I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who have supported me by visiting my blog, leaving wonderful comments and sending me such lovely emails this past year. It is very much appreciated and I truly treasure your friendship.
Christmas morning is always fun for me. I enjoy opening all the gifts under the tree but the most fun and what I love most is watching the faces of my family members as they open theirs.
In my house, there is always much guessing on Christmas Eve as to what the "handmade" gift from me will be this year. I don't think anyone has guessed correctly yet... it remains a mystery until Christmas morning... 'cause I won't tell or even give any hints!
Santa left a present
under the tree
JUST FOR YOU
And DRATS... I have to tell you what it is. LOL
A tutorial for a 3-1/2" x 5" Vintage Photo Lantern made from glass and as a bonus for my "twinchie" friends, the tutorial also includes some prints to make a sweet 2" x 2" Christmas lantern. The little lantern has a flickering flame LED light behind it and the large lantern can have either a candle in a votive holder or two flickering flame LED lights to shine through the photos. Difficult to photograph but I guarantee... you'll love the effect!!
Twinchie 2" x 2" Christmas Lantern
3-1/2" x 5" Vintage Photo Glass Lantern
The tutorial photos for the large lantern are different than on the one I made for myself but they are just as lovely. Here's a preview of them....
If you hurry, you can even make one for Christmas, either as a gift for someone else or yourself! (how novel...LOL)
I don't think many of our true loves are waiting with bated breath for a partridge in a pear tree from us this year. But there is one gift I know... a one size fits all gift... that would thrill almost everyone on your list and mine: the gift of yourself... your time... your energy... your cheer. Yes, I know, it would probably be far easier to give everyone two turtle doves and just be done with it.
I don't know about you but on many Christmas' past, I have found myself racing and running around trying to get everything done. Buy or make the perfect gift for everyone on my list. Be in a frenzy with cleaning the house (after all, MIL is coming). Make the perfect bird. Have the most beautiful tree. Be the perfect hostess. Pick the perfect wine. Set the perfect table. And on and on it goes... all in good cheer of course. Oh Martha, get real... PL..EEE...Z !!
The problem with the holiday season is that we try to do too many things at once. Obligations, promises, should dos, commitments and to do lists abound across the land.
Now I used to think that if I didn't go to that Christmas play or concert with family or friends, I'd surely be missed. If I didn't go to that open house, I'd never be forgiven for missing it and I'd not hear the end of it for at least six months. If I didn't go to the boss' boring and obligatory Christmas party, I'd be dinged on my next performance review for not being a team player.
And then, one day, it occurred to me... everyone else was likely as scatterbrained as I was at this time of the year. If I only went to those things I really wanted to go to or did those things that I really wanted to, I might actually enjoy the holiday season instead of feeling frantic that I'd be in everyone's "good books" or get everything done on time.
I wouldn't be missed. Everyone's focus was as scatterbrained as my own.
They would just sigh when I said no (in a nice way without fibbing) and call the next person on their list. And, as for the boss, well perhaps it was high time to look for another one!
By now, you're probably thinking I am going to tell you that I decided to OPT OUT of the holiday season. Nope. Didn't. Not even gonna contemplate it.
I love the holiday music... and I break into humming those old familiar tunes at the oddest moments.
I love the lights... it brightens those dark December nights and fills me with cheer.
I love the smells... nothing smells as deliciously tempting as Christmas cookies baking or the delectable whiff of an apple pie fresh from the oven.
I love the warmth... of hugs, kisses, "I love you's" and an egg nog by the fire.
Nope. Just decided I was gonna do it differently.
Oh, one more thing... Let's not forget all those gifts under the tree. The bright, pretty boxes with bows all aglow that just blew my budget and set me up for a miserable January. Do you know who is most happy and jumping with joy in January? I do. It's those folks at Visa and Mastercard. Like old King Cole, they sit in their counting house, counting up the interest on all the money they are owed.
