1. Plarn Anything
Save those shopping bags! Thousands of them. Because that’s how many you’re going to need to make that new rug/bag/potholder.
Keep in mind that plastic melts, or you’ll end up scraping stubborn bits of plastic off the bottom of your hot coffee mug, or that pot you absentmindedly used the – uh – pot holder for. Once you have enough bags to warrant a Hoarders-style intervention, cut the bags into strips, link them together, and about a week later, you have yourself a bowling ball of plastic that will wear your hands out after ten minutes of trying to crochet or knit anything with it.
Then you put it away on shelf in the closet, find it three years later when you move, and quietly throw the catastrophe away, trying to forget about the hours lost gathering, cleaning, cutting, and linking millions of plastic strips together. But at least you found that 10mm hook you’d thought you lost.
Try it for yourself, and disappoint even those hard-to-shop-for people on your list this year!
2. Homemade Candles
I know how excited you are to finally put to use your collection of empty, cleaned, salsa jars you’ve been trying to stash artfully in the pantry, but are now just reminders of your crafting failures that noisily topple over every time you reach for the damn paprika.
But hold on there a minute, you Yankee Candle poser (you down with YCC?). You’d better be prepared to buy a crapload of supplies, because you’re also going to need the right type of wax, wicks cut to the correct size, some aromatic oils for ambiance, and an ambulance for that molten wax you’ve just poured all over your favorite hand, favorite shirt, and favorite cat, because you didn’t secure the wick correctly, and had to try to fix it – OH GOD, IT BURNS!
Still itching to pawn off those jars? This’ll help.
3. Homemade Soaps
All the same problems as above, but with a new shopping list!
So great, you got all your molds, shea butters, glycerins, essential oils, and even those dried lavender bits for some of texture, because that’s really what people are looking for in a good soap – mysterious scratchy bits on their most vulnerable parts as they’re sudsing up.
And what’s in that soap, exactly? Any allergens people should be warned about? And what scent do you call that? Do you even know anything about scents? What a top, and bottom, note is? (It’s not what you’re thinking.) Do you know anything about fruity notes? (It’s still not what you’re thinking.) Or the difference between Oriental, and Woody Oriental?
Save the soap-making for the the tub-ruining professionals at Lush, dedicated to all-natural bath products that will most definitely leave your tub coated in a film of glitter for the next month.
Try it if you must, but I wouldn’t lye.
4. Coupon Books
This seems like a cute idea in theory, but it ends up landing in “an impersonal way to express your affection, while also being cheap, and requiring minimal effort” territory.
You mean some time in the future, you’ll do this chore you should probably be doing anyways, in exchange for this slip of paper? And what’s this? I can get a hug, or other displays of affection from you, FOR FREE?
Get out of giving a real gift, and make some of your own.
5. Anything With Pictures of Your Kids
Unless it’s going to the kid’s parent, grandparent, or Cool Aunt Sarah, no really cares about your kid, especially people who don’t have kids themselves. It’s not that we don’t care that they’re alive and well. I mean, that’s super great! We’re honestly happy for you, and we’re totally sure your spawn is just as amazing as you are, and they are clearly destined to become awesome little people, because they’re being raised by awesome people.
But if you’re anything like me (short, pale, and childless), your social circle is really small, consisting mainly of people with potential blackmail material, work colleagues, and people you’re trying to bang.
Between work and dabbling in hyperbole, I, like most people, just don’t have the capacity to keep up with the goings-on of your adorable little bundle of pink-eye. I try to avoid social situations where the other person is dribbling incoherently before deciding whether to cry, fart, laugh, and/or all three; besides, that’s what holidays and uncles are for.
Honestly though, now that I’m thinking about it, a good mug is a good mug. If you’re going the photogift route, at least keep it practical, so I can think of little Timmy/Tommy/Robbie/Ricky/Niki when I enjoy my evening chamomile and vodka, in my clean, quiet, childless home.
Some of these are actually pretty cool, so kid or no, grab your fav pics, and get to gifting!