Creative Gift-Giving Just Got Easier!

My Solution for Creative Gift Giving at

Is your ‘love language’ gift-giving? Or does your mind go blank when it the holiday season rolls around? Do you get giddy with the anticipation of buying and wrapping and giving? Or do your eyes glaze over and you find yourself picking up those pre-wrapped, no-one-will-use-it-anyway gifts at the end of the aisles at your neighborhood discount store? Is your gift list longer than the $$ in your bank account? And about that one (or more!) person who is impossible to buy for? What are you going to do about him or her?

So, what’s a girl to do? Give up? Give in? No! My friend Lauren over at The Thinking Closet has the perfect solution for unique, thrifty, amazing gift-giving options for you. Her brand new book is packed full of ideas for every occasion, every person, and then some. Whether you are all thumbs or the crafter-extraordinaire, Lauren shares inspiration, instruction and resources to give you all dozens (hundreds!) of ideas for your gift-giving needs, whatever they may be.

Thinking Outside the Gift Box Book Reveal

The joys of a personalized gift are not just for the one receiving it, there are also abundant joys for the creator of the gift as well. When choosing, creating, personalizing a gift for someone, they on your mind and heart as you work with your hands, choosing just the right gift for them. It’s a bonding experience!

That’s where Lauren and her awesome book come in. In this 178-page book you will discover… 21 chapters full of gift-giving stories, gifts of experience, gifts of personalization, gifts of the written word. 75 gift ideas broken down by estimated cost (as low as $0) and time (as short as 5 mins.), kid-friendly factor, and a supply list. Every copy of the book Lauren is giving a FREE BONUS of 11 beautifully designed printables that accompany the gift ideas: gift tags, mini-books, survival kits, bookmarks, surprise notes.

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking through, Apron Strings & other things may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thanks for helping to support this site!

Ready to take the plunge into gift-giving heaven? You can pre-order Thinking Outside the Gift Box through my affiliate link here – but wait! Want to know about the author? A visit with Lauren is always inspiring – and she graciously took time out of her day to share her thoughts on a few questions I had for her – to share with all of you!

And that’s not all! – after you enjoy my interview with Lauren, be sure to enter the fun gift-giving giveaway we have for you! 

{this awesome giveaway is now closed and the prizes have found their way into the hands of the amazing winners!}

My Interview with Lauren, the Gift-Giving Guru and author of Thinking Outside the Box


Lauren, how would you encourage the person who says “I’m just not creative like that!” to help them find their inner creative voice?

First of all, thanks so much for having me, Linda!  It is a true honor to get to enjoy this chat with you and your Apron Strings community.

As for the “I’m just not creative!” response, I totally get it.  Sad though it is to say, I know that sometimes our workplace or schools or even home life have stifled our God-given creativity to the point where we feel at a complete loss for ideas.

But I believe creativity is like a muscle that needs to be exercised, and if we’re out of shape, we might just need a little help from a fellow creative to get it firing on all cylinders again.

In fact, I wrote Thinking Outside the Gift Box especially for those who feel like they’re in a creative slump.  My subtitle reads, “75 simple & meaningful gift ideas to spark your creativity.”  And my hope is that 75 will quickly turn into 750 ideas once readers pore over the stories, photos, gift ideas, and printables on the pages of my book.  They’re all intended to support the reader in awakening their creative voice both in gift-giving and beyond!

Who has inspired you most in your trek to becoming the awesome ‘think outside the box’ gift-giving guru that you are? What is it about them that inspires you?

Great question!  Hmmm….  Honestly, my parents have been incredible nurturers of my “outside the box” gift-giving.  Ever since I was a little girl, when I would ask them what they wanted for Christmas or their birthday, they would say, “Don’t buy anything.  Just make me something.”  And then they treasured those handmade gifts like they were worth a million bucks.  Which of course boosted my confidence beyond belief.

I think just being unafraid to “fail” really set me free creatively and inspired me to push the bounds of what a gift can be.  They’re also incredible gift-givers themselves, and I share many of their “outside the gift box” ideas in my book!

Sometimes our projects don’t turn out the way we planned it out in our minds, or the way we saw it on Pinterest. Do you have any tips for us on how to turn a “Project Fail” into a “Project Win?”

