How to Make Unique Christmas Gifts
By Ian White

At Christmas, it is wonderful to shower our family and friends with lovely gifts, but, all too often, it is difficult to find highly appropriate, personal gifts when shopping.

This is not the case if you make your own Christmas presents. Not only will you gain the satisfaction of creating something unique and special, but you will also discover that handmade gifts are appreciated far more than mass-produced, store-bought presents.

First of all, decide which of your skills and talents you can use to produce Christmas gifts, but also bear in mind that you donít have to be highly talented or skilled to create a unique Christmas present. Often the simplest and easiest to make gifts are the best.

If you enjoy cooking, why not bake decorated cakes, cookies, or other Christmas treats, such as mince pies or peppermint creams. Present them in an attractive box that you can also decorate and tie with a ribbon. You can spend a relaxing afternoon baking these goodies at home, whilst everyone else is fighting their way through crowds of Christmas shoppers.

If you enjoy crafts, think of something special that you can create for each person. It does not have to be a large or time consuming project. In fact, it is preferable to estimate how much time you will devote to each project before deciding what you will make. For example, instead of knitting a sweater, you could knit a brightly colored scarf or a trendy bag. Or you could sew a cute soft toy for a baby or young child or make a patchwork cushion cover for your mother. If you enjoy cross stitch but have limited time, choose a small design and frame the finished product. If beading is your craft, you could create a decorated bracelet rather than an elaborate necklace.

Another idea is to draw or paint a picture and frame it. It could be a portrait, a landscape of a special place, or even an abstract design to adorn a living room with a particular color scheme.

If you are very short of time or do not feel able to take on an arts or crafts project, simply select one or more special photographs and frame them in inexpensive frames. A large photograph frame with a variety of apertures can be used to make a unique display of several shots. Choose photographs that are special to the person receiving the gift.

For a couple who have recently become parents, a good idea is to seek out old baby photographs of both of the new parents and place them in the left and right sides of a triple-aperture frame. Add a photograph of their new baby as a centerpiece.

An alternative to framing photographs is to make a scrapbook of treasured moments that you have shared. You could use photographs, tickets, pictures from guide books, written inscriptions and other mementos to document vacations, anniversaries and other occasions that have been memorable for you and the recipient of your gift.

A variation on this theme is to make a family history scrapbook with old family photographs, letters, documents and your written memories of loved ones who are no longer with us. Without realizing it, you may create a family heirloom that will be treasured not only over this Christmas period but for many years to come.

These are just a few ideas to stimulate your creativity. Each gift can be as individual as the person receiving it. The trick is to think of the person and their interests, lifestyle and preferences before designing their gift. In this way, you will be sure to create unique, beautiful gifts that will be greatly appreciated, long after the wrapping paper has been thrown away.

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