20 December 2011

DIY: personalized gift tags

Mr. P and I officially finished our Christmas shopping on Saturday, you guys! That’s more than a full week before Christmas! High five!

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we actually have the presents in our possession. While our final bit of shopping was accomplished by a trip to Tarzhay last Saturday morning, most of our Christmas shopping was the online sort. And although I just patted myself on the back for finishing our shopping “early”, I must admit that it comes to online shopping, Mr. P and I tend to place our orders on the day when all the websites are flashing “LAST POSSIBLE DAY FOR FREE SHIPPING IF YOU WANT IT BEFORE CHRISTMAS NO SRSLY YOU GUYS.” So we although we don’t have all our gifts yet, we have memorized the deliveryman’s schedule and become very good at recognizing the sound of his approaching truck each evening.

Anyway, despite not yet having all our gifts, I am totally ready to wrap them! I already showed you how I got my wrapping paper in order (still loving the clips!), and I’ve been hoarding boxes from work for over a week. So no, family members, you are not actually receiving petri dishes or pipette tips for Christmas. No need to feign excitement when you rip the paper off.

I’ve also continued my tradition from the past few years of making custom gift tags with supplies I have on hand. I adore custom gift tags. You can see last year’s tags in the Christmastravaganza banner above; I wanted to do something similar again this year (mostly because I had the same supplies on hand, so they only took effort, not money). To me, a pretty, personalized tag lends an air of thoughtfulness – not only did I get a present, it’s for you, I thought of you. And if nothing else, a pretty tag distracts from my sub-par gift-wrapping and bow-tying skills.

To make this year’s tags, I used the same ivory cardstock I’ve had for a few years (originally used to make our wedding save-the-dates) and cut each card into sixths:

I had to count up exactly how many gifts we’re giving (twenty-two, good grief) to know how many tags to cut. Then I had to figure out who was actually receiving those gifts, so I could personalize the tag with these clear stamps:

Have you used clear stamps before? They’re the best, for the very obvious but important reason that you can actually see where you’re stamping. To use them, you arrange them into the pattern you want and stick them onto a clear stamping block. But! If you’re spelling out a name with clear stamps, don’t try to arrange the letters in order on the block and stamp them all in one go. I mean, you can, but the letters are usually spaced too far apart, you don’t have a lot of control over the ink so individual letters can look wonky, and anyway, there’s often multiples of the same letter but only one stamp.

Instead, arrange them like so:

One per corner. This way you can ink one letter at a time, and just work your way around the block. Doing it this way also solves the multiple-letter problem:

It maybe takes a teensy bit longer than doing the whole name in one go, but it looks so much better that it’s worth it to me. (And yes, I stamped people’s names in reverse so I wouldn’t run out of room on the end. That was a bit of a mind-bender, especially after I’d emptied my wine glass. But I made no mistakes! A Christmas miracle!)

So... why bother doing the stamping thing, instead of just printing them out? Well, part of it is that crafting is sometimes more entertaining and relaxing than futzing around with inkjet printer layouts. But the other reason, the real reason, is the unique imperfections in the ink... they feel handmade, because they are.

After stamping everyone’s name, I fancied up the tags with a corner-punch.

The tool I have (pictured in the background) has four different designs, so I used different corner styles among the tags to mix it up a bit:

Also I admit it helped distinguish between the “Mom” tags. (My mom’s gifts have tags with pointy corners, whereas the tags for Mr. P’s mom have rounded corners. You’d think I could just, I dunno, write their names instead of inventing an elaborate corner-punch code for different “Mom” tags. But you would be wrong.)

To wrap up the gifts, I use the same bulk paper and tulle ribbon I purchased from a local supplier a few years ago. I worried when I bought it that I might get bored wrapping EVERY gift in the SAME paper for THREE YEARS straight, but no. Shimmery gold and ivory is classic and beautiful, and I still love it.

As a matter of fact, I’ve started to run out of the gold and ivory this year because Mr. P and I seem to have purchased the physically largest item on everyone’s wish list this year, which necessitated a trip to the wrapping paper aisle of Tarzhay, where I promptly had a meltdown because everything was too ugly or too expensive. So, yeah. Not tired of the gold and ivory.

Do you do anything special to wrap your presents? I’m a fan of cutting up old Christmas cards too, which I might have to try next year. I might even work in my beloved stamps and emboss them! Hmm, at this rate I might end up putting more effort into wrapping than shopping... though waiting for all our presents to arrive on the doorstep before Christmas is hard work. (Come onnnnn, deliveryman!)


Rachel C said...

I love your simple, yet classic, wrapping! It is so pretty.

I've always been a fan of matching wrapping paper. Years ago I did all matching Martha Stewart from K-Mart, but this year I stuck with 2 matching patterns from IKEA. I even got my craft on and made paint chip Christmas tree gift tags.

Emily said...

Hi Sarah! I will tell you what we do for Santa for now, but Thomas is only 18 months and doesn't really grasp it all yet, so it could change.

Santa fills the stockings (practical items that we'd be replacing anyway - socks, toothbrushes type of stuff, maybe one fun thing like a small trinket or a gift card when he's older) and brings one gift per kid. This year Santa is bring Thomas a little table and chairs (I think Santa's shopping at IKEA, but I couldn't be sure:)) for his puzzles and coloring. We'd like to keep it to this - I know that when Thomas is older, he'll ask for hot toys, and that will probably be the Santa toy.

One of my best friends is one of 4 kids, and Santa brought them a big/fun family gift rather than a gift/gifts for every kid when she was a kid. One year it was a trampoline, one year a ping pong table, one year I think Santa brought them a cruise. I'll tell you - the had the best house to hang out, I pretty much lived there in high school :). I'm not sure how this plays out year after year - sounds like it could get crazier than bringing one reasonable gift for each kiddo.