Holiday Roundup: Gifts, Crafts, Recipes

 

Origami Stars

I thought I’d round up a bunch of recommendations and past favorites from this time of year.

Regarding the stars, a few weeks ago I got obsessed with making these. Directions here.

Let’s start out with a few gift recommendations.

Books for Kids:

Here’s my list from last year. Here’s a list of favorite craft books for kids.

This year I’m giving Into the Unknown to two of my nephews. It’s a beautifully illustrated nonfiction book about explorers. More about it here.

Another nephew and son book this year: Boycraft, a British craft book with plenty of blood and guts and monsters, beautifully photographed. It can certainly be given to girls as well. I find a lot of kid craft books are full of purses and headbands and jewelry, and this book fills a void. We checked it out from the library earlier this year, and my son loved it.

I’m a big fan of Ed Emberley’s drawing books and thumbprint art books. Another illustrator with great drawing books is Sachiko Umoto. We have Let’s Draw Cute Animals, and I love it. She has several others, though. Wishing I had all from both authors.

One more drawing book, for preschoolers especially: Hand Art from Klutz. And another recommendation: high quality colored pencils. A few good brands: Prismacolor, Lyra, Caran D’ache. There is a huge difference in these vs. the cheapie kinds.

For the little chef in your life, we’re loving Chop Chop magazine, which has a great balance between fun and nutrition and encouragement to try new things.

If you need more recommendations, try going to your local independent bookstore (and of course actually buying there). Speaking of which, my own books are stocked at Charlotte’s own Park Road books, an excellent bookstore!

Amy Karol at Angry Chicken also has some great recommendations over at her blog.

Crafts of Christmas Past:

Quick wreath from backyard greenery

Simple ribbon wreath

Gift wrapping cloths

Cardboard Christmas trees

Fabric mache ornament

Simple gifts to make (with or without kids)

Cookies:

German-Inspired Almond Meal Cut-Out Cookies

Gluten-Free Almond Meal Cut-Out Cookies

Hope you are keeping warm and cozy. Cheers!

Origami Star

 

 

 

Advertisements

Gift Cloths

Gift Wrap Cloths

Sorry for being away so long! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was nice and low-key, and featured some gluten-free apple pie. There was a big to-do about who got the last pieces, and not just among the GF folks. It’s that good.

The hubs and I also took a trip just before Thanksgiving, which I’ll have to tell you more about in another post.

Here I wanted to show you a little holiday craft we did. Last year I made gift cloths with Christmas fabric and existing Christmas linens, but this year I decided to add to the collection by decorating and sewing up scraps of fabric I already had in my stash.

The red and green stripe in the back left corner was made with watercolor-type fabric paints by Deka. I’ve had that paint forEVER. I tried to find a link to a place you can buy it, but it’s looking like it’s not sold in the US anymore. Bummer. It’s good stuff.

We decorated the fabric for the center red-ribboned present with Target brand “slick” fabric paints (you squeeze the bottles to draw with them). My least favorite fabric paint ever. Really poor quality, but we made the best of it.

The blue-ribboned gift cloth is pale pink, and we drew on it with Tee Juice markers, which are great for quick and easy projects, especially with kids. They are totally permanent, though, so, as with all of these supplies, dress accordingly.

Lastly, on the red-spotted cloth with the dark green ribbon, we used stamps with cheap acrylic paints from Michaels mixed with textile medium. This is one of my favorite ways to paint on fabric, because mixing it yourself gives you a wide range of choices. And in the end you aren’t left with a bunch of fabric paint you may never use again.

Below are some pre-decorated and hemmed gift cloths: a thrifted plaid tablecloth and two tea towels from Target marked down to 88¢!

The kids loved trying to guess what all these fake presents were, the favorite by far being the pink one below that’s wrapped like candy. It’s a sack of corn meal.

Loving this free printable nativity the kids can color themselves at Made by Joel.

Hope to be back soon with some details of our trip.

Gift Wrap Cloths

5 Simple Gifts to Make, With or Without Kids

Nearly every year, I like to make a bunch of one kind of gift that I can give to any number of people: relatives, neighbors, friends. It’s always good to have some on hand. I try to keep it something fairly simple so it’s not a stressful process.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Hand-Rolled Candles

I just discovered rolled beeswax candles (above) and have only actually made them with the kids at a bazaar. They’re dead easy but so pretty, and the kids loved the process. Instructions here. We did not prime the wicks, as suggested in the link—not sure if ours were pre-primed or what but they burned just fine.

2) Hand-Decorated Cloth Totes:

This is another fun one that’s useful, too. For information on materials, click here.

3) Self-Mixed Loose Teas:

I like to make Rooibos Chai, but over the years I’ve also made up various combinations involving spices, citrus peel, even dried cherries. Get creative with your favorite flavors.

4) Body Balm:

Another good, easy one is Lavender Body Balm. You melt beeswax with some oils and voila!

5) I don’t have a picture of this one, but Spice Rubs are another good gift, especially if the recipient likes to grill. I love Stephen Raichlen’s basic barbecue rub, from his book, How to Grill. Penzey’s is a good place to get the bulk spices.

Cardboard Christmas Trees:

This one’s more a craft than gift but it’s so easy to do with the kids or to make a bunch for table decorations. Make them fancy or plain. You can recycle them and make them again next year, which is one of the things I love best about them. Instructions here.

Simplest Christmas Craft Ever

I had to come up with something easy for the kids to do at the school holiday event. This is about as simple as it comes. You can do it using recycled cardboard and without glue. I got the inspiration here (this blog, by artist Patricia Zapata, has all kinds of great recycling crafts as well as other awesome goodies, like printable pdfs). My version uses a simpler shape that can be cut with scissors, so it’s a perfect project for young kids.

You could always add further decoration: sequins, glitter, paper ornaments, yarn. You could also sew a loop through the tip and hang it on your tree. Personally I like the simplicity of the tree without decoration, especially the way the packaging becomes decorative out of context, when you almost don’t know what it is anymore. You can certainly do this with other shapes, too (circles, stars, hearts).  I think a whole forest of trees in different sizes would be awesome. Let me know if you make some. I have included at the bottom a template, just in case you want one. For personal use only, please. But if you can bear it, I recommend letting the kids make their own tree shapes or whatever shapes they like. I found cutting the slit just a little bit further than halfway made for easy assembly.

Our three-year-old has been singing “We Miss You, America” to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”—-completely unaware that these are not the real words.