There are long lines at checkout stands at Tri-City craft stores with the holidays around the corner.
Aisles are crowded with shoppers looking for card stock, soap-making kits and craft supplies of all kinds.
Even in households where finances are tight, crafters still are finding a way to indulge their creative side.
"The number of shoppers hasn't changed," said Eric Williams, manager of Craft Warehouse in Kennewick. "People who enjoy doing crafts aren't going to give it up. They just might be more selective in what they buy."
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SaLee Phillips, head of the paper crafts department at Craft Warehouse in Kennewick, said, "People really enjoy making something personalized, something one-of-a-kind for gift giving. There's still tons of time to do a lot of projects, and they don't have to be all that expensive."
Many people are opting to give family gifts rather than individual presents, said Kori Valdez of Hobby Lobby Creative Center in Kennewick. Her store carries unfinished wooden trunks. When painted and embellished, they become a family keepsake.
"The idea is for the family to put something inside each year that reminds them of that year's Christmas -- photos, ornaments, whatever. Then, each year they can bring the trunk out from storage and go through it remembering their good times," Valdez said.
Scrapbooking and handmade greeting cards remain popular crafts, so are candle and soap making.
"A lot of scrapbook pages get made this time of year when we're thinking of good times and past Christmases," said Laurel Van Martyr of Hobby Lobby. "This is a great time of year to get those photos out of the drawer and make something of them."
The selection of Christmas-themed papers at craft stores is extensive. So are the assortments of stickers and die cutting machines for making cutouts and shapes for embellishing everything from picture frames to cards.
Pennants, triangular banners of paper or felt emblazoned with Christmas sentiments of "love, peace and noel" have also become a popular way to decorate for the holidays, Phillips said.
Needlework projects are a perennial favorite for gift giving, especially Christmas stockings and Advent calendars. The calendars serve as a way of counting down the days from the first of the month to Christmas. Each day has a "window" which -- when opened -- reveals an image, a saying or a portion of the Christmas story.
Craft projects also are a great way to get the whole family involved.
"In one afternoon, you can all sit around the dining table and make beaded bracelets using twine or leather strips," Van Marter said. "These are really popular with junior high and high school age kids."
So is glitter.
"Apparently bling is in with the kids," Valdez said. "They're putting it on everything -- shoes, shirts, bird houses, even on fuzzy, velvet-like posters."
Homemade ornaments provide another family activity. Just paint a glass or plastic ball with white glue and cover it with tissue paper. After it dries, slip a battery-operated LED inside.
"These are really pretty hung on the tree," Van Marter said.
Whatever the skill level or interest, clerks at the craft stores are ready with ideas.
"We're here to help," Phillips said. "Tell me if it's for a boy or girl and their age, and we'll find something."
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org