The Personal Touch: Custom Gift Ideas

I love making gifts for the holidays. Often, it allows me to be more generous on a modest budget, and I think that a personal touch instills a great deal of value to an item! The time it takes, however, to DIY gifts for all of your friends and loved ones can be overwhelming. Here are a few options that allow you to put your own personal touch on a gift that won't take up three weeks of prep time!If you'v got an artistic leaning that leaves you wanting to create original works of art for all of your friends, perhaps streamlining your creativity a bit will help. These resources do a lot of the grunt work for you, allowing your custom design, artwork, and ideas to shine through with much less effort:
  1. Scout Books allows you to custom design pocket-sized notebooks that are ever so handy to carry around! I'd love to hand-paint sets of notebooks for my friends for gifts, but I just don't have the time to do 20 batches of them. Scout, however, will print these notebooks with your custom artwork. If you have a bunch of folks on your list that would like this universally handy gift, the price per book (just under $4 if you order 50) makes for an affordable gift. Even if you have 25 people to give them to, that means you've spent about $7 on a meaningful gift that has your custom touch on it!
  2. There are many places to get custom address stamps with beautiful calligraphy or modern types that are stylish and fun---but they tend to run $30-60 each. With a little ingenuity and a bit of know how, you can create personalized address stamps for your friends for around $7 a pop. Simon's Stamps offers an array of rubber stamp options for reasonable prices. I prefer the old-fashioned wooden-handled stamp. Need a cool font? Check out the Lost Type Co-op, where you can pay what you like for designer fonts! Pick a great typeface, layout a simple return address stamp, and you've got an affordable personalized gift that will be used and loved!
  3. Moo is an adorable custom print shop online that specializes in business cards and stickers. I love their photo stickers--they're full of rich color and they're super glossy! Put together a pack of custom photo stickers or a set with original designs that you've created, and add a sheet or two of custom seals to some simple stationery for a great customized gift!
  4. Everyone loves reusable canvas tote bags. Great for stowing your daily needs, or taking to the grocery store, they're a useful thing to keep around. Why not design your own and give them as gifts to your friends? If you have a knack for drawing or designing, create an image that will remind your friends of you, and have it printed on to a canvas bag. At Zazzle, there's no minimum order, but the prices get cheaper as you increase the quantity. Even at $9.95 for a single bag, it's a great price point for a customized, fashionable gift for a friend. Have a lot of friends? Places like Green Monster Promos offer options that run about $2 per tote if you order 100...you could gift a lot of people a custom bag at those prices! Heck, you could use them for gift wrap!
  5. Alright, this is still a total DIY, but I feel like it's a bit more automated, so the results you could yield would supply many gifts. Poppytalk offered up this great project from Ruth Bleakley on Easy Relief Printmaking. Create one template from a piece of styrofoam, get a brayer and some ink, and you could be rolling out holiday cards like gangbusters! And, they're totally customized with artwork that you've created.

Images: As credited above.

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