Thursday, March 22, 2007

DIY, Holiday Creative Giftwrapping, Pretty Packages

DIY, Holiday Creative Giftwrapping, Pretty Packages
by: Madeleine Langlois

Pretty Packages
Gifts trimmed with flair by: Maddylane Designs

Skill: Easy.

Materials & tools:

Assorted paper remnants, rice paper, plain coloured papers
Glue gun and sticks
Double-face tape and regular adhesive tape
Ribbons in assorted colours, widths and styles
Assorted findings: custom jewellery, belt buckles, quilling paper strips, feathers, sequins, tinsel garland, wire, beads etc.
Fabric remnants, fun fur, taffeta, fuzzy wool, scrapbooking tools, snowflake punch, decorative edge scissors, hang tags, rub-on lettering
Also see each gift wrapping description.
(Materials for this project are available at arts and craft stores.)

My favourite part of the holidays is wrapping the gifts. It is the perfect occasion to use up many remnants from various projects and to let my creativity run loose, just for fun. Since my wrapping room is shared with the laundry room, it is a sure place to find some peace of mind during all the craziness of the holidays.

Minimalist with a touch of Ritz, great gift wrapping ideas start with cool findings. The secret to achieve the look of these French bonbon gift wrappings is all in the trimmings. Personalized to make an impact, even simple gifts can look elegant with a little accent. Don’t be afraid to extend the colour palette beyond the traditional; it’s all good because, really, anything goes. Even though I used assorted colour combinations of bright turquoise, greens and blues with soft pastels amidst accents of silver, angelic whites and chocolate brown, the theme is what brings everything together.

Fuzzy wool for a cozy warm feeling: Super easy yet stylish. Once a gift is wrapped, affix one or two ribbons around the box and then wrap a few lengths of fuzzy wool as decorative trim around the package. Assorted fancy yarns provide an inexpensive and chic way to dress up bonbon or cracker-shaped gifts.

Rows of ribbons: Create basic plaid patterns using satin, grosgrain and velvet types of ribbons in assorted colours and widths over a tissue-paper wrapped gift. Garnish with dash of white tinsel garland. A length of wide satin ribbon looks stunning when applied over the centre of larger gifts and plain paper bags. Secure the ribbons at the back of a package using hot glue. Wide ribbons can also be adorned with lengths of fuzzy wool.

Bejewel using recycled jewellery and belt buckles: Recycle odds and ends jewellery pieces, earrings, and charms. Glue these onto a ribbon to create an elegant centre ornament. Paint plain or wooden buckles silver or gold (or any colour) and fasten a length of ribbon around a fabric-wrapped gift. Top it all off with a single feather.

Dazzling with sequins: Make your gifts sparkle and dazzle with sequins. Use by-the-yard sequins as you would ribbons. Double rows of brightly coloured sequins look spectacular onto plain silver-wrapped gifts. Further embellish by randomly gluing individual sequins on wrapped presents.

Quilling for snowman: Quilling, also known as paper filigree, is the art of rolling thin strips of paper into different shapes and using the shapes to form designs. Quilling papers comes in packages of assorted colours. Creative accents, such as plain snowman shapes or monograms, can be crafted to garnish plainly wrapped boxes. Affix designs to gifts using double-face tape. You can even apply the papers in flat strips or fashion a checked pattern. Simple swirls make wonderful gift garnishes.

Cut-it-out with paper snowflakes: So easy to make and yet so enchanting. They make magical trimmings onto gifts, in assorted sizes. Just cut snowflake shapes using scissors with folded plain or assorted types of recycled papers. You can even have the kids help you out with this one. Paper garlands can be quite stunning too.

Punched snowflakes: Paper punches with holiday designs are wonderful to use and incorporate into gift trimming. Using a snowflake design punch and assorted papers, from velum to silver, punch out snowflake shapes and glue them onto gifts, ribbons and cards, in a row or randomly. I even used the punched out negative to make decorative bands around gift boxes, and trimmed the edges with decorative scissors.

Monograms letters: Letters, initials make delightful gift topping accents and can be shaped with wire of various colours or beaded wires.

Fabric remnants: Excellent for wrapping larger gifts, and to use up fabrics that you know you won’t use within the next year or so. I utilized fun-fur remnants to make a snowman decoration onto a larger gift box.

