Q. I'd like to hear some suggestions about
practical gifts that can be made, other than food. My family is not into gifts
that aren't practical, i.e. they wouldn't appreciate decorative items.
A. We sisters exchange Christmas gifts at our Thanksgiving get together and we always try to do the homemade bit. Saves on the budget. I have done "individual" baskets that are filled with goodies related to (1) their hobby, (2) a special need (3) a particular food they like or (4) a memory book dedicated especially to that person. This year I am knitting afghans - each one the same pattern but a different color. This way they all have the same gift and yet different in color. You might want to give a living tree or plant. Giving doesn't have to be hard - just something from the heart. - Kay
A. Crochet or knit slippers. Use an H hook and 2 strands of worsted weight yarn. Crochet a chain approximately 1 inch longer than foot size. Double crochet in third chain from hook and across to end. Turn and double crochet across. For adult sizes crochet 12 to 13 rows. For children's sizes crochet 8 to 10 rows. Fasten off yarn and cut strand about 24 inches long. Weave in and out end and draw up very tightly. Pull through a couple of times to keep toe end tight and use remainder to sew half way across long side. Sew up the other short end for heel. Add a pompon for women and children. A varigated and solid worked together is attractive or two coordinating solids. Men usually like dark colors, reds and blues.
Knit slippers for women & children (Pixie boots) Use #8 needles and 2 strands of worsted yarn. Cast on enough stitches for length of foot plus one inch. Knit rows (or purl if you prefer) until you have a square. Bind off. Fold in half so you have a triangle. Sew across one edge (sole) and then halfway up the other side (back of heel). Fold open part of triangle down. Add pompom if desired.
If you are an accomplished knitter, make sox on double pointed needles. I did this once, about 30 years ago, and I still get an occasional comment about them.
Afghans are usually very popular. My choices would be either a ripple or a great granny. Use any basic granny square pattern and just keep going until afghan is as large as you would like it to be. For adults, 48" square is about the minimum size. Or use a granny square that is a rectangle and make the afghan 60 inches long and however wide it works out. Try to match colors to the recipients house. If your sister's house is done in pale green, pink and ivory, she probably would not cherish a hot pink and lime afghan. Check out the library for both ripple and granny square patterns.
Slippers for children can be made out of heavyweight washcloths. Fold in half, wrong side out.and stitch up both short ends. Stitch halfway across the long side. Turn down about 1/2 inch to make a tube around the opening. Run 1/4 inch elastic through, stitch and close opening.
Hooded bath towels for children, toddlers and infants. For large children, use a bath sheet and half of hand towel. For toddlers and infants use a regular towel, not too thick, and a washcloth. Character towels are nice to use although they are more expensive. Thick towels get very difficult to sew. Pleat the middle of one side of the towel. I usually do a center box pleat with a pleat on each side. Stitch over pleats to hold them. Fold washcloth or half of hand towel in half. Stitch across one end (the cut end of the hand towel. Stitch the edges of the seam down using a zigzag stitch. Center washcloth or half hand towel over the pleats and stitch across. Turn towel and stitch back on the inside of the towel, catching the top of the pleats. I usually stitch twice over the washcloth or half hand towel both on the outside and inside. These can have an applique stitched on one corner, The ends of the towels and the face edge of the hood can be trimmed with lace or a wide bias binding. Towels can be made in colors to match sports teams.
Create a family tree for each family. You can buy these off the internet or sometimes in bookstores. Use a caligraphy pen to fill in names and dates. Mat and frame. Of course you have to have been doing genealogy to make this one work, but locate your local LDS Family History Center and they will usually give you lots of help. 75% or more of people using the Family History Centers are not LDS. I know these are somewhat decorative but they are also a really neat gift.
Give coupons. Use a gorgeous font and frame style and give coupons for practical things. On 24 or 48 hours notice you will clean their house, or their bathrooms or vacuum the whole house, cook a gourmet meal (they provide the ingredients) and serve it for company and clean up afterwards. Babysit children for a weekend while their parents go out of town. Babysit one evening a week so that one or both parents can take a class at the local adult school, community college, YMCA, church or somewhere. Teach a child a skill and provide basic materials (i.e. yarn, knitting needles, simple pattern and an hour or two every Thursday evening) to teach child how to knit, crochet, embroider, needlepoint, cross stitch, do macrame, carve wood, bake, prepare a simple meal, etc. Do yardwork - plant bulbs, prune roses (assuming you know how) or fruit trees, weed, mow lawns, edge a lawn, etc. Provide transportation for a child after school to go to piano or trombone lessons, or soccer practice or swimming lessons or to the library to study. Give a coupon for anything you do well - plumbing, changing oil in a car, baking birthday cakes, entertain a children's birthday party as a clown or with magic tricks. Give the birthday party for a child. - Mary
My artistic sister painted a wooden tray and had a saying about a meal shared is a feast! In the tray, she wrapped a home made loaf of bread. This was a birthday gift to me, but could also be made as a Christmas gift. - May The Angels Watch Over You, Betty G.