a general mess…so let’s make that versatile school, home and office staple work for us. Everyone knows someone who is partial to flowers (I don’t know if that someone is special enough for your homemade present – it’s up to you). Make them an origami bouquet. It will last forever (or as long as it is kept away from fire, water, pets, and children). And how about that friend that always stares at the ceilings when they’re bored. They could use a nice mobile to occupy their retinas (There are many variations on the origami mobile – do whatever you want to make it personal!) Someone need luck? Make them a jar of lucky stars. Maybe someone has dreamed of having a pet Claptrap – you can make one of those too (this one requires some glue). Or Minecraft, or whatever. A word of advice for those of you who are going to attempt to make your own models – the boxier the character/object/robot you want, the easier it will be to make.
Not only is a present like this relatively simple (the hard part is having patience – you will make some mistakes along the way), you will look like a Paper Master when that person opens their present – assuming, of course, that they don’t know how to do any of this. If they do, you’ll still look like one of the most patient people in the world – and still slightly awesome.
If you are (or aren’t) handy with a needle and thread, you have a large pool of gift ideas to draw from. Plushies are one of the first things that come to my mind, mainly because you can find a lot of plushie patterns for free. You just have to enter what you want to make into the Google search bar. If it’s been done before, it will show up. If you’re interested in this idea, this is a good place to start (or at least get ideas). Even if there isn’t an exact match, like Cheshire Cat, you can change the fabric colours and add a toothy grin to any of the ordinary cat patterns. If you’re a bit more advanced, you might even try to make your own pattern by modifying an existing one.
There are lots of other things you can do too. You can make a custom shirt, pillow, blanket, gloves, hat, scarf, bag, puppet, photo album, costume…or you can just give them a coupon for free button sewing for a year.
I hate beads. They’re small, they escape, they run all over the floor…but they make some pretty fancy presents if you can line them up properly. It doesn’t have to be limited to making jewellery (although this is usually the best way to get them to behave) – you can sew them onto fabric to make a nice design, you can make creatures and objects, and make pictures out of them (you must have saint-like patience for this…you can also make paintings by creating the picture in strips and sewing those together). The difficult of your present is dependent on two things – the size of the beads, and the size of your hands. Having said that, beads can make some pretty classy presents.
If you are making your own bead patterns, learn to love graph paper – it’s the best. Each square in the grid represents one bead. You might also find it helpful to draw what you want to do first (say, a velociraptor), and then turning it into its 8-bit counterpart.
If you own tools, you might possibly be more a more practical gift giver than most people. So, aside from making custom clothing, most of the suggestions so far are not very appealing. Time to get a bit more practical. Everyone has a collection of something – books, figurines, bottles, boxes, toy cars, dust…make that person something to house it. The part that will set it apart is how you decorate it. You can carve, sculpt, burn, glue, paint, stain, or embellish the masterpiece until you are satisfied. Or until you run out of room to put more things on.
There’s not too much more that can be said for this kind of homemade gift – most of the creativity is in how you decorate. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can trying making an interesting base – not everything in this world is box-shaped (although, it does make wrapping much easier).
If all else fails – make them food. Who doesn’t like food? Seriously, if this doesn’t work, your friend cannot be pleased.