Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Affordable Homemade Gifts and Christmas Crafts

We have been getting our craft on for several days in preparation for Christmas! The kids and I really enjoy finding creative gift ideas that we can make and that are fun to receive.  The goal is to put as much love into it as possible.  And if you know how precious my time is to me then getting a gift from me that took a lot of time to make should prove my love! :)

A few lucky grandparents are getting a set of carolers.  See previous posting for how-to.

Tile Magnets:  
I bought a sheet of 24 small 2x2" tiles at Home Depot for about $2.50 (that's a lie - my hubby bought them. Because it was an excuse to go to Home Depot.) The girls enjoyed coloring little photos on the tiles with colored permanent markers (I don't often let them use my collection of Sharpies so they were pretty thrilled).  I covered each one with a layer of Mod Podge to seal the markings on, as they rubbed off  a bit without that coating. 
Glue a magnet to the back of each tile. Check for polarity before glueing - make sure the side of the magnet that sticks to the fridge is facing out, not glued to the tile. 
The one with "Dean & Bruce - Brothers" written on it has a small photo.  We took several of those little bitty pictures that come on the summary page when you develop photos and cut them up.  We used them for magnets, keychains, and bookmarks.  Since they are printing on photo paper and are a nice small size they were perfect for these projects!  Simply glue and cover with Mod Podge.

-White 5x5 inch tile squares were only 13 cents each from Home Depot! There were plenty of choices, such as nice stone ones, marbled, textured, etc. but I went simple so I could experiment on the cheap.
-Something to decorate the coaster - photos, scrapbook paper, fabric, Sharpies...
Fabric --- I'm a Thirty-One consultant and have fabric swatches up the whazoo.  The patterns are so fun I am always looking for ways to use these little samples of fabric, and the size fit perfectly here. For these I chose complimenting patterns and cut a square of fabric to fit the tile.  I did so freehand because I wanted the imperfections - a "homemade" look. The kids were able to do the cutting and help more this way, but I'm sure you can measure and slice more precisely. I knew my mom's favorite pattern was Black Parisian Pop, so I went with that theme for her set.
Photos --- I printed out pictures of the kids on plain old printer paper - nothing fancy is required here.  The photo quality was pretty good on paper and I didn't need to make a special Shutterfly order for prints. I shrunk to the size I needed and the girls cut and glued them onto the tiles.
Confetti --- I LOVE this polka-dot/circle confetti! I use it in crafts All. The. Time. For the one in the photo I glued pink fabric onto the tile first, layered it in Mod Podge, dried, glued these thin tissue-paper circles of confetti on, layered in Mod Podge, and allowed to dry.
Paper --- Pick a fun print of scrapbook paper to glue on - great way to use up larger scraps.
Sharpies --- draw freehand, stencil, whatever suits you.
-Adhesives -- we used glue dots and decoupage glue/Mod Podge.  I actually used the Martha Stewart brand decoupage glue because it is dishwasher friendly.  I figured coasters needed to withstand liquid.

After you have decorated your tile, cover in a generous but evenly spread layer of Mod Podge and allow to dry overnight.

I like to use a paper plate, clothespin, and clean scrap of sponge.  I pick up sponges at the dollar store and snip off a piece to use to spread the glue.  This way I can toss it when I'm done instead of trying to wash out paintbrushes.  They usually end up stiff and sticky.  With a sponge I can also snip the used part off and use it another time or two!

Add a 2nd coat of Mod Podge/decoupage glue and again allow to dry overnight.  It will go on white and cover your photo/paper/fabric but will dry clear.

Lastly I add a square of felt to the bottom of the tile using glue dots. This will keep the coaster from sliding around or scratching the table surface.

These garlands were not gifts, just a fun project to make the house look festive.  I drew tons and tons of Christmas light bulb shapes on construction paper and had the kids cut them out.  In the end I had to do all the cutting due to their poor motor skills (autism) but they did all the taping!

The girls used scotch tape to secure each paper light to a ribbon.  It was adorable until Julia used half a roll of ugly masking tape to hang the garland in the door frame! :)

In the background you can sort of see the paper chain hanging on the ceiling.  A tradition in our house is to work together to make a long paper chain and hang it from our ceiling.  This way even our youngest kids can participate in crafting!

Julia made me this cute paper plate wreath to hang above the window.  Pretty obvious how-to:  Cut a hole from the center of a paper plate. Glue green tissue paper squares around the outside (lay flat, scrunch up, color or paint instead, try using construction paper, anything goes). The holly berries are puzzle pieces I had spray painted red for a Valentine's art project last year. Oh, and she taped on a sign that says "To Mom."

Keychains, Bookmarks, and Lanyards:
Honestly these were the most fun for all of us! I asked the cashier at Target for all the used gift cards in her trash and ended up with plenty for this project.
-Gift cards (without any value on them!!)
-Hole Punch
-Keyring, string, lanyard clip, etc.
-Mod Podge or decoupage glue
-Something to decorate with

We started by trimming up our cards - some were cut in half to make "BFF" keychains, some left original size to be used as bookmarks, and others cut smaller to be used as keychains (like the purple one in the above photo). Round corners if desired.

