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Four Easy-to-Make Meaningful Gifts for the Holidays

Updated on November 21, 2014

Some of Our Most Cherished Gifts Come from the Heart

I was a teacher for thirty-six years and I still cherish the simple, homemade gifts that were given to me by creative parents, loving students, beloved family and friends. It’s that time of year to pass on four of my favorites to you.

Any dollar store carries all the supplies you need for this clever photo idea. My college aide, a former student, presented me with this gift that I admire from my computer desk every day. You only need a little wooden tray, scraps of material, appliques such as word charms and artificial flowers (or masculine trinkets for a man), sewing trims, glue and a favorite picture. First, paint the tray and let it dry. Second, glue down the scraps of material into a design pattern. Third, glue the picture in the middle of the tray. Fourth, border the picture with some kind of fancy or bold trim. Last, glue on the word charms and flowers around the photo. (See the photo example.)

Any dime store such as Big Lots carries cheap doll clothes for this bold shadow box. My mother knows I am passionate about the Mexican culture. She found out that I already had the Aztec Barbie doll in my collection after she bought me another one. So, she cleverly took the doll clothes and arranged them into a shadow box frame as a dynamic three-dimensional representation of the history of Mexico. It goes perfectly with my décor. Simply purchase any themed doll clothing for women or doll accessories like golf clubs and fishing gear for men. You can get shadow box frames at any art store. Paint the box, line it with material, and glue in the doll clothes or masculine symbols with a glue gun for lasting adherence. (See the photo example.)

A decorative journal can be filled with your beautiful poetry and/or stories. As a writer, this is one of my favorite gifts to give and receive. There are so many inexpensive, decorative journals in book stores and department stores. Have fun filling the pages with poetry and short stories dedicated to the person who will receive this heirloom treasure. I loved doing this project with my students. If you can’t draw, make colorful designs around each page of writing. How can anyone not like treasured words picked especially for them! The famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, spent her last days writing and illustrating her feelings in a diary to share with the world. (See photo example.)

Any piece of wood and some paint will do to create a miniature painting. My students knew how much I love Frida Kahlo, so I brought in a painted block of Frida for my students to use as an example to make their block prints one year. Cut and sand a piece of wood to size. Choose bold acrylic colors found in teacher supply stores or art stores. Draw your picture and designs on the wood (meaningful words are fun too), then enjoy watching your painting come to life. You can even get an inexpensive photo stand on which to put your painting for display purposes. (See photo example.)

Children and adults can adapt these projects to their own skill levels. I’m all about gifts from the heart because they underscore the true meaning of the season. We never had money, but my mother always made the holidays special with her creativity. I hope your holidays are filled with the magic of the season; and, that you take away lifelong memories.


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