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Do-it-Yourself Holiday Gifts

Here are ideas using technology you already have (or can easily borrow) to make thoughtful and well-regarded gifts using that most precious commodity — your time.

As thoughtful as they are, you can have tons of fun putting these gifts together. None of these ideas are platform dependent and can be done on whatever type of device you have — smartphone, tablet or computer. The best thing is that these ideas are as applicable for children as adults, especially with some modification and creative thinking.

Let’s make a video

We aren’t talking about a feature film here, and you certainly don’t have to be a Hollywood director. Your smartphone has video capabilities that also allow you to shoot, edit and send a completed video to someone via email. How about a video update of key events in your life this past year? A couple of interesting stories about travel, family events or changes in job. Or spice it up with singing or playing an instrument. There are lots of how-to-make-video tutorials on YouTube, but stick to the basics. Hold your camera steady (use a tripod if necessary), keep the video in focus, have enough but not too much light and try to keep the light source in front of the subjects so they aren’t backlit and in shadows. And finally — shorter is almost always better!

Provide tech tutorials

We all could use help learning more about our smartphones, tablets, computers or any of the myriad tech devices out there. Think smart home devices, pairing your smartphone with your car and much more. But most of us could benefit by having a knowledgeable person sit with us and our device for 45 minutes or so to answer questions we have compiled about how our favorite device works. For example, helping someone select and send photos to others. Or how to make a conference call from your iPhone. How about connecting with my local library to select books online? Package a simple gift certificate that includes several “tutorial sessions.” Such a simple gift to give but valued by the recipient.

Curated resources are the best

I love it when someone tells me about interesting information. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with the sheer volume of material on the internet that we don’t bother using it to discover the amazing content available. This is a chance for the gift maker/giver to do some research and put together a handful of interesting articles or videos. One of my favorite sites to suggest to others is The New York Times’ “52 Places to Go” series, published yearly. A new set of travel sites every year with beautiful photos, videos and fascinating information make this a must read. Or find excellent music sites with resources that match the interests of the person you are making this gift for. How about museums, mainstream or unusual, like the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.? Do a little research online and package these resources by sending a short description and a link to your family or friends.

A friends/family communication site

Let’s keep it simple with this one and start something like a Google Doc to share with family and/or friends. In this Google Doc, start an ongoing conversation … about life! Since this will be accessible to anyone you invite, treat it like a rolling letter, with text, photos, videos and more. The important piece will be that you monitor it to keep it fresh, relevant and fun. And you can encourage people to contribute. Members can comment on what others have said as well as add their own contributions. Content can include family history and just about any topic of interest to the group. But you might want to stay away from politics. Keep the content positive!

Gift giving to friends and family is about much more than buying something. The great thing about these ideas is the personal connection you make and the time you took to make a truly individual gift. Enjoy the time you spend as well. Happy holidays!

BoomerTECH Adventures ( provides expert guidance and resources to help Boomers and older adults develop competence and confidence using their Apple devices. Boomers themselves, BoomerTECH Adventures rely on their skills as educators to create experiences that meet individual needs through videos, Zoom presentations, tech tips and timely blog posts.

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