Sometimes it feels as if birthdays are getting out of hand: too many parties, too many gifts, too much money being spent, too much of all the wrong things and not enough of the things that truly gladden the heart. It often happens that the simplest of gifts, those that come from the heart and involve some effort, are those loved and treasured the most. Use the ideas and resources below to celebrate your family’s and friends’ birthdays with homemade gifts.
Family Video. When I was a child, my dad’s response to “What do you want for your birthday” was “All I want is your love.” One year, my sister and I videotaped some of my dad’s relatives sharing stories about him. We had the tape edited and condensed. He still mentions the video 23 years later.
Made-from-Scratch Cookie Kit. Measure the dry ingredients for the recipient’s favorite cookie recipe into a food-safe jar. Layer the dry ingredients in the jar, screw on the lid, print the recipe on the card, and tie it to the jar with the ribbon.
Lavender Sachet. Cut two 3-inch square pieces of fabric. Pin the right sides together. Sew three sides and part of the fourth side on a sewing machine or by hand (the stitches must be close together). Turn the sachet inside out and fill with organic lavender buds. Hand-stitch the opening to complete the sachet.
Surprise Yarn Ball. Choose about ten small items representative of what the person likes, such as his/her hobby, candy, or fortunes. Starting with the largest item, begin wrapping yarn around them. Continue alternating gifts with yarn-wrapping until the gift looks like a ball of yarn.
Themed play mat. For the base, use a 24-square inch piece of felt (you can make your own felt by machine-felting a 100% wool sweater from a thrift store). Decorate it with pieces of color felt and fabric scraps with stitching or fusible interfacing. For a gnome/fairy theme, try trees, grass, and a mushroom-shaped house onto the base. For a dinosaur theme, add a pond, forest, and volcano. Once the design is complete, add backing fabric if needed. Place in a drawstring bag along with a few small toys that fit with the theme of the play mat (e.g., gnome family, fairy furniture, dinosaurs, small rocks).
Blanket or Lap Quilt. An easy blanket or lap quilt can be made by using part of a bed sheet or other suitable backing fabric and a piece of flannel or fleece. A good size is 36″x36″ for a child, or 38″ x 47″ for someone who is sitting on a couch, chair, or wheelchair. Cut the two pieces of fabric the same size. Pin the right sides together. With a Â¼” seam, sew along 3 edges and most of the fourth edge. Turn the blanket inside out. Hand-sew the opening.
Decoupage Tin and Matchbook Notebooks. Take an empty Altoid tin and cover the inside and outside with scrapbook paper and images using Modge Podge (all-in-one sealer). The notebooks are made from scrapbook paper cut the same size as a matchbook. Cut sheets of paper to fit inside and staple them inside the decorative paper.
Birthday Parties: Best Party Tips and Ideas by Vicki Lanski. Book Peddlers 1995.Homespun Memories for the Heart—More Than 200 Ideas to Make Unforgettable Moments by Karen Ehman Kelly Hovermale and Trish Smith. Revell/Baker Publishing Group 2005.