DIY Holiday Decorations

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Keeping on with the Holiday theme, I have three small  projects that can give your decorations a personal touch.   This week, I am going to tell you how to make three different items that can be use anywhere but mostly on trees, garland, and wreaths during this season.  I like to surf the internet to get some ideas started and then I let my imagination fly while I stare into the area of my home with all of my craft supplies.  Then I hope I can make whatever crafts I have planned with as little as interference from my cats and bird as I can.   As you can imagine, that may be the most difficult part of crafting projects.

The first item I made this week was button garland for a tree.   It is so easy as long as you have the correct supplies.  First, you will need buttons.  This is a great way to temporarily or permanently reuse buttons that have fallen off clothes over the years and never sewn back on.  I collect mine because I rarely know which garment they go to until I put the garment on and realize I’m missing one.  However, if you don’t have enough around the home for the size project you are doing, I did find packages in my dollar store and then I found cheap larger packages at my fabric store.   In my case, I wanted to get certain colors as my tree is made out of bright green tinsel type material so certain colors would work because of clashing.  If you going with a certain color theme, this may require going to fabric stores that have more variety in colors and packaging.

Button Garland requires:

Lots of buttons
Thread or twine
Pair of scissors

One thing I am going to point out with this project- make sure your thread or twine is small enough to get through your button holes.   I had to get a bit creative for that.  Measure out the twine or thread ahead of time or use the spool to hold buttons on as you continue to thread the buttons. Then when you are ready, thread your buttons onto thread or twine until you have enough of the buttons to space how you’d like.  If you are using a pattern be sure to keep size or color of buttons piled in the order you are planning to thread them. Cut and tie it off with a knot large enough on both ends so buttons won’t slide off.  Then hang on the item you are decorating.

 The second craft for today is salt dough ornaments.   These are great to add personal and homemade touches for any celebration regardless if it is Christmas.   In my case, I wanted to create the best personal touch I could to my Chanukah and Christmas decorations for home and office.

 I, also, have thought about how I can make more for each of the holidays using fun shaped cutters. I stared at my Easter and kid’s toys themed cutters and got a bit excited about using them throughout the coming year to make decorations to hang.  One year, my parents left the tree up all year and decorated it for the year with the right colored lights and other random decorations.

 The Salt Dough Recipe

4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of table salt
1-½ cups hot water

Mix flour and salt until it is well mixed.  I would recommend putting them in the sifter and sift at the same time then mix around a few times.   Once you have it well mixed, slowly add the hot water and mix extremely well.  Then hand knead the dough and add flour or water until it works for you consistency wise.

Then flour a working station and rolling pin.  Tonight, I had to use a cutting board on top of my room temperature stove top because of space issues in my kitchen.  If you have a small kitchen that may work best. Once you have rolled your dough to ⅛ to ¼ inch thickness, go ahead and cut out the ornaments or decorations with cutters and/or knife.  I wanted to utilize the help of my “assistants” and standard biscuit shaped cutter in my home which is a measuring cup.   Keep in mind, you can use anything you have around as a guide for a shape.   What I did for the personal touch was a paw or foot/beak print of each of my animals.   My bird decided it wasn’t just his foot that was going to be imprinted.    Now, I’d preheat the oven to no warmer than 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  You can do longer at a cooler temp but I recommend nothing lower than 250 degrees.

Once you have the shapes cut out, you can either use coloring to paint the cut outs then.  I didn’t do this first but rather cooked them first then will paint afterwards.  Be sure to add a hole big enough to add a piece of string or ribbon thread in it.  Once they are cooked which is about an hour (or longer if done at a lower temperature), you can also paint and varnish.   String them and hang once they have dried after the paint/varnish process.  However, I looked around and found that I can super glue a piece of ribbon to the back to be able to hang it.   Sometimes, you have to be creative about mishaps like this.


The last project for this week is animal themed ornaments.  In my example, I made a polar bear look but using a matte silver ornament bulb using white pom poms.  I have an issue with my hands today so I had to use more of the self- adhesive tape.  If you have another favorite animal, you can use your imagination.

 What you need for animal ornaments:
Solid color ornaments
Pom poms (of different sizes)
Super Glue and/or double-sided tape (if you are working with less time or small hands, use pre-cut squares of double-sided tape)
Self adhesive eyes

 
I was hoping to find white bulbs in three sizes so I can make snowmen with just using self sticking felt sheets cut out for the hat, buttons and carrot.  I know I have the least well rounded dollar stores where I live currently.  I used to live in an area with three chains of dollar stores and were well stocked with everything.   However, all the items as I made them were available at the local dollar store.  I even found super glue there if I needed it. Just glue pom poms in a way that takes shape of the animal then apply other details.  Just be sure to put it so it hangs from behind the animal’s head.

 
Now, as a friendly reminder, reuse or use leftover supplies around the home.  In my case I used scrap pieces of paper to make the face and some old bulbs until I saw that glitter bulbs will not work with double sided tape as I tried.  Another mishap I had was I thought I put a bag of eyes in my basket.  Apparently I saw them, and didn’t pick one up.  That is why I used scrap paper. You may see those silly posts about Pinterest failures.   I take what some would deem failures and get a bit creative to work around it.  If you really can’t salvage it, don’t get down and just try again. Don’t get discouraged and remember these projects are supposed to be fun!


Scraps Into Finished Product

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It is that time of year where we get ready for the holidays.   Today, I have two simple things I use scrapbook paper scraps for.   You may not have all the time you want to finish a huge scrapbook page.  That’s okay for today because this gives you a few other uses for that scrapbook paper you have lying around or collecting dust in some closet.  Or let’s say you are one of those people that wrap presents as you buy them and have scraps or the end of the wrapping paper roll with very little left and you don’t think there’s even enough to wrap one last present.   I have some use for that as well.  Holiday cards!

I am one of those people that ends up celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas.   That is why I find things that I can do for both holidays this time of year.   For my first craft, it could be used for any holiday and any time of year.   Cards are a fantastic way to use any scraps of paper, stickers, wrapping paper, ribbon, etc.

I’m sure you will get an idea with the pictures and let your creativity flow.

For cards, you will need the following:

  • Card stock (I usually get the cheap packages at a craft store when they’re on sale)
  • Glue (sticks or scrapbooking style) or double sided tap
  • Pens (I live the gold and silver for the holiday cards)
  • Scrapbook paper (scraps if you have them)
  • Wrapping paper (scraps if you have some)
  • Ribbon (themed or complementary to cards’ design)

Now onto what to do, it is really simple- create a card.   There are a few samples of what I use and a sample finished product.  As you can see, my cats like to get involved.  My parrot will too enjoy trying to snag paper out of my hand or off the table.   I just use it as an excuse to list them in the handwritten holiday greeting.  I also have quite a few friends that also celebrate Hanukkah so I do cards for them as well using blues and silver tones.

For the second craft I have for this week, the holiday colored paper will work well for most of it.   You may just want to snag a few scraps of different shades of orange.  I did this project for the holidays for the gym I used to work at.   I had the fortunate position to play or watch kids while the parents worked out.   We had a huge space to decorate that worked well with idea.    If you don’t have a real fireplace or want to do something for a decorating contest, this is always an intriguing way to get people to look a few times.   I make a fireplace out of scrapbook paper.  I made most of what was necessary while home on bed rest for a week due to medical reasons.  When I suggested that we do the same in my office this year so we can do decorating contests and decorating stockings, the whole office got excited about the concept.

What you will need:

  • A space that works (at office, home, etc.)
  • Scrapbook/construction paper that works for the colors of brick, mortar, logs, fire, and stockings
  • Glue or double sided tape
  • Cotton balls
  • Markers

Directions
Take measurements for the space you’d like to use.  I then make sure I have enough of the paper to use as a background/mortar.  I use that background color to tape or glue the pieces of “brick”.  It makes it easier to prep ahead of time and then when it comes to “installing” the fireplace.  Then cut out bricks.  This works well if you get those random scrap paper packs that have odd sizes too.   One time, I got one that had a lot of red and brown pieces in random sizes that made it difficult to use them.  In this case, I found yet another awesome way to use them.   I create different colors to make it pop out some and look somewhat realistic too.   You can make them any size or pattern you’d like or how supplies permit.

I began with creating the actual fireplace section.   Then I cut out and tape to the black fireplace section the logs and fire. I recommend this first just to make sure you are centered a lot easier before you install the bricks.   Then you can start taping or gluing the bricks to the background/mortar.    If you want you can even create a mantle above the fireplace.  This time, I didn’t do that.   Once you have that all done, you can install on the wall, cubicles, or even a door.   It will likely take some help with installation if you don’t have a small one.

If you aren’t using real stockings, you will want to cut out stockings.  I had some glitter ones for making holiday cards so I used one to use for tracing out some for the fireplace to have my co-workers to decorate for a contest.   Whatever works for you go for it.   When I worked at the gym, I used the glitter ones to give it an added flare for the kids to enjoy.   Cotton balls work well for the white fuzzy part of a stocking.  Once you have for the stockings, hang them on your fireplace.

-Heather


Creative Thanksgiving Centerpieces

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Greetings!

First, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and what I love.   My name is Heather.  I live in Maryland and love anything related to crafts and baking.    A few years back, I wanted to do cards for Hanukkah and Christmas for family and friends.  I could have taken the easy way out since I was on bed rest for medical reasons.  However, I did it the long or harder way as it gave me something to do.  I made them on my own.   That was where my renewed enthusiasm began for arts and crafts began.  Over the last few years, I began to bake for my gifts and celebrations as well as doing more and more crafts.   It was so bad that I began to make decorations for the kids area of the gym I used to work at to give into the need to do more with the kids.

A lot of my arts and crafts I want to introduce everyone to, at least in the beginning, will have to do with recycling things you already have.   What would you do if you had leftover crayon pieces? What would you do with a jar?   By using your imagination and some materials that may seem useless now, can turn out to be fun little things for a special place in the home or just for the holiday dinner.   There are endless possibilities.   I will do one each week, but they are meant just to help you get the juices flowing and look around to see how to throw away less and reuse more.

Another I like to do is find things that don’t take tons of fine motor skills.   For one, this allows kids to participate.  Secondly, I sometimes have issues with my fine motor skills due to a medical condition and when it flares the fine motor skills do too.   My goal is to still find things that can be done on my worst days because that also means anyone just about can do these projects.   So without further ado, here is my first craft here…

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought something to celebrate fall and the holiday would be a bit of fun.   I know some people are already working there way up for the winter season but I find it is nice to slow down and enjoy this season as much as possible.   Then again, I love pumpkin and the changing of the leaves.  In keeping with the idea of recycling materials, I got my thinking cap on and thought of two ways we can recycle materials and make a centerpiece for the Thanksgiving meal.

What you will need:

Mason jars or glass vases (I’d recommend clear glass for visibility but use what you have)

Bean and corn kernels (dried)

Battery operated tea light candles

Raffia ribbon/Twine (or any fall or natural looking ribbon you have on hand)

Cinnamon sticks (optional

Whole Nutmeg (optional)

Keep in mind that you can play with materials and if you see something around the house that works, use it!  This is an easy project and brings that original Thanksgiving to mind in a subtle way.  You can do as many as you feel will work for your table.   In my family we have a few regular sized tables we use for dinner just because of space.   When I was younger, we would fill a basement with long folding tables and create a space for over 20 people to sit at once.  If you have multiple tables or a large long table, you may want to consider making a couple of groupings of vases to fill the space.

Grab your ribbon and vase/jar. Wrap it with your ribbon or raffia. You can do simple bows or layer multiple materials.  Do what you’d like.  Stretch your creativity but don’t stress about it.  I’m sure you already are worried about food, space, and everything else on the holiday.   This isn’t a stressful thing.  I find it relaxes me.  When all of the wrapping of ribbon is done, be sure to secure it with either hot glue, clear sticky dots, or a simple bow.

Once you finished wrapping how you’d like, you will fill the bottom of your vase/jar with your beans and/or corn kernels.  I’d recommend about a half inch but not too much either so don’t fill it to the top.

Now this is why I recommend the creativity and the cinnamon and nutmeg.   You may have already all the food preparation on.   However, I like to add a bit of flare with my spices.   I shave some of the cinnamon and nutmeg on the kernels to give them some scent.   It isn’t overpowering and won’t last more than a few days, but it does give a nice added scent for the weekend.   I will also tie some of the cinnamon stick is the raffia or twine I used for the vase.  Again, another added natural touch.

  

When it is close to the time everyone sits down, you can turn on the tea lights.  You may try real candles with this.  I’ve never done it and not sure how stable the heat from the candle will be when you have real candles sitting on top of the beans and corn.   Be careful if you try it.

Now, go and enjoy the holiday and the festivities!