Updated: Nov 17
This year has had its challenges and the holiday season will soon be upon us. So keeping all of this in mind, and keeping with the spirit of the season, I think we are all looking for ways to preserve our holiday traditions but keep costs down. It's time for putting on our thinking caps and I have come up with a few ideas of my own that you may like to try.
I think we all feel the most important thing about the holidays no matter what our spiritual beliefs are that we want to share our hearts and time with
family and friends. So before the holidays are here why not start now so later you can just sit back enjoy the season and all the gatherings you have planned.
Handmade Gifts. There is nothing more special than having your sister or brother paint a little $10.00 flea market table for you in your favorite color. I always feel so surprised and loved when someone does that for me, knowing they took their precious time to find, clean and paint it. So let the ideas roll. Here's a few of mine.
Start with a flea market, garage sale, or thrift store.
Look for jewelry or small boxes, that you can. paint and stencil or use an IOD or Prima Re-designs transfer (these can be found online or on Etsy) or just buy some pretty gift wrapping paper to decoupage onto it. You don't even need any special glue to adhere it, use a flat or stain Polyacrylic clear sealer that you have on hand. When my husband's two grandson were young I bought to wooden chests from Michaels that I stained and used a burning tool to put ranch brands on to decorate them, and then added some wood knobs for feet. I had create treasure boxes for a boy's special things they collected back then, like baseball cards, rocks and their comic books. Now in their late 20's their Mom told me they both still have the boxes and hinted that now their children need a special box for their treasures.
Old picture or mirror frames. Paint that frame and add a family picture or clean up and spray paint the frame a gold paint then wax with Walmart's wax effects or other wax with a few drops of dark brown or black paint stirred in to knock back the bright gold. Then buff after it's recommended dry time. Add another coat of clear wax, buff to a soft sheen and figure out how to wrap this special holiday gift.
Look for old costume jewelry like old necklaces and brooches. These can be glued to a canvas
in the shape of a Christmas tree or whatever your desired shape you desire. Paint your canvas the color of your choice then lightly trace your design onto the canvas. Lay your jewelry out first. When you have it the way you like it take a picture with your phone then start gluing the jewelry down. If you loose track of where a piece goes you can refer to the picture you took. Or take that old mirror you may have found at an estate sale, glue the jewelry to the frame. Glue? Try E-7000 or E-6000 or if you have a favorite try it. I've never used hot glue on a project like this so you may want to experiment. Don't forget Grandma's old costume jewelery. I've seen collections of Grandma's and Auntie's jewelry that make sentimental treasures to remember family members by.
Have a Party! Maybe one or two!
Have a gift making party with family or friends now. Have everyone bring their special dish a bottle of wine and their own crafting tools. Glue gun, brushes, cookie sheets or just whatever,
depending on what you all plan on making. Do a cookie exchange, paint mini canvases or decoupage a printer picture of Grandma to the canvas then seal it with a couple of coats of spray sealer such as Krylon clear sealer. Make it even more special by placing it on a miniature easel.
Do a Christmas ornament making party or how about purchasing some brown gift bags from your local craft store or Dollar Tree and don't forget the gift tags you can make to match the bags. You can also get rolls of brown Kraft wrap gift paper from Walmart. Ten yards for $5.48. Shop around for it at your favorite craft or super store for best prices. I decorate bags and wrapping paper every year for gifts and everyone looks forward to it. It's saved and reused by family members the next year. You don't have to be an artist to do this. Use inexpensive stencils with a holiday theme, Amazon has a good collection of small size stencils, even stencils for tags. Use ribbon if you must, but every year I buy a large ball of brown twine from the hardware store or white butcher's string from the grocery store and use it for tags and ribbon for packages. All that brown painted paper and twine all look so pretty together under the tree.
Have everyone bring a mason jar and one ingredient to fill the jar for making mason jar gifts.
They can be dry ingredient mixes for soups, m&m cookie mix in a jar, or just layer that jar up with hard candies or Hersey hearts. A great gift for a neighbor instead of baking the cookies or making the soup give them a jar of the dry ingredients and a recipe and they can make it themselves when they desire. Decorate the jar lids or labels. Recipes can be Googled or have a look at Pinterest.
