Homemade Holidays: Tips for making special Christmas gifts

By Stacie Smith • Last Updated 11:03 am on Friday, December 21, 2012

Diane Rogers of Gowen creates personalized gift tags with recycled Christmas cards. — Courtesy photo

Diane Rogers not only makes her own Christmas gifts — she also has a clever way of tagging them.

Following the holidays, the Gowen woman uses her Christmas cards and asks her family and friends to donate their cards as well so she can recycle them into personalized gift tags. In years past, Rogers has crocheted pot holders and afghans for family members and she also bakes cookies for those on her gift list. After wrapping her gifts, she applies one of her special gift tags.

“I like them because they are beautiful and  you have more room to write something special rather than it just being a ‘To’ and  ‘From’ tag,” Rogers said. “I  put them on all my gifts  now.”

Betsey Klingensmith of Fenwick applied a childhood photograph of her mother to a wooden block to create a keepsake ornament. — Courtesy photo

Betsey Klingensmith of Fenwick comes from a family of crafters and for years has made homemade Christmas gifts. Her creations have included ornaments featuring family photos, cross stitch pictures, crocheted headbands, hats and blankets and also handmade cards. A recurring theme in Klingensmith’s gifts is family photos. This year is no exception.

“This year, I have the usual cross stitch items, but am learning a few new things,” Klingensmith remarked. “Right now, I am making ornaments out of wood blocks and old family photos.”

During the last four years, Deb Miller of Belding found herself without income and yet wanted to give her loved ones Christmas gifts. With creativity and the help of local stores like the Dollar Tree and Springrove Variety, she was able to create several gifts on a small budget for her family and friends.

“I do tons of stuff. I get a basket and put Styrofoam in the bottom and get fake flowers, cut the stems, put in Christmas lights so it is like a night light,” Miller said.

Miller also makes use of recycled items like family photos. She purchases mirrors, hair brushes, combs and barrettes and personalizes them with either photos or decals she has made or purchased. She puts all the pieces together as a set, which costs only about $5. She has also made what she refers to as 3D blankets, which are made by sewing around a specific feature, filling it, then covering it with fabric and sewing the backing to the cover. These are frequently made as gifts for babies.

Betsey Klingensmith of Fenwick created a Christmas ornament of her late father with pitcher’s mound sand, a baseball bead and a photograph of her father pitching for Sheridan High School.

Buying presents for “tweens” and teens with particular taste can be a challenge for the savviest shopper, but Miller again came up with a creative idea for gift giving.

“Last year, for my grandkids, I got them a big bowl and put a two-liter of pop, a deck of cards, microwave popcorn, some candy and taped them to the pop bottle and taped everything down so they have their own bowl with goodies in it,” Miller said.

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