Think back to when you were a child in elementary school, and you got to go to art class. You did “art projects” and sometimes, you even made gifts for holidays. I remember making cute doily looking picture frames for Mother’s Day and popsicle stick frames for Father’s Day, and getting some goofy looking photo taken at school so we could take the gifts home just in time to give them to our parents.
What did your parents do when you gave them their “special gift?” If they were like most parents, they smiled and said thank you, and held on to them for years. As we got a little older, I remember thinking homemade gifts were kind of lame. I asked myself, who really wanted an elbow macaroni Christmas ornament anyway – probably nobody. Well – I was wrong. My parents always treasured the thought of a homemade gift if we gave it sincerely from the heart.
While we’re all familiar with the phrase “It’s the thought that counts,” my parents felt that nothing said that more than a homemade gift from one of us kids. After all, they would say, anyone can buy something from a store.
Now that we are adults, and my parents have passed on, I still remember their fondness for homemade gifts. It’s a tradition I would like to continue with family and friends. The real challenge for me (and most of us, I bet), is actually thinking of a meaningful gift, gathering the supplies, and putting it together.
Small, thoughtful gifts, while usually less flashy than diamonds or a new car, are often cherished more than the most precious of gems. My sons and I all have homemade Christmas stockings that someone cared enough to make for us. We would never part with them. I also have some trinkets my sons made for me in elementary school. I understand now why my parents cherished their homemade gifts.
So what’s the secret to the perfect homemade gift? It’s simple – be creative and be sincere. You don’t have to make something that is totally complicated, or super artistic. There are many other creative ways to show appreciation to your loved ones with something homemade:
Bake something. Call up Grandma and get that delicious red velvet cake recipe you’ve wanted for so long. Besides, what could be more bonding than fighting over who gets to lick the bowl and the spoon? Not only will it give you a chance to catch up with Granny, but it will also show your loved ones that you care enough to take some time out of your busy schedule to whip up some fantastic eats.
Create a card. Remember making cards in 5th grade? Grab a sheet of construction paper, some Popsicle sticks, and a few of those fancy hole-punchers, and go to town. Who knows, maybe you’ll uncover a hidden talent!
Cook a homemade dinner. There are thousands of great recipes online for dinners that will wow any loved one. Even if you aren’t a great chef and have some trouble when it comes to pots, pans, and open flames, just go with something simple.
Make a coupon book. This is always a hit with your partner. Fill the coupon book with massages, a night away from the kids, or even a week of taking care of the other person’s chores. Make it personal, honor the coupons without complaining, and don’t put an expiration date on them.
Make a slide show. Whip out your old pictures and make a slide show from “then till now.” Set it to your favorite music and let it scroll through some of the highlights of your relationship. If it’s for your partner, remember what it was like before kids, when the kids left the house, before grandkids or whatever stage of life you want to remember. Just sit back in each other’s arms and let the pictures and music envelope the both of you for a while.
Recreate a special event – if you’re in a relationship, try recreating your first date. If you went to a fancy restaurant, recreate the experience at home. Dim the lights, put on the same music, and fix the same meal. If you drove somewhere, pack a picnic style dinner, go back, and enjoy the experience all over again. Whatever you did that first time, do it again and remember where you began and how far you’ve come.
Make chocolate covered fruit. Pick a fruit. Dip it in chocolate. Allow it to cool. Package it up all nice. Enjoy. Simple, right?
Make homemade jewelry. Whether it’s a necklace made from triangle shaped pieces of wallpaper wrapped into bead shapes, or rings made from polished stones, handmade jewelry is always a hit with family and friends.
Make a recording. Remember mixed tapes when you were a teenager? Technology has advanced a bit since then, so why not create an audio file that holds all the songs that have meant something to you and your friends since you’ve known each other. It will remind you of old times and bring back memories of the past. These are great as gentle reminders of why you love them so much.
Create a scavenger hunt for your friends or family. Find familiar things that you enjoy together, and use little post it notes to leave them clues. Send them all over town if you must and have them meet you somewhere special.
There are thousands of things you can do to show appreciation to those you love. The best thing to remember is to keep it from the heart. No matter what you make, or how well you do it, your loved ones will appreciate it because it’s coming from you.
Follow some of these tips and you’ll be well on your way to coming up with your own ideas for creating cherished homemade gifts.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.