Here are some of the things I'm working on for Christmas and a few fall birthdays. Most of these come from my reading the whole internet posts or my bookmarks from before I had a blog. I have a favorites folder called "crafty" and several subfolders inside that. As I see things that I think might work to give as gifts or otherwise make or do, I bookmark it in those folders. When a holiday or birthday approaches, I dig through them and see what sounds good. I intend to come back and update with pictures as I get them done.
And if you're one of my sisters-in-law, MOVE ALONG! NOTHING TO SEE HERE! :>) (They both subscribe to my blog, and I'm trying to keep them from inadvertantly being grinches!)
For my nieces (who are ages 10, 6, 5, and 2):
* The oldest three will each get one of these I Spy bags. I picked up random little things at the thrift store to put in them, bargin bin fabric, and I bought a huge bag of rice and 1/2 yard of thick clear plastic like that which your grandmother may have over her tablecloth to protect it from the hooligan grandchildren. :>) You can read more about them at my post here. (and I re-did them about three times to make them not-so-easy. :>))
* The middle girls will each get a homemade camping lantern, mine are shown at left. (with apologies for not realizing that the phone cord was in the picture going up the wall) I ended up hot gluing some ribbon around the bottom to cover the gap between the lid and the waxed paper. For about two minutes, I tried to figure out how to glue the ribbon to the jar. Then I gave up and glued it to the lid, so the open part is up instead of down but at least it lays flat. Whew.
* I made a "quiet family" for the youngest. I liked both the wooden version and the cloth one. I like how they're made without mouths, hence the quiet part. :>) I was able to find the wooden version pretty inexpensively at Hobby Lobby - I think both the bag of "kids" and "adults" were $3 each with several in a package, and the box was around $2. I recruited my dad to trim the bottoms so the mama is shorter than the papa, and, in the case of my nieces, they're four different sizes. (He's the best!)
I ended up not bothering with faces or hair, just glued a piece of fabric around the bodies. Since my box was divided, I decided to make different "rooms" like my brother's new house. I found some clip-art, made it black and white, printed it, cut it out, and glued it to the fabric that I glued in the box. I had brief thoughts of trying to draw a swing set on the back but quickly realized I'm a *terrible* artist and threw that out the window. I think she'll be pleased anyway.
* My youngest niece will get some of this play makeup. I requested makeup and nail polish on freecycle, and I was tickled with how it turned out. I have some for sale in my Etsy shop, if you're interested!
* Youngest niece will also be getting a scrappy flower crown. As you can see from the little hand in the pic on the right, Goose was quite interested. It might get a bit crazy when her cousin opens it up...
* For my middle two nieces, I am planning to put together a craft-a-day kit because last year, the glow of being at Grandma's kind of wore off a few days into the several-day visit. There was a wrench thrown in the works when it was decided that we'll celebrate at my brother's instead, but this will give them something to do during the days they have off from school anyway, and it's kind of "consumable" in that it's not a whole bunch of stuff my sister-in-law has find a place to put. Win-win-win!
*** fruity smelly painting
*** no-sew bags
*** paper marbling
*** marble run
*** (which got me thinking about a domino run)
*** puffy paint (though we won't do ghosts and I'm thinking about a bit of food coloring mixed in here and there - like this post from Chasing Cheerios)
* My oldest niece will be getting some bookmarks, I found lots o' links (here, and here, and another at here, and one more here, the beaded one is here though I made a few changes, and the felt and ribbon one is here.)
For my sisters-in-law:
* As noted earlier in the Reading the Whole Internet Post, I plan to make them each two of these button and wire brooches. I'm using buttons out from a huge bag I got at a rummage sale last year, Hubs brought me some wire. It wasn't quite as easy as I hoped, but I'm got better as I went along. I still need to glue felt on the backs and attach the pins.
I had trouble getting the wire to be very tight in the button holes, especially when there were four holes instead of just two. I also had much better luck (and more straight twists) by holding the wires taught and twisting the button rather than twisting the wire around the other strand of wire. Some of my buttons broke in the process as well, which was a huge bummer. but, they're cute, and hopefully the SILs will get a kick out of wearing them a few times and that's all I can ask. [update - I bought some button magnets and am planning to offer to turn them into magnets instead - I'll let them decide since they're already wrapped. :>)]
* Since they both live in cold places (Colorado and Alaska), I was planning to do hand warming gloves. I thought about instead making a small pocket on the outside of the gloves so that they can remove the rice bag and warm it without warming the whole gloves. Instead, I made little palm-sized warmers that they could tuck either in their palm or on the back of their hand. Of course, I didn't get the idea to embroider their initials until I was done with the first one. I mean, I really tried hard to make them unique! I used some new tan felt I'd found at the thrift shop and three strands of embroidery floss. [Update - looks like I'll be working on a new set of these . . . I have discovered the hard way that they make excellent cat toys. I also ended up making them bigger, so that they cover nearly the entire palm.] [Update 2 - Um, I wrapped them yesterday without taking new pictures. Oops. Guess you'll have to wait to see them until after Christmas.]
