11 November 2010

Guest Post :: Michelle's Favorite


Please welcome Michelle from {Chez Moi} to Narrating Life today. I think the fact that Michelle had an incredibly difficult time choosing her one favorite handmade gift to share with you should tell you a little bit about her creativity. I'm glad she chose this gift that she did, it is so thoughtful and generous.

Confessions of a Compulsive Copycat

People think that I am creative. In fact, I am not an idea person. If I ever have an original idea, I think it is reason for a new holiday to be declared or something.

But I love to make things. I adore it. So I am always on the lookout for ideas of cool things I can make. I have made a lot of handmade gifts, but none of them are really exciting and new, you know? Quilts. Tons of people make quilts. Photo cards. Ditto. Flower brooches and headbands. Everybody makes those. Embroidery projects. Christmas ornaments. Felt stocking advent calendars. Taken from Martha herself. Little gratitude journals. Personalized ephemera tins. Copied, all of them! (Mostly, anyway.)

My husband tells me that I overvalue originality, and that execution is a big part of creativity. I agree. But I still am a teensy bit neurotic about my copying compulsion.

Anyway, for the purposes of Miranda's great handmade holiday series, I finally narrowed it down to something I made from just the germ of someone else's idea. I had read somewhere in blogland about a woman who gave her husband The 12 Dates of Christmas as a gift. I knew immediately that that was a gift my husband would greatly appreciate. And perhaps never having seen the finished project pushed me to come up with my own ideas.


This is a simple project, and one that didn't take me very long. (And that's saying something, as I tend to agonize over every little decision.) And, as an added bonus, it only cost me $1 to make! (I bought the book and had all of the other materials on hand.)

I started by finding an inexpensive book at a thrift store. The one I found was called "The Creative Mind," which just happened to be perfect for Marc, who is truly an idea person.

I brainstormed date ideas, so that I would have one for each month of the following year. (This probably goes without saying, but I made sure all of the dates were things I was actually willing to plan and do!)


Then I took some gang tags, which I think are just inherently pleasing. I measured the tags, added a little extra, and marked a rectangle on one of the first pages of my book. Using a ruler as a straightedge, I cut out the shape with an x-acto knife, not all the way through, but just through enough pages that my little gang of tags would nestle neatly within. (The rectangles of book paper are a happy by-product; I have used them for countless projects since.)


I then decorated the tags with patterned paper, rub-ons, stamps, and paint. I love ribbons, so of course I had to tie ribbons at the top of the tags.


Marc later told me that this was his favorite gift I have given him, ever. Wow.

Handmade Holiday 2010: The series about making it happen.


Anonymous said...

I am SO excited about this! Scott and I are not doing gifts for each other this year (since we know medical bills, etc. will be forthcoming with baby). This is a perfect, thoughtful gift that won't cost anything! Thanks for the idea!

Anonymous said...

I love this idea. Love it.

I was chuckling a bit though when Michelle was talking about how ideas are not always original.

I remember my father giving something very like this to my mother...back in 1965! Yes, 1965! They had 7 small children then, and he knew she needed a night out once in a while. He found a calendar with pockets and stapled money into each pocket with a note about what their special date was going to be that month, and how they might spend that money together. It was one of her all time favorite Christmas gifts!!!

And by the way, I can not imagine how he came up with the idea back in the days before Martha Stewart, or blogs with cute ideas, or etc. I doubt very much that it was his own idea though. He really wasn't known as a creative idea man. Maybe the really good ideas just never die!

Diana said...

I so love this idea. thank you thank you Michelle!

Jill said...

I love this gift idea and had forgotten about it (even though I was lucky enough to be there when she made it).

michelle said...

HA! I love that Anonymous's father made a similar gift for his wife in 1965! Awesome.

Denise said...

Like Jill, I love this idea and remember Michelle posting about it some time ago, but am so glad to have the tutorial again. Thanks!

Jason & Makenna said...

What a cute presentation on a classic idea! I'm loving all the great ideas eveyone has. :)

Staci said...

I love this enough that I went to a thrift store this afternoon to find just the right book. I ended up finding some hunting books from the 1950s (goose, duck, and elk AND one on dog training), which he will LOVE as well. They were only $1 each!

I chose a Reader's Digest condensed book because it had a fancy schmancy voile cover, which is so me. It has color illustrations of formal 1950s-ish formal dinner parties - so nut us! But it's the perfect holder for my date ideas...

Thank you!

Cassie said...

This idea is so brilliant and perfect for my husband! I will be planning this one next week I think.

Mary Ann said...

Thanks so much for the idea, I have started doing it for my honey. I like how you put things together. I need to start collecting things for each note. Thanks a ton~!

Amanda @ Ninth Street Notions said...

Very cool. I had heard of this idea before, too, and I definitely had the plan to give my husband a year's worth of dates, but I wasn't sure how to package it. This is cute!

www.apronsandapples@blogspot.com said...

Love it! I was planning on doing the 12 dates but this is the perfect packaging! Now I just have to come up with the 12 dates in our small town on our small budget with out our 4 kids! Thanks Kristy from www.apronsandapples.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I agree with your husband on execution as part of creativity. Also personal interpretation is important. My friend is a designer and one of her professors told them "Plagiarize, Plagiarize, Plagiarize, it is the reason God gave you eyes." meaning take inspiration from everything you see but then go out and make it your own. I'm sure you are very creative, don't put yourself down

Anonymous said...

Love this BUT has anyone tried to actually go buy Gang Tags?!?!?! I have looked everywhere and haven't been able to find ANYTHING remotely close.

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