Yep, folks, just thirty days till Santa comes! (More importantly, just two days until we all gather for turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, etc. - National Eat Till You Burst Day!)
I'm starting to get that panicky feeling about those folks who are always hard to shop for and that churning tummy feeling about how much this all is gonna' cost! I've been keeping alert and watching carefully for some unique but impressive easy to make gifts.
Do you happen to have any family recipes that are written in your Mom's or Grandmom's handwriting? I recently saw where a friend had used some of these to decorate her kitchen.
She had taken the recipe cards and scanned them onto the computer and then tinged them a bit in sepia tones to make them look even a bit more aged. (An easy trick with any photo system you may be using.) She then found and copied some old photos of each grandmother. She stained two wooden plaques to match her cabinetry and then mounted a recipe and that grandmother's picture on each plaque. She even found a family photo taken one year at the holidays featuring her parents, siblings and both grandmothers. She mounted that in a matching picture frame and hung it between the two recipe plaques. Fantastic grouping and a real conversation starter.
This new attraction made its debut when she served Thanksgiving dinner at her house last year and both of her sisters raved over the idea. A lightbulb went off in her head and she did the same for each of them as their Christmas gifts. Both have hung those family memories with great pride and told her they have been among their most cherished gifts.
Related ideas include a family cookbook which can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like. I did that two years ago but made it very elaborate. Mine included many pictures from "the old days", a few essays about our grandparents and funny family cooking stories as well as treasured recipes. I ended up making 32 copies. It took most of a year to create, print and put together.
My sister-in-law, on the other hand had done one for her children simply by typing in about 25 family recipes, printing them out on her computer and fastening them with basic paper fasteners. She says it was a quick weekend project. She then rounded it out a bit by adding a cute potholder set and cookie cutter to each. I happen to know those cook books are still in use, several years later.
The friend who did the plaques mentioned above has come up with a new gift for her mom this year. She has spent the last month or so gathering statements from all members of the family about "the best thing about Christmas at Grandma's." These range from a little one's quote that "She makes really pretty cookies" to elaborate heartfelt statements by one of her brothers about the significance of gathering the generations together at the original home-base. She has mounted these in a scrapbook entitled "Christmas at Grandma's Through the Ages." She and her siblings have even listed all the traditions they recall from their childhood and have told how they've continued each in their own homes. Again, she's dug out those annual group photos of the family and added them throughout the book. This will be the last year they will "do Christmas" at her mom's home as Mama is moving in with one of the children after the holidays.
The miracle of computers and printers in our homes has really simplified a lot of these ideas. Give it some thought, I'm sure you can come up with some really creative ideas for your gift list, too.