Every year I tell my kids the same thing: Don’t buy me stuff, make me something.

I’ve always been a sucker for sentimental presents. When I was a kid — back before paint-it-yourself pottery places were invented — my holiday gift-giving go-to was handmade coupons.

“Free! One car wash!” or “Free! One 10-minute neck rub!”

It’s not really as selfless as it sounds because…. I knew they’d never be cashed.

My dad was very protective of his vehicles. I’m still surprised he didn’t make us put on hazmat suits to ride in the front seat. My always-busy mom never sat still long enough to collect on a neck massage. So, shrewd move on my part.

When the kids were younger, we’d create homemade gifts together that would make Martha Stewart throw up a little in her mouth. One project: votive candle holders made out of glass baby food jars. I remember this one only because I was rummaging around for holiday decorations in the storage room, and I stumbled across a cache of about 30 of those little jars. I was way more ambitious back then.

The kids are old enough now to spearhead their own crafty efforts. No. 1, who’s very artistic, will sketch or paint something. Or she’ll print and mat one of her cool photographs. No. 2 likes to go the “certificate” route: “World’s best brother” was a recent keepsake that, quite frankly, was a surprise based on what I’d heard her yell at him during their afternoon shouting matches.

No. 3, though, is a chip off the old block. Coupons. He’s all about the coupons. Last year, I got a week’s worth of “Good for 1 free backrub” coupons. They were capped at 15 minutes, and he very smartly added “not open on holidays.” Which is fair.

Guess what’s still squirreled away in a computer desk drawer? All seven free backrub coupons.

No expiration date listed. I guess I don’t really need to point out that he failed to make them “one-time use only” because, unlike my mom, I never fail to collect on a gift certificate. Bwahahahahaha.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have some holiday-stress-induced kinks that need to be worked out of my shoulders. My massage therapist is not going to be happy I’m dragging him away from his Madden NFL 17 football game but, hey, at least his fingers will be warmed up.

Contact Kristen Cook at kcook@tucson.com or 573-4194. On Twitter: @kcookski.Here’s a PSA (Parental Service Announcement): Yo — think before you sew. In what is not Cook’s smartest moment, she made supersized stockings from the biggest imaginable pattern and now must fill the 5-gallon suckers every year. It’s not easy.