With the holidays rapidly approaching, I always find myself trying to come up with ideas for gift giving. There are so many people I appreciate and to whom I want to show my gratitude but there is limited time and resources available. I love giving and receiving gifts that have a personal touch, especially things that are thoughtful and handmade, but how can you do that with so many people on your list? Well, guess what? What if I told you there is a versatile gift giving idea that is DIY, inexpensive, and quick and easy to make? Keep on reading and I'll show you how!
When I started my Etsy shop not so long ago, I was making card kits. I would illustrate an image and scan it into my computer. I would then print out the scan, cut out each individual illustration, and carefully package and ship the cut-out images in a cellophane wrapped card. I loved the idea of sending life-sized images (for example a life sized piece of pizza). The whole idea came from wanting to send unique items to my pen pals. What I quickly discovered was that I was actually losing money! Not only would the buyer have to pay the shipping fees which could be exorbitant (especially for international shipping), but the cost of the shipping supplies, time spent driving to the post office then cutting and piecing everything together was simply not profitable. My good friend suggested that I make my products digital. She threw around the word 'clipart' (whaa??). Being new to technology and somewhat intimidated, it all felt like Mount Everest at the time. Slowly, I came around to the idea and over a period of time (and with lots of help!) I learned some basic photoshop and transformed all my illustrations into digital files. In doing so, I discovered the amazing versatility of digital illustrations!
First, you may be wondering what exactly this 'clip art' business is. Well, About.com defines clip art as "a catch all term for several types of non-photographic graphic images; the term clip art comes from books of graphic images. Users would cut out or clip the desired artwork from the book to place into lay outs." Of course, now you can download clip art from the internet and it is most often used digitally but I really like the concept of cutting out hand made art to be used in multiple personal projects. It is a simple and multifaceted way of adding that handmade touch without spending too much time.
If you do an internet search, you will find tons of free clip art to experiment with! If you are looking for more hand-made, detailed illustrations you can pay a small fee (ranging from about 3-7$) for unlimited personal use. Always be sure to check the policy for commercial use if you are making products to sell. The polices vary from seller to seller. Now let's get to the fun part....what can you do with digital art?
Well to get started, I'd like to offer you some holiday themed graphics to play along with;
If I am printing these on paper, I really like to use premium matte presentation paper which you can get at any office supply store. If you work out the math, the cost per page is really cheap and it prints beautifully! White card stock works really well, too. You must be wondering, "Well, what else would I print on besides paper?" Here is where you can really let your creativity run wild! You can print on fabric, sticker sheets, and even vinyl! There are endless possibilities. If you do not have a color printer, no worries! You can bring the file to a print shop like Fed-ex/Kinkos and they can print the image for you.
Here are a variety of uses for the images:
Gift box: Get a small box from your local craft store. It can be a simple balsa wood box. They come in a lot of different shapes and sizes to choose from. You can use mod podge or watered-down elmer's glue and affix the image to the box. I usually use a foam brush and gently apply the glue to the back of the cut-out and affix it to the box. I then apply a coat over the top, being careful not to damage the paper. Now you have a cute little gift box! You can opt to further paint and decorate the box to personalize it. Once you have all your supplies on front of you it would not even take an hour or two to crank out a few of these! The boxes are usually 1-3 dollars at the craft supply store, so it is super easy and cheap!!!
Cards: Make your own cards and holiday invites. Just cut around the image and affix to a blank card. I like to use foam tape to add a 3-dimensional look.
Home Decor: Decoupage these on a miniature canvas and place on a tiny easel or hang on the wall as a seasonal decoration! Cut to size and place in a small picture frame.
Gift Tags: For some festive gift tags, just cut around the image. Punch a hole in the top, add some ribbon or twine and you have some great gift tags.
Stickers: You can get sticker paper from your local craft and or art supply store and make stickers which would be great as envelope seals, treat bag seals, and to decorate gifts.
Embroidery Projects: You can get fabric sheets for inkjet printers at your local craft store and/or sewing store. These print up beautifully. They can be framed in simple embroidery hoops to make a cute ornament. If you like to sew, you can personalize and decorate using embroidery and beads. Cut them out in the shape of a square and make an adorable lavender sachet!
If you are handy with a needle and thread, you can add some simple stitches (I am a little french knot obsessed). If you are a newbie and want to learn, there are tons of tutorials. I really like a blog called Sublime Stitching. It has great tutorials on simple stitches and a cute modern take on embroidery ('not your gramma's embroidery' is the slogan). For the skate I actually just used fabric glue and glued the inner hoop onto the fabric. When dry, I put the outer hoop on. Now you can hang it as a decoration or ornament. If you want to cover up the stitch marks on the back, you can cut a piece of round felt and glue it to the back but I just left is as is. For the coffee ornament, I cut around the edge with pinking shears (they prevent fraying) and used a muslin piece of fabric for the backing cut to the same size. I pinned a looped ribbon on the "wrong side" (the back) of the coffee cut-out. I then placed the two pieces of fabric together (wrong sides facing) and sewed around the perimeter leaving a 3/4 inch opening to stuff. These would be great filled with dried lavender or just plain old cotton polyfil. Lastly, I cut out the snowflake and cardinal with pinking shears, added some embroidery and beads, and sewed them onto a blank card. Imagine the recipient's delight to get a special little fabric sewn card! Don't care for sewing? Just grab your glue! There are fabric adhesive glues you can try or even some plain ole Elmer's!
Another great option would be iron-ons. If you are familiar with heat bond backing, you could apply that but if you don't want to bother with that, you could try fabric sheets that already have the backing and are ready to be ironed on right after printing. Just be sure to read all the packages (some are for only dark fabrics, some do not have the iron-on backing etc). It is easy to grab the wrong one. I think these would look great on small white drawstring bags or small zipper pouches!
Hope you have gotten some great ideas and inspiration to get a jump start on your holiday gift giving season!