No french hens, no doves, no lords a leapin' and definitely no turtle doves for this kid. I decided, right then and there: "From here on in, I'm going to give gifts that will last the whole year through. Gifts that money can't buy. Here are my 12 Gifts of Christmas...
In the first month of the new year, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Undivided Attention;
In the second month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Love;
In the third month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Simple Pleasures;
In the fourth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Tenderness;
In the fifth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Joy;
In the sixth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Creative Energy;
In the seventh month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Enthusiasm;
In the eighth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Surprise;
In the ninth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Wonder;
In the tenth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Peaceful Surroundings;
In the eleventh month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Fun;
In the twelfth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Thankfulness and Good Cheer.
As a matter of fact, why wait for Santa? Why wait until the new year? Me thinks I'll just start right now.
Have a wonderful week and remember to drop by just before Christmas Eve for a lovely surprise ... a holiday gift from me to you!
P.S. Thanks goes to Sarah Breathnach for the inspiration (and a few of her salient sentences, thoughts and words) for this article.
I'd like to thank all of my readers who sent me such delightful emails or left comments last week. I appreciate the support of my blog and I was really touched by so many kind comments. It is very gratifying to know that a) what I am writing is read LOL and b) you found the ideas, suggestions and the tiny tutorials in the blog post helpful in getting your projects together.
Thanks for stopping by today to read "round 2". This week I had some time to get some photos together!! I sincerely hope you find some inspiration and ideas that you can put together to help $ave you some dollar$ this holiday season.
21. Sew some fun kitchen projects - potholders that double as oven mitts, a 1 yd. apron, a casserole holder, dish liquid bottle apron, hanging hand towel (also great for the bathroom!) even a tablecloth. Quick and easy projects for even the beginning sewer.
22. Make Dog Biscuits for a furry friend. My little doggie Shelby reminded me to not to forget all our furry friends who love homemade dog biscuits. He wanted me to tell you: "Send my mom an email for my two favourites, Cheddar Cheese and Peanut Butter. You can use Christmas cookie cutters to cut them out and bake them in your oven like my mom does!"
Put your finished biscuits, after they are cooled, in a tin or decorate a zip lock bag for gift giving with the following note: "Like most homemade baked goods, these dog treats are preservative-free. They must be refrigerated or frozen. When refrigerated, the treats will be good for about one week, while they will last indefinitely when frozen."
Not to forget those Kitty Lovers among us ... here's a recipe for Catnip Cookies...
* 1 cup of all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
* 2 tablespoons of wheat germ
* 2-4 tablespoons of catnip (you can buy it in a pet store)
* 1/3 cup of milk
* 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon of molasses
* 1 egg
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, wheat germ and catnip).
3. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl (egg, milk, vegetable oil, and molasses.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and work it into a dough
5. Lightly flour the counter or other work surface
6. Remove a portion of dough and use a rolling pin to uniformly flatten the dough to a thickness between
1/8 of an inch and 1/4 of an inch.
7. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares using a rolling pizza cutter or a cookie cutter of your choice.
8. Place the cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
9. Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp and lightly browned.
This recipe will make approximately 50 medium-sized cat treats. Once the treats have cooled, gently remove them and place the cookies into several small freezer bags. Extend the life of these treats, store them inside the freezer in several small freezer bags. As needed remove a bag from the freezer and leave it out for several hours to thaw. Once the treats are thawed, transfer into a tightly closed container and store inside the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
23. Easy Fleecey Wearables... baby mitts, adult mitts, balaklava, cape, fleecey muffler scarf and more. Bundle up and stay warm this winter with these quick and easy to sew projects.
24. Purchase a large loaf pan and include a Tea Bread Mix along with the recipe to "finish it up and bake".
If you would like to do this project, you will need 4 medium sized ziploc bags. a basic Tea Bread Mix recipe
and recipes for making various types of delicious teabreads and large loaf pans. Each pan will hold two Tea Bread mixes. They make a great gift for people who appreciate home baking but don't have the time (or inclination or talent) to do it themselves. Click here for the basic Make-a-Mix recipe to fill 4 medium sized ziploc bags with the basic ingredients. The recipes for including with your make a mix basic ingredients baggie are : Apple Nut Cinammon Quick Bread; Banana Nut Cream Cheese Quick Bread.
