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Homemade Holiday Gifts

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Just as you and your children can use all your crafting skills for making ornaments, you can make truly beautiful and useful gifts that are always one of a kind. With your gift lists beside you, review some craft project ideas make notations about which ones you'd like to do. Look for ways to vary the same project, since it's usually less expensive and time-consuming to repeat the same project for several people.

Kitchen and nature crafts present many inexpensive and fast projects that make excellent gifts. Foods are nice for the person who has everything, since they are consumed and you can simply make more next year!

There are certainly more ideas for gifts than we can even begin to describe in this article -- but here are a few to get you started:

  • Force spring bulbs in a pretty container in time for Christmas. Many nurseries and garden supply centers have jars and other containers made especially for this, plus they can give you lots of hints about which bulbs to choose and how to time their growing so they open in time for the holidays. Amaryllis, paper-whites, and hyacinths are good ones to try.

  • Mix up your own potpourris. Put in decorated jars or into handsewn or tied sachets.

  • Do a scrapbook page using pictures from a special event that happened in the past year. Frame it.

  • Find glass votive holders or other plain glass objects at flea markets, yard sales, or discount stores. Using the glass-decorating techniques you learned in Glass Painting, transform the plain glass object into a one-of-a-kind gift.

  • Make up kits and baskets using the homemade mixtures from Craft Projects with Food. Try a basket with hot cocoa mix and two mugs. Throw in a little bag of tiny marshmallows. Put a bottle of homemade vinegar and oil in a container with two salad bowls. Decorate the container.

  • Make a flowerpot candle. Insert a wick and fill a small clay flowerpot (after you've decorated it in one of many possible ways) with candle wax or use wax crystals according to directions. What could be simpler?

  • Wrap ordinary hangers any number of ways to make pretty gifts for the closet that also have a practical purpose: Clothes are protected and don't slip off. Use yarn, ribbon, or string and weave, using two bundles of your material and holding the hanger between your knees with the hook facing you. Hold one bundle taut to the left and create a loop by crossing it over the hanger with your right hand. Take the same bundle and thread it under the hanger, through the loop you've created. Pull the string, ribbon, or yarn tightly to create a knot. Repeat in the opposite direction with the second bundle. Alternating bundles, continue until the hanger is covered. Knot the ends together and cut, tucking it under the neck where the wire meets.

  • Give a stocking that follows a theme. Buy a pair of warm socks; take one and put the mate rolled up inside. Fill it with a small jar of homemade flavored honey, a mesh tea ball, some loose tea, and a wooden honey spoon. There are lots of variations on this one.

  • Make pomander balls. These are fruits that have been studded with cloves, scented, dried, and preserved. They can be hung on the tree as ornaments and later hung in a closet or laid in a drawer as a sachet.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

August 31, 2014

Leftovers make deliciously healthy lunches, and save a lot of time. Use last night's dinner leftovers as the basis of your child's lunch — adding just one or two extra ingredients can make it seem like an entirely different meal.

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