Last Minute Gift Idea (for Birthday, Grad, Mother’s & Father’s day, etc.)

This (last minute) gift idea would be fun to give just about anyone!
One of my sons lives in a different state and is the Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at a college located there.  Because his busy season runs into spring, he hasn’t been able to come home and celebrate his birthday with family in a long time.  But this year, his season ended early, enabling him to head home for his birthday (as part of  trip to scout local, stand-out high school players) and I was able to give him a HUGE hug and wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, in person…. YAY!  The last minute dilemma: I had already decided to pitch in on a birthday gift he’ll receive once he returns, which left us without a small gift to actually hand him on the one year he would finally be with us…. figures! LOL

Anyway, not to be defeated, I thought of something creative & fun, but as low cost as possible I could pick up for him… last minute.  Remembering my umbrella gift idea (, I came up with a new twist on it!  Because they are always open, I ran up to our local convenience store and purchased the same amount of scratch-off lottery tickets as the age he was turning.  Then, using double-sided tape, I temporarily adhered each of them along the length of a long piece of curling ribbon.  I cut the ribbon end and tied it to a balloon weight (you can find these at dollar stores, if you don’t have one hanging around)  and placed that into the bottom of a gift bag, feeding the ribbon ‘o lottery tickets in behind it.  Then once I was done, I tied the other end of the ribbon to the top of my gift bag and added a note of “what to do” instructions, made on my computer using clip art and a text box.


Needless to say… he really liked it and that made me happy too!

Enjoy the Creativity!


Father’s Day Gifts

So, Mom’s had her special day and now, it’s Dad’s turn on June 19th. Of course, you should check out my previous FATHER’S DAY posts (see Father’s Day category, under SEASONAL CATEGORIES on the right-hand side of this page) for more awesome ideas as well as the new gift suggestions I’ve added below.  I’ve tried to cover several gift-giving budgets and many different Dad-types too.  You can check out further details on any item I’ve highlighted from a website, by clicking on that photo.  I would recommend you “right click” and open the site in a new window so you can come right back to this blog post.

First, consider making Dad a gift.  For Dads who love their grill, purchase a plain Chef’s Apron. available at most craft or kitchen stores.  Then, with a few bottles of paint, you can personalize it with a helping hand (print) from each of the kids.  Look on the internet for placement & pattern ideas (like the one I show here).  If you want to add more to the kid’s homemade gift, pick up an inexpensive cooler (I found this one for $9.95 at Walgreen’s Drug Store) and fill it with some useful marinades, sauces, grill tools and wood chips.  I filled the cooler  (below) for a total of less than $20, by shopping at a discount store.

For the Business-minded Dad, consider a sleek, personalized business card holder, only $12.95 (chrome),  from OR $29.95 (leather) from + personalization:


If Dad is a Business Traveler, consider this monogrammed, leather travel kit ($41.39) from (above).

If Dad enjoys MOVIES, there are a bunch of Movie-themed USB Flash Drive (Computer Memory Sticks) on the market this year.  Here’s one that would be ideal for TRON fans that I found on for $41.28.  It’ features a flashing light-up wheel base and sound effects from the movie.

For the Dad who enjoys GAMING, check out the creative shirts (avg. price $20) and other gift ideas on

For a Dad who would rather FISH than work, I found a unique gift that will keep him entertained all year-long.  Enroll him in the LURE OF THE MONTH club where a new lure arrives right to  his  door and comes carefully packaged in an attractive card stock collector’s box. Inside he’ll find a premium lure crafted by top manufacturers along with a history card that details the history of each lure and how it is used.   3, 6 or 12 month plans are available and prices start at $53 and Shipping is FREE with a subscription. 

If Dad is a SPORTS FAN, consider putting him “in the game!”. At, for $49.99 (+ personalization fee), you choose the sport and team and then, put Dad into the action of the game.  In each sport print, there’s one player with his back to the camera.  That’s where Dad’s last name is placed on a team jersey in the framed photo.  It’s a great conversation starter for his office or at home:

And if the Dad in your life enjoys all sports, surprise him (at work) by sending him these yummy & unique, chocolate-covered strawberries from for $39.95:


Patchwork Gift Wrap Idea!

