Handmade Gifts, Part 2 (still patting myself on the back)

Ok, so I’m  s l o w l y  returning to the blogging thing, post-holiday, and due to the fact that I kind of checked out last week, that means I have a load of holiday-related things to share with you (still)!

I know, Christmas is over.  Move on.

But I can’t let go — yet.  I even thought I could justify it and say that I was still within the realm of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” even though I don’t really acknowledge or celebrate that. (What am I talking about?  Ask Wikipedia.)

However, Twelfth Night was January 5th, so now it’s just getting tacky.  Whatever.   I decided to embrace the tacky, and go ahead and do a little show-and-tell of the other handmade gifts in my life, this time the ones that Josh and I received (you may remember the previous post where we talked about the gifts we gave).

First, let’s start with the handmade gifts Josh and I gave each other:

dog silhouettes

Yeah, you’re probably thinking “That’s a lot of dogs.”  Let me explain:  I gave Josh the framed black and white photo, and Josh gave me the two silhouettes, you know, of our dogs.  Yeah, we basically gave each other the same thing.  Creepy, right?  And this was all done unbeknownst to the other (and by the way, we didn’t tell any friends or family who may have spilled it to either of us).  Creepier still, my first plan was to make silhouettes, too.  I planned on using this photo, but we didn’t have any black paper and I didn’t have a lot of time — Christmas Eve gift making, how shameful — so I didn’t follow through with my original plan (little did I know it would look just as good in white!).  So, I spray painted this frame that Josh found at the street on trash day, made a matte out of lime green paper, and framed the photo.

Josh was feeling far more ambitious.  He took two frames (he found these at the street on trash day, also), printed out the same photo on regular printer paper, cut it out, traced it (it ended up being the mirror image side) and then cut that out as well.  He backed it with lime green paper (needless to say, we have an abundance of lime green paper).

When we opened them — which happened to be at the same time — we had a weird case of the Twilight-Zones, and then accused each other of somehow stealing each other’s ideas, perhaps using a magic wand and a Pensieve when the other was sleeping.

Then we realized that was silly and decidedly attributed the coincidence to our compatibility.  Aww….. :)

And our crazy obsession with our dogs.

And maybe the fact that we walk by the Courtney silhouette everyday (this was done when I was like 6).

See it there on the table next to the Eiffel Tower ornament?

Who knows?  But we love them both and look forward to hanging them on our soon-to-be art wall (details in blog post form to follow).

Moving on to some of the handmade gifts we received from family…

My mother-in-law, knowing well of my loves for orange and green, recycling, and handmade gifty-ness, crocheted this reusable tote for me:

hand crocheted grocery bag

I love it!!!  Things like this amaze me to no end, because I have ZERO crocheting/knitting/sewing/anything-domestic-other-than-cooking skills.

My sister-in-law (a loyal GPP subscriber) took part of this blog’s paisley background image and made it into the lid of a magnetic box:

personalized box

Recognize the pattern?  Yeah, I literally squealed when I opened it.  And even better, when I opened the (magnetic) lid, I found a pair of earring that she had made for me!

I asked her where she had the box made, and she said she wouldn’t tell me (it’s a secret she feels she must keep as she has so many gifts made through this company).  However, she did say it was a website that I had mentioned on here before.  Considering that I’ve linked up to hundreds of websites in the 63 posts I’ve written since starting this on September 12, 2011… yeah, I’m sort of scratching my head on this one.

Sigh.  Maybe one day she’ll reveal her mystical secrets…

Amanda, the aforementioned secretive sister-in-law, gave Josh a framed shadow box of the Triforce (from the Zelda games):

triforce art

(Sorry for the overly-reflective picture. this was the best of a dozen attempts, believe me).

Now, I couldn’t be less interested in video games possibly, but even this made me go “OOOHHH!”  The picture doesn’t do it any justice, but in person, it looks gooood (Scouts’ honor).  And little did Amanda know we were slowly accumulating things for our art wall!  Perfectly timed.

The next gift is also one of those funny coincidences because it was something I had planned on blogging about, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.  As a fun way to give us some cash, my mother-in-law made origami with some dollar bills:

snail origami dollar bill

dollar bill rocket ship origami

dollar bill origami swan

dollar bill mens shirt origami

I think they turned out great!  I especially love the men’s shirt origami.  She also made an origami star, but no matter how many different angles I tried, I could not take a picture of it where it actually looked like a star (but it does in person, I promise).

You can find the how-to’s all over the internet; just do a Google search for dollar bill origami (and I recommend ironing your dollar bills on a low setting before starting — they’re made of cotton, they can handle it).

