During the holidays, I often find myself out of money to buy everyone gifts, so I usually wind up making my own. This year, I decided to make a homemade gift more meaningful by making my parents a huge 'memories' collage from my old pictures, clothes, craft supplies and memorabilia from my (early) childhood. This idea will probably work better for you if you are a hoarder, like me, and keep every single thing you can, no matter how useless it is. After all, now you can finally say, "See? It turns out it WAS useful, just like I always said it would be!", AND you get a totally awesome, quick and easy homemade gift.
Step 1: Supplies and Ideas
The main supplies you need for this are:
1. A piece of cardboard, thick posterboard, wood, etc. for the actual collage (Make it bigger than you think it'll need to be; once you start getting out the supplies, you won't be able to stop!)
2. A container of dry-clear, secure glue (I used Elmer's)
5. Ribbon, fake little flowers, nice stickers, etc. (optional)
6. Craft paper/some kind of background paper (preferably varied, but you hopefully won't see it much anyway)
7. Decopauge glue (optional)
9. Assorted memorabilia.
For that last one, you can get pretty much anything you can think of that has some meaning to you or your collage recipient, as long as you're sure it'll look good (and stay on) the collage. I used scraps of old clothes, childhood artwork, pictures, postcards, childhood poems, and cute things I used to say typed in cool fonts and cut out. These are only a few of the things you can use, and it all depends on what you think the collage recipient will appreciate the most. I made mine with as much slightly 3D stuff as possible, to catch the eye as it goes across the paper. Be creative!
Step 2: Laying Out the Groundwork
Remember, don't get too overexcited like I did and start randomly glueing cool stuff everywhere. Trust me, it doesn't work. Anyway, the first step of your collage is to cover it (or at least cover most of it, and cover the gaps with pictures, etc. later) with your decorative paper. It looks much better if the designs are varied, and make sure not to make everything too uniform; Throw those paper scraps everywhere, sideways, diagonal, anything you can do to make it look as unorganized as possible; this is what makes the collage. If it's too organized, it won't catch the eye of the observer. It's all part of making someone really look when they see your work. Remember, you can also use things other paper as background too; I used old scraps of clothing, etc. just to mix up the texture and make it a little more 3D.
Step 3: Adding the Good Stuff ;)
Now it's time for the real fun. After you've glued (or sewed) on all of your background, it's about time to start with the crazy grabbing-and-glueing we held off on earlier. So grab whatever pictures, postcards, childhood art, or whatever and start glueing! Make pictures crooked, overlap pieces, glue on your text quotes at diagonal angles, and just have fun with it! Even if it looks crazy to you in the heat of it, you'll always find that when you take a step back and look at it, it looks really cool. Try not to make too many clashing colors with the background, but don't be too careful; the point of this step is to put some life into it, make it a part of your expression and memory of what you're putting on it. And remember: this is the one time that organization is bad.. so go crazy!
Step 4: Finishing Up
You've now got an awesome collage that makes a great gift or keepsake. Whether you're making it for a mom, dad, grandma, or just a friend, they'll be sure to love it; After all, it looks amazing, contains all of your happy memories, and it's handmade! Now that you've had a huge amount of fun (and backaches) making it, the only thing you have to do to add a finishing touch is sign your name. It's okay if you don't have room; sign in the corner on top of something or type your signature in a nice font to cut out and glue on. If you have decopauge glue, you can use that as a last touch to go over the 2D parts you can; by the time I was done, I didn't have enough 2D room for it to make a difference. This is completely optional, and your collage still looks good without it; the glue just make sit more water-resistant and protected. Either way, now that you've finished, let it dry (this won't take too long, unless you're like me, and slathered on the glue like icing on a chocolate cake), and wrap it as best you can with your entire roll of wrapping paper (maybe that's just me.. but mine turned out to be 4' by 3', so I have an excuse). Give it to whoever it was intended for, and be sure to take pictures for your next memories collage!