Amaze your friends this holiday season (Part 1)

Yes, it's really too early for holiday blabber, but for some odd reason this year I'm super excited. I think it has to do with the nearly 10 years I spent on my feet in the retail industry helping crabby customers while trying to cope with hearing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the thousandth time in less than 5 days.So this year I've already broken the "wait until after Thanksgiving" rule.

Since I'm not in retail, I'm not getting the very much appreciated 40% off employee discount and I'm avidly avoiding becoming one of those grumpy-pants customers. No mall for me, I'm making all of my gifts, which is all the more reason to start thinking things through earlier than usual.

Making things, for me, extends beyond the gift itself. Reusing boxes is easy, and I've always been a fan of wrapping gifts in newspaper, old magazines, and any other recyclable material imaginable. Danny Seo's Simply Green Giving will give you plenty of inspiration for this. Finish it off with yarn, colorful ribbons or any other fibrous material you can find.The tag, though, is a chance to make a really personal statement. In the past I've been a sharpie marker on the side of the box kind of gal. Today, though, I was sitting at work with some down time sifting through the excessive mounds of magazines and catalogs we get. The non-job related ones get a quick scan then straight to the recycling bin under my desk. Why we get Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware's Brocade catalog at a modern design based architectural firm is beyond me. CB2 makes more sense, but nobody has the interest in reading them, so I took it upon myself to use the photographers' and stylists' carefully arranged vignettes to create my tags (the pictured tags are images from Anthropologie and Brocade).

All it took was a pair of scissors a glue stick and some interesting images. I fished 2 catalogs out of the recycling bin and gave them a head start on their second life, pre-cycling.

First, you'll want a heavy weight, light colored backing so you can write on it, but also so there is no ripping with the shifting of the gifts. Keep this one simple so you can write on it and the name will still be legible, otherwise you've defeated the whole purpose. I cut out a 2 x 3 inch rectangle from the cover. If the cover is a lightweight paper, kraft paper 9 x 12 envelopes are a good substitution.

Next, find the image you want to decorate your tag with. Cut out a rectangle about 1/4 inch smaller than the first one (so it's 1 3/4 x 3 3/4 inch). You can leave them rectangular or cut them out in the limitless shapes of your mind. Paste the 2 rectangles together (leaving an even border), punch a hole through the top center, and voila! Your very own 15 second, one of a kind, virtually free, super crafty gift tag!

Originally written for, and posted on YouGrowGirl.com/thedirt.

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