2012 Holiday Gift Ideas

I  like to believe that nearly everyone has the capacity to give meaningful gifts that won’t break their banks.  Today, I’m going to make a few suggestions to get you thinking outside of the box this holiday season.  The good news; there is still plenty of time to brainstorm and come up with your own great and doable gift giving ideas.

1.)  The gift of time.  Pick something that you’re good at, or comfortable doing. and give the gift of time; organizing, snow shoveling, babysitting, pet walking, car washing, photography, handyman work, etc., and   make a gift certificate for the gift recipient.  To avoid confusion, make sure the certificate is job and time specific.  It’s also a good idea to write your phone number on the certificate with the message; call and let’s set a date!

2.)  Cook.  For years, I have made it a habit to make homemade meals to give.  They are always a huge hit.  I like to prepare foods that can be frozen and reheated later.  Trust me when I say that recipients of these gifts will gladly make room in their freezers for a batch of  your homemade meatballs, lasagna, mac & cheese, meatloaf, quiche, or homemade soup. 

3.)  Bake.  While cookies are one of the most popular treats to give during the holidays, try zeroing in on Christmas morning.  I don’t know many people that would be disappointed with a big pan of homemade cinnamon rolls, a delicious breakfast casserole, or even a tasty breakfast pizza that they can enjoy while opening presents.  Make sure your recipient knows in advance that you will be delivering a special treat.

4.)  Craft or Create.  I don’t know about you, but I love receiving handcrafted gifts.  My mother in-law is a wonderful quilter.  She produces some of the most beautiful quilted projects I’ve ever seen.  I love receiving something she makes for a couple reasons.  One, I’m a horribly impatient person when it comes to sewing and  I know my limitations.   And two, her work is so beautiful that if I wanted to purchase something similar, it would cost me a fortune.  These quilts are now treasured heirlooms – just like the ones my mother made and I now cherish.

And while I’m not quite as creative as my mother was, or mother in-law is, I can come up with a few inexpensive gifts to make all on my own.

Sometimes a batch of homemade hot cocoa, a pretty little cup to serve it in,  peppermint sticks to dip in the cocoa, and a handmade card make the perfect gift. 

 

What are you asking for this holiday season?  World peace, good health and prosperity, a spa day,   gift cards, help around the house, clothes,  a new car, or something else? 

Making Gifts to Give

Yes, it’s almost that time of year, and yes, they have already started playing holiday music in the stores.  I prefer to skip the chaos in the stores this time of year, and spend my time in my craft room and kitchen instead. 

Personal and homemade gifts are perfect for just about anyone on your list, but they are especially nice for the teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, co-workers, hairdressers, mail persons, and the paper boys on your list.

I picked up these plastic containers at a dollar store – 3 for $1.00.  With a little scrapbooking paper, embellishments, and a rubber stamp, I made these cute little paper bows and gift tags to decorate them with.  Very inexpensive to make, yet bright and festive.

And of course you need to fill the little boxes, so I  found a perfect recipe for that too.  I made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Crisp Bars from a recipe in the Kraft Food & Family Holiday 2006 Magazine.  I will be sharing the recipe with you in a later post, so make sure you don’t miss it.

The secret to making your own gifts to give, is giving yourself enough time to make them.  Start your projects now so that you won’t be overwhelmed trying to do it at the last minute. 

Do you like to shop till ya drop, or do you like spending time making your own gifts to give?  Or, do you like to do a little of both?

DIY – Create Your Own Wall Art

Recently, I was snooping around Walmart when I happened upon a machine in the photo department that prints faux canvas images of your photographs relatively cheap. 

Since I think this is a really cool product, (and no, Walmart isn’t paying me to write this post), I decided to play around with one of my photographs and show you what I mean.

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The photo above is my original.  With  a little help from my photo editing program I transformed that original image into a black and white, a faux painting, and a picture that’s bright and colorful. 

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I think it’s important to create several different images that you can compare before heading off to the printer.  By doing this, it helped me realize that I actually preferred the black and white version of the photograph over the others.

So, why hide your beautiful photos in a photo album that collects dust?  Show them off!

Which photo of the four is your favorite?

 

 

Easy To Make Party Favors

If you’ve got the time, making your own party favors is the perfect way to deliver a bit of uniqueness at any party you are hosting.

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When I needed to come up with a party favor idea for an 80th birthday party for my mother in-law, I searched the internet for ideas but nothing really stood out at me.  I ended up digging out my faithful Cricut and some card stock paper which saved the day. 

A favor shouldn’t just be pretty in my opinion, it should include a tasty treat as well.  So for this, I opened boxes of  delicious, 100% natural, Ovation chocolate covered candy sticks courtesy  of Sweet Works Candy

I covered each candy stick in a pretty green wrapping paper and used them for the stem of each flower I created.

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Now, everyone will find a surprise in their favor.  The flavors of the Ovation candies that guests will get to sample include; Irish Cream, Orange, Cappuccino, Mint, and Dulce de Leche.

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Do you like being creative and making your own party favors, or do you let someone else do the work for you?

We’ve Finally Made Friends

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My sewing machine and I have never been very good friends.  Let’s just say I have never had the patience to be around her very long.  It’s really not her fault either – it’s mine.  Like I said, lack of patience.

I have had numerous problems with her; from threading the bobbin, getting the correct stitch length, and on occasion, sewing a straight line. 

How did I mend the fences so I could make curtains for the Pink Paradise?  I dusted her off  and whispered sweet nothings to her – that’s how.

She was a little hesitant about our renewed friendship because she spit her bobbin out at me a few times, ate my material a couple of times, and  ran me off course a time or two.  Eventually, persistence paid off and we got re-acquainted.  With a little work (okay, more than a little) I managed to make the curtains I needed for the camper – 10 panels in all.

Call it a miracle because it truly is; we are friends again!

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TJOC DIY Wine Charms

I like to know that the used wine glass I pick up at a party is the same wine glass I originally set down, and I can imagine that most everyone else feels the same way.

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I think the easiest way to keep track of your wine glass is by using wine charms.  These are usually inexpensive to buy, but I love making them myself.

For this batch, I used my Cricut.  I cut out several small tags, added a few stickers, and finished them off by putting a small piece of waxed jute through the hole of each tag so they can later be tied to the stem of each wine glass. 

You can get as fancy as you’d like, or keep them as plain and simple as you like.  Remember to decorate them so they each have their own individual look – you’ll need to do this so (hopefully) everyone will remember which one is theirs.

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So go ahead, dig through your craft supplies and see what you can come up with.

PS:  If you haven’t already done so, check out BeBetsy.com.  Their readers (including me) share some cute DIY projects there.  And a big thanks to Fox News Magazine for publishing my wine charms on their very cool on-line lifestyle magazine.

 

A Must Read Guest Post by Denise of BeBetsy

Preserve Your Family History with Recipes

It’s funny how things that once seemed ordinary and taken for granted become so dear to the heart as we move along in our life’s journey.

I can picture our mother with her apron on hard at work in the kitchen of our home that my parents built brick by brick.

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The kitchen walls were lined with cedar wainscot. Closing my eyes I am transported back watching my father take pleasure in our mother’s cooking. Oh what meals she could whip up! Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, freshly baked rolls slathered in butter and fresh plum jam made from the bounty of our grandmother’s tree.

It remains so vivid in my memory.

In winter the kitchen was the place to be with the warmth from the oven and wonderful smells that made your stomach churn in anticipation! I cherish those memories and right this minute I swear I can smell the chocolate, sugar and butter of the Saturday night fudge as it bubbled in that old, heavy saucepan.

Food memories are powerful and an important part of our family history. What a gift it would be to our children, and for generations to come, if through our recipes our family history would come to life!

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Shortly after our mother died my sister Sharon and her family put together a collection of our family recipes in a beautifully handcrafted scrapbook of my sister’s own design. Included were pictures of our mother’s handwritten recipes cards.

This precious memory book reminds me of how our mother’s home-cooked meals brought us together around our kitchen table. Thinking of that I smile and cry all at once.

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So scour your family’s cupboards and locate those old cookbooks and recipe cards. Spend time with the older women in your family and consider recording them talking of the foods they would prepare for their family.

What a great treasure that would be to pass on to your own children.

Please share your own precious memories!

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
— Tenneva Jordan

I’m so glad to share Denise’s post with you.  There are few things more precious to me than my mother’s and grandmother’s hand-written recipe cards.  The preservation of their recipes is important to me, and my memories of watching them stay busy in their kitchen’s will always make me smile.

Denise and her sister Sharon are the masterminds of BeBetsy.com, a  FREE on-line lifestyle magazine. 

BeBetsy features great articles on health, beauty, fashion, money, gardening, home décor, food and drink, DIY, tech savy tips, along with information on today’s hottest products. 

Oh,  I almost forgot to mention the printable coupons and great giveaways and contests they share with readers too.

