Every year around this time I look for new inspirations for crafty, inexpensive gifts. There's just something appealing to me about handmade gifts. Yes, our budget dictates that we spend wisely, but more than that I like to pour my time and energy (which are generally in limited supply) into making something unique and personal for the ones I love.
Here are this year's creations:
1. Photo Holder Wreath
The card holders are meant to display Christmas cards or all those adorable holiday photo cards. I was shopping for a circular wooden cutout with an open center (like a wreath), but I could only find solid circles so I simply opted to paint a bow in the middle.
I chose two shades of green and a red for the paint as well as a white paint pen for the thin lines/details. The clothespins came in a variety pack so that there were three different sizes included. You could simply stick with the large clothespins, but I wanted to double-stack a few so I needed some medium sized pins. I used standard wood glue to attach the pins to the bases.
As it turns out my grandmother is moving into a much smaller place this month, so I thought this idea was a great fit for her, too. With six children, she has been blessed with a whole host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren which equates to a lot of class pictures and family photos. The photo holder gives her the option of hanging those pictures in a tight space and changing them out easily. I tried to make her gift less holiday specific (if you couldn't tell from the colors- she is proudly Irish).
2. Family Fun Bucket
The Family Fun Bucket came from my good friend Tracy Smith over at ASlice of Smith Life. The bucket is meant to be used by families throughout the season. Each evening, every member gets to select a slip of paper that describes an activity (like singing a Christmas carol or playing telephone). This gift is a great way to draw the family together. Tracy did all of the hard work by creating printables HERE, so head on over to her blog and snatch them up for yourself.
3. Warm Buddies
Fumbling around on Pinterest, I saw a few home-sewn, bean (or rice) filled heating pads as well as a tiny kid version. The child version appeared to be hand-sized felt animals. Both of those ideas sparked my creativity. I liked the idea of a stuffed animal that could be warmed and laid in the bed with a little one, but I wanted something big enough for my youngest to snuggle. So I dug through my fabric straps and whipped up these warm buddies. I filled the bigger leopard with beans. I let my littlest guy try it out and he seemed quite interested in the rattle sound the beans made when he played with it. My older kids took note of the bean smell it emitted when we warmed it in the microwave. For the snake I tried rice for filler and it definitely fixed the scent issue, but the rattle effect was lost. I decided to go back to beans for the frog.
I didn't have a pattern. I just cut rudimentary shapes with a concentration on the torso. The torso functions like a heating pad so it needs to hold the majority of the filler. I stuffed it just enough to fill all of the interior spaces, but not so much that the filler was immovable (and the torso too stiff). In order to prevent the limbs from ending up empty, I stuffed them and then stitched them so that their filler could not spill out into the torso. You could certainly get more creative when designing the facial features, but remember to stay away from buttons or other tiny features that could become a choking hazard.
The idea is to give your child a comforting, warm buddy at bedtime. You could also opt to place a few drops of your favorite essential oil on your buddy (just be sure the oil is rubbed into the fabric so as to avoid burning the child's sensitive skin).
The smaller the buddy or the thinner the fabric, the less time it requires to heat up in the microwave, so be sure to test it out (start with 30 seconds) before you hand it over to your sweetie.
4. Me Felt Books
Our kids usually bring a sack of appropriate books to our weekly holy hour which got me thinking about a gift for the toddler. He is old enough to need a little distraction, but I'd prefer not to bring non-faith related books into the chapel. We are trying to teach the children to spend quiet time with Jesus and so the books they read need to keep their attention on Him.
While pulling down the winter clothes from the attic, I unearthed an old cloth book I'd made years ago. It was a Christmas book and it became the catalyst for these Me Books. This project was going to be one big, fat book, but I broke it into two when I realized that sewing through many layers of fabrics was too difficult.
|these are my failed photo transfers|
One book contains a picture of a church altar and an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I used large wooden beads, a cross and paracord to create a decade for praying the rosary. The beads are movable to help teach him to keep count.
The pages are felt rectangles cut into halves. I used photo transfer paper to put our pictures on an old bed sheet (the photos didn't transfer well directly onto the felt). I then cut the sheet with the photos and glued them onto the felt pages with fabric glue.
The second book has pictures of our family. I also included my son's patron saints and a back page with a pocket to hold treasures (like an extra picture of his great-grandma).
|I used an extra long, thick needle to sew the book bindings and Liquid Stitch to attach the photos to the felt pages|
5. Portable Art Desks
I came across these great plastic lap desks at a local grocery store and my niece and nephew instantly came to mind. Using a paint pen, I added a bit of personalization. The paper clip (which I attached with some hot glue) will keep their masterpieces from slipping. The side cubbies can be filled with art supplies and snacks.