Hang-tags embellished with rub-on decal lettering, clip art, micro beads and photos of the gift recipient also make fantastic gift trimmings.

Get wrapping and happy trimmings!

Tips: For all gifts wrapped using fabrics, make sure to iron out any creases out first and wrap the gifts as you would with paper wrapping. Use hot glue to secure the folds instead of tape.

Variations: Other creative gift wrappings include holiday dishtowels, table cloths, fabrics, and wallpaper. Or, you can opt to make the wrapping part of the gifts using a variety of household and clothing items.

Older Christmas tree ornaments that you are no longer using also make fun gift toppings.

Don’t be bashful to use colours such as lime green, hot pink, bright orange, mauves, vibrant turquoise and blue; They are very “in” and trendy colours this season.

Pretty packages can be integrated into your table decorations, to grace a mantel, or even used outdoors. Double them up and use as name card holders.

Copyright MaddyLane Designs © 2006

About The Author
Madeleine Langlois

Born in Montreal, Canada, Madeleine Langlois resides in Hudson, Quebec with family.

Madeleine better known as Maddy is an artist and freelance décor designer/stylist with 25 years designing experience and many creative ventures to her credit. Maddy is the force and soul of "Maddy Lane Designs". From her Hudson home studio workshop, she creates innovative, savvy yet accessible home decorative projects for her private clientele and her syndicated column.

Her DIY décor projects are published weekly in the Wednesday edition of the Montreal Gazette in the Art & Life section. Her work is also featured in Canadian magazines. Her various projects advocate the latest in home decorating trends. Her innovative contributions also extend to demonstrations and lectures at trade shows and special events. Maddy’s creativity goes beyond current lifestyle trends, inspiring people to transform ordinary every-day objects into trendy decorative accents for the home. Her inventive passion started at an early age, and when on to work as a fashion designer and illustrator for many years. Her artistic touch has also graced children’s books, unique giftware products, Christmas decorations, as well as product development for major Canadian companies.

With a keen eye for photography and product merchandising, Maddy enjoys taking all the stylish pictures for her articles. Her up-to-date and imaginative ideas are due to her combined backgrounds both as a fashion and giftware designer, which have created her trademark and distinctive style.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How To Select a Great Topic For Your Book or Ebook Part 5 of 5

How To Select a Great Topic For Your Book or Ebook Part 5 of 5
by: Aaron Morganstern

These are fiery hot topics that are sure to be on the rise. You can pull any one of these to use for your first ebook. Then come back and pull another topic for your next ebook.

Using the latest electronics. We are a society obsessed with having the latest and greatest technology. Do an ebook on iPods, email/camera cell phones, wireless Internet, digital TV, or any combination of these items.

Home improvement. There's so much of a craze in this area that do-it-yourself (DIY) stores are on every corner of major cities. If you haven't been to a Home Depot or Lowe's lately, then you are one of the few. Sure, apartment dwellers and young students aren't in this market, but people with homes and money to afford them are in this market. In fact, some cable TV services offer entire channels dedicated to home improvement.

Especially of current interest are in-home automation systems. DIY home improvers are eager to learn about and buy things that will make their home lives more relaxing, high-tech, or fun. Create a book to teach them how to make their lights come on for them before they get home from their jobs, or how to press a button to adjust window blinds, music, or temperature. Or how Bill Gates' house works. Or how to add automation to an existing home, or how to build-in automation when a house is constructed.

Identity theft prevention. Especially because ebooks are marketed on the Internet, this is a great topic. This is because people who purchase over the Internet are concerned that their credit card numbers will not be seen by others or misused in any way. Even away from the computer though, consumers are on-edge about identity theft. Today, people are shredding their receipts, removing their personal information from the face of their checks, and cautiously covering themselves when they type in passwords at public terminals or ATMs. Microchips are being installed on ID cards. People are worried. Tap into this by writing an ebook (see about it!

Safety. Along the same lines as worrying about identity theft, people are worried about their safety from other things like crime, chemical warfare attack, and natural disasters. Watch the evening news tonight, and you will be able to list at least twenty things that people are afraid of. When you talk about safety, you are speaking their language. Titles along the lines of be prepared for any natural disaster would go over well, as would those like never be a crime victim again, how to defend yourself in a parking lot, or prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

How-to manuals for any new product recently on the market. This harks back to the Dummies series but takes it one step further. Target your ebook to people who want to buy the most current commercially available item. How to use the new model John Deere tractor. You will be sure that no one else has a book like yours, and you can say so in your sales pitch.