There are tons of recipes and ideas for these.
Card party anyone? Purchase a watercolor tablet of paper and a box of window frame greeting cards. Ordering these from Amazon is the easiest way but may be found at your local craft store. Amazon has 100 (4x6" or 5x7") window frame greeting cards from $25.99. There's quite a few amounts of cards to choose from at different prices. White card stock or brown craft paper stock. The envelopes come
with them. Cut the watercolor paper into 4x6" cards. You will get 4 cards per sheet and the excess paper can be used to make book markers or gift tags so nothing goes to waste. Use a craft paper cutter or borrow a friends. They can be purchased at Amazon also or your local craft store. Look on Pinterest for tag ideas. In fact look for easy painting ideas for your little works of art for your greeting cards on Pinterest search greeting cards or stencil a snowman. If you feel you just can't do this, take a family photo and place it in your greeting card. You could even include an inexpensive frame as part of the gift along with the greeting card if you want. Use printer paper or photo paper. A nice little gift for a friend, a teacher or the nice lady across the street. Check below for doing this with kids.
Let's not forget the Kids
How about gathering the kids in the family to spend an afternoon making special gifts for grandparents? Of course there is finger painting pictures on canvases or what about a piece
of wood? If you don't have any handy purchase a fence board. They run only a couple of bucks at Lowes or Home Depot. Cut to desired lengths or have them cut it up for you. Then let the kids paint or use pictures they cut from old magazines or coloring books to make something special. It can be of flowers, their favorite sports or their art pictures from school. Seal it for them for a special gift. Remember magazine pages or printer copies should be sprayed with a fixative so they don't smear before you seal them. You can also cut up a watercolor tablet from your local craft store or order online along with crayons or color pencil sets. The tablets usually have 30 sheets and are 9x12". The kids can then paint or color the watercolor paper and you can fold it into a card and then purchase envelopes if you think you need them or have the kids wrap them in old Christmas wrap as a gift. If that sounds like too much trouble you can purchase a box of blank greeting cards or window frame greeting cards from your craft store or order them online (see the adult parties above for info) then have the kids color or paint a picture on the watercolor paper. You can then insert it into the cards. You have a gift and card in one. The painting can be removed and framed by the grandparents. Be sure to have the kids put their name and Christmas year on the back of the cards. This could become a family tradition.
Last but not Least
Do a family wood block. Use a 4x4" post cut to the length you want and paint it your favorite color. Photo copy family pictures of past Christmases. Use a spray fixative to set the ink and let dry. Spray fixative can be purchased at your craft store or without saying Amazon. Cut
your picture to fit how you want on the poles and glue down with a clear coat sealer, Mod Podge, or if your an artist use your acrylic flat or satin medium. then seal the whole thing in thin coats. Make two and place battery operated candles on top and use them as part of your dinner table decorations. The photos will bring back family memories of past Christmases.
There are so many more ideas. This is to motivate you! You can have a wonderful holiday season without breaking the budget. The best part is you can start now, gathering friends and family to these parties and let the fun and holiday spirit surround you and start some new traditions in your family. One last idea (I know will this ever end), with a handmade Christmas, when you do your gift exchange make a really fun time by awarding handmade trophies of the best made, the cleverest idea, or for the worst craftsman. The trophies can be used year to year and be a fun family event. Be sure to include a bonus gift for your best loser... maybe a plate of cookies.
Of course some of us our working so hard we hardly have time for these extra activities so
purchase your hand made gifts from local artisans. There are plenty of people that are trying to support their families through their small business. You can find them online at Estys and through many small business websites. Many display their wares at Farmer's Markets, boutiques, artwalks, and Christmas Shows in your city or town. Don't forget Church bazars and Market Days in your neighboring towns. Social media is a great place to look for small businesses. Many are advertising their items on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. Just message them or make a comment under their post. Some on Facebook and Instagram even have shop set up right on their page you can purchase from. Check out the small art shops, gift shops, thrift book stores and small antique shops in your area. Leave the big box store behind this holiday season and make something unique.
This Month's Project
This month's Template for Easy Acrylic Floral Painting. This is the last in the series.