The next time a loved one throws herself a pity party, pay attention. You may actually get clues for holiday gift giving.
Complaints like, “I’m spending a fortune on cosmetics,” “My neighbor has the same scarf I just bought,” or the classic, “I’m totally stressed,” all point to the same thing.
Your buddy could use a hobby.
Hobbies allow people to master skills, alleviate tension and save money by making things they might otherwise spend a small fortune on, such as jewelry.
Hobbies like knitting give individuals a sense of accomplishment and purpose, says Mary Colucci, executive director of Gastonia, N.C.-based Craft Yarn Council of America. Knitting allows makes a fashion statement.
“Regardless of their reasons, [knitters] all find the process of working with their hands satisfying and relaxing,” she says.
What’s more, learning a hobby doesn’t require any special talent or aptitude. Genuine interest is all that required.
To give a great hobby gift, match your friend’s interests with a craft or handiwork. Once you make a suitable connection, assemble a gift package that includes an instructional book, DVD or magazine and useful accessories to get started.
To help you plan, here are tips on some top hobbies and how to create a gift package for the budding hobbyist in your life… and perhaps even for yourself.
This is the ideal hobby to help whittle down the stacks of snapshots many people cram into drawers or archive on computer hard drives.
“It’s for folks who take lots of pictures but never get around to putting them in an album,” says Julie Sturgeon, who recently launched Creative Resort, a studio for paper crafters and other hobbyists in Indianapolis.
“Scrapbooking gives added value to the photos and it’s an entertaining way to get a handle on your memories,” says Sturgeon.
“It’s not about being perfect,” she says. “It’s about storytelling, not fine art.” Kristin Degnan, spokeswoman for the Craft & Hobby Association, Elmwood Park, N.J., agrees. “Every beginner should know that there are no mistakes when it comes to creativity,” she says.
A prime reason people participate in crafts like scrapbooking is to express their creativity, according to the CHA’s 2006 Attitude & Usage Study. Degnan advises that beginners visit their local craft stores to explore the ideas and options that come with the world of scrapbooking, and to also consider taking advantage of the classes that most stores offer.
Gift ideas for beginning scrapbookers:
- “The Complete Practical Guide to
Scrapbooking” by Alison Lindsay
(Lorenz Books, 2007), “601 Great
Scrapbook Ideas” by Memory Makers
(2007), or “Creating Keepsakes” magazine
- A scrapbooking class or series of classes at a local crafts store
- Ripping rulers (rulers with patterned edges so you can rip the paper edges into different shapes)
- Rub-on alphabet letters in various fonts
- Silk flowers
Herbs are prized for their beauty, scent and flavor – they “add so much color and fragrance,” explains Kathi Keville, director of the Nevada, Calif.-based American Herb Association, not to mention the possibilities they present when using them in culinary delights.
During the summer, herbs are a welcome addition to the garden, “enhancing your landscape and cooking,” Keville says. As they bloom, their flowers can be used as garnishes for food, in dried flower arrangements or to flavor homemade or store-bought vinegar.
To narrow your selection, think about your friend’s culinary preferences and gardening skills. Basil, mint, chives and cilantro will probably get the most use in cooking. Esoteric herbs, such as hyssop, might be fun for an adventurous garden neophyte. Hyssop, with a slightly bitter mint taste, is often paired with fruit. Like other plants, herbs vary in the degree of care they require. For example, rosemary can be challenging, especially if brought indoors for the winter. Mint, by contrast, is so hardy that gardeners often complain that it takes over the yard.
Gift ideas for beginning herbalists:
If you have a Type A friend in your life, start shopping for knitting needles, says Stephanie Pearl- McPhee, a Toronto resident who has written several instructional and humor knitting books.
“It’s a terrific outlet for people who have to have everything exactly their way and have to make things perfect without going into therapy as the result of their actions,” says the author.
According to the Craft Yarn Council of America’s ongoing research initiatives that started in 1994, there is a growing number of women craving this therapeutic and enjoyable outlet.
As of January 2005, 36 percent of the female population (or one in three –53 million – U.S. women) knew how to knit or crochet. This was a 51-percent increase since the study’s inception.
“For someone picking up needles for the first time,” says Colucci, of the Craft Yarn Council of America, “we always recommend starting with a smaller project that requires little or minimal shaping,” like a scarf.
“Beginning knitters often begin with cheap, yucky yarn, but it’s uninspiring. Start with better quality and end with better quality,” says Pearl-McPhee.
And if your friend fidgets, knitting may be the solution.
“People who are wound up are the ones who most benefit from knitting. People who can’t stand waiting in line or being bored, find value in their knitting,” Pearl-McPhee says.
Gift ideas for beginning knitters:
“This is a fantastic hobby. It’s extremely gratifying and soul nurturing,” says Stephanie Tourles, a licensed holistic aesthetician and certified aromatherapist in Blue Hill, Maine.
“I like to cook, and this is a way of cooking cosmetics,” says Tourles.
Although you’d think that making body-care products seems most appropriate for selfindulgent women, Tourles says the opposite is also true.
“It makes a great hobby for people who don’t do a lot of selfcare.
It’s an indulgence. You can put yourself first,” she says.
A guide to homemade beauty supplies will be welcomed by anyone with sensitive skin or otherwise concerned about the ingredients that go into skin-care products.
“If you’re allergic to something you can leave it out. You can customize products according to your skin type,” says Tourles.
Gift ideas for beginning cosmetic crafters:
Having jewelry for every outfit can be pretty pricey. So savvy women are just as likely to browse the jewelry aisle of a department store wondering how they can make their own.
That’s where beading fills a need. Hobbyists can produce their own glamorous accessories for a fraction of the cost of a purchase.
Beading can be as simple as stringing clay beads on yarn or as elaborate as knotting strands of semi-precious gems. Although the options depend on the person’s skill and budget, there’s a craft project to entice anyone.
Ora Harris, a Chicagoan who organizes a monthly get-together for beaders, suggests beading can be a social occasion as well as a hobby.
Gift ideas for beginning beaders: