Crafty Christmas

Ashley Hughes

     Christmas is not a cheap holiday. In addition to the food, decorations, tree, glossy wrapping paper, shimmering gift bags and hot cocoa, there are also gifts that need to be purchased. This is a time of giving  – not receiving, right? So you give to your family, friends, significant other, acquaintances that you feel obligated to buy something for. And you even decide to dip into your Christmas fund for the cat, because after all, she was pretty good this year. All of this giving takes a serious hit to your wallet, and before you know it, there isn’t enough money left to go around for everyone you wanted to buy gifts for.

     Sometimes you just have to think outside the box. Depending on the recipient, it is often more practical to make something with your own two hands. Of course,  the levels of difficulty for this task rely on the creator’s artistic and creative abilities. However, by putting a little extra thought and time into a gift, it will likely be appreciated more than a gift card.

      A homemade scarf as a gift is not only seasonable, but it is extremely sensible. For those who can crotchet or knit, this is an excellent idea. However, there’s a secret for those of us who cannot. Often times they have sales on fleece at fabric stores. By snipping off the edges and cutting the fabric to the appropriate length, a just as unique scarf can be created. These scarves can be personalized with fun prints, vibrant colors, etc.

     Try creating a personalized gift basket. Many of you have probably seen a Movie Buff basket that contains the movie snacks, a Cinemark gift card and a few DVD’s but you can use this idea for just about any theme! If you have a best friend who is obsessed with Robert Pattinson, get creative with photos, Twilight icons, and magazine articles featuring him.  Baskets can be purchased just about anywhere, and to enhance its appearance, arrange colored shredded paper inside of the basket.

     For a music lover, a mix CD, preferably not full of Christmas music because after the holiday everyone will be sick of it, is the perfect gift. Favorite songs of the recipient, favorite artists, favorite genres and favorite decades are all things to consider when making a CD. Keep it interesting; a CD devoted to Matchbox Twenty is amazing and all, but chances are, they rather see a CD spiced with variety. This really depends on how well you know the person you are giving it to. As long as you have a good idea of their musical taste, you can’t really go wrong with a CD. Plus, it’s always fun to listen to a CD that someone else spent the time to make for you. Include songs that you haven’t listened to in a while. Bonus points for making a really cute or original case!

     This next gift is for the more crafty givers. A homemade snow globe is not only something that can be embellished for the holidays, but it is a decoration that can be used every day. To make a snow globe, you need a glass jar with a lid, distilled water, white or silver glitter, a waterproof figurine of your choice, glycerin this helps make the snow fall more slowly), silicone sealant that is clear colored, some sort of plastic base that will fit in the jar  and an additional jar lid to elevate the globe. First use the sealant to glue the figurine to the plastic base. Give it a full day to dry. Next, insert the figurine in the glass. Now partially fill the glass with distilled water and add a teaspoon of glitter. When the glitter is at a level you like, add the glycerin. Glue the tightly clamped lid onto the jar, and shake the jar!

     Food is something everyone can appreciate and enjoy. Peppermint bark is a holiday season favorite. You need two pounds of white chocolate and one cup of crushed candy canes. First, place all candy cane pieces in a plastic bag and crush them into tiny pieces. Next, melt the white chocolate and add the candy cane pieces as it begins to melt. Pour the mixture into a cookie sheet that is covered with parchment. Leave it in the refrigerator for about an hour. When the peppermint bark is out of the refrigerator, break it into pieces. When giving this away, place it in a holiday ornamented container or decorative basket.  It is easy to make, and delicious.

     Remember that if it comes from the heart, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Homemade gifts, even if they’re just things like an elaborate Christmas card, are cherished just as much, if not more, than gift cards or expensive clothes. I wish you the best of luck during your Crafty Christmas Expedition!