As I was busily wrapping a baby shower gift, I was reminded how important it is that gifts come from not only the heart, but from your own craftsmanship. Now I'm not saying that you even have to be a craftsman or an artist. What I am saying is that adding that homemade touch to any gift will make your gift more personal and heartfelt. It's an added reminder to the recipient of how much extra time and thought you put into her gift. Here are a few tips on how to add that personal touch:
1. Make your own gift wrap
I'm a huge fan of handmade gift wrap. Over the holidays, I wrapped my gifts in craft paper, tied them up with some old twine and trimmed the bottom of my Christmas tree to "garnish" each gift with some fresh pine. You can garnish your gifts with almost any unused item in your house: I've used random buttons from my sewing box to decorate gifts; old candy that will never get eaten; out-dated beads or jewelry from the archives... If I'm not feeling crafty, sometimes I just wrap gifts in craft paper and have the kids draw all over it. Or, I'll use some of the kids' old artwork from school as gift wrap.
Another great idea is using old fabric swatches instead of paper. If you're not one to hoard fabric swatches, think about those old, don't-fit-me-anymore, can't-get-the-stain-out, shrunken clothes that get tossed to the curb. If they're cute fabrics or materials, save them for gift wrap. In fact, start a gift wrap storage box with all of these things. You can add to your collection as you clean out other areas of your house, and make gift wrapping fun every time you open this box of random treasure.
2. Make your own card
...or make your kids do it! Kids have endless creativity and energy, and love to help. Let them. We're not trying to create the Hallmark card here. But if you do (gasp!) buy a retail card, always add a heartfelt, handwritten note in the card. Even if you spent hours in the card aisle finding that perfect sentiment, it will mean more in a handwritten note from you—in your own words.
3. Personalize it
My husband and I had purchased a silkscreened print of the Terminal Tower (where we got married) and kept it in storage for awhile. For our anniversary, I dug up the print and stamped a heart on top of the Tower to represent our marriage, and then I had it framed. The print alone is great, but the addition of that tiny stamped heart makes it mean so much more to us specifically—and no one else. We both love it. One time for my birthday, my old boss gave me a set of tupperware with my name written in Sharpie on every lid. It was an inside joke because I always made fun of her labeled housewares and I once said, "You know you're grown up when you write your name on your tupperware." Her personal touch made an ordinary gift hilariously funny. I don't have specific tips on how to personalize your gifts because, well, each gift should be unique. But next time you have the forethought to personalize a gift, think about how you're going to let the recipient know why you're giving it to her.
From these three examples, you can probably assume to spend little or no money. Most often it's that extra time that you put towards a gift, and not the money that matters. Who knew that being a good gift giver could be so cheap and easy?