Hope you enjoyed the highlights of some of our handmade gifts!  From here on out, I will try my best to not mention the holidays… at least until… September?!  (I’ve got to do another Twelve Weeks of Christmas series next year, too!)


You might also enjoy…

Handmade Gifts (Show-and-Tell Part 1)

State String Art

This picture of my dog:

See the little nose poking out from under the cushion?  Yeah she’s pretty weird awesome.


Twelve Weeks of Christmas, Part 5: Personalized Gifts and Photo Gifts

***”Twelve weeks of what?”  Check out my previous posts here to learn what this madness is about.  And by madness, I mean goodness.

With this series, I have attempted to offer you tips and tricks to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to buying Christmas presents.  Personalized gifts and photo gifts are one of my favorite ways to do this! ( And I’m not just talking about monogrammed towels and photo mugs, though those are great too.)  :)

It may take a little imagination, but if you think outside the box in regards to this category, you can really come up with some great gifts that will be cherished by the recipient for years to come!   (Because that’s what we want… not more contributions to future garage sales….right?)

Keep in mind – you can probably make a lot of these things if you’re feeling particularly crafty.  However, it doesn’t hurt to window shop and get some inspiration.  So whether you’re browsing or buying, here are some suggestions that I’m a big fan of:

Personalized return address stamps

   Yeah, I know, most folks do e-billing and e-mails and e-life, but that doesn’t mean snail mail is dead.  And it never hurts to get in touch with our inner Emily Post and write a thank you note every once in a while.  If you do still cling to mailing in your checks to pay bills (“Hello mother!”), this is a faster way to get through that less than pleasant process.  The best (and cheapest) way to find these is through Etsy.com.  Here are some of favorite designs found on Etsy (all under $30):

Yeah, I could keep going , but I’ll move on…

Personalized Beer Mugs  Need I say more?  These aren’t just for groomsmen! ($13.26)

In the same vein, I love personalized flask sets! ($15.95)

Photo Puzzle:  I’ll admit this one is a stretch (cheese factor).  However, if you’re like me, you like a good holiday scavenger hunt, and this would be a perfect way to reveal a clue !  (You can always do word docs instead of pics)  ($10.95)

Photo Posters:  I’m not a big fan of the poster part of this, however this is a great way to get a large reproduction of a photo at a cheaper price for the purposes of framing.  On this particular website, Discount Photogifts, you can get up to a 30″ X 40″ poster for $37.50 or as small as a 10″ X 13″ for $7.

Silhouette Gifts:  I think these are timeless and charming (and talk about personalized).  Here a re a few examples:

Remember:  You can always try your hand at making these!

Photo coasters:  You can use the same method from the DIY Tile Coaster Tutorial, using pictures of your own for the images.  As mentioned in the tutorial, these would cost a mere  to make versus $19.99  (which I just saw on Shutterfly’s website).  Just to remind you, here are the tile coasters from a few weeks ago :)

Aren’t they just asking for a wedding photo… or a picture of a toddler covered in spaghetti sauce… or something… ?

Of course, there are MANY personalized and photo gift options out there, some slightly tacky, some less GPP-friendly, some fantastic!  So I’ve pasted a few of the websites below, just to give you an idea.  Many of these I have used, others I have not but have heard great things.  These websites can be searched with a price range in mind (you know I like that) so there are options to fit all budgets:

1.  Shutterfly

2.  Snapfish

3.  Wal-Mart

4.  Personal Creations.com

5.  Zazzle

6.  Photogifts.com

7.  Target

8.  Ritz Pix

And of course, I love me a drug store… always full of surprises!

1.  CVS  

2.  Walgreen’s  

3.  Rite-Aid

4.  Duane Reade


Whew… that’s a lot of link action.  Remember: if it doesn’t fit your budget, figure out a way to make it!  These links are as good for buying as they are for window shopping and getting inspiration.

Question time:  Have you given a personalized or photo gift that you were particularly proud of?  Did you make it?  If not, what website/store did you use/buy it from?  

Please pass on any other ideas you may have for gifts like these!


Check out the previous posts in this series, “The Twelve Weeks of Christmas”:

Week One:  Online Shopping Tips and Tricks

Week Two:  DIY gift tutorial — How to Make a Bowl out of an Old Vinyl Record

Addendum to “How to Make a Bowl out of an Old Vinyl Record

Week Three: DIY gift tutorial — How to Make Coasters out of Tiles

Week Four:  Operation Christmas Child