DIY Reusable Christmas Gift Tags

Update 12/13/2013: Thanks to my friend Renee Handy, you can now download a version of these gift tags that can be modified without Adobe Acrobat Pro or Adobe Illustrator. This new template includes editable form tags you can fill out using Acrobat Reader. (Information on formatting these fields is provided below.)

page_previewIf, like me, you’re looking for excuses to duck holiday responsibilities – baking cookies, sending out Christmas cards, staging unnecessarily elaborate tableaus for your home’s over-priced Elf on a Shelf – making reusable gift tags can be a nice filler project for the days leading up to Christmas.

Benefits of this project include:

  • Never forget to buy gift tags again, necessitating that you write names on your carefully wrapped-and-ribboned packages with a Sharpie (no judgments)
  • Legible gift tags, even on the presents your husband wrapped
  • Reusable and eco-friendly (although you’re probably going to be attaching them to a surfeit of wrapping paper)

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I hate my name.

For as long as I can remember, I have disliked my given name, “Loni.” The combination of sounds (an “ah” followed by an “ee”) has always sounded surly and masculine to me. Partly because I dislike it and partly because I have negative associations with my mother using it, I inwardly cringe when someone uses it to get my attention or in conversation. This is actually counter to one of the most widely accepted techniques for influencing someone. From 10 Psychology Tricks You Can Use to Influence People:

Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, believed that using someone’s name was incredibly important. He said that a person’s name is the sweetest sound in any language for that person. A name is the core part of our identity, and so hearing it validates our existence, which makes us much more inclined to feel positively about the person who validated us.

I would contend that this isn’t the case for people who have grown up disliking the sound of their own name. I usually ask close friends not to use my name unless it absolutely can’t be avoided.

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Refinishing our kitchen table: Stripping the pedestal

I was so reluctant to start this part of the project that I took about a four week hiatus between finishing the table top and starting the pedestal. My reluctance was well-founded. The grooves and rounded feet of the pedestal made it 5x more difficult to strip than the relative ease of the tabletop (including the beveled edge and skirt). After letting the gel stripper sit for 25 minutes (Achievement Unlocked: Superhuman Patience), I used my flat-bladed putty knife on the flat planes and 3M Scotch-Brite abrasive pads to clean around the contours. The latter technique takes some elbow grease and, at least initially, the paint and primer smears into a scary, gray sludge that spreads everywhere and makes you think your work is ruined. As you keep scrubbing, though, the stripper/paint/primer mixture starts to bead up and fall off.

Here are pictures from 3 hours (2 rounds of stripping) and 6 hours (3.5 rounds of stripping):

IMG_0032 IMG_0031

loni_tableWhat’s wrong with the picture at right? I’m not wearing safety goggles. I have gotten stripper on just about every limb at some point or another, but it never occurred to me to worry that it might get thrown into my eyes. Unfortunately, this happened over the weekend while I was vigorously dabbing stripper into the rings of the pedestal. Once I realized what had happened (thoughts: “oh wow that’s cold … maybe it’s not going to hurt … oh NO, IT DOES! IT DOES!!”), I dashed inside the house and approximated a chemistry class-style eyewash. My eyeball felt bruised, it hurt to blink, and my eyelid peeled three days later. So yeah, if you do this at home, be sure to wear goggles!

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