Developing New Gift Ideas This Christmas Season

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You know you’re in a gift-giving rut when you accidentally buy the very same gift for someone two years in a row, as I recently did for a family member’s birthday. Fortunately I caught myself before sending it and could make a switch, but what I switched to wasn’t all that creative either. It got me thinking – am I too predictable with my Christmas gift-giving? And how can I develop new gift ideas for this Christmas season?

The answer to the first question is a resounding yes – but I am not overly predictable with everybody. In fact, I can be quite creative with my daughters’ or significant other’s gifts, but others get the usual sweater each year. Of course time and cost factor into each gift, but by starting now to think creatively and specifically of each person, and by keeping my eyes open for the unique and special, I know I can do better!

Here are five strategies that can make your gifts stand out this season, and give you a head start on your Christmas shopping:

  • Decide on a formula. Last year, I used a tried-and-true formula with a handmade twist for my kids. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read, something to do, and something I made – it all added up to six quality gifts to open. I have to admit that was a lot harder for me to come up with some of these gift ideas than to just buy the same old things,, but I enjoyed the challenge, and they were delighted to be truly surprised on Christmas morning!
  • Brainstorm for each person. The key to being creative with gifts is having (and taking) the time to really think about each person, and their interests, hopes, likes and dislikes, before deciding on a gift. It is hard to do this in November and December, however, when time becomes an issue and you just need to find something to give everyone. Taking a day or two now to really think about each person, and to list their interests and gift ideas, will make your shopping much easier no matter when you start!
  • Experiment with new stores or sites. Part of why gift-giving becomes predictable is we fall back on the same “big box” stores or sites such as Amazon when time is an issue. Why not take treat yourself to a small business shopping excursion each month? Go to smaller boutiques or specialty shops in a nearby town, or check out curated lists of exceptional but lesser known shopping sites. You can see what’s out there that might delight someone on your list, while you get a head start on your Christmas shopping, too!
  • Don’t forget handmade gifts. Last year I had grand ideas to make something special for everyone in my immediate family. However, I waited too long to do anything substantial. Not wanting to give up that piece of my formula, though, I made small gift boxes with sweets, cocoa and a cute mug in each. It was not what I originally planned, but it was handmade-ish and still very much appreciated. Start now to think about what you could make yourself, check out Etsy or use the gift basket/box approach to up your creativity game this Christmas.
  • Consider gifts of time or experience. One way to get creative with Christmas giving is not to give “stuff” at all! I once gave my mother the gift of taking her to lunch at a different restaurant each month for a year. It ended up being a global culinary tour as we tried all types of cuisines, and it was lots of fun for me as well! Consider tickets to a show, a museum pass, an online course or a tour of some unique local feature. Try a service such as cleaning, yard work, babysitting or cooking. The only caveat with a gift like this, though, is to make sure you actually follow through with whatever you promise to do!

Now is the perfect time to start thinking creatively about your Christmas giving. Have fun and happy hunting!

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Handmade Gifts and How to Plan for Them

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One thing that I love to do at Christmas is to surprise those closest to me with something handmade in addition to, or even instead of, other gifts. Handmade gifts can really reflect what you know and love about the other person, and they always show how much you care.

I have always wanted (but have never quite achieved) a Christmas where each person on my list received a handmade something from me. There are no shortage of gift ideas online and in craft books, of course, so it is never a question of picking things to make for my family and friends. In fact, I usually save gift ideas in my Christmas planner, or just in a list on my phone.

For me, it all comes down to time and planning. In order to have my handmade gifts ready for Christmas – and to enjoy the process of making them – it is essential to begin early. Handmade gifts should be made with love, not stress!

Now is a good time to start.

Decide which handmade gifts to make (and for whom).

The first thing to decide is to whom you’d like to give handmade gifts. Maybe you’ve seen a pattern or two for DIY gifts that would be perfect for a few people on your list. Start with those ideas or, conversely, begin with the recipients in mind. Either way, the first step is to list who will receive a handmade gift and what you plan to make for each person. The gift ideas should be fluid, as not every project will work the way you hoped, but by being flexible, you will be able to treat everyone on your list to something made by you.

Buy the materials now.

Two weeks ago I was at the fabric store and noticed that they already have a limited selection of Christmas fabrics. Within the coming months, there will be much more. But for most handmade gifts, specific Christmas materials are not needed. General craft supplies, fabrics and other materials may be purchased now, so that you have what you need and can work on the projects when you have the time over the coming months. Print out any patterns for your projects and keep them in your planner. Make a list of supplies and watch for sales.

Organize materials by project.

Because life is busy, you’ll want to be able to pull out your handmade gift projects whenever you have a chance to work on them – and without having to hunt for the pattern or materials. Use shoeboxes, or other small containers (even the extra-large Hefty zipper bags work great!) to keep all the related materials with the pattern so that you can easily pick up where you left off and complete the projects over time.

Store the handmade gifts safely.

As you complete your projects, store them in a gift closet or wherever you keep your early Christmas purchases. Make sure to note them on your planner and to congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Handmade Christmas gifts make the holiday extra special for the you, the giver, as well as the recipient. So enjoy a little Christmas spirit anytime, and start planning for handmade gifts today.

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