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There are times when I just don’t know what to get a family member as a gift. It’s especially tough to know what to get my nieces when we’re stationed hundreds of miles away from them and they’re teenagers. I know I’m not alone in the what-to-get-your-teen-relative-for-a-gift dilemma. I like to include a handmade items with each gift I give my nieces and nephews to show them I care. This year I found the very best gift for teen girls (even when you don’t know what to get them) and I added an easy-to-make tote bag that I’ll use as the gift bag.
We’ve always been stationed far away from our family. As soon as the nieces and nephews hit the tween and teen years, gift giving became a big challenge for me since we don’t see each other very often. I want to score best-aunt-ever points by finding a gift they’ll love, but I’m also a busy mom of three and need to find the perfect gift quickly and easily. Anyone else with me in this boat?
My teen nieces are really into music (are there any that aren’t?). A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a stadium concert with my niece (and my daughters and sister-in-law) to see her favorite artist at the time. After about 10 minutes, I craned my neck looking around wondering who the girl was screaming non-stop for ten minutes. I looked and looked. Then I looked down the row of my family and realized it was my niece screaming at the top of her lungs for more than ten minutes. Yes, my nieces are big music fans.
When I was running errands in CVS last week, I noticed the Coty Holiday Gifts Sets in the display at the entrance of the store. Bam! I spotted the Katy Perry Killer Queen Gift Set. My nieces are all big Katy Perry fans (are there any teen girls who aren’t?). There were also Beyonce and Vera Wang Holiday Gifts Sets so there’s something for everyone.
I immediately knew that my gift giving dilemma was over. They’d both be thrilled with a Katy Perry fragrance holiday gift set and I could add a cute personalized tote bag to complete the gift. Whew. My own teen daughters use tote bags for everything; gym clothes, lunch bag, hair accessories, to carry items in their backpack, and much more. Using the tote bag as the gift bag for the holidays is a fun way to gift a memory.
I’ve always made fabric gift bags for our family and it’s become a tradition. This year I decided to use festive fabric that’s not too Christmas-y so that my nieces can use the bags as tote bags the rest of the year. I am not a seamstress, so if I can sew this gift bag, anyone can. Really.
Fabric – I purchased my fabric in the remnant section to save money. Depending on the size of your box, you’ll need approximately 1/4 to 1/2 yard of fabric.
Ribbon – You can purchase a spool of ribbon for about $1 and should make drawstrings for approximately five bags.
Large Button – Take a coupon with you to the craft store and purchase the largest flat button you can find.
Permanent Markers – Coordinate the colors to your fabric.
I laid the holiday gift set box out on my fabric to determine my measurements. You’ll want to cut the fabric 3/4 inches wider than the box. I folded the fabric so I only had to sew seams on the sides, but not on the bottom of the bag. You’ll want the finished top of the bag to extend about four inches above the top of the box so you can gather it with a ribbon.
If you purchase one of the Coty Holiday gift sets then you can use my measurements:
My fabric was 43 inches wide. I cut the main body of the bag at 8 3/4 inches by the 45 inches of the fabric width. I also cut two side pieces that were 3 1/4 inches wide by 20 1/2 inches.
Pin and sew each side piece to the main body piece. Carefully turn on the bottom corners as you’re sewing.
My holiday gift set box was perfectly sized so I could use the selvage edge of the fabric to make the drawstring casing. If the top edge of your bag is not finished, simply turn about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch down and then follow these steps.
With the fabric bag inside out, fold the top down 1 inch and pin. Sew about 1/4 inch from the edge to create a casing for the drawstring.
Open a seam carefully between the two rows of stitching.
Use a safety pin to thread the ribbon through the casing to create your drawstring. I like to knot the ends together so they don’t pull out of the bag.
Be sure to stitch about 1 inch on either side of the opening so that the stitching holds up to use.
I wanted to personalize each tote bag to make them that much more special for my nieces. Adding a monogrammed button is a simple and cute way to personalize a tote bag.
It’s easiest to hold the button while you’re working by leaving it on the packaging. Using a permanent marker, simply add the initial. Remove the button from the packaging and fill in the area that had been covered by the packaging. Sew the button by hand to the tote bag.
Best Gifts for Teen Girls
The gift box slips perfectly into the tote bag. Adding a festive holiday ribbon and a cute repurposed Christmas card gift tag turns the fun tote bag into an adorable gift bag.
I can’t wait to see my nieces’ faces since I’ve finally cracked the best gifts for teen girls (when you don’t know what to get) challenge. I’m counting those best-aunt-ever points now.
Be sure to check out these additional ideas for creative ways to gift a memory this year for everyone on your list.
More teen gift ideas: