Thursday, October 25, 2018

Four Meaningful Christmas Gift Ideas Under $35

There's something great--and I mean GREAT--about getting started on Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving.  If you think about it, it's really the perfect activity to do while you're thinking about being thankful.  But mainly it makes December a whole lot easier.

I love bringing meaningful gift ideas to you every November at LifeTales Books!  Rather than being desperate on December 22, I'm arming you with ideas that you'll be excited to give and that recipients will absolutely love.  Gifts from the heart are always that way.  Truly personal gifts are always that way.

So today I'm sharing four meaningful Christmas gift ideas--and they're all under $35, too!  Everything I'll show you is top quality.  Where you purchase it matters.  It's great to have an inexpensive gift, but you don't really want a CHEAP gift.

Because these products are all created first and then ordered, I always suggest submitting these items for publishing before December 5 or so.  (If you'd like to hire me to make any of these items for you, I can do that, too.  Details are here.)

If you're looking for simple neighbor gifts, visit my two 12 Days Of Christmas Gift Idea posts from last year:  {part one here} and {part two here}.  Or if you're looking for a creative gift for a crafty friend or family member, {this post has 10 crafty gift ideas} that are pretty out-of-the-ordinary.

#1:  Photo Puzzle ($19)

I made puzzles this year for my father and father-in-law for their birthdays.  All it takes is a favorite picture and about 4 minutes.  These are 8x10 100-piece puzzles from Snap2Finish, and I love that this is a fun, meaningful gift that can be enjoyed over and over!

To make your high-quality Snap2Finish puzzle, follow the directions at the bottom of {this post}.  You can use more than one photo, add text, and more.

#2:  Playing Card Deck ($23)

I know I've posted this before, but I just can't get over the playing card deck from Heritage Makers!  It continues to be one of my favorite gifts EVER.  Peruse the Template Gallery {at Heritage Makers}, too, because there are family matching decks, traditional playing card decks, Go Fish decks, and all sorts of creative, unique possibilities.  Use pictures of lots of family members for the front, or just use one favorite photo on the back.

Since you probably have zero experience making a playing card deck, I've recorded a video tutorial for you that walks you through step by step!

As with all Heritage Makers products, the software is free to use, the digital art ("stickers" and "papers") is free, and use of templates is free!

#3:  Family Calendar ($21)

I have made a family calendar for my extended family members every Christmas for about the last 6 years!  These calendars by Heritage Makers are printed on 100-lb. coverstock archival quality paper, so the pictures are really beautiful!  There are lots of templates in the Template Gallery to choose from, or you can create your own--like all Heritage Makers products.  There's a nifty "swap" feature if you want to use a template.  I show you how that works {right here}.

By the way, there are five sizes of calendars (at varying prices), so if this isn't the size or style for you, not to worry.  There are larger ones that don't fold in the middle like this one, desktop ones, even a Now and Later one where you can tear off the photo section and it will become a 12x12 scrap page!  Look at "products" then "photo gifts" at the {Heritage Makers} website.

#4:  Cork-Backed Photo Coasters ($33)

Yeah, COASTERS!  If you're looking for a clever, unusual gift, this is it.  They come in a set of 4, and each coaster can be created differently.  Because these are Heritage Makers coasters, all the same great things I mentioned in #2 and #3 apply:  you don't pay for all that adorable digital art, you can customize it 100%, etc.  The Coasters are glossy with a cork bottom, and each one measures 3.75 square (with rounded corners).  Get started making your coasters {right here}.

I've made one set of coasters, and guess what--I didn't actually use them as coasters!  I saw a clever craft project using these personalized coasters and made a beach-themed wall hanging for my bathroom from my coasters.  (You can see my {DIY project step by step} at that link.) 

Having never seen Heritage Makers coasters before, I should tell you how very impressed I was with the quality of the photos when I got my coasters back in the mail.  They are SO sharp and beautiful!  I obviously didn't do anything with digital art for my coasters, but that's the beauty of Heritage Makers--you get exactly what you want!