My suggestion, subscribe to their site so you don’t miss a single thing.    And why stop there? They can also be found on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook

Now, a bit more about Denise, the author of this  post.  She is the editor and co-founder of BeBetsy.  She is a writer, self-proclaimed musician, food junkie and sometimes funny person, who enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband and family.

She loves classic cinema and indie movies and most forms of musical expression.  She loves to hike, camp, fish canoe and howl at the moon.

When she’s not howling at the moon, she spends time working-out, swimming, singing, writing, sewing, reading and telling others her opinion on any subject.  She ignores age and pretends she is 27.  (Don’t we all?)

Originally from Salt Lake City, she now lives in Southern Nevada enjoying the daily sunshine and serenity of the dessert.  Lucky girl…

 

Just Bee Cause

We all have people our lives that we appreciate but most of the time we forget to tell them so.

And if we do remember to tell them, how do we do it?  Usually in a way that makes us most comfortable. 

I like making homemade treats to share.  That’s my way of showing my appreciation.

Since Blair Candy Company sent me some samples of their delicious sugary confections to try I decided to pay it forward. 

I made DIY candy packages to share with those that I appreciate.

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A stamp, colored pencils, some bright colored paper, and phrases printed from the computer helped me pull this DIY project together.

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There is very little expense in making these tokens of appreciation; just a little creativity. 

How do you show your appreciation?

My Free Cabinet and Some Elbow Grease

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When I spotted this cabinet sitting beside the road with a  free sign on it, I immediately scarfed it up.  I knew with a little elbow grease, along with some help from my awesome hubby (who is an excellent carpenter), I could transform this old cabinet from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. 

As I loaded the cabinet into our truck I noticed it was lacking knobs and needed a pretty trim.  I also noted it would need a little wood putty and a new paint job to do it justice. 

At first, I wasn’t actually sure what I would use this cabinet for.  But when I got it home I realized this would work perfectly to hold all of my blogging and photo props, along with my ever-growing quantity of baking supplies.

I spent a good share of time stripping the cabinet to see what kind of wood was under the old paint.  Since I wasn’t sure if I wanted re-finish or repaint the cabinet I decided stripping it was necessary.  I knew the type and condition of the wood underneath the old paint would lead me in the right direction.  Once the paint stripping was well under way, I concluded painting the cabinet was the best option.  The wood was nothing fancy; mostly pine and plywood.  Unfortunately, there was no pretty oak, walnut, or cherry to re-finish.

I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to add some trim to the drawers and bottom doors of  the cabinet to make it more aesthetically appealing.   A trip to our local Home Depot yielded just the trim I had in mind.  The best part; the molding cost less than ten dollars.  

This is where my carpenter came into play.  He cut and installed all of the molding for me, along with replacing the bottom in a drawer that we found to be falling out.

I filled all of the tiny holes with wood putty, did some heavy sanding, taped off the glass doors, and finally the cabinet was ready to repaint.

Thankfully, hubby has a paint sprayer and agreed to help me paint the cabinet too.  A sprayer  gives used furniture a much more professional looking finish than a brush or roller does.  I mixed two open cans of  paint that I had on hand together to create the color I was looking for.  This saved me the expense of buying paint for it too.

I used a black spray paint to repaint the original hinges that I had salvaged, and I  painted some knobs that I had left over from another project black also.

To complete the project, we put the doors back on, and added the knobs to the doors and drawers. 

All I have to do now is finish filling the cabinet.  I suspect that won’t take me very long at all.

Would you drive by a free cabinet sitting beside the road without stopping?  Or, would you stop and load it in your vehicle?

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A Joy of Caking DIY Project

Every winter I need a reminder that spring is just around the corner.  One of the best ways to do that is by making something pretty, bright, and flowery smelling.

Homemade soap fills all those requirements.  With a block of clear, unscented glycerin soap base that is easy to find at your local craft store, a bottle essential oil, and a bottle or two of soap colorants you can create your own personalized soaps to remind you of April showers and May flowers.

You can invest in a soap mold or use Dixie cups, plastic electrical tape containers, or anything that you can think of that will get the job done.

I like to pick the glycerin soap up when I get the big coupons in the craft store’s weekly circular.  As for the oils and the colorants, they relatively inexpensive and seem to last forever.  You can also use them to scent homemade candles too.

This project is simple.  It does require a microwave for melting (follow directions on the glycerin package), and it’s very kid friendly (with adult supervision) of course. 

Soaps can be creatively packaged or stored in a box with a lid to help maintain their nice scents.

Check out last years batch here.

What little tricks help get you through the long winter months?  Do you buy yourself fresh flowers, start your spring cleaning early, or start a seed garden inside?