Almost handmade: Dressing Up Store Bought Gifts

personalize a store-bought gift

Every year I have lofty dreams of making beautiful lovingly hand-crafted gifts for my nearest and dearest. Then reality sets in. Quite simply I run out of time. This year I am not going to beat myself up over it. I’ve bought most of my family presents, things they want and need. But I’ve added some wonderful personal touches which make my gifts just a little bit special.

My five year old son Tyler is an aspiring restaurateur. For him I found the adorable wooden Pizza Party set from Melissa and Doug. I’m sure he’d enjoy playing with it for a little while but with a few simple handmade additions to the set he’ll love it for months or even years. Now he’ll be the Head Chef at Tyler’s Place!

I found a large piece of gingham check fabric in the bargain bin at the fabric store. From this I’ve sewn a tablecloth and a cafe curtain. From the dollar shop I bought a small blackboard then using a paint pen I made the sign. I copied the font free-hand from Also at the dollar shop I found a spring-loaded cafe curtain pole. It’s adjustable to any width for a doorway or window, even between the dining room table legs. Most self-respecting Pizzerias have a red rose and a candle in the center of the table, don’t they? Mine is plastic and adds that extra something!

Here are some of my other ideas for personalizing your store-bought gifts:

Calendar – make small stickers for the kids to stick on with things like ‘birthday’, ‘field trip’, ‘sports tournament’ already printed on. This is great for little ones who cannot write yet. It also teaches older children to use a calendar correctly and take some responsibility for their daily schedule.

Books – make book plates or book marks. There are so many free printables to download. Visit the publisher’s website for activity downloads and fun stuff to do. This is another excellent way to encourage more reading and enthusiasm for books.

DVDs – classics like The Polar Express have websites devoted to extra activities that compliment the movie. Print out tickets, recipes, screening-time posters. Bundle it together with the necessary marshmallows and hot chocolate mix!

Drawstring bags are another favorite yet practical way to make a gift special. Last year I gave my nephew a pair of kid’s binoculars. I found a nature-inspired fabric and whipped up a storage bag for them. My niece received a little bag to keep her growing collection of Sylvanian Families creatures in.

I hope this has given you some ideas. There’s still time to stamp some handmade love on your gifts!


  1. tiffany says:

    love this post! thanks for the sweet reminder that it doesn’t have to be 100% handmade to be from the heart… and that it’s OK to cheat a little. 🙂

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