Lighting, Gifts and Idle Observations

Last week I made an art journal which I intended to give to Laurie, my dear friend and theatre partner…I finished it, and she likes it.  However, the problem is I thought I made it red.  Under the lights in my work room, it looked red.  While she was holding the art journal it looked PINK.  She hates pink and I would never make her something in pink.


So this is my point here:  make sure you have good lighting in your work space.  Obviously the color looked different under the lights above my desk than it did under the lights where she was seated.  The large overhead lighting in my room is florescent.  I use an Ott Light and a hanging (incandescent light) chandelier above my work desk.  The Ott Light in the link is not exactly like mine, mine is larger, but I did purchase all my Ott lights from JoAnn’s. (And I am not sponsored by anyone.  What I tell you I like, I like.  What I don’t like, I don’t like.  I will never recommend something I don’t really think is worth spending the money on.  Ott lights are, in my opinion, worth every cent.  I did get mine on clearance with tremendous savings on them all.)

Rather than give her a journal which is not her color, I have decided to make an entirely new one for her.  I am currently letting two dry.  One is orange and one is lime green.  I will be making another one in turquoise.  Any of these colors will work well for Laurie, as she loves them all.

Now, I could have just let it go and let her have the pink one.  But she is my dearest friend, and that is not the correct color for her.  For me, sure.  For her, no way.  Because I love her and want her to be happy with the gift, I will create another one in the appropriate colors for her taste.

Which brings me to the second point:  Giving homemade gifts.

Not all people will appreciate homemade gifts. 

Seriously, know your recipient.  I made all sorts of toiletry items as gifts for Christmas two years ago.  I made bath salts, body creams and butters, lip glosses, dried corn bags, bath oils, body wash,  soaps, scrubs and bath bombs, vaporizing cubes, homemade candles in tea cups, etc.  I added some dollar tree face scrubbers, bath sponges and loofas,  back scratchers, fingernail polish and emery boards, q-tips, etc.  I put all this in charming baskets with tissue paper, included a hand crafted Christmas ornament, threw in homemade stationary and cards. I added a lovely pen and journal to complete the pamper baskets. (By the way, this was not an inexpensive gift.  It cost a substantial amount of money for materials and even more importantly was the amount of time it took to create all the items. If cost is a concern there are many less expensive gift options.)

This past summer we had a multi-family garage sale to raise money for our trip to the national puppetry convention.  One of the items I sold was the pamper basket I gave my second daughter.  She did not use any of the stuff I gave her, didn’t even open the basket fully as far as I could tell, and had no problem getting rid of this gift.  Clearly, I missed the boat on this gift for this daughter.  I wasted a lot of time and money on materials for a gift which was not appreciated or used.  I would have been better off giving a gift card.

Another friend absolutely loved the pamper basket items I gave to her.  She said the lip balms were the best she’s ever used!  She used her tubs up and I gave her all the extras I had left over from making the baskets.  She used those too!

Here are a few tips for giving homemade gifts:

Gifts must be impeccable.  Shoddy workmanship is a no-no.

Wrap the gift in spectacular style.  The person receiving the gift is already making up their mind about it based upon the wrapping.  Don’t fall short here.  Use your imagination and creativity.  If you have newspaper for your wrapping paper, terrific!  Make your ribbon look like old typewriter ribbon.  Stamp the ribbon with vintage style stamps.  Stamp your news print with occasion appropriate stamps.  Add glitter and sparkle to the ribbons or paper.  Make ribbon from other sheets of newsprint and coordinate the package.  Make flowers from junk mail and attach to the package.  Use stencils to create an all over pattern on the paper.  The point is, anything can be used to create a spectacular gift and packaging.

Make it personal.  An art journal is more personal with the recipients name or initials included in the design.  If your recipient loves dogs, for example, you could incorporate that in your gift making choices.  My friend Laurie like cats.  I might incorporate “You’re the Cat’s Meow” in my design.

Make it appropriate.  Don’t create gifts which are not appropriate for the recipient.  A child’s gifts should be age appropriate and content appropriate.  I am aware I’m old fashioned by saying there is such things as age appropriateness, but I don’t care.  The reason our children are growing up so fast is because we allow them access to things that are far beyond their reasoning and understanding at that age.  Cherish a child’s youth and innocence.  Nurture their imaginations.  Encourage creativity.  Let your homemade gifts reflect those things.

Don’t spend more than you can comfortably afford.  If your family is strapped for cash, homemade gifts are a wonderful way to give something lovely without a huge outlay of cash.  Food items are usually a good gift idea when you’re cash poor but desire to give a high quality gift.  Begin early.  Flavored vinegar and oils take time to create and cure.  Canned produce and fruits need to be made during their season.  You cannot decide in November you would love to make blueberry jam for your Uncle Pete.  Blueberry are not in season at that time.  Make a list of gifts you would like to give this holiday season.  Write down the time/season when you need to make them to be ready for the holidays.  Keep track on your calendar.  Write it in.  Remind yourself of these ideas in your planners.

My uncle and cousins still ask for my MIL’s pickle relish.  I had traded her several jars of home canned peaches for several jars of her pickle relish. (Another wonderful idea:  Trade goods and services with a friend of yours.  Maybe she is a wonderful seamstress and you are wonderful in the kitchen.  She could make aprons for you-you provide the material-in exchange for jars of your home canned fruits and produce. Or several varieties of cookies and candies.  Something she would really love, but doesn’t actually do herself…) The pickle relish was in a food basket I gave to my aunt and uncle as a thank you for giving me some old shutters from the house they were tearing down.  This was a gift that was truly treasured by the recipients.

Purchasing the raw ingredients at Aldi or Save-A-Lot will save money and the ingredients are comparable in quality to national food chain items for a fraction of the cost. In fact, if you want excellent chocolate, the only place I have found it for a reasonable price is Aldi.  It is the best chocolate I have ever used in my candies, and the end results are heavenly.

Be cautious in giving alcoholic gifts.  Unless you know for sure the gift is appropriate to the recipient, don’t give it.  There are thousands of gifts you can give someone.  Don’t risk giving booze.   I have rarely given it myself, although one year I did make several flavors of vodka which went over very well.  Everyone who received a bottle raved about the flavor and loved the uniqueness of the gift.

Yes, I’m aware this post is a bit late for the holidays just past and early for the upcoming holidays, but the ideas are worth mentioning.  And you give gifts all year long for birthdays, hostess gifts, appreciation gifts for teachers, etc. so I think these are suggestions which can really help you and save you money.





This entry was posted in Challenge, DIY, Free Stuff, Frugal Ideas, Make Your Own Supplies, Recyclable items, Stash Busters, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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