Two of these mixes, along with the recipes to "finish them" nestled in a loaf pan and wrapped in cellophane with a curly bow on top make a lovely gift. They take less than 10 minutes to put together and pop into the oven. These recipes have been "taste tested" by my family and passed with flying colours!!
25. Make anAltered Lunch Box. Take your lunch to school or work in style. A fun project to make for children, teens and maybe even yourself! You can purchase "new" lunch boxes to alter at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
26. Sew an Art Tote for a friend or an Activity Bag (just add a few pockets on the outside to hold crayons, etc.) for a child or teen. You may even want to add some supplies to the tote... watercolour paper, drawing paper, acrylics, watercolor paint, paint brushes, crayons, markers, and colouring books are just a few suggestions. It's an easy, quick project for even the novice sewer. Here's a photo of the activity bag I made from some leftover jean fabric (you could recycle some jeans!) and less than a yard of purchased materials. This is for my "rick rack loving" granddaughter and will be stuffed with art supplies:
27. A Dishtowel Angel is a fun, little project for the kitchen. All you need is a dish towel, washcloth and potholder. Everyone needs a kitchen angel!!!
28. No Sew Doggie Bed - here's a no sew doggie bed made with fleece material and stuffed with polyfill. Sweet for small dogs. Tutorial and photos posted by LilFiney on the Craftster website. Hope she doesn't mind that I have included one of her photographs to show you. I didn't have a way to get in touch with her to ask permission. If anyone knows her and how to get in touch with her, please let me know.
If you are into recycling or have a dog who loves to dig out the polyfill stuffing (like mine does!), here's another idea. My little Shelby loves his soft, cuddly bed that I made from a recycled mattress protector, polyfill from an extra pillow and some fleece with velour hearts on it. He loves to have lots of his treasured "toys" in bed with him (he's had the little teddy bear since he was a puppy. He loves that little bear... he treats it very gently and even talks to it LOL) This simple design is perfect for him.
I simply cut the single bed mattress protector in half, sewed the edges leaving an opening at the top to stuff it. Once it was stuffed, I sewed across the opening and "tuffed" it with quilting thread (thread a large darning needle with double quilting thread, insert the needle so that it goes all the way through the stuffed bag from one side to the other. Take a stitch. Bring it back up and tie a double knot. Repeat this in regular intervals over the whole bag (on a 36" square bag, a tuft every 6 inches or so) This will keep the polyfill from bunching up. Now make a cover for this inner bag. Measure the bag. Double the material and cut it to size to fit the inner bag. Sew both edges and part of each side on the top. You could make an outer cover with a hidden zipper at one end (this is the way I did it) or attach velcro on the seam allowances. Takes no time at all to make and is easy to keep clean. Just unzip the cover and throw it in the washing machine.
29. Make a cute Spool Baby. A bit of whimsy for the tree or as a "trinket" to attach to a gift
30. Polymer clay buttons. Watch a video here to make some simple buttons for that sweater you knit for your sister, friend or grandchild. Sewers always appreciate buttons for their creations. Make some fancier ones for a friend or relative in their favourite colour. Attach them to a card and voila... a lovely little stocking stuffer gift.
31. Enchanted Evening Kit - You can often find fancy cut glass bowls in thrift stores for pennies. Add some floating candles and a few pretty silk flowers for decoration. Add a split of champagne and two glasses and voila you have a lovely floating candles kit for a romantic evening during the Holiday season.
32. Luxury Bath Kit - purchase some votive candle holders at your local thrift store (they usually have tons of them for pennies on the dollar). Couple it with a candle, bath salts, bubble bath, dreamy custom mix CD, a couple of chocolates, a fluffy bath towel and a romantic paperback book.