How to survive any phase of life. People face numerous demons and battles as they live their lives. For many, when they're in need, they'll be reaching out for help. Support groups, private therapy, being with friends, starting over - these are all solid topics for an ebook. You could also reach out specifically to certain people needing emotional assistance. How to get through the terrible two's. How to cope with a cancer diagnosis. Living with your own shortcomings. How to live with someone who is dying. Surviving high school. Any of these will do.

Anything to do with pets. People are pampering their pets more than ever before. Some pets are treated better than people. It's the people who spend small fortunes on their dogs (see that will also be willing to pay good money for an ebook that gives them ideas on how to treat their animals even more royally than they already do.

Write books on how to pamper your parakeet, homemade meals for picky dogs, how to potty train a puppy (see, where the pet spas are, how to train your kids to be cat-friendly, million dollar homes for mutts, which animals make the best pets, or pet psychology.

Traveling mixed with the subjects above. Not only are people traveling like crazy, but they want to customize their itineraries and their methods of travel with their hobbies and lifestyles. Try a few of these on for size: where to dine around the globe and still stay on a low-carb diet plan. Hotels with the best exercise facilities. How to travel exquisitely with large dogs. Crime-proof your campsite. Be creative. There's a market here.

Using the Internet to meet people. As I said, the craze is upon us. Everyone's online, and sometimes folks spend more time chatting with Internet buddies than they do talking face to face with actual friends. I know I've been guilty of this one myself. Anyway, along with the advent of the World Wide Web, came people who need a little help figuring out how to get where they want to get. They want to find like-minded people, find a date, find love, find support.

There's a huge ebook market for hooking people up with people online. Here are just a few things that could be covered: speed dating online, virtual music jams, taking online classes, hooking up with people who share your hobby, and finding online support groups. Any of these and more are of interest to people who wish to get maximum benefit from their ability, thanks to the Internet, to network with people in the farthest reaches of the world. In fact one of the appeals with online communing is that distance does not matter. Help these people in foreign lands find each other with an ebook.

Topics of special interest to women. The facts don't lie. Women dominate the Internet, and they spend or influence spending of 80 cents for every dollar changing hands. What women want has never been so important to business owners and authors.

Certain topics appeal particularly to the female set. These include beauty, health, decorating, emotional support, and life enrichment. Women do a few things, generally, that men don't. They play bunko, wear make-up, and talk for hours to their girlfriends on the phone. They send more greeting cards, prepare more casseroles, and vacuum more often than men. They eat more salads and go shopping more often for clothes. They get more pedicures and love to dance more than the average man.

There are two things to keep in mind with regards to women and ebooks. If you want to attract a female market, you need to write about a topic that women like to read about, and you want to make the title friendly towards women.

Here's a female-oriented subject and title: Where to find great shopping bargains in Taos. And here's a male subject: Where to catch the most fish in Taos.

Here's a female-friendly title (same as above): Where to find great shopping bargains in Taos. And here's a male-friendly title on the same subject: Keep your money in your pocket in Taos. See the difference? Know your market, and if you need to choose between one or the other, you're safe going with the women's title.

Sex. People don't need to sneak out of bookstores with erotic books in their hands anymore, and they know it. They are looking on the Internet for sex materials, toys, and books. The Internet is private, individuals can take their sweet time, and indeed they can surf with or without a lover sharing their chair. There's been a recent ebook success entitled Orgasms for two. There is room for more similar ebooks. On the subject of sex, this is one case where a fiction book may also do the trick. You could create erotic short stories or a how-to-have-great-sex ebook. Either ebook would entice adults interested in this category (and incidentally, most adults are indeed interested in this category).

I hope this massive brainstorming session has been helpful to you! If you still don't have any ideas, go back and read every article in this series. If you still can't think of an idea after that, maybe you shouldn't be writing a book after all. Thanks again for reading, and best wishes for your writing.

About The Author

Aaron Morganstern is a freelance copywriter, and has ghost written ebooks for several well-known internet marketers. He resides in Utah with his wife, and enjoys skiing and other outdoor activities. For more information about ebooks and writing he recommends the website Writing Cash and he can often be found on writing forums giving helpful advice to aspiring young authors.