From the heart and hands

Alex Cunningham didn’t know what to get her boyfriend’s parents for Christmas last year.

But she knew two things. They love their dog and she can paint fairly well, so she realized a homemade gift would be perfect. 

About a month before Christmas, she began painting a few hours a day for a week. A couple weeks later, she was excited about the result and their reaction.

“It ended up being one of their favourite gifts. It’s the only piece of artwork hung up in their living room. They keep telling me this year that they don’t think I’m going to top that gift,” said Cunningham, a third-year double honours student in philosophy and Great Books at St. Thomas University.

She said even though homemade gifts are time-consuming to make, they are thoughtful and leave an impact. 

“It’s not just a budget-savvy option. It really comes across as more meaningful sometimes,” she said. 

This year, part of her gift to them will be homemade again. She painted them a ceramic tree at Clay Café. 

As for another painting, she said she might paint a matching picture of their cat.

Many students turn to homemade gifts to save money.

Alex Cunningham painted an image of her boyfriend’s parents’ dog for Christmas one year. (Submitted by Alex Cunningham)

Andrew LeBlanc, a third-year psychology major at STU, said homemade gifts add a personal touch.

LeBlanc loves baking, so when the holidays come around, he makes desserts for his family and friends.

“I’ve baked for years and one year I wanted to give gifts to people and I didn’t have a job at the time and I thought, ‘Might as well give them some of my baked goods.’” 

He’s perfected his own recipe over the years called button cookies, chocolate chip cookies baked in muffin tins.

He said he makes specific desserts for people and includes a Christmas tin to hold the goodies.

He said he’s never heard anything bad about his creations and even though the ingredients may add up in cost, there’s an extra benefit.

“You’re buying ingredients that will yield more than one batch of cookies. Chances are you will make what you need to make and still have leftover for whatever you want in the future.” 

Most importantly, the sentiment is there. 

“The thing about baking is it kind of caters to that mentality of something homemade and not a department store. Even though you’re buying your ingredients from Sobeys or Superstore, it’s a little more personal.”

Ally Green, a third-year student, has made gifts ever since she was a child and this holiday season is no different. She’s making a homemade gift for her roommate about one of their inside jokes.

Even though she has a lot of experience making homemade gifts for people, she said everyone can make gifts, even if they aren’t very artistic.

“It would be so cute [if everyone made homemade gifts]. You don’t need artistic ability to put a dry cookie mix together. Do whatever your skill level is at.”

As for inspiration, she recommends searching “best homemade gifts” on the internet. 

“If you’re good at sewing, maybe make someone a cute little bag or if you’re good at scrapbooking, make a cute little bookmark for someone,” said Green.

She said it’s a great way to spread the Christmas spirit and bond.

“Take what you’re good at and turn it into something the other person will like.”  


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