In a Twinkling: Instant Gifts
For the people on your list who already seem to have everything, here are some fun and practical gifts.
For the New Home Decorator (about $40) Give a new homeowner some decorating basics with a fabric-covered caddy of handy tools. Include a small rotary mat and cutter set, a staple gun, a small hot-glue gun, fabric glue, fusible adhesive tape (for no-sew hems), a small level (for hanging pictures), a grommet kit, and upholstery needles. To make the caddy, cover a plastic tote with decorator fabric, securing the fabric with thick white crafts glue. Trim with drapery cording.
A Cozy Hearth (about $40) What could be better than a toasty fire on a cold winter evening? For your fire-tender, pack heavy-duty suede gloves, kindling, extra-long matches, and a shovel in a galvanized ash bucket. Pinecones treated to create colorful flames and peat-pot fire starters are also fun.
Car-Grooming Kit (about $40) For the proud owner of a new car, assemble a kit to keep the auto looking (and smelling) new. In a plastic bucket that can be used for washing the car, pack the following from the automotive department of a discount store: bug and tar remover, a dashboard duster, interior polish for the dash, scratch remover, a washing mitt, a chamois for spotless drying, and new-car spray fragrance.
Chocolate Lover's Delight (about $40) Who can resist chocolate? If your chocolate lover is also a cook, assemble these essentials: a chocolate cookbook, a nutmeg grater for grating chocolate, a tea-size sieve for sifting cocoa, a miniature whisk, a variety of chocolates (cocoa powder, chocolate chips, baking chocolate squares), assorted gourmet instant hot chocolate mixes, and a few truffles. Package everything in a papier-mache box painted to look like milk chocolate.
Dress-Up Kit (about $15) For a girl age five or six to nine or 10, this dress-up kit will bring squeals of delight. Shop yard sales and thrift stores for fancy dresses, old hats, glitzy shoes, evening bags, and costume jewelry. You can find feather boas at crafts stores. Pack everything in an old suitcase.
Doggie Indulgences ($50) For the dog owner, a galvanized tub (handy for bath time) filled with essentials will make a welcome gift. Some items to include: a wool blanket (to cover the car seat when traveling with a pet), grooming brush and conditioning shampoo, rawhide chew bones, personalized food and water bowls, specialty dog food, a leather collar and leash, and (if you're up to it) a coupon for dog-sitting, bathing, or walking.