Between the Lines

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

—Maya Angelou

Calling all creative types (especially you closet creatives). It’s the holiday season and time to engage your creativity! There is no gift as wonderful as one made with your heart and hands. Following are some ideas to get you going …

Custom Memory Book: There are plenty of places online where you can upload your own photos and words to create a memory book. The obvious choice is a vacation, but what about family photos starring each member, or a journey through the last year—quotes from children mixed with their photos for grandparents? Be sure to order a copy for yourself, too. Starting Jan. 1, take a photo a day and along with journal snippets or quotes and make into a book of your next year.

Memory Wreath: Use small frames for photos, captions, quotes, and attach to a wreath (a rustic twig wreath works really well). Top with a beautiful bow you can purchase or make that accentuates your wreath.

Mixed Media Treasure: There are blanks galore for you to paint/collage/decoupage/write on (or combine these methods): blank wooden trays, boxes, ornaments, bird houses, coasters, plaques, frames, benches, cutout letters … . Combine your words and images and then embellish to make a one-of-a-kind treasure.

Box of Happy: Put together a box specific to a loved one—and fill it with what will make him or her smile. Favorite candy, photos, mug, book, candles, and don’t forget special notes or motivational messages. Remind someone they are loved.

Poetry/Story Mugs: One of my favorite gifts to make. Write a poem or tribute to someone. Describe a memory you share. Use an oil-based Sharpie, dry for 8 hours, and bake at 350 degrees. Turn the oven off after 45 minutes and let it cool. The writing won’t scrub off.

Dinner Chat Plates: Use the above method but write on oversized dinner places (then use them as a charger plate). Write story starts, questions to begin conversations or poetry.

Poetry or Story Scarves: Get a light color scarf, fabric markers and go! Stretch the scarf out on cardboard to write. Or make a Poetry Pillow—same idea on a pillow cover.

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, so do a search and jump in. This gift is not only for the person receiving, but is a gift to yourself as well.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She writes from her home in Spring Green she shares with her husband and cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.