One year I gave my co-workers hot chocolate kits with homemade mix (there are gazillions of hot chocolate mix recipes on the web -- for all kinds of different flavors) and marshmalllows in baggies packed into mugs tied with ribbons. Everyone really liked the gift. Also, you could always hand paint something on the mugs if you wanted a craftier angle.
Last year I gave papier mache bowls (painted wildly, of course) filled with gougeres. The great thing about gougeres (which are little cheese pastries) is that everyone will think you're a French pastry genius, and they're actually really easy to make -- they just require a lot of stirring. Also, sometimes people appreciate getting a food gift that isn't sweet. If nothing else, it really makes your gift stand out.
Hope this helps -- however, I have no idea what I'm giving this year! I'm going to watch this thread myself...
I wore a black Dickies waitress-style uniform dress with red and black fishnets and Doc Marten mary janes, and had my hair in pigtails. I made a nifty badge sash with badges that I made with inkjet iron on pages using clip art. I had badges for "Advanced Poison," "Mayhem," "Care and Feeding of Zombies," and so forth. I modeled the sash after the ones from the sixties and seventies, so I had troop #666 of the Cthulhu branch on little patches. I made a skull emblem for both the sash and my beret, too, so I looked nice and official. I also carried a basket of miniature Almond Joys that I tried to sell, but no one would buy them after I told them how I learned that almonds cover the taste of arsenic really well when I was getting my Advanced Poisons badge!
It was my favorite costume in years. I would post pictures, but I can't find them...
I would love to see a whole troupe of Ghoul Scouts running around on Halloween! I've been waffling on costume ideas this year, because I can't think of anything to top last year.
You guys have given me some good ideas, though. I really like the silent film actress idea. Thanks!
Yeah, it was just regular acrylic paint and fabric medium, although it was sparkly acrylic paint. I had read somewhere that the fabric medium would make it take a lot longer to dry, but it dried in just a couple of hours, then I heat set it. It seems to be fine, although I haven't laundered it yet.
I have seen this several times with several machines. When I was a theatrical costumer and we would sew for hours on end before a show, all of the machines (except for one really old Bernina, oddly enough) would experience this from time to time. After a rest, they would work fine again.
We all said that the machines were tired...but I think that maybe they would get sort of overheated after long use. (They weren't commercial models, just regular home machines.) Of course, I think that maybe the costumers needed a break, too.
Well, I jumped in and made a stencil this evening. I used the ever-popular freezer paper method, and I have to say that it worked really well. Oh, and the paint really is a sparkly red -- that wasn't just the flash. I used a font from stencil revolution for the lettering (and yes, I stole the phrase from t-shirt hell -- my apologies for unoriginality), but I drew the disk underneath. I tried to match the mood of the font, but I am not an artist (obviously)...