Christmas Shopping Detox

Yesterday I popped into Burlington Coat Factory and was welcomed by an onslaught of tables with signs like; SALE, HOLIDAY DECOR 10% OFF, GIFTS FOR HER, GIFTS FOR HIM, TOYS FOR EVERY AGE. It was chaotic, and tacky and depressing.

Once I recovered from the sensory overload I walked around and did see quite a few things that I thought would make nice gifts for the people on my list. I put four or five items in my cart, including an adorable quilted tote bag I thought my daughter-in-law (DIL) would like. I picked it up, turned it over a few times, looked at the stitching trying to decide if it would be sturdy enough to carry books, and if it was worth the $39.99 price tag.

The one in the store had a cute pattern, but DIL is a diehard Dumbo fan and I thought "I could make this, and customize it for her." I am by no means an expert seamstress or quilter, but I can sew a straight line and that was all that this type bag seemed to need. And I have a sewing machine that hasn't been used since I made some curtains back in 2017.

Not only did I put the tote bag back, but I put everything else back too. I was feeling inspired and ambitious and full of hope that I could make gifts for everyone this year!

I scurried home and turned to my new BFF Bluprint, and my other best friend Google, to find ideas for handmade gifts. There are so many projects, classes, tutorials and services for making personalized gifts that your family and friends are going to love! Here are my favorites;

What luck! When I checked Bluprint, they actually had a class called The Scrappy Market Tote with step by step instructions for making a reusable grocery bag using fabric scraps. I'm on my way to the fabric store this afternoon! If this is as easy at it looks and I pull it off, I'm totally going to make one for myself to take to the library and use as a book bag.

Giant Yarn Throw Pillow

These huge thread puffy wonders are all the rage right now! I see them everywhere and they can be pretty pricey, but you can make these with little or no knowledge of how to knit. Bluprint offers a great tutorial on how to make the pillows, but if you're felling really adventurous, you can find watch this video with instructions to create an amazing blanket.

Family Cookbook

This is one I'm absolutely going to do! There are several websites that will let you create a custom cookbook that can be handed down from generation to generation. I'll be using Heritage Cookbook because I like the ease of creating books on their site, the options offered, and the price to print copies. Various sites offer printing that will cost from $9.95 for a "e-book", to $19.99 for a soft cover book, to $40 or more for hard cover copies. Click here for the pricing on Heritage Cookbooks so you get an idea of the various costs.

My mother did this for my sister and me many years ago, and we've both used them so much they're falling apart. Mom didn't have access to professional printing and binding back in the 90s, and so her family cookbook was made with printer paper and a plastic coil binder. I can't wait to preserve these treasured family recipes, plus ones that I, or my sister, or my kids have added, and print copies for everyone!

Dip Dyed Woven Baskets

Inexpensive baskets from the dollar store or the craft store are made beautiful with a box of colored RIT dyes, and can be created in 10 minutes! Don't want a basket? Try a doormat, laundry bin, or macrame wall art!


Just seeing a bottle of Mod Podge takes me back to middle school art class. My friends and I decoupaged everything we could get our hands on, and I never forgot how much fun it was. When my boys were very young, I found a small table at a thrift store and decoupaged it with pages from their favorite comic books. They loved that table and still talk about it today. It's amazing the things that will be memorable to your kids once they're grown. They vaguely remember Disneyland, but they all vividly remember that table! This is a great gift idea for young grandchildren or hard-to-buy-for teenagers. Basic Decoupage Instructions Shoe & Fabric Decoupage How-To

Baked Goods

We've all been faced with having to buy a gift for someone that we really don't know. Secret Santas, hostess gifts, office parties, and the like always leave me trying to figure out a thoughtful but generic gift. Baked goods are typically welcome and make fabulous gifts, especially when packaged beautifully! Just be careful not to include some of the most common allergens, peanuts and tree nuts, and always include the recipe or full ingredient list, just in case.

I'll be making both of these for hostess gifts this year! Gingerbread Pear Loaf and White Chocolate Peppermint Blondies.

Custom Leggings

These should make even the pickiest teen happy! You can use this tutorial for Holiday Light Leggings as a template for any number of customized leggings. If you already own a Cricut, you're in luck! Right now they have Holiday supply bundles on sale for $29.99! If you don't yet own a Cricut, now's your chance to get the Cricut Explore Air 2, their new machine made for smaller budgets.

Flavored Salts or Cook Gift Basket

Have a foodie in your family? This tutorial to create custom flavored salts will likely be the most unique gift your food lover will get this holiday season!

For a hostess who loves to cook, say thank you with a kitchen apron monogrammed with iron-on transfer letters. In keeping with the culinary theme, include some wooden utensils and a blank recipe book. You can personalize the book's cover with a sticker printed with a customized stamp.

Chalkboard Serving Tray

This is another that I'll likely make for someone this year, and one for me! I love, love, love this idea. It's a brilliant way to label your cheese tray selections or antipasto treats for your next party. I might even get an inexpensive wood burning tool and customize it with the recipient's name. I really don't have the tools or the desire to custom cut my wood, so I'll likely search my local thrift store or discount mart for a plain wooden plank or tray and take it from there.

I'm definitely going to try and make as many gifts for Christmas this year as possible and rid myself of the frantic gift buying, crowded stores, packed parking lots and obsessive sale price hunting.

Maybe this year I won't feel like I need to enter retail rehab come January.

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