Homemade gifts can be quick and easy

Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:17 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

If you’re the type who made a Christmas list and checked it twice all before Thanksgiving rolled around, read no further.

If, like the other 99 percent of the population, you have made a mad, last-minute shopping dash, you might want to keep reading.

Contrary to popular belief, last-minute gifts don’t have to be bought in a sort of stress-induced frenzy. You don’t have to stand in long lines for them and you don’t have to buy them.

That’s right, great last-minute gifts can be made, not bought, in the tranquility of your home. Granted, it’s probably a bit too late to whip up a quilt or knit a sweater, but with just a bit of effort, you can make gifts with odds and ends you have at home in less time than it takes to drive to the mall and back.

So go on, step out on that limb and make your friends something to treasure.

“People feel like you care more when you do something for them rather than just buying something off the shelf,” said Stuart Osborne, who is visiting Columbia from Florida over the holiday season. Osborne has made gifts for many members of his family. Nothing comes to mind? Try making a personalized picture frame. Start by choosing a photo that the person you’re making the gift for would like. Or, if you don’t have an appropriate snapshot, try using a greeting card cover, postcard or poem.

Once you have made your selection, find an old shoebox and cut it in the size and shape of a picture frame. Then glue or tape the photo to the cardboard, and decorate the cardboard “frame.” You can stick with more traditional crayons and markers, or, if you’re feeling creative, glue on buttons, old puzzle pieces, thread, dried beans or just about anything thing else you can think of.

If that sounds a bit too artsy, don’t despair.

“I’m not that artistic, but there’s still a lot of things I can make,” Moberly resident Sharon Davis said.

For those who are more at home in the kitchen, try making a gift in a jar. Put the dry ingredients to your favorite cookie or cake recipe in a jar, close the lid tightly, and decorate the outside of the jar as time and desire permit.

Don’t forget to attach a card that says what wet ingredients have to be added, the baking temperature and duration, and of course, feel free to add any personalized holiday greeting you wish.

Columbia resident Cheryl Wolfe said a good part of the fun of making gifts is doing it together with your kids or loved ones.

“That’s the neat part of Christmas, being with your family and doing things like this together,” she said.

Making edible Christmas tree ornaments is one homemade gift idea that’s quick, doesn’t take a lot of artistic ability and is a perfect family activity.

There are many recipes available on the Internet or in standard cookbooks, which usually involve little more than mixing together flour, water and salt, shaping the resulting dough by hand or with cookie cutters, baking the ornaments on low heat and then decorating them with markers or paints.

Davis said handmade ornaments are an excellent gift, and every year she looks forward to getting out the ornaments that friends from around the country have given her over the years.

“It brings back wonderful memories when you get them out and think of the people who made them,” she said.

Homemade gifts might not be as fancy as store-bought items, and they might not be appropriate to give to everyone, but Davis said they are perfect for when you just want to give “a little something” to friends and loved ones.

“It’s not necessarily the gift itself, but that you’re doing something for them,” Wolfe said.

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