Handmade Mothers’ Day Gifts: Not Just for Kids Anymore

Every spring we celebrate all that our mothers do and sacrifice for us by setting aside the second Sunday of May as Mothers’ Day. Popular gifts for Mothers’ Day include, depending on the age of the child giving the gift, jewelry, macaroni pictures, family portraits, day-spa “vacations,” and anything else intended to make Mom feel special.

As children we could get away with making pictures out of colored macaronis or ashtrays from Play-Doh. These gifts were essentially cost free, but priceless all the same. As adults, giving Mom a macaroni picture just looks cheap. So, what are some options for an adult child who wants to make a gift for Mom but is having trouble thinking outside the popsicle stick box, so to speak?

Craft projects for adults, unfortunately, are more often than not, not going to be free. However, they will be, in the end, just as priceless to Mom as the free crafts you made at age six. We’ll start with something easy, for those who lack in artistic talent but not in love and ambition. Almost everything to complete these projects can be found in the craft section of your local discount store or at a craft store. Shopping at a craft store may prove to be a little more costly, however the selection will most likely be more broad.

Family name plaques.
These can be found in kiosks in malls across the country but making one yourself will make it that much more special. The supplies you will need for this project are heavy bond paper; the more kids in the family, the larger your paper will need to be, a color printer or good quality markers, letter stencils (optional), and a name book or resource. If you don’t have a book handy and don’t want to purchase one just for this project, there are several baby name websites available online. I personally prefer BabyNames.com but a keyword search for “baby names” turns up many others. You may also want to use artistic tools such as rubber stamps, stickers, watercolor pencils or stencils to adorn your plaque once you have the lettering in place.

Using the name resource you have chosen, look up your name and the names of each of your siblings. If you come from a family with fewer children, one, two or even three, you may choose to research both first and middle names, spouses names or names of the grandchildren, if there are any. For a larger family, just first names may be easier. From your resource, gather information about the names, such as etymology, meaning or meanings, alternate spellings, possible nicknames and famous namesakes. You may have to consult other resources for some information as not all baby name books offer nicknames or famous namesakes.

When you have collected all of the information that you want to include in you name plaque, it’s time to start putting it together. My recommendation is to print the information taken from the book using a computer and printer. This helps to avoid slanting rows and errors. However, there really are no rules to making a name plaque so if you chose to handwrite everything on your plaque, you are encouraged to do so. You can arrange the plaque anyway you want; when I make these for friends and family I start with the name at the top followed by, each on its own line, etymology, meaning, alternate spellings or nicknames including countries of origin for each spelling and famous namesakes to finish it off at the bottom of the page.

If you are printing the information from a computer you will want to start with that and fill in the name with your letter stencils afterwards. This makes it easier to gauge how much space you have to work with. However, I find when writing it out by hand it is easier to start with the name at the top, since it is larger than the lines below it. That way I know how large to make my other letters.

Once you have finished the wording on your plaque, it is time to decorate it. Watercolor pencils or paints are good tools for making a colored background for your page. Once the watercolors have dried you can add pictures using rubberstamps, stencils or colored pencils and markers to draw freehand, if that is your skill. Frame the finished product and your name plaque is suitable for hanging.

Family Scrapbook.
If your family is anything like my family, Mom has stored all of your momentous creations and photographs from over the years in a giant cardboard box in the bottom of the closet at the end of the hall. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if those things could be displayed in a scrapbook? The supplies you will need for this project are a scrapbook, adhesive, family photos and mementos, markers, pens, stickers, rubber stamps, scrap paper, and anything else that might be useful in embellishing your book. Make sure that everything you use in your scrapbook is certified archival quality so that your book will withstand the test of time.

The book I created for my mother stared with pictures of me as a baby and progressed, chronologically through my life until college. I included photographs, handprints (one that I had made in my kindergarten class and one that I made when I created the book), tickets to special events and many other similar mementos. You can use anything that is special to your family or you may choose to make a scrapbook focusing on Mom’s old photos from her life adventures.

Use the scrap paper (which is sold in one pound packages at many hobby and craft stores) to frame photos, to create cut-out decorations and to offset journaling passages (larger passages explaining the contents of a specific page, often in paragraph form). Use rubber stamps, stickers, die-cuts and stencils to enhance the theme of a page (an umbrella and beach ball to enhance a page about your trip to the beach, music notes and instruments for the page about high school band performances). Use the pens and markers to write the names of people in group photos or a brief description of what’s happening in the photo in the blank space beneath the photo.

The marvel of scrapbooking is that anyone, young and old, of varying levels of artistic ability, can do it. If you are less artistic, rubber stamps and stickers can be your best friends. More artistic people can skip these tools and draw their own embellishments. Also, there is a plethora of resources available for the budding scrapbooker, from online instruction of specific techniques, such as 3-D designs and embossing, to classes at your local craft store.

Sugar Cookie Bouquet.
While there are bakeries which specialize in making these sweet treats, they are often quite costly and can just as easily be made at home for Mom for about fifteen dollars. For this project you will need a package of frozen sugar cookie dough, spring-colored icing or small candies for decorating, small flower-shaped cookie cutters, and lollipop sticks which can be found at most craft stores. You may also want a small flower pot and floral foam to display your bouquet.

This project is fairly simple. Start by following the directions on the cookie dough package regarding shape cookies. Bake the cookies according to the directions and as soon as you have removed them from the oven, while they are still soft and warm, insert the lollipop sticks into the bottom of your flowers. This step requires that you work quickly so you may want to bake your cookies in small batches, four to six at a time. If the cookies cool too much they may crack when you insert the sticks. Lay them flat on a wire rack or sheet of waxed paper to cool completely then decorate with the icing (if you have selected candies to decorate with, this is best done while the cookies are still warm so that you can press them into the softer cookies, applying the same principle as with the lollipop sticks).

Once you have decorated your cookies, insert the sticks into the floral foam, making sure that they are deep enough into the foam to support the weight of the cookies. Decorate the arrangement with silk leaves or ribbons and a small card, similar to those found on actual floral bouquets.

A variation on this, if Mom doesn’t like sugar cookies, can be made using lollipop molds (found in the same section of the craft store as the sticks) and molding chocolate. Gently melt the chocolate pieces in a double boiler and pour into the molds. Insert sticks, according to the directions on the mold package and place in the refrigerator overnight. Arrange in the floral foam just as you did with the cookie flowers. You may also choose to embellish either variation with small silk flowers mixed in with your sweet treat flowers.

As you can see there are many ideas for “homemade” Mothers’ Day gifts that will show Mom how much she is appreciated and loved. The three ideas explored here are only a few of the possibilities. You are only limited in your creation by your imagination. And always be assured, as long as the gift comes from your heart, no matter what it is, Mom is going to love it.

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