33. Vintage gift tags. Cover both sides of some ATC sized matboard (2-1/2" x 3-1/2") with dictionary or old ad paper. Using distress ink, ink the edges. Glue a vintage image to the front. Punch a hole in the top and
add a piece of ribbon. A set of six for a friend who loves vintage makes a fun gift! Here's a photo of some I made (at the bottom of the photo) along with some ornies for the tree (at the top) to match.
34. Bamboo Tile Book Thong- You can leave the bamboo tile as is or paint it. Once dry, glue a printed
image to the front of a bamboo tile. Let dry. Seal it with several coats of gloss acrylic (Triple Thick, available at Michaels works well). Let dry. Cut approx. 30 inches of waxed linen cord. Thread it through the holes in the bamboo tile and even it up at the ends. Tie a knot. Now thread a couple of beads through both ends of the cord. Tie a knot to hold them in place. A couple of inches from the end of the cord, make a knot. Add a few more beads and knot. Your book thong is ready to place in a book or journal for gift-giving. Here's a photo of some I made, although I used wire in the bamboo tile and attached the waxed linen thread to the loop on the wire.
35. Make some Homemade Vanilla Extract. Immerse a few whole vanilla beans in vodka in a tall bottle with a tag saying, "Don't open until Spring." Homemade vanilla extract is worth the wait.
36. Make a set of luxurious cotton damask napkins. A yard and three quarters of 45" tablecloth damask will make 6 - 20"x20" dinner napkins. For something special... look on e-Bay for some deals on retro or vintage fabric. Neatly hemmed, starched, folded and tied with a pretty ribbon this gift will delight a hostess who loves vintage linens. Here's a link to napkin folds you can do to make your package even more special (include the instructions with your gift)
37. Collage a small hat box and fill it with Christmas and herbal teas, tea cups, pretty napkins and some home baked Christmas cookies.
38. Go through your art supplies and fill a decorated box with "goodies" for an art friend. Every artist or crafter I know loves "rifling" through a treasure box of goodies!
39. Pull out your beads and make a necklace, earrings and bracelet . Lots of ideas and instructions at Fire Mountain Gems or Artbeads
40. Holiday Breakfast Treat Basket. Fill small jars with "Lemon Curd". Add a "make a mix" jar of breakfast scones and a recipe for Mock Devonshire Cream. Yummy!! According to my SIL, Christmas morning at our house (we spend Christmas with my SIL and BIL each year) wouldn't be the same if we didn't have curd, apple, cream cheese scones and my version of devonshire cream. She waits all year for this delightfully scrumpcious treat!
Spray paint a basket red, tuck in a few Christmas napkins, some shiny red apples and 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese along with the ready make a mix, the finished curd and the recipe for the devonshire cream. The only thing that the recipient will have to purchase is whipping cream (that just won't keep in a basket unrefrigerated!). Wrap the basket in clear cellophane and tie it with a big red bow! Send me an email for the recipes.
There you have it - 40 ideas to keep you busy and save you some pennies this holiday season! But more importantly... there is nothing like a gift made by a friend or relative that says "I love you" or "I value our friendship" more loudly than the time and effort that goes into making or putting together a gift you know they will enjoy.
I hope these blog posts have given you some ideas of homemade with love gifts for your friends and family. Gosh, I am really on a roll. There are still lots more ideas floating around in my head LOL. For example, a set of fun MOO cards (small artistic business cards) like the one below for a friend with her "particulars" on the back
or maybe some cute fridge magnets like these
Oh well, guess all those ideas will just be added to the list for next year. LOL
I'll be out most of the day on Friday and Saturday at a Christmas lunch with my claymates but will answer any emails as soon as I can.
Are you feeling pinched for pennies as the season of gift giving approaches? With unemployment figures high, budgets squeezed tight, feeling cash poor and personal credit card debt at an all time high, Christmas can be a very stressful time for many when it comes to putting presents under the tree.
