About 15 years ago I was looking for a way to make my Christmas gift giving a bit more special for my family.

While I like shopping and giving family members clothes and other things, it’s not always easy figuring out what to give my siblings, sisters-in-laws and nieces and nephews.

Sure, a gift card is always a good choice, but I wanted to include something a little more personal. Because my Christmas gifts usually include a few small items, as opposed to one big gift, I vowed that year that at least one of the items I gave had to be something I made or something that I did myself, like a picture I took.

That first year, my oldest nephew was a baby, so I saved old baby food jars and formula cans and painted and decorated them to be used to store items. I also framed various pictures I took and gave them to family members.

Over the years, I began making things like calendars, starting out doing them on my home computer and then advancing to more sophisticated ones when photo websites and photo centers began offering an easier and better way to put them together and print.

I’ve also made bath salts, door hangers using ribbon and Christmas ornaments, small scrapbooks using items like paper lunch bags, decorated paint cans and one year I made all my nieces and nephews the no-sew fleece blankets. For the last few years, I’ve also made sports posters for my nephews featuring pictures I take of them each year.

It hasn’t always been easy coming up with gift ideas.

Last year, however, I hit the idea jackpot, thanks to the website Pinterest.

For those of you who don’t know, Pinterest is a place where people can “pin” links to websites, pictures and ideas for all sorts of things, like recipes, products they like, decorating ideas, and one of my personal favorites, craft projects.

I signed up for Pinterest a few months before Christmas last year and was instantly in heaven. I jokingly call 2012 my “Pinterest Christmas” because more than half of what I did for the holiday season came from things I saw on the site.

And, it wasn’t just gifts.

After attending an event where cake balls were being sold, I went home and looked up a recipe for them and made them for our work treat day and my family’s Christmas celebration. I also found the recipe for a soup that my sister always had to special order for the holidays.

But, the best part of my “Pinterest Christmas” was the gift ideas, three of which are pictured here.

Looking back at my 15 years of making gifts, I can say some of them were probably silly. Some, like the scrapbooks and posters get updated, and some, like the blankets, are still being used.

I’m not sure what this year’s gift-giving will involve, but I know it will be from the heart, no matter if it’s a gift card, game, T-shirt or something I’ve made.

Do you like making gifts for people? I’d love to hear about them or see pictures of what you have made. You can share your ideas or send pictures to features@enterprisepub.com.

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