Between the Lines

Kathy Steffen

What better way to honor your passion for writing and creating than making gifts for loved ones? You have two months before the holidays — plenty of time! I’ve always based my December column around gift ideas, but this is head-start year! Following are the best ideas from the last nine years. You CAN be creative and create a gift that will be meaningful to your loved one.

In a blank journal, write a prompt at the top of every or every-other page to create a guided journal. If you need some help, there are plenty of writing sites featuring prompts to use and searching will help you to come up with your own. Personalize the journal with photos, stamps or whatever to inspire the receiver. 

Memory journals are a wonderful way to relive special times. Use photos, write snippets of memories, and leave space for the receiver to add his or her own thoughts. Or begin a “family history” or “friendship” book and write a chapter a month with a loved one. For someone elderly, reminiscing is a favorite way to spend time. Plus, you are giving the gift of time together, and what could be more priceless? Have family members tell you their favorite story and begin a book of family short stories. Add photos, letters, mementos, whatever connects to the stories. Everyone will love this gift, and after a year of family connections, gift everyone a copy (there are plenty of places that print a book).

Do you have an artist, homemaker, mother, baker, (librarian, poet, runner, etc.) in your life? Create a manifesto for them — a written statement declaring the intentions, motives or views of the subject. Use the words themselves to add meaning to your design by bringing out key words with size, color or different fonts.

There are so many stamps, different papers, glitter pens, gel pens to create texture and color … and I’m betting you have a printer. Why purchase store-bought cards? Make your own holiday greeting card and begin with something you write and print, then customize with color, stamps and add-ons. You can truly send a message that is your own.

DIY kits are a wonderful start for making your own gifts. Everything you need to know in one box. There are kits for making hot sauce, beer, gin, or root beer, jewelry, candles, soap, candy, lip balm, posters, even a bonsai starter kit, and a kit to make a ukulele!

Gift Your Talent: Do you knit? Make someone a scarf. Bake? Make a cookie kit or muffin/brownie/pancake/cookie mix in a jar. Are you a chef? How about soup in a jar? Or infused cooking oils. Or spice/seasoning mixes. Sew? What about a fun, funky apron? Are you a gardener? Build mini-terrariums (and little plastic dinosaurs, farm animals or buildings can add whimsy to the plants). Don’t forget to add tags and labels made with your artistic expression. 

Or … Learn Something New: Learn how to make soap, candles or ornaments. There are ideas everywhere. This gift is not only for the person receiving, but is a gift to yourself as well.

Spread happiness and joy to those you love and create a one-of-a-kind gift.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning author of “First, There Is a River,” “Jasper Mountain” and “Theater of Illusion.” She writes, creates art and gardens from her home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and kitties.