Holiday Craft/Frugal Gift Thread!!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is about time do set up crafts so they can be finished in time for Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!! I just adore handmade gifts from both sides, and I thought we could post ideas, links to instructions, etc... here.

    I love to read the holiday craft magazines, esp the ones out from Oct to the end of Christmas. This year I got the Family Fun Christmas special magazine and one about food gifts. Each are ten bucks list price and were only seven a Sam's. in my opinion the Family Fun one has page after page after page of amazing idead that are very do-able and have very complete instructions. You can also go to their website for even more amazing ideas.

    I have not read all of the other magazine, but one idea just looks like it might be fun. It is a salad in a jar. Sounds odd, but it has layers of ingredients topped off with 2 cups of salad greens all packed into a mason jar. It just looked pretty, and you could do all sorts of things with this for a teacher lunch or whatever.

    A food gift that would be great by Christmas is homemade vanilla. It is the easiest thing in the world to make. You get vanilla beans and put them into a bottle of either vodka or light rum. I like the rum best because I like the added flavor of the rum in many things. You let the bottle with the beans (need enough alcohol to cover the beans) sit for two weeks, shaking when you think about it. Then you can smell/taste it and decide fi you want to just let it sit or not. I usually keep about six to eight beans in a 1.75 liter bottle of rum. It smells amazing and is actually quite affordable esp if you bake a lot. For gifts, pour some of the vanilla into a clean bottle and label. You can include a whol or partial vanilla bean if you want. It looks better and the alcohol can be topped off regularly so that the bean has a very long life. I have kept beans n a bottle like this for years, and a bean can last a year or more if you keep it mostly covered with alcohol!!!!!!

    The other idea I wanted to mention here right now are gifts in a cone. You package ingredients in a cone shaped plastic bag. Most people would find them in hobby stores and these bags can cost a dollar each or more, depending on the store. You can also go to the Wilton baking aisle and get a box with disposable decorating bags for a whole, whole, whole lot less. Many placed like Hobby Lobby have a regular forty or fifty percent off coupon and it makes this even more affordable!!!!!!!!!

    A fun material to play with is wool felt. There are a lot of projects out there callng for it. You take an old wool sweater and wash/dry it on high heat until you can cut it and it won't fray. then you can make cup sleeves, coasters, string small squaress and tie them into a circle and make a wreath, etc..... iit just sounds like something new to play with.

    I haven't shrunk clothes in quite a while. My poor mother. I used to joke about paying my bro to shrink all her sweaters when I was in high school. I don't know if she ever really knew whether I did or didn't pay him, lol!! He did all the family laundry and I ended up with almost all of her sweaters. Fancy that, lol!

    What gift ideas/crafts/ornaments are you thinking of and planning/plotting for ?
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    This year? Nana hasn't much of a clue.

    The grands hopefully will each have either knit or crochet sweaters. We'll see. Currently time is moving much faster than my fingers. If these projects don't get finished in time, Nana will pick them up a little something and they'll have to wait until after xmas. Picking up a little something is difficult, especially with easy child's boys who have just about everything already.

    Adults will be again receiving something for emergency preparedness, which was a huge hit last year. Actually the rule this year is for emergency preparedness or handmade gift. We're gearing more back to basics focusing on the traditions of xmas rather than the commercialized aspect of it.

    I'll watch the thread for some ideas. I'm so busy doing everything the idea portion of my brain has shut down. lol
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I am asking the fam to donate to the kids' savings accounts and, for me, their time. :bigsmile: I've no clue what they are getting...
  4. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    When my kids were small, I had them draw/paint special pictures for older family members. They "signed" and dated them. I put them in small frames or in clear refrigerator magnets. I also framed collages of their artwork/school pictures.

    I think everyone appreciates donations of time. You can make coupons good for just about anything - Free time for moms (like Step wants), house cleaning, running errands, etc... You can also make donations to a relative's favorite charity instead of exchanging gifts. Or, if you want, you can include these coupons in gift baskets/bags decorated by kids, etc. with kids' artwork, homemade cookies, etc...

    I think way too often the true meaning of the holidays is forgotten in the rush to purchase the best new gadget, toy, etc... Gifts that come from the heart are always the best. SFR
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Family Fun has some amazing ideas and you can get info on a lot of them at their website. I know the magazine has an article about gifts kids can make for people.

    Also think about experience gifts maybe. It is a gift of time shared doing something fun. If you can get a GPS unit to borrow, I would bet the boys would ADORE going geocaching with Nana. Geocaching is where you go to a specific lattitude and longitude and look for a small buried or hidden treasure box. You leave a small item like a matchbox car or other trinket, and you take the trinket that is in the box left by the person who started it or who last found it.

    You might also consider checking local Michael's, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, Lowes and Home Depot for weekend classes that would be free or very low cost. Many will be for kids and you could try to take one of the grands to the event and then they could make something for a parent.

    A fast, fun, easy, ecological project would be to use either fabric you have or old shirts you cut up to make cloth napkins. Sew them into squares anywhere from 12 to 16 inches and they can be very handy and easy to just toss into the wash. Even hand sewing them would probably be faster than crocheting or knitting.

    You can make easy, fun scarves with fleece. If you cut the scarf and then at each end sew a pocket by enlarging the hem or make it a point by folding it to make a triangle, it is also a hand warmer! You can even use 2 colors of fleece and weave them together. Just cut one color to the length and width you want the scarf to be. Then take and make horizontal cuts leaving 1 1/2 -2 inches of fabric on each side of the opening. Cut the second color into a piece that is as wide or just a little narrower than the horizontal cuts in the first piece. Weave the second piece through the horizontal cuts and sew the ends to anchor them. Or just cut out various shapes from felt or a second piece of fleece and embellish the scarf with them.

    I esp like the scarves with pockets at the end because then the kids don't absolutely need mittens. when they lose the mittens they can still keep their hands warm, which cuts down on the whining I hear, lol!

    One emergency preparedness item that might be good for your family is a self defense cat keychain. No, it does NOT unleash a cat magically hidden in a keychain size box. that would be cool, but the cat would be so angry it might turn on you, which would be bad. This is a keychain that you can put your fingers through and hurt anyone who is threatening you and too close. Given where you live and that the girls are often out late, this would likely be useful. It is far easier and more secure to use than just putting your keys between your fingers as you walk. Here is an ebay link that shows several different models of them:

    It would also make a good mystery gift it you made sure there was no packaging to explain it.

    I saw some containers in the gladware/ziploc/rubbermaid aisle of the housewares section of walmart that would make an awesome tower of homemade goods. The containers are square and they nest, The lids all nest and are each a different color. I am going to use one set to do a different homemade mix or treat and maybe the small one to just put small containers of different types of sprinkles in it. The lid colors are bright, and the whole set was $4.50 for five or six containers!
  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Because I was laid up for so long following my surgery this summer, I didn't get a chance to do my gift canning this year. I've been so busy at work that I don't believe hand-made is in the cards this year!

    Wonder if I have enough time to make some lemoncello? Where can I get the bottles?

  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    For older children, and only those who will appreciate it, are there any treasured family objects that you would give to them in your will? Those things might make suitable gifts now, while you're still around to see them appreciate them.

    One year, I made candles for everyone. I used a double-boiler, some plastic moulds and RIT dye to make candles. They were a big hit. I suspect that you could use essential oil to add scent to the candles as well. I didn't try that, but I think it would work.

    Lots of hand-knit projects are in the works this year. I have a lot of really easy patterns that look very challenging. These are great especially for small children, as they don't take as much time to make. If anyone is interested in knit craft patterns, please let me know and I'll send you the links to the free online pattern source I use.

  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It would be pretty easy to set up cardmaking with the kids one day. The family fun magazine has some super easy oned including one that uses fingerprints to make reindeer.

    You should have plenty of time to make limoncello. You can get bottles online, at Hobby Lobby, Michael's, or if you want to get some corks to stopper it, why not ask at a restaurant that sells beer bottles or ask a local lodge or on freecycle for empty beer bottles. Or just drink the beer or make beer cheese or beer bread with it. Take a look at some of the microbrewery bottles and various foreign beer bottles. They are pretty easy to decorate with stickers, etc...

    Here s a simple limoncello recipe: I looked at a lot of recipes and some take 10-45 days after each of 2 steps, but it sure doesn't really need that long from what I have been told. One trick to make the lemon flavor more intense and fresh tasting is to add a few drops of lemon oil to the recipe. I would try four or five drops in roughly sixteen ounces to start. You can get lemon oil in the candy making area at Hobby Lobby and simlar stores. It is usually sold under the LorAnn brand, which is a division of Wilton, just FYI. I use it as my secret weapon in baking because it gives a really fresh taste to things. I usually use a couple of drops in pound cake and other non-lemon flavoreed items, and a bit more if I want the lemon flavor rather than just that edge of freshness it gives.