Over the next two weeks, I will post 40 Penny Pinching ideas for Christmas gifts. Over the years, I have made just about every one of these ideas at one time or other. I've tried to include a little bit of everything for all levels of "artistic talent". For the most part, the emphasis is on EASY and QUICK. I could kick myself now that I often forgot to take pictures of my "creations" but many of the links I am including have photos and for the rest I guess you'll just have to use your imagination! LOL
Here are the first 20 ...
1. Create a custom mix CD of songs or music. You can even include a recorded greeting. If you don't have media creation software, you can download a free copy of Audacity, an audio sound editor and recorder, to create your files and then burn to a CD on your computer. Your can find documentation and support by clicking on the Help button on their site. If you have never used this software or something similar before, please read the documentation before you begin your project. It will save you a lot of headaches! Once you get the hang of it, it will be easy as pie.
2. Homemade Baked Goods - find some pretty tins, paper doilies, cellophane, and satin ribbon then make a batch of brownies, shortbread, or other favourite cookie to put in the tin. Wrap the tin in cellophane with a big satin bow on top!
3. Herbal Olive Oil Bottles - purchase some interesting bottles with cork tops (Ikea, Pier 1, Michaels etc.) and some herb sprigs at your local grocery store ( rosemary, basil, thyme, dill or mint). Purchase some extra virgin olive oil, add the sprig herb of your choice to the bottle and fill with the oil. Pop the cork back in the bottle. cut a small strip of paper to put round the cork rim and seal it by dripping a small wax birthday candle around the rim. Not completely foolproof but it works to transport it! Create a tag to put around the bottle naming the type of "herb oil" it is and pop it into a bottle gift bag for giving.
4. Crochet hats, slippers, scarfs, may even a tea cosy - lots of free patterns on the Internet. Here's a place to start
6. Decorate empty "foodstuff" jars with vintage perfume labels. Fill them with bath salts, bubble bath, cotton balls, cotton tips, bath bombs, little soaps, etc.. Paint the lids. Add some pretty ribbon around the neck of the bottle Click here to see a "Vintage Decorator Bed and Bath Kit" I designed for DigiScrap Station that is available for purchase.
8. No sew fleece blankets. Decide how big you want the blanket. Purchase two pieces of fleece fabric at your local fabric store (one piece for the front and one for the back). Cut to size. Pin both pieces wrong sides together so that they are lined up. Cut a border of 2-1/2 inch "fringe" all around through both pieces of fabric. Tie the top and bottom parts of the fringe together and voila, you have a finished blanket.
9. Make a bundle of all occasion blank greeting cards tied with a pretty bow. - birthdays and other special days in the year (Mother's Day, Father's day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, etc.). Purchase some card blanks at your local art store along with some double sided tape. Print copyright free images on Epson Premium Presentation Paper (C13S041257) or other good quality, matte brochure paper . Cut out and tape neatly to the front of the the card blank. Leave the inside of the card blank. If you draw well, you can also draw directly onto these cards or use a drawing that you have scanned into your computer and print copies of it on the presentation paper.
10. Make a lovely Cookie Bouquet. Here's a tutorial to show you how to.
11. Not into cookies. How about a Christmas Candy Wreath? Here's a UTube tutorial.
12. Scout around second hand or thrift stores for a tabletop artificial Christmas tree. Decorate it with German Paper Stars or other small ornaments (i.e. little Christmas balls, silk flowers, etc.). A lovely gift to bring some Christmas cheer to a senior citizen's room!
13. Make some homemade Truffles. Here's one of my favourite recipes. I use dark chocolate instead of semi sweet. Making your own candied orange peel to add to it is easy and delicious. Package your truffles in a small, decorated box for gift giving.
14. Make some "faux" vintage typewriter jewellery for a friend that will cost you pennies! Here's a tutorial and kit I wrote, along with digital images of all the keys. Available for purchase from DigiScrapStation.
