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A gift-giving occasion is here and you're stumped. You've been to the store and don't see anything for that person. She didn't like the sweater you gave her last year. What to do?

If you have a computer, and an ink jet printer (which you probably do), you have the capacity to make gifts much more exciting than another sweater or tie. Here are a few ideas you may want to consider:


To make t-shirts, buy iron-on transfers at any office supply or computer store. Design your t-shirt in any graphics or advanced word-processing program with graphics. Some of the home publishing programs even have templates for you to use. You can also buy software that walks you through the process.

Design your shirtfront. When you are ready to print, go to the printer settings and set it to print in reverse. In Windows '98, you go to Printers from the start menu, right click on the printer you are going to use. Then click on properties. Next, click on the paper tab. Different printer drivers label reverse print differently, but click on the
one that will print backwards. That way your transfer will come out right.

If you are using a t-shirt template from a graphics program, you don't need to set the printer-the software does it for you and then sets it back again.

Follow the directions for ironing on and you'll have a gift that the recipient will enjoy.

Of course you can use iron-on transfers for any gift made of fabric, not just t-shirts.


You can buy kits for using transfers for jig-saw puzzles. The process is almost the same as making a t-shirt. Follow the directions. You may even want to scan in a family photo to use in your puzzle.


Most home graphics programs have templates for making calendars with pictures. Scan in a few family pictures to go along with the calendar and you have a personalized gift the person can enjoy all year.


There are programs that will print these up for you, or you can make your own. They are usually available inexpensively at software shops. I prefer to take the information and design my own. I like to make a feature article about the person's birth, highlighting his or her interests (e.g. when he saw the doctor was wearing a tie with a golfer on it, he grabbed at it, if the person is an avid golfer). Then I have other articles about the events and trends of the day.

People really enjoy receiving these and I have even seen them framed in my friends' houses.


Many graphics and word processing programs allow you to make labels in such a way that all the labels are alike. You can use this for personalized gifts. Here are some ideas:

BOOKPLATES If your recipient is an avid book reader, you can make personalized bookplates. You can also make bookplates that you enclose in books that you give to people.

STICKERS Small children love stickers. You can make personalized ones from Avery labels.

Look in the mailing label of your nearby office supply store and you will see a wealth of different sizes and styles of labels.

Let your imagination guide you to what else you can do.