    Here is a recipe for chocolate vodka, which maybe should be Milky Way vodka because that is the chocolae that they used. I would likely use some of the darkest chocolate I could find. Oddly enough, for the last year or two I have found amazing chocolates at Aldi's. The prices were astoundingly cheap and the quality was very good.

    The chocolate vodka even has a way to make it in the dishwasher! You don't melt the candy in a double boiler. You chop it up small enough to put through the opening in the bottle and then cap the bottle and run it through the dishwasher. Shake when done, and if it isn't totally melted, send it through the dishwasher again. This would be the fastes, easiest, least clean-up way to do this.

    Candles are a great gift. You can use parafin from the canning section or you can hit up thrift stores and even freecycle to get old broken candles. You can use crayons insead of rit dye, but you have to be careful not to use too many. what that amount is. I have no clue. One really fun thing to do with a kid or three is to make candles. You handle the wax, but they can either dip wicks into the melted wax or they can use molds. Paper cups work quite well, and you can use silicone cake pans/ice cube trays or you can use muffn pans lined with 2-3 liners. It is very helpful to either tie the bottom end of the wick to a washer (from the hardware store) or to one of the specially designed doohickeys made to keep the bottom of the wick at the bottom of the candle. You can even pour the wax onto a waxed paper lined cookie sheet with sides or a cake pan and then cut them with cookie cutters when they are set but not hard. Or if you want, just buy sheets of beeswax and cut them wtih cookie cutters and press 2-4 shapes together with a wick between them.

    While you are melting wax, why not decorate soaps? Take bars of soap and paint on them wth acrylic paints. Let the design dry and then cover it with the melted wax. The wax will hold the artwork in place and since you only cover one side of the bar, the kids can still wash up with it!
  9. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks Susie! I have to go to Michael's and get some little boxes for difficult child's teacher gifts - I will look for the bottles there! That recipe is easy - I am going to do that over the Thanksgiving holiday!

  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Around here flower baskets are often given for Christmas between adults. They tend to be quite pricey considering they do last that two weeks only and you often give many of them. So many do flower arrangements themselves using the baskets they got year before and buying just flowers. Much cheaper and eco-friendlily that way, but of course they still last that two weeks and everyone has twenty of them. I saw something little bit different on my neighbour's house, she had seen it on some magazine, so my craft project for this Christmas is to make something to give instead of flowers especially for those who have a yard or a balcony, because this is more of an outside thing.

    You need a box, for example fruit box is perfect. Paint and decorate the box either to white, silver or to the theme. You also need simple clay plant pots, candles (those four inch stumps you are left with when burning long candles work fine, that is one of the great points in this) and some sand. Other than that, you can improvise. Fill plant pots half-full with sand and put them to the box. Fill rest of the box with all kinds of things to make a beautiful setting. Different kinds of moss and lichen, small stones, sticks and twigs or dry flowers, evergreens, autumn leaves and other pretty things work well (a neighbour had for example chinese lantern plant and lichen on her box.)

    The box lasts longer than flower setting and one can burn all kinds of candle stumps and broken candles in it because they stay nicely up in the sand and burn safely. Box of course takes quite a lot of space, so it is better gift to someone, who can keep it outside.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am just not a good crafty person. I guess I take the easy way out and buy my gifts. My grandkids are going to be spoiled rotten little snots. I know my kids were as I have two layaways to get out now. Both are almost completely paid out but leaving them in the store is easier for hiding.

    I am trying hard to keep my butt at home though and not go out on Black Friday. You have no idea how hard that is going to be for
  12. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

  13. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    This week CVS has some totally free items that are great for stocking stuffers- 10- pack of Kleenex, 2-pack of those energy shots, box of scooby fruit snacks, 32oz powerade, 20oz diet coke, starbucks coffee drink, starbucks tea drink (you can get both free) a roll of charmin tp, aleeve childrens liquid, aleeve 10 pack of pills, cepacol cough drops, heat wrap..........this is a small sample of everything free- also playdoh, matchbox car...look on the second page of the circular.....2 pages of free items, if they're out ask for a raincheck. The sale is good until Wednesday.

