Yes, I know!! There isn’t even snow on the ground and here I am writing about Christmas. However, even before Halloween was over the stores had rows and rows devoted to Christmas–Christmas cards, Christmas decorations, Christmas wrap and Christmas shirts emblazoned with tacky glittery Christmas trees. Though I love Christmas, the commercialism of it does get a bit tiresome with people angsting over buying the perfect gift and getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparations with no time to relax. Since there’s still plenty of time until Christmas, why not make this the year you try your hand at making gifts for family and friends, or ornaments and decorations for your home? Whether you’ve done lots of crafts before or you’re a newbie, there are items to make that fit every level of talent. Trust me, I’m not the craftiest person alive and if I can actually make stuff, so can you!
If you haven’t crafted before, start out simple. Make wrapping paper out of brown shipping paper. Use cookie cutters as templates to paint on shapes, rubber stamp designs onto the paper or use a potato as a stamp. Buy glass canning jars, fill them with candy, homemade cookies or nuts n’ bolts and put a swath of fabric around the lid fastened with pretty ribbon. Make little stuffed stocking ornaments out of fabric or felt and use them as bows on presents. Bows always get thrown away–at least your ornament will be reused year after year. Sachets are easy to make. Purchase some satin material, cut it into squares and stuff with fresh or dried herbs such as lavender. These proved to be very popular gifts; I even sold them at a craft sale and was shocked people actually paid money for something I had made! Another cute idea is to make candy skewers. Get some soft Christmas candies such as jujubes, thread them onto a wooden skewer, then wrap them in cellophane and tie with fancy ribbon. (Okay, I stole that idea from my sister who made Halloween candy skewers for my son this year.)
Crafting is much more fun if you do it with friends. Last year, a friend of mine suggested that we have crafting afternoons with her daughter and my son, and those afternoons formed lasting memories. We checked out an assortment of crafting books from the library and had lots of fun making a variety of crafts. Fa La La La Felt had some really nice ideas for felt stuffies, ornaments and coasters. We made felt penguins with the kids and they had lots of fun. Even my 7 year old son didn’t get bored! What Shall We Do Today? taught us how to make snow globes out of glass canning jars and the kids had fun making those for teachers and relatives. This book also made a great Christmas present for my niece, as it contains crafts for every season. This year, I’m going to try my hand at crafts from A Very Beaded Christmas. This book contains beaded ornaments, candle decorations and other fairly simple beaded projects.
For teacher gifts, one afternoon we made cookie mixes in a jar. You layer all the ingredients and then put pretty ribbon and fabric around the top of the jar. However, remember to taste test a recipe before you use it for jars. One recipe I used wasn’t very good but I only discovered this after I had made quite a few jars. Check out the recipes in these “gifts in a jar” cookbooks or on this Internet site.
Remember that making home-made gifts isn’t just about saving money. Handmade gifts are the ones that most people will cherish for years to come. My favorite gift of all time? A crocheted blanket that my friend made me when I got married. My son’s favorite present last year? A handmade Advent calendar that my friend and her daughter made him. She used a big sheet and then sewed different sized pockets all over the sheet with numbers on each pocket. Each pocket was then filled with treats and the sheet was hung from a dowel. It hung over our fireplace and was much nicer than any store-bought Advent calendar. This year that Advent calendar will get used again, and I want to make one for my niece in the hope that she’ll like it as much as my son liked his.