How many times during the holiday season do you get stuck trying to find a gift for the person who already has everything? You want to give them something that will really touch their heart but you're at a loss as to what that will be?

I found the perfect solution (well, five of them, actually) at Inspired Buffalo. It's a really specialized design and print shop that's locally owned by a husband-wife team who collaborates with dozens of local artists.

I'll start off with my favorite: Heirloom Recipe Tea Towels. You scan a hand-written recipe from a loved one (think: mom, grandma, an auntie who made the best pies) and choose a design. Inspired Buffalo will touch up any imperfections in the recipe and print a beautiful tea towel that showcases the recipe and the handwriting. And they can do wonders with handwriting that has stood the test of time:

They recently invited me into their studio to see how they make them from start to finish (and they made one for me to give to my mom!):

Here are their step-by-step instructions to have your own Heirloom Recipe Tea Towel made:

1. Select favorite recipe!

2. Pick from one of their many designs online. Don’t want any of those designs? Setup an appointment with Marinette and she will custom design it for you.

3. Take a photo (make sure you’re perpendicular to the recipe) or scan it in. There are apps you can download for your phone to scan it. Upload scan to our site when ordering.

4. Not sure you can scan it? Setup an appointment with Marinette and she will do it for you.

5. Marinette will retouch out as many imperfections as possible in the scanned recipe with Photoshop and make the layout with the design of your choice.

6. Marinette will send you a proof for you to approve.

7. They inspect the tea towel to sure it’s sewn well and has no stains and then they iron it.

8. The tea towel is placed on a platen for printing.

9. The image is then uploaded into our RIP software.

10. The image is printed using water base inks directly onto the fabric. The results are a smooth print that is absorbed into the fabric.

11. They cure the ink in the heat press.

12. It is washable, though many would never choose to use the tea towel. Here are the directions: Machine was cold, using non harsh chemicals like bleach. Dry hanging up or on low in the dryer. Do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets as it will make it less absorbent.

My Heirloom Recipe Tea Towel is going to be a present to my mom. It's my grandfather's applesauce cake. It’s something that he always made when my mom was growing up. She doesn’t have a lot of items with his handwriting and I know this will mean the world to her. Here's my finished towel next to my recipe card:

Bill Dubiel, Townsquare Media
Bill Dubiel, Townsquare Media

I'm excited to see my mom's reaction when she opens this, but if a heirloom tea towel isn't a perfect fit for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list, here are some other custom gift options from Inspired Buffalo:

1) Customized Buffalo gear. They have colorful Buffalo dancer artwork. Buffalo Hero artwork honoring EMTs, firefighters, police and veterans. Buffalo nursery artwork. They also have a large selection of men's and women's T-shirts, pillows and paper goods.

Bill Dubiel, Townsquare Media
Bill Dubiel, Townsquare Media

2) Personalized for newlyweds. You can commemorate a couple's first holiday in several ways, including custom tea towels and pillows.

Bill Dubiel, Townsquare Media
Bill Dubiel, Townsquare Media

3) Personalized nursery decor and onesies. You can tap into your creativity or theirs to come up with something really unique.


4) Ornaments and stocking. These smaller gifts are great on their own or to complement a gift card.

Marinette and her husband truly love Buffalo and I love how they invite other artists into their venture. I couldn't be more pleased with how the tea towel turned out and encourage you to check them out. (All custom orders need to be placed by Dec. 10 to be finished in time for Christmas.) Tell them Liz sent you!

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