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Monday, December 15, 2008

Handmade and Recycled

Beauty That Moves
While many of us are still in the season of holiday preparations, I thought I'd share one more simple, frugal and yes, green, gift idea. You might need to take a leap of faith on this one, but I think there is a powerful message with a gift like the one I am about to describe.
Start by making a simple tote/book bag. If you are someone who sews and already has a stash of fabric on hand, this sort of project is a great stash buster. Heavier, home dec. weight fabrics are great for the outside. Part of this gifts beauty is trying to make it with recyled, or already on hand fabric. I made six of these in an afternoon one year, and all of the women on my list got a new book bag! Here is a link with instructions to make a similar one of your own:

Super Eggplant Tote Bag

Now, for the part of this gift that might be a little out of the box for some. But haven't we discovered by now that living inside the box is so dreadfully boring? Living simply and taking chances go hand in hand.

Our local library has the most incredible used book sale a couple of times a year. It is a wonderful place to pick up a great pile of reads for very little money. Of course tag sales and flea markets are as well. I picked up this pile of magazines at a tag sale this summer, paying .25 cents a piece. And they are actually three of my favorite cooking magazines. Their condition was perfect!

Would it be so outrageous to slip a nice little stack of previously enjoyed books or magazines into a lovingly made tote bag? Not at all. Here is the most important detail... don't try to pretend the books are brand new! The most powerful, impressionable part of this gift idea is the hand written note that you will enclose.

"May you find much enjoyment in this meaningful gift.
The bag was handmade by me with love, using recycled materials.
The books were previously loved by others.
This gift was put together with intention,
to show one simple way we can walk a little more gently on the earth."
Of course this is just an example, make it your own. Even those on your gift list that you imagine might turn their nose at such an idea (used books? gasp!), try it. You just might give them something to think about.

From my home to yours, wishing you all peace and joy through the holidays.


Elizabeth said...

What a lovely idea. I make book bags from vintage pillowcases but have never thought of adding pre-read books to them for a gift, I'll have to rethink that in the future having seen your great idea.

Jenny said...

Hi, I gave carefully selected books along with homebaked yummies and a hand made Christmas decoration to family members a couple of years ago. Seemed to me to be a perfect gift, I wish someone had given something similar to me.

Kez said...

I often give my family "pre-loved" books as gifts (and they also give them to me), but I love the idea of the note & bag.

Moxie said...

LOVE IT! What a great idea!!

emma - theberrypatch said...

What a great idea. I often give hand made bags as gifts but never thought of second hand books.

I guess that is why I always read this blog - so many great ideas (and so little time til Christmas).


Tammie said...

such a great idea....i always have a ton of beautiful magazines laying around and i hate to part with them....passing them on as a gift is wonderful.

littlem said...

Great bag.

Nina said...

You've wrapped this idea in the most thoughtful manner. My nieces have come to expect the gift of used books. And my children know nothing else. :) Ruby Holler is a great book.

jan m said...

My daughter and I have been shopping used book stores to find gifts for each other for a couple of years now. We each have a shelf full of specially chosen books now, rather than one-title-fits-all.

LisaZ said...

What a wonderful idea! I'm going to use that one. Thank you.

Greentwinsmummy said...

that is such a lovely idea,I love the little note with it as well,you have inspired me for my sisters birthday in January!
GTM x x x

Vegbee said...

A few years ago we managed to get the extended family involved in giving second hand items as gifts, and some have taken it to be a bit of a treasure hunt during garage sale season to find christmas gifts. This year we are doing 100% recycled or handmade.
Thanks for sharing this idea!

meg said...

I love this idea! And I would be happy to receive a gorgeous pile of used books anyday!

Anonymous said...

My family has always given and enjoyed used books for gifts. I don't even think of it as faux pas, although I wonder now if someone to whom I've given them in the past might have sniffed?? No matter. My family went through a really tough time financially when I was about 10, that lasted for at least 5 years, and this, I believe, is probably when the used-book-giving started...library discards. But we always loved getting the stacks of books that had been loved by someone else, and appreciated it even more if they had an old inscription in them. As adults, we all give used books in the family, and usually they are "freecycled" around for everyone to read...a gift that truly keeps on giving! I love the addition of the book bag, though. We quite often pick themes...candles or a bubble bath with some "hysterical romance" (our family's terminology) books for the romantic, or some homemade candied nuts and some spy novels for's always lots of fun, the gift is always appreciated, and works for very tight budgets. Thanks for mentioning it here!

Jessie Earth Momma said...

I love it! I'm going to use this over and over!

Anonymous said...

GREAT IDEA!!!!!! I'll keep it in mind for next year.

deb said...

The words in the books are still the same... whether the book is brand new or used-a-bit. This is an excellent gift idea and I would love to receive a gift like this.

Thanks for the great idea!

Taryn said...

Wow I LOVE this idea. Love it. I get lots of advanced reader copies from a book store around here and I never thought of giving them to others as gifts. thanks for posting this.

Kate in NJ said...

It is a gift I would love to receive, but I am not sure my family would love it. They don't get 'it" or me for that matter, but I know friends who would. ;-)

sheila said...

That's an excellent idea, I made cushions for a couple of friends this year, next year I will take the handmade bag and book idea on board.
Merry Christmas

A Bun Can Dance said...

I've just found this post, having only recently discovered the SGF co-op. I love the spirit and intention of this post - it is wonderful. And the idea of what to write to go with the gift is great.
Thank you!!
Denise x

Diana said...

I loveeeee this idea, thank you!

Heather said...

Beautiful idea!! I especially love your ideas for the enclosed note. :-) I think too often we can limit ourselves by what we believe others may think of a "previously loved" or handmade gift. If we choose to give any gift with loving intention (not to mention the intention of living more lightly on this earth) then I have found it is almost always graciously and happily received.

Some of your bags will be on my gift making list this year. :-)