RA and the Holidays: Handmade Gifts without the Pain

  • Many people enjoy making handmade gifts for your loved ones during the holidays, but rheumatoid arthritis can make it difficult for your body to hold up. Does that mean you have to give up making that something extra special for your family and friends? Not at all. This post is full of ideas for a variety of homemade gifts that won’t hurt your hands in the making.


    Print on Demand Gifts

    Almost everyone has a digital camera or the camera on the phone and we all use them a lot. Why not do something special with all those photographs? For years, I’ve made an annual calendar of some of my best shots. It’s easy! Most photofinishing stores will help you make photo gifts, including calendars, mugs, blankets and more. You can also go online to find print on demand websites. Zazzle has a wonderfully easy interface and a dazzling selection of high quality products, ranging from calendars and cards, to pillows, canvas prints, watches, bags and many more. To edit your photos and insert text, you can use a free photo editing programs such as Paint.Net.

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    Photo book

    Photo books are also print on demand, but deserve a separate category. Tap into your creative side and tell a story through photos and text or perhaps just photos. Make a book with the story of you and your siblings, your relationship with your best friend or your baby’s first year. Create an album filled with shots of your kids for their grandparents, write poems accompanied by beautiful images of nature. Or you can follow this brilliant idea for the Ugly Photo Book, when someone use the terrible family photos to create a unique memory that will make the loved ones laugh throughout the years. The sky’s the limit! There are a variety of photo book websites on the net, including Blurb.


    Edible Gifts

    Homemade treats are a wonderful way of showing love. They can also be an excellent gift for those people on your list that you’d like to recognize without a more official present. Find recipes for baked goods that don’t require a lot of kneading or time, such as scones, peppermint sticks or make a simple sugar cookie interesting by using different cookie cutters and decorations. You can also give ingredients that people can use later to make their own food, such as spice rubs, herbed rice mix or muffin mix. Package in cooking tins, glass jars or on a plate wrapped in cellophane with a beautiful bow.


    Crafty Gifts

    For those of us who have enjoyed sewing or knitting, letting go of this particular way of showing love can be hard. You may still be able to express your crafty side by choosing simple projects to give to a few people, rather than knitting hats for everyone in your family. No-sew sachets can make someone’s clothes smell wonderful and bathsalts is a terrific idea for that person who spends hours in the tub. Do you have an old sweater? Make these easy and charming sweater mittens. Personalized hand-painted mugs can be beautiful and heartwarming.



  • When I was a child, part of our lead-into Christmas traditions was making decorations and centerpieces for the table. My mother would place a pile of pine, fir and spruce branches and pinecones on the table. We put lumps of clay on a paper plates and inserted the different branches, decorating around a tall candle in the middle. For weeks, these decorations would fill the house with the scent of Christmas and the warm glow of candlelight. Using oasis (florist’s foam) instead of clay is easier on the hands. If your yard doesn’t have pine trees, check out Christmas tree farms or lots in your neighborhood for the supplies. If you need inspiration, here’s an instructional video that shows you how.

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    Image © Marina Kuchenbecher


    Care Package

    A care package can be a wonderful way to show someone how much you love them. Find a beautiful box and spend some time thinking about what makes the person unique or special aspects of your relationship. Fill the box with their favorite chocolates, a good book, a picture of the two of you and small toys and doodads that only they will find funny or touching. It’s like a stocking for adults! Tuck in a letter from you where you get unreservedly sentimental about how much they mean to you. This kind of gift will make them happy for a long time.

    One of the great things about making homemade gifts is that it makes you feel really good, too. As you spend time putting together something special for someone you love, you can feel that love spreading from your heart to the tips of your toes.


    Have a great time making a unique gift this year!



    Lene is the author of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain. She blogs at The Seated View.

Published On: December 04, 2013