Ain’t that the truth!  I’ve had my fair share of “Project Fails,” that’s for sure.

The creative process is fraught with failure.  The key is not to be thrown off by them.  Because we will mess up.  We will run into road-blocks.  But I’m learning to try to see those bumps in the road as an opportunity to make the project even better than it would have been had everything gone perfectly.  Those problems push me to think creatively, and some of my very best gifts and DIY creations have been born out of struggle.  

And for those with a good sense of humor, consider turning a “Project Fail” into a gag gift or a great story to share around the dinner table.  Laughter is always an instant win in my book!

For those of us who are building our supply cabinets and crafting stash, what are your crafting must-haves?

Ooooo!  Well, if I had to narrow it down to my favorite 3 craft supplies that are in the $20 or less range, I’d have to recommend:

Personally, I am an idea collector and project starter. I have so many I lose track of them all. Do you have any advice for collecting and saving ideas, keeping track of them while they wait for the future?

I have three main places where I collect project ideas:

  1. my journal in a running list of doodles and sketches
  2. a secret Pinterest board in case there are gift ideas I don’t want family and friends to see
  3. Evernote!  I love that I can collect ideas on my computer and also in the app on my phone, and they will sync up.  That way, if an idea strikes while I’m out and about, I can capture it before it flutters away!

As for finishing projects, I struggle with this, too!  I have no trouble starting a project, but finishing it is another story.  One thing that does help me is planning a fun event with my husband Mark or a friend around finishing it.  Having that accountability really ensures I reach the finish line.  Plus, crafting with friends is always better than doing it alone.

One of the things I love most about your book is how you take ordinary ideas and events and turn them into amazing and personal gifts for the ones you love. Would you help me plant a little seed into the hearts and minds of everyone reading this by sharing something to help them see gift-giving potential in the everyday items around them?

I’d love to!

Well, I think the first step is realizing than sometimes the best gifts are the un-boxable kind.  The gifts that we give straight from the heart.

Some examples?  You can gift your time!  You can gift a home-made meal.  You can gift a song that you sing (even off-key!).  And a message of congrats written in sidewalk chalk across the driveway.

Meaningful gift-giving really is just about making your recipient feel known and loved through small, simple gestures.

I think Gandalf the Grey said it best in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit:

β€œSaruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found.  I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.  Small acts of kindness and love.”

It’s about ordinary gifts backed with extraordinary love.  And dear reader, you’ve got plenty of love to give!

Inquiring minds want to know — What will you, the gift-making-gift-giving guru be giving this year for Christmas?

That’s another great question!  {Snicker snicker.}

We keep Christmas really simple in our family, which I’m thankful for.  Mark and I usually just give one gift to each other and mine is shaping up to be a special date night I have in the works.  Can’t give too much away!
And we draw names for our extended family gift swap, so a lot will depend on whose name I get.  Looking forward to scheming that one up to be one that really celebrates that individual and their interests.
And my friends can probably expect to get a copy of my book signed with a special note and maybe some gift-giving supplies to support them in their giving endeavors.

Thinking Outside the Gift Box Giveaway at

And now, it’s my turn to give!

Giveaway is now over. Winners have been contacted.

I want to make gift-giving easier for you this year, so I’m giving away copies of Lauren’s brand new, updated, in real life paperback book to a few of my readers! There will be 3 winners:

First Prize: A basket brimming with crafting and gift making supplies ($60 value) which includes:

  • Mod Podge w/ Sponge Brushes
  • Glue Gun w/ Glue Sticks
  • 6 Sharpee Markers (1 black fine tip, 4 color fine tip, 1 silver metallic)
  • 2 spools WashiTape
  • 3 spools Ribbon
  • 1 pack Scrapbooking Paper
  • 1 Scissors
  • 1 Hole Punch
  • 1 Glue Stic
  • 4 Jump Rings
  • One Paperback copy of Thinking Outside the Gift Box
  • PDF version of Thinking Outside the Gift Box
  • Printables Toolkit with 11 Gift-Giving Resources
  • Inspirational Quotes Printables & Cards (4 of each)

Second Prize Winner will receive ($25 value):

