Thursday, December 1, 2016

21 Christmas Gift Ideas and 1 Fun Surprise!

My Mom painted a train and I did this moose one Christmas. Such a fun memory and keepsake.

The frenzy has begun! That is unless you are one of those shoppers who buys all your Christmas gifts in one swift scoop on Black Friday. Unfortunately, for most of us, including me, the purchasing or making of Christmas gifts has barely gotten underway, or we're only now starting to come up with gift ideas!

Which is why I opted to pull together these Christmas gift ideas, all based on gifts I've received, and liked, or one's I took the time to make for a friend or family member and seemed to be appreciated. Most are reasonable in price to purchase or create, and one is a simple and fun alternative for those who wish to give money or a gift card.

In case you wonder if I was asked or received funds to recommend a certain product, the answer is "No." I simply wanted to pass along a few suggestions for anyone with a tight budget, or in the mood to make a few gifts this year, or simply in need of assistance in answering this question: “What am I going to get ____ for Christmas?”

1. Coloring books for adults. Last year these books seemed to be on everyone's wish list but the subject matter was limited. This year, the assortment of topics is plentiful: flowers, animals, houses, Bible verses, zen tangles, seasons, and on and on. You can find them in most stores or online. I gave a coloring book and colored markers to a friend last year when I heard her comment, “Coloring is a way for me relax.” I know of another woman who takes a coloring book to her Chemo treatments and am aware of several groups of women who meet monthly to color! 

2. A quiet book. Though not expensive to make, this type of book takes time to create. Some designs are very basic, others more intricate and can be interactive. My sister, Ginny, has created several for her grandchildren that teach skills and provide hours of entertainment. Lots of ideas and patterns on Pinterest.

3. Pillows. Embroidering a friend's favorite saying or scripture on a pillow can be a treasured gift. Just be sure to keep your friend’s décor colors and style in mind as you design the pillow so it’s something he/she will enjoy putting out on display. If embroidering isn't your thing, how about quilting a pillow? Can't sew? There's always the no-sew-fleece ones.

4. Books often turn up on my Christmas ideas list as many in my family like to read. My selection is usually based on a hobby or topic the individual is interested in or a specific title from their wish list at Amazon. Or, take a look at my book recommendations in my other posts or my list of titles (See "Books" label at top.) I've read in recent years. 

5. Food carrier. This is a nice idea for someone who loves to cook, or frequently makes a casserole for a church potluck or family gathering. It does require basic sewing skills, and familiarity with cross stitching if you opt to add the pocket on the outside where a spoon can be slipped into. Look for patterns online or at your local fabric store.

6. Homemade cards for various occasions. One year I made an assortment of cards (60 in total) and bought pretty box containers to put them in to give to each of the females in my family at Christmas. Warning: It is a time-consuming craft so best to give it to someone who loves to write notes in cards and appreciates all the effort you put into the gift.

7. One-of-a-kind-book. Photo books that capture moments from a child or adult's life, plus captions to go with pictures, make a lovely gift. This one was done for my brother's 75th birthday who was born on Christmas day! We used Costco photo services to produce our book but other stores or online options exist. We did this book for under $20.

8.Make a music CD of someone’s favorite songs. I’ve seen this done by a son for his Mom and by someone for their grandparent who was missing music from the Big Band era. There's little cost, other than your time, in creating a one-of-a-kind CD, but it is worth it.

9. Audio books. Listening to an exceptional story is ideal for people who travel, or like to multitask, or who have eye problems and are forced to cut back on reading. There are many sites online who provide audio books to download, or your local bookstore and Amazon carry books on CD. One company I use and like is

10. Portable office. I created this moveable file for a friend who has a small business at home and limited work space. The bin and hanging files can be bought at any office or chain store. To give it a bit of color the bunting and ribbon were added, and for a bit of fun the company logo was printed out and taped to the inside of the bin. I also tucked in a few office supplies (pen, post-it notes, paper clips, etc.) so all the essentials could be close at hand.

11. Bunting to hang at the office, or home. If you’ve someone who is not the creative type, but wishes she was, then a bright and colorful bunting to brighten up a bookcase, mantle, or boring office/cubicle might be the ideal gift. What would make this gift even more awesome is to make this a year-long-gift by promising to make a new bunting for each month. The bunting in this photo I pulled together for a friend using scrapbook items I had at home and a bit of help from a Martha Stewart sale.

12. Small bag or card holder. This usually goes over well with female friends who carry lots of gift or credit cards in their purse, or could use something for their make up, or other miscellaneous items at the bottom of their handbag. You might want to add a little extra surprise by tucking inside the pouch a few items, such as mints, travel tooth brush, etc. Another option to consider is buying the security-card holder to safeguard against theft. I've given these to friends and will be giving more as identity theft seems to be on the rise.

