Guest column | Darcy Maness

Column: Handmade gifts truly keep on giving

Most of us have been around long enough to remember home-spun holiday gifts as being the gifts of choice — rather, the tradition of giving — each holiday season.

Mom, Pop, Gram, Gramps and all the aunties would "ooh" and "aww" over your brilliant craftsmanship. Not to undermine your creative efforts, those handmade gifts would be placed out with the holiday decor each and every year that ensued. (Some of my kid's creations are still placed out nearly 30 years later.) The statement was clear: Your gift means more to me than any store-bought trinket. Nothing says love than a repeat performance of your personal time and individual thoughtfulness.

Those of us with grandchildren living out of state or small ones being shuffled to and from day care produce another reason to delve into crafting: the priceless memories created from the time spent together over this solid foundation called bonding.

So, in line with these economic times, the idea of making the holiday gifts has come full circle. Not only is crafting fun and affordable, it's what's in for this gift-giving season. The craft stores are all on board, offering discounts that will make a crafter out of the most craft-challenged persons. And, for those among us who need a little step-by-step guide to making this endeavor painless on the brain while profitable on the pocket, here are just a few tips to get yourself going:

• Garage sales are a gold mine. I picked up three large tubs of crafting materials for $15 that I divided among six granddaughters.

• Drawers with remnants. If you're like me, old socks, buttons and remnant materials are stuffed away "in case," and in this case, they're going to be used for crafts. Make hand puppets from the old socks and buttons and have a puppet show with the kids. Its hours of fun and encourages creative thinking on their part.

• Go through the garage for construction remnants. I once made candle holders from varied height four-by-fours topped off from a pole barn frame. A quick, creative paint job and a pillar candle on top made lovely gifts for the married couples in my life. Glass blocks make a great canvas for a winter scene and illuminate colorful light when placed in a sunny spot.

• Crafting books for the novice. Okay, let's face it, some of us need a little boost in this department, and the stores are overflowing with crafting books for every person's level.

• Have your old sewing machine maintained. The average cost is $15. I do this about every five years or so, when I get a wild-hair to hem a curtain. For a very small fee, I wonder why I wait so long to have it done. In fact, Christmas material can be purchased cheaply and make great curtains, table cloths, napkins, etc., and can be used for years to come; the grandchildren absolutely love the enchanting look these simple tasks create.

Although these are just a spattering of samples, it should be enough to get your creative juices flowing. And don't even think about giving these gifts until the morning of your gift-opening, no matter how tempted you are.

Remember the hours of painting and creating we used to do on Christmas and days to follow? Allow the children to enjoy such memorymaking as well. Their new creations will be placed out for years to come and each time they're brought out, they'll reminisce about the days of old that created that memory.

When it comes right down to it, I'm not really into it as much for the economic savings as I am for the priceless memories I'm going to create with my granddaughters. And there's no department store gift that can measure up to that.

Darcy Maness lives in Leisure Hills.

Column: Handmade gifts truly keep on giving 11/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 28, 2009 10:33am]

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