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You may have outgrown making crayon cards, but you're never too old to give a Father's Day present with a personal touch. Whether you embellish a store-bought item or make your gift from scratch, Dad will surely appreciate the thoughtfulness of the offering.

The following are some ideas to get you started.

The most traditional gifts, such as ties and belts, can be personalized with just a little planning.

Embroider your father's first or last initial onto a simple linen tie using embroidery floss in a lighter shade than the tie's fabric -- or in the same color for a refined monochrome palette.

Or make a handsome belt rack to give along with a leather belt by attaching cup hooks to the bottom of a good wooden hanger. First drill holes with an appropriate-sized bit. (This will prevent the wood from splitting when you screw in the hooks.) Space holes evenly, about 2 inches apart; if the hooks' screws are too long, snip off ends with wire cutters before screwing them in. A father with a green thumb will appreciate the gift of a versatile gardening tool and a kit to maintain it. A bypass pruner, which cuts with a clean, scissorslike action, is a staple in the tool sheds of gardeners of all interest and experience levels.

Give Dad a basket with the pruners plus isopropyl alcohol, scouring pads, rags and cotton swabs for cleaning, silicone spray for lubricating, extra springs and a replacement blade.

Add spice to a grilling dad's life: Give a homemade barbecue rub in a glass canister with a handwritten label.

When spices are rubbed on meats, their flavors permeate the flesh, producing an intensity of flavor that sauces can't match. Dredge chicken, pork or beef in the rub one to three days before grilling. If desired, baste with barbecue sauce toward the end of cooking so the meat doesn't char.


1cup chili powder

3 tablespoons paprika

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoons coarse salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Place all ingredients in a large bowl; whisk to combine. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 2 cups.

Can't decide which photograph to frame as a Father's Day gift? Give your dad a whole roll of snapshots from a special occasion -- the birth of a child or grandchild, or a favorite family vacation or reunion -- in a picture-frame box. The framed photo in the lid of the box can display the theme of the contents inside.

Purchase two identical wooden frames (the deeper the frame, the taller the box will be). Remove the contents of frames and paint them in your dad's favorite color. When they are dry, align them back to back and attach two small butt hinges with appropriate-sized screws.

Cut two pieces of cork (available at crafts stores) to the size of the frame's cardboard. For the box lid, reinstall the glass on the frame, followed by the desired photo and the cardboard backing; adjust the frame's clips to secure. Attach one piece of cork to the cardboard with double-sided carpet tape.

To create the bottom of the box, place the second piece of cork inside the other frame as you would a picture. Secure it to the edges with glue. Fill the box with other photographs.

A fold-out photographic timeline card is the perfect way to celebrate all the years your dad has been by your side. This six-panel card requires five photographs arranged in chronological order. Choose photographs of you and your father on significant occasions (such as the day you were born) or in ordinary moments (candid snapshots at the beach).

Cut a strip of heavy paper or cardstock to measure 5 inches by 24 inches. Using a bone folder, crease the paper at 4-inch intervals to create panels.

Scale and crop the photos on a color copier to fit the spaces. Center the pictures and glue to the panels, leaving the last blank for your message.

Present your dad with a memorabilia tin to organize desktop supplies while also reminding him of a favorite vacation or travel destination. Use maps, menus or fliers to turn a commonplace can into a memento.

Begin with a tin, such as a soup can or spice box; remove any paper labels. Measure the height of the container and cut a long strip of your paper keepsake to the same measurement. Wrap the paper around the tin, and mark it, allowing for about 1/2 inch overlap.

Cut away excess and attach one end of the paper to the other using a glue stick.

Questions should be addressed to Martha Stewart, care of New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168. Questions may also be sent to Stewart by electronic mail:

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