Creative Personal Gifts to Make

To Help Us Feel Closer to Those Far Away

When you close your eyes and picture yourself in holidays of years past, what rings true in your memory? Is it the sound of someone’s voice and the soft crinkled flip of a well-loved book page? Is it the smell of gingerbread cookies still warm on a wire rack? Or the balsam scent of a familiar forest and a trail with many footprints overlapping your own?

The feelings of warmth and togetherness that many of us associate with winter holidays must be different this year by necessity—but we can recreate some aspects of it for ourselves and our dear ones. These creative DIY gifts are thoughtful ways to connect, even from afar. 

A few ideas of gifts to share with those we can’t be with this year:

Photo memory books

When’s the last time you had a physical photo in hand? Our devices allow us to capture nearly everything these days, but it’s also easy for the files to pile up and fade away into the growing cloud. Cue the photo book. Look back at your archives and create a photo book or set of prints to give someone a physical visual walk down memory lane. Most shops that print photos also have book options, including Vistaprint, Pikto, Chatbooks, and Costco Photo Center—to name a few!

A mini podcast episode

It’s no secret that we love the medium of audio around here. Capturing a voice and its own unique cadence is an art form of its own—but it can be pretty easy to make something simple. Record a favorite memory. Ask your niece to add a voice memo. Have your grandma read “The Night Before Christmas” and save that snippet for posterity. 

To record, you don’t need to invest in any fancy equipment. If you already have a phone with a voice recorder app, you have everything you need to get started to capture a simple recording. And if you want to record a loved one, but it’s not safe to visit, there are lots of ways to excel at remote recording. We like Zencastr (you’ll need a computer or laptop, but it’s worth it), but you can also download a podcast app like Anchor for an all-in-one podcasting solution!

Seeds or cuttings from your favorite plant 

This is one way to share a little bit of nature and an aspect of your ‘home’ with someone dear. Seeds are incredibly easy to share if you’ve saved any from your garden, but it’s also possible to mail cuttings from your house plants. We love the idea of watching the sister plants continue to grow in a kind of long-term shared experience from your pot to theirs.

A playlist of nostalgic songs

Ah, the classic mixtape. It feels like something timeless, but also like a time capsule. (Also, a very thoughtful and instantly shareable gift.) Curate a playlist of songs for someone that takes you back to your favorite summer road trip, to the dive bar with a country jukebox, or holidays of years past. If you’re on Spotify, you can even make playlists collaborative so more than one person can add to the musical memories. 

Favorite homemade treats or mixes 

As long as you don’t have any cold or flu symptoms, preparing a treat or a treat mix to mail is fairly low-risk as far as the pandemic goes—especially if it’s a mix that the receiver can bake themselves. We’ve got our eyes on this sand art brownie mix and snickerdoodles in a jar but if you’re a frequent baker, you can probably figure out how to transform a recipe into something easy to mail if it’s not already. Making a mix typically just means leaving out the wet ingredients to add in later on.

A work of art 

Creativity is personal. Even if you wouldn’t call yourself an artist, you probably make, create, or craft things that would make for great gifts. Call on your talents to create something. Maybe it’s something small like a watercolor postcard or hand crafted ornaments. Maybe you’re into paper cutout art or crocheting.

Or maybe creativity comes in the form of appreciating the work of others? In that case, we love shopping small from independent artists

A gift in memory of someone

For anyone who’s lost someone this year, a star named or a tree planted in their honor feels like a special tribute and a way to find someone lost living on in nature. 

 

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