Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Christmas has always been a favorite time of the year for me. It gives me an excuse to make things and let people know how much they mean to me through personalized gifts.

This month I accomplished my goal of 20 consecutive years of homemade Christmas cards. I got the idea for this year's card by having my Art students stitch yarn into burlap. Often I'll do a demonstration, and end up liking the product enough that I run out and buy the materials for my personal projects. Another example of this are little wooden ornaments made from cross cuts of small trees or branches. These are great for wood burning tools, but markers are a safer medium for my blind students. A brown Sharpie gives a similar affect to a wood burning tool, but it is easier and less expensive to use.

Last year I made a lot of rice bags. I cut 2 pieces of fabric a little bigger than 18" by 6", and sewed them together like a long bag. I turned it inside out, filled it with enough rice to fill 1/3 at the end, then I used pins to hold the rice in its place while I sewed that section closed. I did the same for the middle section and then sewed the end closed after inserting the 3rd division of rice. I made a paper funnel to get the rice inside. I think I used 2 or 3 cups of rice for the whole thing. A few drops of lavendar oil on the bag, and directions to heat it in the mircrowave for 1-2 minutes is all that is needed. I kept a rice bag for myself and I often use it to wrap around my neck and shoulders after a hard, muscle tension, kind of day.

This year I made ornament wreaths. It takes about 50 ornaments, so if you wait until the clearance sales in January, you may be able to do the project for about $6.50.

You'll need a metal hanger to open up, bend into a circle and use to string the ornaments. A wide wire bow will help fill in the gap at the top after bending the wire to seal it off and loop into a hanger.

Clay ornaments are fun too. Here are some of my students' projects that they, in progress. They hope to sell some and give some away.

Consumable gifts are best for people who already have everything they need. 
I have a cookie "exchange" at my house each year for a handful of parents whose children are in the same school program as my son. If participants each bring 3 dozen cookies we can divide them up into 20 tins for the teachers of the program. This saves us from having to buy a gift for each individual teacher. Many hands make light work.

By the way, the picture with my teacher-cookie stack, has an advent calendar in the background. Many years ago, I made a fabric advent calendar just like this one for each of my siblings so their children could track the days. My daughter still races downstairs each morning to add a little snowflake to the tree.

For my husband's colleagues and some neighbors I usually make goodies like those pictured above, but this year I tried to work ahead with gifts in a jar. The chili mix sells for $11.00 in stores, but can be made for much less. Hot chocolate and cookie mixes are also winners. And for non-food jar gifts, sugar scrubs are easy and inexpensive. It's just sugar and olive oil. This one has crushed peppermint sticks, but the smell is hard to detect without adding several drops of essential oils. It's a great bath gift idea, or keep one for yourself to exfoliate and and moisturize.

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