  • One Paperback copy of Thinking Outside the Gift Box
  • PDF version of Thinking Outside the Gift Box
  • Printables Toolkit with 11 Gift-Giving Resources
  • Inspirational Quotes Printables & Cards (4 of each)

Third Prize Winner will receive ($9.99 value):

  • PDF version of Thinking Outside the Gift Box
  • Printables Toolkit with 11 Gift-Giving Resources
  • Inspirational Quotes Printables & Cards (4 of each)

You an earn up to 3 up to entries just by commenting on this post. Tell me – each in a separate comment – 1) What has been your favorite Christmas Gift ever received? 2) Tell me one handmade gift idea you would like to give or receive, and 3) What is your favorite crafting supply or tool?

On Tuesday, November 17 at 10pm central time I’ll choose 3 winners (using Gift basket and paperback books have provided by Apron Strings & other things, PDF and printable prizes have generously been donated by Lauren who splishes and splashes all sorts of creativity over at The Thinking Closet.

I’ve already purchased several copies for myself and for gifts – you can, too, through my affiliate link – if you are chosen as winner, we’ll gladly refund the purchase price! This giveaway is for US and Canada residents only. Must be at least 18 years old to enter.

{Giveaway is now over, but I’d still love to hear your answers to these questions!} List out your answers to these 3 questions – in 3 separate comments – 1) What has been your favorite Christmas Gift ever received? 2) Tell me one handmade gift idea you would like to give or receive, and 3) What is your favorite crafting supply or tool?  and your answers will be entered!

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  1. 1) What has been your favorite Christmas Gift ever received? In this season of my life, my practical mind says my grey zip-up cardigan from my brother and SIL because it’s warm, goes with almost everything–meaning I wear it a lot! The for-me favorite gift is a painting my BIL did and gifted me.

  2. 2) Tell me one handmade gift idea you would like to give or receive. I’ve received handcrafted soap from several friends πŸ˜‰ and I love that because that is one thing I’ve never made myself!

  3. 3) What is your favorite crafting supply or tool? It would be a tie between my sewing machine (that is ages old–bought it used 20 some years ago; it’s from the 80s.) and a good fine pen.

  4. In recent years, my favorite gifts have been books about herbs and how to use them. It’s a newer passion of mine and I am a very practical person.

  5. A hot glue gun is essential for every crafter, isn’t it? Also, we use a lot of scrapbooking paper around here!

  6. I like to decorate my home with Scripture, so I have made simple embroidered pillows and framed verses. I also have always wanted to make copies of the sheet music for favorite hymns and then aged them to put in pretty frames.

  7. 1) My favorite gift received was tickets to see Straight No Chaser.

  8. 2) I love anything Mason Jar. I love to fill them up and give them out.

  9. My favorite Christmas gift is a mother’s ring my husband gave me.

  10. 3) I would have to say that my favorite tool is a toss up between my sewing machine, a palm sander, and my soaping crock pot. I know I know but I just can’t choose. Thanks for the giveaway.

  11. I would like to make homemade paper and use it for stationery and notecard sets for giving as gifts.

  12. Currently, my favorite craft supply is glue dots.

  13. 1) What has been your favorite Christmas Gift ever received?
    Hmmm… that’s a tricky one! I don’t have a specific favorite, but here’s one…
    One of my most sentimental gifts was a hardcopy set of Little House on the Prairie books that my husband gave me shortly after we were married. It was so heavy I thought for sure it was a set of cookware! πŸ˜‰

  14. 2) Tell me one handmade gift idea you would like to give or receive
    Both giving and receiving… forced bulbs, just about ready to bloom !

  15. 3) What is your favorite crafting supply or tool?

    Oh goodness~ another “Favorite” question! πŸ˜‰
    One of my favorite supplies is actually a multiple… lots of fun beads, and findings!
    Another is a really good, sharp pair of scissors that are easy on my hands. πŸ˜‰

  16. The Christmas our adoption went through! But, as far as gifts go . . . . a nice camera to take professional pictures of my kiddos & more. (So I could scrapbook them) πŸ™‚

  17. My favorite christmas gift was a giant stuffed dog from my dad the year before he died. My 13yr daughter keeps it in her room and I love seeing it being loved.