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So which one is your favorite?  Which meaningful (but still inexpensive) gift do you like the best?  Comment below and let me know.  Happy gift-giving!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Unique Christmas Card Ideas (and an Invitation to My Annual Online Card Party)

If you want to step up your Christmas card greetings a little this year and go beyond the usual family picture inside a store-bought card, do I have a treat for you!  Yes, there are lots of online companies where you can choose a template and print up your Christmas greetings, but if you'd really like to stand out, Heritage Makers is it.

I've been creating Heritage Makers Christmas cards for at least 10 years, I think, and one of my favorite things is that I can be SO creative with it!  My cards aren't always cards.  I mean, yes, you can create ultra-personal greeting cards with Heritage Makers, but you can do so much more!  One year I made regular cards and then made notepads to match so I could add a personal note in with some of the cards.  This year I'm going to be creating what I call "Christmas news on a notepad" using Heritage Makers 5.5x8.5 notepads!  (My Christmas letters will come to 19 cents that way and be full-color, professionally printed.  Can't beat that!)

Would you like a sneak peek?  I normally make my Christmas greetings at my Enjoy December Card Party in November (keep reading to find out what it is and how you can join me), but I got so excited about this Christmas News on a Notepad idea that I have already designed it.  If you can keep a secret, here's my greeting this year--well, one of them.
This is just a screen shot, so you see the cut marks and guiding lines
from Heritage Makers' editor, Studio.  They won't show on my printed
notepads.  And neither will the "blued-out" names.  ;)

For me, cost and quality are a big deal, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE how creative you can be with any Heritage Makers product.  Everything, from cards to letters to what I'm about to show you, is truly personal and unique.

As if that Christmas News on a Notepad weren't clever enough, I'm making one other thing for my Christmas greetings this year.  I call it an "add-in."  It's basically just something small to throw in the card/letter.  Almost like a tiny gift.

My add-in this year is going to be a recipe for my favorite gingerbread cookies!  I'll be making it at the Enjoy December Card Party in a few weeks, so you'll have to use your imagination for now.  For this project, I'll use the playing card deck, creating the same card 54 times.  (You can add cards individually, too, so I can get just the right amount for my Christmas card list of 112.)  On the cards I'll type up the recipe--similar to these that I made for another purpose last year:

Only I'll use the gingerbread digital art collection like someone used for these cute bookmarks made from a 12x12 Heritage Makers scrap page.

So if you can envision a combination of the playing card deck and the gingerbread digital art, you've got the idea.  That's what's going to be the fun surprise gift inside my Christmas cards/letter this year.

UPDATE:  Here's my finished project!  I love how they turned out.  I hope my friends enjoy my favorite soft gingerbread cookie recipe.  :)

By the way, you don't buy digital art with Heritage Makers!  Everything you see in this post is using Heritage Makers digital art (except the top header and bottom Pinterest graphic).  And I don't download it or pay one cent to use it.  It's pretty darn awesome.

Here's one more fun add-in idea using a playing card deck--these are mini lay-flat nativities!  I haven't submitted them for printing with Heritage Makers yet, so you'll have to use your imagination again.  This image below is just a screen shot of the preview.  The playing cards will look like the photo above, but the backs will have that Bethlehem scene you see at the left.

This little nativity scene will be three cards tied together with ribbon.  They'll stand up like a little triptych.  The shepherds will be at the left, the stable scene in the center, and the wise men at the right.  And, of course, these are playing card size so it will be a small nativity.  And it stores flat, so it hardly takes up any room.

UPDATE:  I got these back in the mail yesterday and created them in no time!  I love how they turned out.

I actually have few individual sets for purchase for $3.50 over at my {Crafts with Heritage Makers Shop}.  OR if you would like to create your own sets, I can actually transfer this Mini Lay-Flat Nativity Playing Card Deck I created from my Heritage Makers account to yours!!  (Another Heritage Makers bonus.)  Just {contact me}.  Then you can submit the deck for publishing with Heritage Makers and put these little sets together on your own.  One deck makes 18 sets.