15. Give the gift of your time! Create some babysitting coupons for new parents. How about a "gift certificate" for "cooking lessons" or an "art day" with a friend, relative or grandchildren. An invitation to a special "tea party afternoon" for friends in January to chase away the January doldrums!!
16. Put together a Sunday Breakfast basket - Find a basket you are no longer using and fill it with gourmet oatmeal, baby food jars with a couple jars of homemade jam, pancake mix, pancake syrup,and a small gift certificate from your local bakery.
17. Make some Hot Chocolate Cones Fill clear, disposable frosting bags with hot chocolate. Add a marshmallow and sprinkle crushed peppermint candy on top. Tie with some curly ribbon and put it in a Christmas mug.
If you can't find disposable frosting bags, make your own with some cellophane. Just roll doubled cellophane into a small cone, tape together and fill. Don't want to have to buy a Christmas mug? The next time you purchase a take out coffee, ask the barista for an empty large cup. They are usually pretty accommodating at "gifting" you with one. Cover it with Christmas paper or paint it, adding some Christmas collage images to dress it up.
18.Share a favourite, more exotic recipe (i.e. Indian, Thai, Chinese, Greek, Jamaican, etc.) and make a spice sampler to go along with it. Purchase bulk spices, make the mix and bag in either tight closing small plastic bags or small baby food jars with a label (need a label? You might like these red rooster labels I designed for DigiScrap Station). You could also make some little spice/herb bags of meat rubs or marinade mixes. You could also package up the "fixings" for your favourite barbecue sauce and include the recipe. Search the Internet for recipes if you don't have any. I'd suggest trying them out first to see if you like it! I made Jamaican jerk seasoning for my brother in law a couple of years ago and he loved it!!
P.S. Using the Red Rooster Label Add on Kit, I've recycled empty foodstuff jars into practical containers for my cupboards as well as given them as gifts. The bulk food aisle is a great place to shop to fill these containers. A gift that was really appreciated by a friend were five recycled spaghetti sauce jars with new red rooster labels indicating the contents... a jar of pecans, one of almonds, one of walnuts, one of cashews, one of peanuts. I put them all in a basket, tied a bow around the handle and the tag read: "From one nutty friend to another!" She loved that gift and still talks about it....
19. Tile Trivets. Purchase some "end of the line" fancy ceramic tiles and a piece of cork sheet flooring at your local flooring store. Trace the size of the tile around the cork. Cut out and glue to the bottom of the tile with a good carpenters glue. Purchase a package of small plastic "feet" protectors and stick one to each corner of the trivet on the bottom of the tile. Voila... a lovely trivet for your table or counter.
20. Make a pair of hand warmers. Youngsters and teens waiting for the school bus on a cold winter day will appreciate these to tuck inside their mitts. Dad will too!! Here are a couple of ways to make them..
Cut two pieces of flannelette 3-1/2" x 4". Wrong sides together, and with a 1/4 inch seam, sew around all sides to make a small bag but leaving an opening on the top large enough to turn the bag to the right side. Clip the corners diagonally (make sure that you don't cut through the sewn thread). Turn. Fill the bag with rice (using a funnel helps keep the rice from going everywhere). Fold the seam allowance on the top to the inside and sew securely across the top to close the bag. To heat the rice kernels in your little bag, just pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute. Toasty warm hands...
Method 2 - a recycling project!
Does your dryer eat socks like mine does? Use those stray socks to make a handwarmer. Cut the top off the sock. Turn inside out and sew the bottom together securely. Sew the top of the socks leaving a small opening (large enough for a small funnel to go through.) Using the funnel, fill the sock with rice. On the outside, sew the opening closed and you're done! Just pop into the microwave to heat them up.
P.S. Some people use ceramic pie weights in their handwarmers. Personally they might be okay for adults but I would be careful using them in handwarmers for kidlets. Heating them in the microwave could make them too hot for little hands and end up burning their delicate skin.
Hope this has given you some ideas to get going on this week! Stop by again next week for another 20 ideas that you can make before Christmas arrives!!