Friday, January 7, 2011

Homemade Touches - Christmas Presents

Even though I like to keep it low-key around here so that happiness rules and stress isn't welcome, I try to make time to add a few homemade touches to Christmas presents. I have a NEED to personalize everything in life, and that applies to presents as well. I really think I have a Generic allergy... though I doubt there's an official scratch test for that. I actually did pretty well this year with the homey goods, even though there was really no master plan to the whole thing.

 B's sister and her husband are having their second baby this spring, so I made some cloth teething rings for the wee one. Despite all the rattles and chew toys, Charlotte always preferred washcloths and other cloth items when she wanted to chew, so I thought this would be good for that. I stuffed them with washable batting so that they could be tossed in the laundry if need be.  The only snag in the directions is that I had to hand sew the rings closed because they were too small to fit in the sewing machine.  Also, the fabric is green because they refuse to find out the sex no matter how many times we tell them they should!

My brother dove head first into the world of cooking this year so every present from us and my mom were all cooking related - gadgets, utensils, apron, cooking lessons, etc.  I added to that with a subscription to Everyday Food (far superior to any other food magazine for go-to, non-gourmet, recipes) as well as a binder filled with sheets to put the recipes in after he rips them out of the magazine.  It's a great system and once I dive through that year-long backlog of food magazines, I have every intention of adding them to my own binder. The binder that was wonderfully up to date before we had a baby.

 I love giving ornaments as gifts. Whether they're homemade or something you bought that's related to an event that year, they're such a personal, timeless gift. We don't have a ton of ornaments on our tree because I want our ornaments and our Christmas tree to be a story of our life together over the years. I want the collection to grow on it's own and then look back to the early years and remember when the tree looked kind of bare because our life together was only beginning. 

Since Charlotte isn't old enough to make or decorate her own gifts for people, I gathered pictures of her with various family members and made her grandparents and her aunts and uncles individual ornaments. I found the idea for these photo ornaments here, but those directions were WAY too specific for how I roll. I just did a few test runs with the size of the circle and then made a template for the other pictures. All you have to do is keep a tab at the top that will stay in the narrow part of the ornament, roll it around a pen, and pop it in.

Before I put them in, I also painted the backs of the pictures with some paint I had lying around that matched the ribbon, and then wrote "2010" on the back with a pink sharpie.  Of course my original vision for the ornaments involved putting glitter inside, having a little decoration at the base of the ribbon, etc, but I started the project about three days before Christmas so I just made them with what I had here and they turned out great. Simple, but great. I highly recommend this for your relatives.


 I mentioned in the advent post from Monday that although I never got around to making nicer gift tags from all the old cards I've saved, I did grab the card box and make a few simple ones while I was wrapping.  No fancy scissors, no backing to the cut-outs, etc, just my box of Sharpies and some old cards.  I also wanted gift tags so that I could write a little message about some of the presents before the person opened them. For example, when we gave B's sister the little molds to make homemade popsicles, we wrote that although the present was random, we both had such good memories of these as a kid and we hoped she could give that to her kids as well.

Remember at the end of the summer when Charlotte did some finger painting? We used those sheets of paper to wrap up a few gifts and I love how they turned out. I feel like we're not even going to need wrapping paper next year once she's old enough to have an entire summer of art projects!

And finally, the sweatshirt. B's dad is a notoriously difficult person to buy for because he has a few hobbies that he enjoys and promptly buys whatever he needs to support those hobbies. So every year is a creativity challenge, but I think we took the gold this year.

He has a white, non-hooded, too small, paint stained Dewar's sweatshirt from a hundred years ago that he adores. Everyone in the family has given him grief about it at one point or another, and sometime over the summer he accidentally said the magic words: Well I'm not getting rid of it unless you can replace it with another Dewar's one!

Sounds easy, yes? No. What I learned through various internet and Ebay searches and then finally contacting Dewar's corporate headquarters over in Scotland was this: Dewar's doesn't make merchandise. The sweatshirt he had was a fluke.

So we took matters into our own hands and did it up right. The front pocket-area of the new sweatshirt (still non-hooded, but no longer white) has his monogram, the entire right sleeve says "DEWARS" down the arm, and the back has a screen print of a picture that B drew of him and his dad. His dad is a fly fisherman and B is a golfer, and both love scotch, so the picture represents that. It came out even better than we had pictured and was a huge hit, we were so happy.

The only snag was that the sleeve actually read "DEW RS" because the store was out of "A"s. So once that get's fixed, I hear there might be some kind of ceremonial burn to commemorate the passing of the old to the new.

I'm always on the lookout for great Christmas crafts, so leave a comment if you made or found something good this year!

1 comment:

Strongmama said...

Nice! I really like the ornaments. Might steal that one!

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