Christmas has a habit of sneaking up on me. I have grand plans every year of what I will lovingly craft from hand for each of my intended gift recipients-- presents so wonderful, so unique, that I usually have to learn a new skill to create these masterpieces (this year it was carpentry and arm-knitting.). Unsurprisingly (to everyone but myself, for I am always shocked and dismayed that I fell short in my quest), I give Amazon a lot of business on December 23.
Just because you don't have time to make your gifts (I did make ONE this year, thankyouverymuch), doesn't mean you can't add a little hand-crafted touch to your store-bought presents. Two really simple options: hand-stamped wrapping paper and personalized gift tags. Added bonus: neither require a trip to a specialty craft store*.
For the wrapping paper, all you need are: a potato, a carving utensil (a knife will do, but if you have a linoleum carving set, all the better! I have a lino carving tool, but apparently the TSA really frowns upon you carrying it in your carry-on luggage), a pencil, and a stamp pad or craft paint. For my wrapping paper, I carved a rudimentary Christmas tree from a small russet baking potato that had been cut in half.
I added red berries/ornaments (who can tell?) with red paint and the eraser on a mechanical pencil, and topped the packages off with holly from the yard and custom gift tags tied on with kitchen twine**.
For the gift tags, you'll need card stock, scissors, a hole punch, inkjet label sheets, and your printer. I took pictures of little Christmas vignettes around the house (the Nativity scene, a wreath on the door, the cat sniffing the tree, etc) with my Hipstamatic app, then printed them out onto the full sheet inkjet labels and trimmed around them. For the tags themselves, I used A6 flat note cards, cut them half, then trimmed the top corners. This gave me a tag that was approximately 4.5" long x 3" wide, which I thought was satisfying, but you could also use 8.5" x 11" card stock and make your tags as big or as small as you'd like. Depending on the size you choose for the tags, you should resize your images on the computer (I used Photoshop, but you can easily do this in whatever program you have, such as Word or Paint) to fit on the tags with a little breathing room around the edge. My photos were about 2" x 2". Adhere the photos to the card stock, punch a hole in the center of the top edge, and voila! Personalized gift tags.
To all of you, dear Readers, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! May your days be merry and bright and your stockings coal-free. xoxo.
*Traveling with crafting equipment is hard, folks. I usually try to sneak one or two things into my luggage, but I learned my lesson the hard way (is there any other way in my life??) this year. After making what I thought was an extremely level-headed and rational decision to NOT bring my powder fabric dyes along (once, I traveled with grits in my suitcase from South Carolina back to Dartmouth, and that's when I learned that the TSA finds anything sandy or powdery to be VERY SUSPICIOUS. I can only assume they thought my grits were fertilizer, weren't satisifed by the JIM DANDY REGULAR label on the package, and tore it open to see for themselves. I don't know if you've ever tried to get grits out of a cashmere sweater or the crevices of a suitcase, but I will assure you, it's damn near impossible. And the little note they left in my bag-- "This bag has been inspected by a TSA employee"-- you don't say??-- didn't make me feel any better about it. On top of all that, I was sans grits for my senior winter while writing my thesis. A southerner without grits is a true tragedy.)-- anywho, I thought the only thing worse than trying to get grits out of the soles of your shoes would be to try to get fabric dye powder off of anything, so I left that at home. Instead, I brought my calligraphy ink and pens in my carry-on bag, and long story short, everything was fine until I had to gate-check my bag, and now I need a new suitcase. So the fact that this DIY can be done with supplies you can buy at your local Walmart was born out of necessity, not choice.
** Charles Eames once said "Who doesn't love a ball of twine?" and I have to agree. Twine is awesome. You should always have twine on hand. Twine and champagne.