Now isn't all this CREATIVE, CLEVER, AND UNFORGETTABLE?  What amazing Christmas greetings (or gifts) would you like to make?

You can always create on your own following {these steps}, but I'd love to have you join me at my Enjoy December Card Party to make it extra fun.  I hold this event every year online during the first week or two of November so we can get our cards DONE and then enjoy December!  They'll take about 7-10 days to be professionally printed at Heritage Makers then shipped to your door, so I always get them before Thanksgiving.  Which rocks.  (Or you can always choose the direct ship option, if you prefer.  Don't even lick an envelope!)

So join me for my "Enjoy December" Card Party!  It's a public Facebook event, and you'll find lots of card/greetings ideas and video tutorials there.  Trust me--there's some cool stuff posted over there already.  And there's information on how this (free) online party works, too.  You can check it out from now through November 8, then set aside an hour or so of your choosing on November 9 to show up at the Facebook party and make your gorgeous, clever, Heritage Makers-made Christmas cards, letters, or recipe card "add-in" gifts like mine!  Join the event right here:

Once you've joined the event, you'll want to be ready to use Heritage Makers by November 9, so if you don't already have a (free) account,  just follow {the basic steps here}.  There are also some videos at that link so you can familiarize yourself with the Heritage Makers program, Studio, if you want.  It's a drag-and-drop system, much like Canva, and all Heritage Makers products are top-notch.  Let me know if you have questions, too.  My contact information is at the top of this blog in the "about me/contact me" tab.

Join the Facebook party, then share this post with everyone you know who is looking for unique Christmas greetings this year!

I can't wait for the Card Party!  It's my favorite way to ENJOY DECEMBER!

If you want to be invited to the Card Party next year, too, {join my Facebook group}.

NOTE:  I do hire out to make any Heritage Makers project, so if you'd like me to do the creating for you, contact me ASAP.  Details are {here}.  Keep in mind that the last day I will make Christmas projects is Dec. 1.
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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thanksgiving Table Ideas to Make Your Holiday Memorable

Will you be the host of Thanksgiving dinner this year, or the guest?  Either way, I have some unique ideas to share with you today to make your Thanksgiving table memorable.  I'll show you the DIY way to have these items at your table as well as the "just let me order one" way, too.  It's nice to have an "easy button," right??

I love this first idea because it is both fun and meaningful.  It's great to have at the table if you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, but it also makes an impressive gift for the host if you're a guest!  

These Thanksgiving Dinner Conversation Cards are so much fun to use to spark conversation around the table.

There are 54 question cards in the deck, and they come with a plastic case.

I made this deck using a Heritage Makers template, but I adjusted a few things to my taste before submitting for publishing.  I ordered a few of these decks (as shown here) to sell at a craft fair I did last year.  I HAVE ONE LEFT, so if you'd like to skip all the steps and just have them shipped to you, it's $20 + shipping, so just {contact me} and I'll get them on their way to you.  These are SO FUN.  And darling.  

If you prefer, you can personalize the deck with a name, photo, etc.!  In that case, just go to and login or open an account.  {Contact me} for details on making this deck (such as the template ID number for this deck), or you can get more information at my {playing card deck video tutorial}.

Another fun idea for Thanksgiving table decor using Heritage Makers is "napkin rings" and matching place cards.  And, yes, I have "napkin rings" in quotes for a reason--this is clever!

First, let me show you the place cards.  These are made from business cards, so they come in a pack of 50.  They're double-sided, so everyone at the table sees Give Thanks while the person at the seat sees his/her own name.  

I have 1 set of these left from my craft fair, too, although I split them up and sold them in sets of 25.  If you'd like to skip all the steps and just have them shipped to you, it's $4 + shipping, so just {contact me} and I'll get them on their way to you.  Aren't these cute?  And you can do "napkin rings" to match!

The napkin rings aren't rings--they're stickers!  Address labels, to be specific.  Address labels come in a set of 54. Just roll up paper napkins and wrap the sticker around it.  So cute.

