No Time to Make Gifts? Try This!

stampsWhen You Have No Time

Sometimes we despair that we just don’t have time to make anything, so we make nothing.

Before the holidays, I know I often have big fantasies about how many gifts I’ll make, or I come up with gift making ideas that are so ambitious, they’re almost impossible to finish on time and I practically send myself over the edge trying to get them all done. (I’ve done some crazy sewing at midnight the night before christmas!).

But some of the best gifts that I’ve ever received have been quite small or inexpensive, and were things I used everyday.

Mini Gifts–A Little Bit of Handmade is Win-Win

So that made me realize there’s a middle ground there–what about making a little something, or part of a gift?

For instance?

For instance, if you’re going to give someone a book, how about making them a bookmark?

This idea is cool because it takes the pressure off since the main gift is the book, not what you made, AND YET, you’re still making it personal at the same time by adding this creative touch that you took the time to make. But not so much time you feel crazed. ;-)

The perfect Goldilocks amount of time.

Stamping and embossing is a great technique for this. It’s fast and pretty and there are lots of fun choices. You could choose a rubber stamp with a gorgeous all over pattern, a beautiful single image or a wonderful quote–something you know they’ll like or maybe a favorite of yours that you want to share.

Tips for Making Your Bookmarks

>Find a nice smooth solid colored cardstock that you like–it’s easier to stamp and emboss if it’s got a smooth rather than a “linen” finish (a slightly raised, crosshatched kind of surface). Cut out some strips–6″ x 2″ say. Or use your  rubber stamp as your guide for how wide or long you want it. Both Michael’s and AC Moore will have some solid colored cardstock to choose from.

>When you stamp your images, don’t be afraid to go off the sides or just use a portion of your rubber stamp image. The key is to make it intentional–come in from one side with part of the stamped image, for instance, and then repeat on the other side with another portion of the stamped image. Repeat until satisfied.

>If you’re trying to get a quote to fit, or center a single image or word, stamp on the uncut paper first, and then cut your bookmark out afterward. That way, you can cut exactly where you want and it’ll be easier to center your image. It reduces frustration in a big way and makes the whole process more fun.

>This is also all much easier with a paper cutter. I like “guillotine” paper cutters myself–the kind where you pull the handle down. But if you have small children around or the guillotine ones scare you, get one that slides as it cuts instead–they’re safer. If you do need a paper cutter and want to see a one that I like, here’s a link to one from Tonic that Amazon is selling (It’s a guillotine style.)

>Get a “corner rounder” paper punch to round the edges of your bookmark–you’ll be surprised at how much this positively affects the end result. Seriously, it will make it look really finished and professional. (It’s always the little details that do that.) A sufficient corner rounder is under $10.00 and fits into the palm of your hand. Here’s an example from Dick Blick if you want to know what they look like.

>Don’t be afraid to add color or to layer your stamping. Experiment and have fun–you can get a lot of bookmarks out of one sheet of cardstock, so who cares if you make a bunch that don’t work before you get into your groove?

>When you’re done, punch a hole in the top, pull a ribbon through (watch the end of my stamping and embossing how-to video for how to do that), and voila.

>Keep it simple. (You’re not cheating because you’re not suffering.) And complicated bookmarks are pretty, but they can be hard to use easily day to day, so I’d go easy on the beads, etc.

Small is Beautiful

I know I would love to receive something like this–many of my favorite gifts are small gestures like these that I use regularly.

And you know, (and maybe more importantly) it could also be a fun way for you to have some creative time in a hectic season–a little gift to yourself since getting time to make anything is so hard to come by.

And you can have the fun of increasing (or starting) your rubber stamp stash while feeling justified and virtuous (You had to buy them, it was for gifts for goodness sakes, and you were saving money because you were making things!). ;-)

This could be a nice teacher gift as well–even if you give the teacher a gift card to a bookstore, giving her a handmade bookmark to go with it is a nice personal touch. It’s also definitely something your kids could make, which is even nicer. Even if they just drew a picture.

(If you do that, where the kids draw a picture, cut the bookmark out first and have them draw on the finished shape itself–it’ll work out better. And have them do a bunch and then pick out your favorites together about which ones to give. Hey, good for Grandma and Grandpa as well–now we’re cookin’!)

This idea would also be perfect for homemade gift tags–another way to add a nice personal creative touch to a purchased gift.

If you need a refresher on how to stamp and emboss, just click here to watch a short video.

And if you need to get yourself ink, embossing powder and an embossing gun, you can get a complete kit here and you’ll be set to go.

Online Stamp Retailers

If you don’t have anywhere to buy stamps locally, here’s a few internet retailers to check out.

Stamper’s Anonymous: (one of my favorites)

Rubber Soul: (good quote stamps)

Addicted to Rubber Stamps: (kind of a rubber stamping super store)*

Inkadinkado: (some pretty all over stamps)

River City Rubber Works: (quotes and some humorous stamps)

What do you think of this idea? Are you planning on making anything for the holidays? Do you like the holidays? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear!

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  1. [...] is another great small gift idea like the bookmarks I wrote about the other day. They don’t take long to make, they look super pretty, and [...]

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