If punching a hole do so FIRST. We then covered all of our cards (except the front of one really fun one - the Target dog riding a Harley) in duct tape. Punch hole again through the tape.

Decorate as desired. For some we glued photos on. Others I used that tissue-paper confetti I love so much. We used nail polish and/or permanent markers to write words ("Best Friends" "#1 Uncle" that sort of thing). My 4 year old used stickers on his. Taylor used the small circles from the hole puncher to glue colored paper circles on one of hers.  Anything flat works!

Cover one side in Mod Podge glue and allow to dry 12 hours or overnight.  Flip and cover the other side.  For some items, such as photos, a 2nd layer may be needed.

Once dry add a clip, keyring, or bookmark string.  We found a bag of 40 assorted clips (lanyards, keyrings, etc) of various colors and sizes at Joann's for less than $3.  The girls made Rainbow Loom bands and braided them to use for the bookmarks instead of plain ribbon. 

These wooden spoons were so fun! I bought a set of bamboo spoons at Target and gave them as a set, but it could be fun to pick up a bunch at the Dollar Store and give one each to tons of people - neighbors, teachers, Sunday School Leaders...

The one with circles is simply that confetti I keep talking about that I love so much! I applied a layer of Mod Podge glue on the handle of the spoon and stuck several pieces of tissue paper confetti on the spoon.  I applied several layers of decoupage glue on top - I used the Martha Stewart dishwasher safe kind.

The girls each made their spoons with nail polish.  Taylor wanted help so I wrapped washi tape around the handle to keep her lines straight.  She painted the black polish on and after it dried we pulled the tape off and the lines were (mostly) straight.  Then I just added some red dots of nail polish.

How cute are these Reindeer Noses?! I found this printable on Pinterest.  I used miniature zipper bags, found at craft stores, 8 Whoppers per bag (8 reindeer) and 1 red nose (for Rudolph).  Some were red gumballs, some red Jawbreakers, some Gobstoppers.  Basically, I wasn't able to find anything with JUST red round balls and had to buy a bunch of candy and experiment.  The gumballs were nicest looking - both in size and in shine! :) We made about 40 of these for teachers, family, even the mailman!

I picked up a couple of ivory pillar candles when I was at Ikea last month, I think they were $2 each.  The girls used a glue stick to cover the candles in tissue paper squares, making designs, writing in marker on white ones, etc.

I wrapped the candle in wax paper and heated it with a blow dryer. It did take awhile to get the wax to melt to secure the tissue paper into the candle and so the kids gave up and mom had to finish the task, but they turned out pretty cute.

My goddaughter is a teenager now and therefore harder to shop for, especially on a budget (since all teens really want is money).  This dry erase board is one of the things I gave her this year, as we like to make gifts for each other (what she made me was AWESOME!).  It was in the dollar spot at Target (actually I purchased it for 30 cents on clearance) earlier in the year.

I covered the frame in a fun duct tape and added a command hook to the back so it can hang easily.  She actually really liked it and said it could hang in her locker.  So that was simple and cheap! :)

For Grampa the girls covered this mug (from the DOLLAR STORE! Score!) in permanent markers.  We didn't coat it with anything to protect it so I'm not certain how long it will last, but my dad said he always hand washes these type of mugs anyway.

These are dollar store frames that we added a photo to and the girls decorated with their tapes.  We have duct tape, washi tape, Scotch Expressions masking -type tape, etc.  Then they added some stickers and wrapped them up for all the grandparents.

I forgot to take photos but we also made:

Glass bulb ornaments - some had paint drops inside and we rolled it around to coat the inside, then wrote the year with Sharpies on the outside.  Others we put broken bits of crayon inside and heated with a hair dryer - you can find tons of ideas on Pinterest.

I purchased plain clipboards from the dollar store (they were plenty sturdy, they were just plain and boring) and the girls covered them in duct tape.  Taylor made one with only Despicable Me minion tape and a minion photo she colored (I covered the coloring page with clear packaging tape to protect it) while Julia made one with 10 different colors of tape!  They both looked festive and fun, especially after adding a bow with a twist tie to the little loop at the top.

An ordinary $1 ceramic pot became a colorful holder for a manicure kit (nail polish, foot lotion, file and clippers, etc.) after decoupaging confetti on that as well.

Ack! I forgot to take pictures of my homemade wreaths and garlands before I wrapped them up as gifts.  These were fun - I bought naked wreaths and garlands on clearance after Christmas, as well as shatter-proof bulb ornaments, ribbons, bows, scented pinecones, etc.

Create a layout first, keeping in mind where a door hanger will be on the top and a bow on the bottom, then hot glue the decorations on and wrap the ribbons around.

I packaged mine in wreath storage boxes and included a door hanger for the wreaths (not for the garlands).