Although, if I did it again, I would choose plain colored napkins.  The design is a bit distracting, and you can't even see what it is when it's all rolled up.

See??  It's just address labels.  So clever.  It's one of my favorite things about the Heritage Makers Template Gallery--I get to use other people's creativity!

And, yes, I have one set of these left from my craft fair, too.  Like the place cards, I split them up, so I sell "napkin rings" as one page of 27.  If you'd like to skip all the steps and just have them shipped to you, it's $3 + shipping, so just {contact me} and I'll get them on their way to you.  

If you prefer, you can personalize these labels with a name, photo, etc.!  In that case, just go to and login or open an account.  {Contact me} for details on making this deck (such as the template ID number for these labels).

I love the fun things available through Heritage Makers to make my Thanksgiving table unique, and I love what a special gift I can give to the host as a guest.  Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, so this is a great time to do one or all of these neat ideas.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

#friyay -- Why You'll Love Heritage Makers

I can't believe this year's #friyay feature is wrapping up!  On the first Friday of each month during 2018, we've heard from Heritage Makers users to find out what they love about it.

This month we hear from Cindy, a gal who found me through an online search.  She had started a Heritage Makers book as a gift for her husband but ended up hiring me to finish it up for her.  It was fun to be able to provide that service for her and see how thrilled she was with the finished product.

We also hear from Dina who has probably made as many Heritage Makers projects as I have (and that's saying a lot).  I loved seeing the book she made about her Grandma after she passed away.  It's a priceless treasure!  She has her beautiful Heritage Makers canvases, prints, and books scattered throughout her home.

Create your own heritage home at the "how to get started" tab along the top (at the right).

Thursday, October 4, 2018

11 Reasons Preserving Your Photos is One of the Most Important Things You Can Do

I recently came across some meaningful words about memory-keeping that I think could be summarized as "11 Reasons Preserving Your Photos is One of the Most Important Things You Can Do."  This statement was shared by Rhonda Anderson, the retired co-founder of Creative Memories, and now the founder of Heritage Makers' sister company, {Our Memories For Life}.  This is the very real experience of Tiffany A. Parker.

Before I share her words of wisdom, I have to say that the question Tiffany answers, "Why do you scrapbook?  Don't you know eventually it will be thrown away?" is something I've never heard before.  I was actually quite stunned (maybe even horrified) to think that anyone would ever consider throwing a scrapbook away.  I'm a really quiet, non-confrontational person, but I'd fist-fight somebody over this!  ;)  Scrapbooks are some of the most precious things you will ever own--for all the reasons Tiffany mentions.

And please be sure when you read her words of wisdom that your definition of "scrapbooking" is broad enough to include all memory-keeping, whether digital, paper/traditional, or simply putting photos and their stories in store-bought albums.  In fact, {here are four excellent options}, each one different from the other, all with the same meaningful end result.

Here are 11 reasons preserving your photos is one of the most important things you can do.

"I've been asked a million times:  'Why do you scrapbook? 
Don't you know eventually it will be thrown away?'
Well, I finally have an answer:
I scrapbook because people break into houses and steal flash drives with your whole 10 year relationship on them.
I scrapbook because computers crash.
I scrapbook because technology fails.
I scrapbook because flash drives can get lost.
I scrapbook because life is precious.
I scrapbook because sometimes you lose an important person and a picture is all you have left to hold.
I scrapbook to remember.
I scrapbook to preserve stories that my brain doesn't think are important, when my heart knows they are.
I scrapbook so I can introduce my future children to someone they may never have gotten to meet, or can't remember, that loved them so deeply.
I scrapbook to help focus on the positive when the depression and PTSD start their lies again.
I scrapbook so that during the worst parts of my life I can look back on the best.
So the next time someone belittles, degrades, or find fault in your "waste-of-money," "silly," or "pointless" hobby, tell them why you scrapbook.
Because these albums are the only pictures that remain of my entire marriage, the only pictures of grandma, the only graduation photo that I have, and the only thing so "worthless" the robbers didn't steal-- that meant everything to me."
-Tiffany A. Parker