    On Black Friday they have another circular coming out- you can view it on-line now- with more free things! Oh shoot, I forgot to get the deodorant. I always give my kids all kinds of toiletries in thier stockings that were totally free.

    Also, I make chocolate covered pretzels with the packs of chocolate from Michaels, melt entire bag for 90 seconds in the microwave (put them in a bowl to melt), then I dip the pretzels in and let them cool on wax paper on my kitchen table. I give that to my friends, neighbors....they're alwys a big hit.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Gotta love those drug store freebies. :) LOL
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Freebies are awesome! We just had a CVS open up here a month ago!! Thanks for the head's up on that!

    One awesome source for supplies for paper crafts is the free paint samples that every paint store incl Walmart has for the taking. There were some cute things on the Pinterest page, and now that some of the sample cards are big you can make gift tags from them, or use paper punches to cut different colored things out of them! They are super versatile and you get lots of colors to play with!

    For extra easy crafting, glue dots are wonderful. I recently learned that if you use Aleene's Tack It Over and Over glue you can make your own glue dots and strips. You just squeeze dots or lines out onto wax paper, backing from stickers, or plastic wrap and let them dry. Then you store in a ziploc and use them like commercial glue dots. The commercial ones are incredibly expensive for what you get, in my opinion!
  16. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    regarding the chocolate at Michaels - I have a number of folks who would love those pretzels - how's the quality of the chocolate?

  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm not artsy craftsy and I abhor shopping so likely shouldn't even post on this thread. on the other hand ONCE and only ONCE I took my small children to gather pine cones which was great fun. When we got home and let them dry I got cans of red, silver, and gold spray paint. Everyone took turns (with my supervision) choosing the colors. Once they were dry they got to tie ribbons on "their" cones and the Christmas tree was just lights and cones. They made extras to give to family members for their trees. That was in the 1960's and in 2012 the three kids are taking their cones home to hang on their own trees in the future. Durable little suckers...those pine cones. DDD
  18. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    The quality of the chocolate is awesome. Donj't use the chocolate from A. C. Moore, use the kind from Michaels- the brand is Wilton. Also...they come out really well if you use the Special Dark Snyder pretzels. Or...something I do with my students is- melt the chocolate in the microwave and buy those pretzel rods, the kids can dip them and put all kinds of sprinkles and candies on them. Michales sells thin pretzel bags (a hundred is like $1), so you can individually wrap them and give them as gifts. Put 5 of them in a $1 store coffe mug and have the kids give out their own hand-made gifts, put pretty ribbons on top, etc...With the kids at school we just eat them right away, but instead of making cookies at home, this is so much easier and no mess.
  19. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    DDD- Don't you love that? The ornaments that my kids made always go on the tree....macoroni glued to cardboard "picture frames", popsicle stick snowflakes...with their little pictures inside....priceless!
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The pretzels are amazing if you mix white choc chips and crushed candy canes/starlight mints. We usually take a couple of bags of mini twist, waffle, or holiday shaped pretzels and lay them on wax paper then put a small spoonful of the white choc/mint mix on them. Or we take pretzel rods and dip them halfway in white choc and roll them in crushed mints. You can use chocolate also.

    The Wilton candy melts are not actually chocolate the way you think of a hershey bar. They are a confectionary coating designed to be similar to chocolate but not need tempering if it gets too hot or cold. Tempering keeps the chocolate from getting that whitish coating. The whitish coating won't hurt you - it is just the fat from the chocolate rising to the surface. As long as you don't get the chocolate too hot you can use hershey bars or chocolate chips. Just use a double boiler or a bowl that is over the top of a pan of water. Do NOT NOT NOT let the bottom of the chocolate bowl come into contact with the water, and do NOT get the water hot enough to simmer or boil. Chocolate burns super easy, and if the water is too hot for your finger then it is too hot for your chocolate or white choc OR the Wilton candy melts.

    I spent several years as a teen learning to work wth chocolate from several people who made candies of all kinds. I LOVE chocolate!

    It is often cheaper to get chocolate by buying choc chips (check for coupons online by checking Hershey, Nestle, Ghirardelli, and other chocolate making companies).

    Right now Sam's has a 2.5 pound Ghirardelli candy and dipping bar for $7.98. It is big, easy to use, and tastes amazing. It comes in White Choc and double choc and is one of the best chocolate deals around.

    The handmade ornaments are the best!!! I am in love with the pinterest page posted above.