How to Turn Not-So-Great Gifts Into Perfect Presents!

By Jasmin, age 17, Indiana
Sweet Designs Featured Writer

Featured Gold Star Writer Bio

Now, I know that since the holidays are over (waaah!) it's time to face the music, aka your horrible Christmas presents from various aunts, uncles, and cousins twice removed you forgot you had. It does seem rude and selfish when you first opened that gift and your first thought was: "Oh God, did they get this thing at Ugly-R-Us!?" But as long as you put on a hopefully convincing happy face and pretty much pretended you loved it, you are good to go, safe from critiques of being ungrateful and/or rude to your Aunt Bertha that got you a squirrel tail keychain.

However, there is no fear here, guys, since I have come up with a plan to make those terrible gifts you may have gotten this year, well, not so terrible, even CUTE! Now, obviously this isn't going to work for every bad present you get, like that squirrel tail for example. I have no idea what in the world you could use that for, besides maybe something to attract any predator of a squirrel!

Anyway, I've thought of quite a few common dreary presents that just miss the mark, you could say. The first one is good ole Granma Jean's favorite item to give (or make) all 12 of her grandchildren: ugly sweaters. Now, I surely do not mean to criticize and bad-mouth your sweet Grandma's knitting job, for it is most definitely a nice one, as is she. However, as a teenage girl who's received one of these sweaters, they are most certainly not the most fashionable, stylish, or even reasonable article of something. Heck, sometimes they're even unwearable, as the crocheting technique chafes your body in all the wrong ways. But, instead of throwing the knit-piece in your closet, never to be seen again, nor even spoken about, try my idea first! (WARNING: it is still very distinctively possible that the sweater is just too hideous to even attempt this, and in turn, I am very, very sorry.)

Step One: Remove the sweater off the hanger in the back of your closet (try to keep the look of disgust off your face) and place it over your head and onto your torso. You may want to wear another shirt or camisole underneath if the itchy, scratchy, or just plain uncomfortable rule applies to your particular sweater.

Step Two: Find the cutest/warmest pair of leggings or stockings you own to wear underneath the sweater. If you want to be a little warmer, feel free to wear actual pants (jeans, etc.)

Step Three: Pair that with your favorite furry boots, Uggs, or whatever type of boot your heart desires.

Step Four, the most important: Pick out some spunky jewelry to spice it up a bit. For example, maybe a long chain double wrapped around your neck, a fun, bright bangle. Heck, let's throw some Christmas tree earrings in there! Just kidding! Unless your want to be extra Christmas-y.

A tip you can try, if your sweater is oversized enough (as most Grandmas apparently think their grandchildren are all 6X's): you can maybe slouch one side of the sweater over so you have a somewhat retro one shoulder sweater, made not-so-horrible with these few styling tips! Hopefully they work - I have seen them done, and done well. You will be rockin' that jingle bell get-up in no time! Well, at least come December.

Sweater is available for $21.99 at or your local store.

Now what we have next is going to take us all back to our childhood years. This is for when we teens have relatives come to visit from Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, wherever they live. Anyway, they haven't seen us in quite a few years. Since, maybe we were about seven or eight, maybe a little younger, little older. So they come down, and bless their hearts, they just don't know anything about the new teenage you. All they can choose as a gift is something childish that you could have possibly liked when you saw them last. You definitely cannot blame these innocent folks, as we teenagers, admit it, are extremely picky, fickle, and extremely nit-picky.

Instead of taking the painstaking amount of time to try and figure it out by hints through Christmas cards ("Sara's really enjoying soccer this year"), they take the easy way out by buying something that they know for sure you'd love - at least eight years ago. Note to the general public: I adamantly apologize for the pure pickiness we possess and how difficult we make it to even begin to think about gifts for us. But, when we do receive the sad juvenile attempts at gift-giving, we smile and nod, thank them, of course, then immediately start thinking how we can possibly fix this situation, which is where my advice will hopefully come in handy!