  18. I love handmade journals & scrapbooks – I enjoy making them and receiving them!

  19. I want to make bath bombs for my teen daughters.

  20. Fave supply tool – GLUE GUN does so much! I use it for sea shell art & lots of stuff!

  21. my favorite crafting supply would be paper. All kinds of paper.

  22. Nancy Nelson says:

    1. My favorite Christmas gift ever received was probably my play kitchen when I was 5. Besides that, every time I get a book for Christmas I am thrilled! One year my husband got me the 1st three books in a series and I felt so luxurious not having to wait to start the next book after I finished the first. 2. I would love to be able to quilt and give a beautiful quilt to someone. 3. My favorite craft supply is probably scrapbook paper because I can use it so many different ways, from making paper lanterns to gift boxes to modpodge projects.

  23. Hmmm … my favorite Christmas gift was probably a globe I got when I was in fourth grade. My grandfather said I could tell my friends that I went all around the world over the break, and since he was sick and rarely talked, that was a big deal. I’ve never forgotten.

  24. My favorite craft supply is paint.

  25. I would love it if my kids would paint a picture for me. I love hanging up their artwork.

  26. a pair of diamond earrings

  27. I would like to make a scarf

  28. I love stamps

  29. My slow cooker was a favorite gift, obviously to my family, because I use it almost daily.

  30. I am not very crafty, but I would like to make some of my own Christmas decorations this year. I think a memory tree skirt would be tops on my list.

  31. Probably sounds corny, but glue and tape are my favorite craftish items, along with my hole puncher.

  32. Thank you again for inviting me over here to “meet” your incredible readers through this interview. I really LOVED your questions, Linda. But most of all, I love your generous heart for giving, which is always so apparent in every post you write and encouraging email you send my way. Thank you for the warm words about my book and for your incredible support. Your bloggy friendship has meant the world to me! {Hugs.} Off to spread the word about this fabulous giveaway!

    • It’s my pleasure, Lauren! I love your book and want everyone to get a copy in their hands! Thank you for helping make someone’s gift-giving dreams come true πŸ™‚

  33. My favorite Christmas gift was a beautiful Bible, engraved with my name, from my oldest daughter.

  34. My favorite gift ever received was a table for my deck made by my oldest daughter when she was 8.

  35. I love receiving anything homemade and from the heart. But I have a crocheted blanket from my aunt that is special to me.

  36. My favorite craft ingredient is glitter! Everything is better with some sparkle!

  37. Jessica Medina says:

    My favorite Christmas gift was my son!

  38. Jessica Medina says:

    I would love to receive homemade soaps and sugar scrubs.

  39. Jessica Medina says:

    I could not live without my glue gun!

  40. My favorite Christmas gift ever received was a holiday Barbie from my best friend. I always wanted one as a kid, but my parents couldn’t afford one. She decided to buy me one last year. It made me cry.

  41. A gift I want to make is a card box for my friend. She loves cards and keeps all of them. I think taking the time to personalize a box for her would be awesome!

  42. My favorite craft tool is my hot glue gun! That thing is great for everything!

  43. My favorite Christmas gift ever received was being able to spend Christmas day with my family.

  44. One gift I would like to give is “the best Christmas ever” to my kids.

  45. My favorite crafting item is double-sided sticky tape….love that stuff. thx

  46. My favorite gift ever received was a black hills silver ring with my January birthstone in it when I was young!

  47. I love gifting homemade items, and love receiving them! This year I have been making wood initial signs for my family.

  48. My favorite crafting supply is paint! Can never have enough!!

  49. My favorite Christmas gift was probably a pantry cabinet that I use all the time.

  50. This year I am looking forward to giving cookies as usual. I recently quit my awful retail job and I actually have time to make as many as want this year.

  51. This year my go-to crafting supply is pinecones; we have several baskets of them left over from our wedding. I plan on making wreaths, swags, and ornaments to give as gifts. They will also be useful for decorating everything.

  52. My favorite Christmas gift was my first born. She arrived just 18 days before Christmas…. “few” years ago

  53. Handmade gift I would love to receive would be an afghan made by my daughter.

  54. My favorite tool has to be my Silhouette Cameo. I have had it less than a year and I’m in love!!!

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