[check out my other ideas under the categories, listed on the right]

If you would like to try a unique idea for wrapping a gift, here’s one…

This idea is especially helpful when you are short on time and find that you only have a small amount left of your favorite gift wraps.  It also falls under the “waste not, want not” category in life!   In this case, my favorite plain white paper came up a little short (on the ends of my gift) AND I only had a small amount of my other favorite black & white toile paper left.  So, it occurred to me that I should combine the 2 papers and unify them through my ribbon choice.  Here is the end result, which was a TRUE attention getter at the birthday party I took it to!

Simply use double-sided scotch tape to adhere side pieces of gift wrap

EASY (Child’s Craft) Gift for Dad on Father’s Day



This idea was born as a Elementary School project prior to Mother’s Day.  The teacher had no funds then or prior to Father’s Day for the kids to make something special to take home to their favorite people… their parents… to honor their special day.

Of course, you can just create this sentiment and frame it, or do what I did and go to a local frame shop and ask if they have any FREE scrap pieces of foam core board or heavy matting.  Cut the donated piece into a rectangle or square.  Check the bins at discount and craft stores for very inexpensive ribbon (there’s always a roll of plaid ribbon).  Add a few strands of VERY inexpensive raffia along with a few pieces of silk greenery as well as some golf tees, etc.  You know…. match Dad’s personality or hobby.

Spell out Dad’s name on a piece of paper and ask the child to think of a word or a way to describe their father that starts with each of those letters.  Type and print it on the computer (see photo), including any misspellings, where applicable, for a touch of quaint realism.  Plus, you’ll enjoy looking back at that part for years to come.  NOTE: at the top, I typed “MY DAD” and at the bottom, I inserted “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!  LOVE, (insert child’s name) and the year” into a text box.  Then, help your child glue their trimmed (to fit) paper onto a piece of foam core board or heavy matting and embellish their sentiment by gluing a length of the ribbon around the outside of the paper, creating a “frame”.  Add your other embellishments by next, gluing them in the corners.  If you want to make this a hanging sentiment, simply punch a hole in each corner of the matting/foam board, feed each end of a cut piece of ribbon (apx. 4-6″ long) through one hole and repeat on the other side.  Knot the end of the ribbon length on the back side of the foam core, after feeding it through.  Or, check dollar stores for a fold-out easel to use as a stand, creating a desk display.

This project takes very little effort and minimal cost to accomplish, but will be treasured by Dad (and Mom, on Mother’s Day) forever because it was a descriptive sentiment expressed from their child’s heart, at a moment in time in their child’s life.  How much more precious can something be? 🙂

If there are children or grandchildren in your life, please do yourself a favor and check out my book as well.  It’s stuffed full of MORE budget-friendly traditions & ideas… all the things I did to create fun and provide memories for my own 4 children.  You’ll find it in my SHOP (above) and…  Thank you! 🙂

GIFTING DAD, a GRAD, SPECIAL BIRTHDAY, Bride/Groom or New Parents, etc.


This is one of the most popular and only one of the creative traditions in my book.
I don’t know too many Dads who wouldn’t enjoy receiving this for Father’s Day or even Graduates, someone with a BIG approaching birthday (#16, #21, #30, #40, etc.), a Baby or Bridal Shower!  Whatever occasion you choose to do this for, keep in mind that it’s even better when you add a little humor to the gift!

First, purchase an inexpensive umbrella (Dollar Tree). Cut varying lengths of curling ribbon equal (in number) to the amount of items you will be placing inside the umbrella. Using double-sided tape, attach either money (21 – $1 bills for 21st birthday or16 – $1 bills for birthday #16), gift cards(i.e. favorite lunch spots, coffee shop, D.I.Y. store, where he buys his CDs or DVDs, movie rental store, gas card, etc.) or the most economical choice: simple, handwritten or printed certificates (“This is good for onehug, car wash, hour of uninterrupted T.V.viewing time, etc.”), one to the end of each piece of ribbon. Tie the other end of each piece of ribbon to the inside frame of the umbrella, spreading them around as evenly as possible. Turn the umbrella upside down and hand place each ribbon/gift inside and carefully close the umbrella. Gift wrap the umbrella (click here for a gift wrap suggestion).
Now comes the FUN part: when Dad (or any gift recipient) opens his gift, imagine his surprise when he finds a simple umbrella inside. Then, imagine his further surprise when you suggest that he open it “to make sure it works properly because you purchased it from the Dollar Tree” (indicating, of course, that you aren’t too sure about the quality). O.k., now he’s thinking your gift is not only odd, but also CHEAP! As in any good tale, however, the ending is a happy one when Dad opens his umbrella ‘o gifts and is showered with ribbons of goodies he can enjoy.
BONUS IDEA:This also makes a great gift for birthdays (esp. for teens), high school or college graduations, weddings, baby or bridal showers (as a group gift), etc.  Reactions may vary, but it is always hilarious!