13. Kitchen towels. There are many colorful and cute towels available for every holiday and season to buy these days. Since women tend to be in the kitchen a lot it's always nice to receive some fresh towels to replace those old stained ones. Or to simply brighten up your world. I’ve gone one step further and bought a package of towels at a craft store and then embroidered on them for a friend who likes “vintage” décor. 

14. Personalized boxes. These go over well with kids, especially when you add their name (Alphabet stickers are easy to apply or acrylic paint will work too.) to the top of the container along with some fun stickers, etc. Inside you can fill up the box with an assortment of inexpensive toys: jacks, mini cars, hair clips, jewelry, Legos, etc. One year for a friend's grandson I simply spelled out with stickers "Logan's Legos" and inside the clear box tucked in a Lego toy to assemble. So easy, and was a big hit with the 6-year-old.

15. Fleece hat or throw. I don’t know anyone, man or woman, who doesn’t like a warm, cozy blanket on a chilly, wintry night. Hard to go wrong in making one of these blankets, especially if the design on fleece fits the person's personality or favorite sport team. Another easy fleece project is a simple hat. Doesn’t take long to make, and no sewing machine required. I didn't have a pattern for this blue hat, just measured to get the size of my head and estimated on the height. Took less than an hour to make.

16. Themed Gifts.  I've a friend whose favorite color is purple. One year I filled up a gift bag with all sorts of purple items: pens, socks, notepad, mittens, wallet, bookmark, scarf, etc. Turned out to be a fun gift to give and to receive. My friend, Nancy, came up with a clever theme gift recently. She bought the book Spot for her best friend, a former librarian which inspired her to find other items that were spot shaped. She bought round, colorful hanging lights, candy circle wafers, etc. Even the wrapping paper had spots! It’s amazing what you can come up to make a memorable and personal gift.

17. Planner accessories. Anyone who is super organized most likely uses a planner or bullet journal. There are oodles of darling stickers and creative embellishments out there to personalize and make a planner unique. Fill up a small basket or gift box with an assortment of supplies (Washi tape, seasonal stickers, gel pens, charms, divider clips, and more) or splurge, and purchase a nice planner.

18. Christmas tray. I'm a saver of photo-Christmas cards I receive and one year, for a friend, I gathered all her past photo/greeting cards to create a personalized gift. I took a tray, and beneath the glass I placed some festive Christmas scrap paper. Next, I added the photos, and once happy with the placement of the pictures adhered them to the scrap paper using double sided tape. To bring it all together I added a headline using some stick-on type, a photo blurb or two, plus a few other decorative embellishments. To my surprise, she loved the gift and brought it out every year to display in her kitchen.

19. Fabric decorated plate. This idea has been around for years, but people still love receiving the hand-made gift, especially when cookies are part of the present. There is not much expense or time required, particularly if Modpog already resides in your craft supplies, along with leftover scraps of holiday fabric. Directions on how to make a fabric plate can be found at Pinterest or YouTube.

20. A cute mixing bowl combined with a colorful dish towel, plus a batch of recipe cards tied up in a ribbon might be a welcome gift for a friend who loves to cook or someone setting up house for the first time. Note: Consider handwriting a couple of your favorite dishes on those recipe cards as an extra surprise.

21. Devotional book for the coming year. I like gifts that people can enjoy 365 days out of the year and devotional books definitely accomplish that. There are many beautiful and well-written ones available these days. My Utmost for His Highest is still popular and now comes in a modern-English version. One of my favorites is Long Live the Child that was a gift from its author. Lucky me. Joni Eareckson Tada's More Precious Than Silver is also excellent. 

If none of the above 21 ideas will work, then try this clever idea my niece, Darsi, came up with one year that had us all laughing and two young boys very happy!

She went to her bank and purchased $50 in crisp, one dollar bills. Back home she wadded up each bill before tossing the money into two shirt size boxes along with some candy kisses to give weight to the present. After that, she did the normal Christmas wrap, bow, and gift tag to each of the containers. From all appearances, it looked liked her two young nephews were getting new shirts for Christmas. Boy, were they surprised! And oh what fun they had straightening out and counting up how much money they received.

This may be the year I use Darsi's idea if I can't figure out what to give one little boy this holiday.  

P.S. Has anyone ever surprised you with a gift you absolutely loved? 


  1. What a lovely post, dear friend! I think I'll send you my newspaper column for this week, which covers my thoughts about gifts. I liked looking at all the nice things you created.
    Big grateful hug,


  2. I'll be on the lookout for your column which is sure to be enjoyable. I'm into making my own Christmas cards this year. Design done. Now comes the assembly and the writing of a letter to accompany the card. Call me old fashioned, but I still love getting cards from friends in the mail every December and counting on those I send mine too feel the same way.


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