Now, I'm not talking about things like actual toys - Legos, Barbies, etc. You could legitimately use those, if they're unopened, donating them to an organization that gives needy children toys, such as Toys for Tots. I am talking about child-like clothing items, or maybe even just child-like sizes. If Uncle Tom still thinks you're a size 12 in Girls then, well, the solution is clear - if you can, in fact, manage to squeeze yourself into that tiny tee or normal sized, but kiddish design or tee with a saying, like "I'm Not Short, I'm Fun Sized."

You can easily turn it into a cute - what I call "Back to Baby" - outfit. Clearly, you're (hopefully) not receiving toddler apparel, but items too young for you; a catchy phrase is definitely 'back to baby.' :)

Step One: Pair the 'baby-tee' or whatever kids' paraphernalia you got, with your favorite semi-long cardigan. One that will cover possible speed bumps or love handles, if you get what I'm saying, considering you might be wearing a rather tiny tank top.

Step Two: Pick out a very cute bandage skirt, or any form-fitting skirt.

Step Three: If you're feeling brave, place a bold and bright pair of tights on underneath. If not that brave, stick with plain black or nude ones.

Step Four: Find your cutest, most childish jewelry/headwear that will accommodate your childish tee or whatever it is. Personally, I would choose to put my hair in a tight side bun and tie/clip a polka-dotted bow in it, get my chunkiest old jewelry from eighth grade, and go crazy! If I'm feeling extra super duper middle school-ish, I'll break out my choker made from random plastic bead shapes and put a ring on every finger! I'm suggesting just having fun with the outfit, as you should always do with fashion. :)

Tee shirt is available for $10.50 at or your local store.

Lastly, we have our also pretty common 'go-to' gift from someone who may not even know who you are. Aunt Patricia tells your third cousin twice removed that she needs to buy you something, although you guys have never met. This gift is easy and simple because in the gift giver's eyes. "I mean, who wouldn't love a paisley flannel scarf, right??" Items given fairly often (apparently because these gifts are unisex and either a girl or boy will 'enjoy' them): heinous printed and patterned fleece throws/blankets, an ugly-print scarf, glove or hat set, or weirdly colored socks, usually fuzzy. The list of just plain random and unusual gifts goes on and on.

Everyone definitely knows this list because I am absolutely positive practically every person reading this article has either received these weird gifts, or God, I hope not, given them to someone. And if you have, please, I hope it was someone you were forced to gift for by your mom, or it was a funny white elephant gift exchange within your sports team, after school club/activity, or whatever it may be.

For these odds and ends, I can help ... within limits. As said before, I cannot help you with a random Rudolph snow globe or an Easy-Bake Oven. (I'd say bake cookies for yourself in that!) But I can help you with the items made primarily of a fabric, preferably fleece or something fuzzy, furry, soft - pleasing to the skin, basically. For example, you can definitely very easily make a variety of items with that oddly patterned fleece throw you got! Make mittens! Or a scarf, or even a hat! Now, I know what you're thinking: if I wouldn't cuddle up to Megamind in my own home with that horrid throw, what makes you think I'm going out in public dressed in that!?

Well, here's the answer: you don't have to wear it! You can gift it to your mom and she'll wear it because you made it! With mittens, you simply just trace your hand, leave some room obviously for the sewing, then sew the pieces together, and boom - mittens! You can even get fancy like I did and sew elastic on the inner wrist piece!

With a scarf, if you have fleece material, all you have to do is cut out a long strip 5-7 inches wide, two-ish feet long, depending on how wide and long you want it, then make little slits at the bottom, with pinking shears if you want them to have a cool trim to them, and wah-lah, a scarf! No sewing required, since fleece tends to not rag up at the edges when cut.

A hat is a little more difficult to make and may require a quick pattern online. But, the point is, with all this stuff, you can make it fairly fast, and as I said, either give it to your doting mother, sell it (hey, some people actually do like that fuschia plaid), send it to your grandma (get back at her for that sweater!), or you could even try to embellish it a bit by yourself to make it less ugly and more attractive. Now, as for the repulsive socks, you're on your own. ;)

Scarf is available for $27.99 at or your local store.

I hope you guys got at least a few gift-fixing ideas from this! I'm here to help! And if there's something you really don't think you can fix, personally ask me, or hey, send it on over here! I'm sure I can find somebody who will buy it off me. :)

Love ya guys!

- Jasmin C.K. :)

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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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