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Useful, unique holiday gifts - April Avison

Only a few shopping weekends remain until Dec. 25, and it seems that good, affordable gifts are hard to come by.

The older I get the more difficult it becomes to find gifts for my loved ones. It used to be easy. I would just make something for my mom at school or buy her a goofy stuffed snowman at a craft fair. But now I actually try to find gifts that my loved ones will use and enjoy.

Because I see my parents and sister only about once a year, I don't really know what kinds of things they already have, what things they need or what things they want. And of course we all tell each other, "Don't spend any money on me this year," but we do it anyway.

I don't want to clutter the lives of my loved ones with books and CDs they'll never use. Due to our different fashion tastes, we've all vowed not to buy clothing for each other (my mother still buys me a sweater every Christmas, and strikes out every time).

The perfect holiday gift is always a homemade gift. I'm not necessarily talking about knitting sweaters or canning jellies, unless that's something you enjoy.

Actually, you don't have to be an artsy-craftsy person to make your own gifts.

My sister and I used to perform variety shows for our parents when we were kids. So on her birthday this year, I burned a CD of all the songs we used to sing and dance to.

And one of my recent gifts to my mother didn't take much artsy talent at all. I purchased a small blank journal at a bookstore and wrote a childhood memory of my mother on each page. It didn't take long and it didn't cost much, but I'm pretty sure it meant a lot to her, and she'll probably keep it a lot longer than the reindeer socks I bought her last year.

And now that the scrapbook rage is sweeping the nation, everyone has a perfect gift idea. Scrapbooks are so much fun to make and they really are treasures that last for generations. There are a handful of scrapbook stores in this county that offer all kinds of supplies to make the scrapbooks personalized and creative.

I just can't understand why more people don't make their gifts. It saves money, and you end up with better, more meaningful, longer lasting gifts. Even something as simple as framing a family photo for your mother will mean more to her than you can imagine.

Resist the urge to buy a sweater at the mall and make your holiday gifts this year.

April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com.