Just prior to Christmas, every year, my husband and I along with our grown children set aside a day to be together and grab a little adventure that none of us have ever experienced before.  We call it our “Family Fun Day” and it’s just one of the ways we stay close.  With that in mind, I came up with this Father’s Day gift idea.

As I thought back over the past few years of our adventures (photos below), I realized that we did a lot of very macho activities…  simply perfect for a Secret Agent Father’s Day! Your mission(should you decide to accept it) will involve setting up appointments at 2 or 3 local Adventure facilities and scheduling them to begin in the morning and progress through the day. Below are a few potential ideas that may inspire an idea or two:

Adventure #1: a 5 minute helicopter ride

Adventure #2: five laps in a real race car at a REAL race car speed!

Adventure #3: five minutes in a simulated skydive

Adventure #3: five minutes in a simulated skydive (Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.)

Other ideas for adventures you may have in your area:
  • Discovery flight (at a local Executive Airport)—fly both an airplane and helicopter
  • Parasailing
  • Fly in an open cockpit bi-plane (available at some regional airports)
  • Hang gliding
  • Glider ride
  • Zip Line (this eco adventure is popping up everywhere these days)

By the end of his adventures, Dad should feel as though he just experienced a day in the life of a Secret Agent (on a much tighter budget, of course; apx. cost for 3 ideas shown – $185)! And since gift stores usually carry a wide variety of frames, finding the perfect one to display Dad’s memorable photos in should be a cinch!

Idea/Photo courtesy of

2 Themed Gift Wrap Ideas

GIFT WRAP IDEA #1: Cut a large triangle (almost equal in length to the height of your gift bag) out of a piece of white Foamie or plain, white card stock paper. Also cut a bow tie and 3 button shapes out of a sheet of black Foamie or plain, black card stock. Glue to the front of a black gift bag for your 00-Dad gift. Gift suggestion: a watch, with a ton of special functions, for your Secret Agent Dad!!

GIFT WRAP IDEA #2: Glue a photo of Dad enjoying his favorite hobby to the back of a paper frame (found in the Scrapbook Dept. of stores). Optional: adhere a Personal (self-adhesive) message to the top and bottom of the frame (messages & alpha letters also in Scrapbook Dept.).  Glue framed photo to the front of Dad’s gift bag for the perfect, personalized gift wrap!

Idea/Photos courtesy of

BONUS IDEA!!!  If you like my idea of a Family Fun Day (around the holidays), you may also want to use that  day as a photo “op” for your Christmas or New Year Greeting Card.   It’s easy to create on your computer and then you have a unique e-Card to email to family and friends. Talk about saving money (postage, paper, etc.) in a tight economy!  As a sample, below are a couple of my own from previous years.  You may notice that my e-Cards are “New Year’s” Greetings.  That’s the price you pay when you own a  holiday design firm ~ no time to send out anything during Christmas! :-))  The neat thing I have learned, however, about sending out a New Year’s greeting is that everyone has finally slowed down, so your greeting is more memorable!  And as you can see (below), keeping your greeting light-hearted (by making sure it reflects something funny) will have your family & friends looking forward to receiving it each and every year!
Turning your greeting into a .jpg makes it easy to e-mail!

Turning your greeting into a jpeg will make it easy to attach to your e-mail

This year, we called ourselves the "Swamp Mafia" :-)

In this greeting, I simply couldn’t overlook all the sunglasses, so we called ourselves the “Swamp Mafia” 🙂

Our 2010 Adventure – Horseback Riding!