I will say that it appears to be the year of the blanket stitch. :>) My mom taught me how to do it and I'm loving it!
* The post that kicked the blanket stitch craze off is Frugal Family Fun Blog's hand warmers. I used pink felt, also found new at the thrift shop, bound with a blanket stitch using three strands of varigated embroidery floss. I kind of based the size off the size of the piece of felt I had, but I thought they were too big - Valerie's are more the size of a deck of cards. I ended up taking the stitches out of one end, cutting off some felt, embroidering their names on their respective warmers, and re-stitching. Valerie also has a more masculine denim version here.
I read in this link on homemade bed warmers that field corn actually holds heat better than rice. Since we have an abundance of that around here, Iactually re-did these and removed the rice - especially since corn from the farm will hold a bit of significance for my sweet sisters-in-law. I also re-did my own rice bag that I use when I'm chilly or achy, and I found that corn needs longer in the microwave than rice did. I made some bed warmers as gifts, too.
For my 9-month-old nephew:
* He has requested a few more pairs of leg warmers, so that's easy enough! Well, except for choosing which ones to give him, that is. :>) (Feel free to visit my Etsy shop if you'd like some leg warmers for your special little one!)
* I made him a crinkly owl, which I thought turned out great! I used fleece instead of felt because I wanted it to be totally washable. I went bigger with the eyes, using a baby food jar lid as my pattern. I gave some thought to doing some sort of claws but thought that might be overkill - he won't care either way. (And please note that the owl is blanket stitched all over the place.)
* Thanks to the suggestions in the comments, I made a set of blocks for the little guy, with a bag to hold them. You can see how I made them at my Soft Blocks for Baby post. They weren't quite stitched up in the picture but they turned out great.
Any other suggestions for a baby boy? Or a toddler boy, since his birthday will be coming up in March - and Chrismas will come around next year?!? Per Sarah's e-mailed comment, I'm looking hard at something like these puzzle blocks from the Land of Nod. I was thinking about painting the blocks then decoupaging on pictures, or maybe even just use patterned scrapbook paper. Then I found an awesome deal on Melissa & Doug puzzle blocks and punted on the idea for now. :>) [edit - if you want to make your own soft blocks or puzzle blocks, check out these posts at Make it and Love it (soft) and Making The World Cuter (puzzle).]
* He isn't nearly as big on games as I am, but I made Quatro for him anyway. Actually, my dad did the cutting and staining, so I did very little, but I think it came together pretty easily! The problem is that Hubs is surprising me by kicking the soup out of me pretty much every time we play. I did well at first, but he's been handing my rear end to me ever since. The nice thing is that it doesn't take too long to play a game.
For our mothers and my sisters-in-law:
* I like to make calendars that feature a picture of Goose from (approximately) that month the previous year. It's fun to see how she's grown! I make the calendar part in Word - it's basically a "table" the size of the page that's seven columns by five rows, and then adjust the days and numbers as needed. I also put in that side of the family's birthdays and anniversaries, so I end up with two versions of the calendars. I then use Publisher for the picture pages, and I also have had fun including little quotes that I've found - I especially like The Quote Garden.
* The past two years, I've traced Goose's hand and then embroidered it onto a piece of fabric . . . I think of it as a Christmas ornament, I guess. The idea for that came from Plum Pudding, though it's a bit different with only one kiddo. :>) Here is the picture of mine from 2007 and 2008. For this year's, I finally used my sewing machine! I put the right sides together and stitched around the embroidered hand, leaving a gap. I turned it right side out and hand-stitched the gap shut, then used an embroidery needle to poke embroidery floss through to hang it up.
* Last year, I found a package of blank note cards and envelopes in a variety of colors. I also traced Goose's feet and took a thumbprint, and scanned them into my computer. I made it easy on myself and just digitally flipped them so I had right and left without trying to hold a kid still for so long. I used Paint and darkend the outside line, then filled them in with different colors. I ended up with some pretty random stuff, but I'll include them below for your enjoyment. (You'll note I made good use of the "rotate" feature".
Some things I've made for gifts previously:
fabric and button barrettes with an update, though I don't think the buttons ever stayed on very well. (Mine are here.)
bangle bracelets (mine are here)
sidewalk chalk paint
ribbon dancer (mine is here)
tulle pony tail holders
silhouette pendants (Mine are here)
this headband, the ribbon one from here and I didn't make this but I really wanted to! I intended to make some for Christmas, but after checking with her mom, I learned she's kind of growing out of them.
What are you making for Christmas this year? I'd love to see links in the comments!
And for more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom. For more handmade Christmas ideas, visit Abbi at Proverbs 31 Living!