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As Valentine’s Day approaches you may have already considered getting something special for that special someone. Perhaps you’ve gone traditional; flowers, a card, a teddy and the like? Perhaps…. I, however, have some issues with the traditional, usual gifts. Now chocolate is a great all rounder, no problem with chocolate and cards are, well cards, they are exempt from this too; but flowers and teddies seem a tad limited to me. They’re perfectly sweet but only a very particular person is going to consider such mass-produced items to be their ideal, or dream gift. Also they don’t leave many options for the boys, I’m sure some boyfriends like flowers and teddy bears (and if they do then great, job done), but I can’t help thinking that such presents are a little biased towards the girls and might get repetitive for all, year after year.

Certainly no one can get it right every time but if you want to impress, woo or simply treat someone you love then it seems reasonable to try. And by the way, this isn’t just confined to Valentine’s Day; some people aren’t that keen on Valentine’s Day I know however I would consider what follows ideal advice for any gift-giving occasion.

With the rise of vintage and a renewed interest in home making and baking at the moment this seems, to me at least, an ideal time to exercise our creative muscles. Handmade gifts offer an opportunity to keep costs low and spending time, rather than money, is also a fantastic way of expressing yourself and making others feel special.

cake

I love cake… I mean you! I love you!

Homemade bakes are perhaps the most obvious place to start, with heart shaped tins and other accessories being readily available, especially at this time of year. Cupcakes, cookies, brownies and flapjacks are delicious and lovely gifts; not to mention advantageous, should your Valentine be the sort to share. On the other hand if you don’t feel confident in your culinary talents then a mixture of their favorite sweets, arranged nicely into handmade packaging is another way of showing that you know their tastes (whilst tasting a few yourself of course). Recipes, little messages or pudding related puns are easy enough to compose or search for online, and no one need ever know that you lifted a template if you don’t tell. To be honest they’ll probably be too busy sampling their present to care.

For the more adventurous cards can be created using kits or scraps lying around the house. The same goes for scrapbooks, photo album and the like. If you’re the sort of couple or family who takes the camera along to most outings then this could be the perfect way of reminding someone of the good times whilst creating a fantastic keepsake and, with social networks offering easy access to images of our friends and family, this endeavor is now even easier than before.

Make it personal and most importantly make it yours (as in yours and theirs). Whatever they’re into, be it maps, the 1960s or even kittens make sure you remind them of it when decorating or creating the gift; it shows you know them well and it shows that you care… which you do. This also works well if you’re a little more pressed for time. If, for example, you’ve ever bonded over a favorite book, film or song then order a copy and personalize it with a message (or if they’re prissy about their things a removable sticker or tag).

Time, and your imagination are the only barriers here. No one’s suggesting that you teach yourself to knit a scarf or spend hours gluing and sticking. Even a little embellished photograph or card can add the personal touch to a pre-bought gift. And it doesn’t stop there. If you’ve left it until the last minute there’s no need to simply grab any old tat from the supermarket shelves. Arrange a day out, a meal or perhaps an activity together. Afternoon tea is my preference as it’s incredibly fashionable at the moment, and relatively affordable. No reasonable person is going to kick up a fuss because they need to wait a little while for their main present, and if they do a little box of something tasty or a home cooked meal might do a lot to limit the damage.

Similarly if that special someone is an aspiring crafter (and you just aren’t) it might be worth supporting his or her hobby, for example if they paint you could consider treating them to some equipment. Thinking about presents in this way offers an opportunity to purchase something really personal that will actually get used and enjoyed, and who knows they might even use their talents to make you something for next year…