Tag Archives: homemade gifts

Buy Nothing New Christmas – Some Ideas

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christmas gifts

Since I stumbled across the concept of the Buy Nothing New Christmas, I have been thinking about how I could do this, and if I really want to completely forego new things in my gift giving. I found an interesting webpage, Buy Nothing Christmas, that helped me think through what this concept means to me, and what I would like to get out of it.

To me, the point is not to save money, or at least that is not the main point. The main point is to get out of the disposable mindset of our culture. The level of stuff our society produces is simply not sustainable, especially if you are giving any thought to raising the standard of living for third world countries and for poor people all over the globe. The waste produced by one household is staggering to me–4.4 pounds per person per day, or 1600 pounds per person per year.

I don’t want to opt out of gift giving, though. I love giving gifts and I think it provides an important social role, bringing friends and families together. I just want to be a bit more thoughtful about how I do gifts. I am also a bit hesitant to take on a project with strict rules. I have a problem with perfectionism–it often leads to an all or nothing mentality where you either do something perfectly, or this is no point to trying at all. I think that sort of thinking is detrimental to actual change. For instance, if everyone was able to cut down on buying just a few new things, it would have a much larger impact than a small handful of people foregoing new things entirely.There is benefit to doing something even if it isn’t technically *all* that could be done.

With all that in mind, here are some guidelines and tips I am going to use to buy less new things this year.

  • Making things is the best gift in my eyes; I will try to make as many gifts as I can
  • Any supplies I already have don’t count as new, although I may have bought them new originally
  • Consumables don’t count as new things: restaurant gift certificates, tickets to events, and food (especially ingredients for something I make) can all be bought new
  • Upcycle Exchange is a good local source for used craft supplies–thanks for the reminder, Hilary!
  • I will be checking in with friends who make gifts to see if we can trade supplies or possibly even finished products
  • Goodwill is a good resource; have been thinking about going to the dollar store to buy mugs, then crocheting cozies for those mugs, but I could find mugs at Goodwill, I am sure.
  • My first thoughts will always be to reuse something I already have, trade with someone else, or purchase something used, but if I have a great gift that needs a small purchase of something new to complete it, I will not get too upset over that

What do you think of the Buy Nothing New Christmas concept? Is anyone else attempting it this year?

What I did last weekend

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I’m taking a pottery class! Actually, I am on my second one, but I just brought home my first finished objects last week.

I started in a wheel throwing class, which was not really a success for me. I wasn’t too upset about the fact that I wasn’t very good at it, because new skills take practice right? At least, I wasn’t upset in theory–in practice, I was simply not interested in taking the time to get better. I wasn’t enjoying the process enough. My hands felt all slimy, and I was really pretty terrible.

I stopped when it looked vaguely like something useful...

I stopped when it looked vaguely like something useful…

The instructor did most of this one.

The instructor did most of this one.

The lady teaching the class is very smart, though, and she started showing me some hand building techniques, which I enjoyed quite a bit more. So much that I signed up for a second session to learn more hand building techniques, and actually make something I like and can use (and give away for Christmas presents!)

Coil tree with underglaze in leaf green, dragon red and ivory

Coil tree with underglaze in leaf green, dragon red and ivory

This past weekend I spent a lot of time in the studio, because it takes time to get these things done. I have a ton of clay to use up, because I got 50 pounds of clay for each class, and the first session, I used maybe 10 pounds. Since I started doing hand building, I have been going through it much more quickly, but it still takes a lot of time. I can roll out a slab or a coil pretty quickly, but to get it looking like I want it to? That takes some time.

Last weekend I spent about 8 hours cranking out plates and medallions. A couple of years ago, I did button magnets for my family, and I think the medallions will make a fun addition–another kind of magnet. I didn’t get any pictures of the medallions, but I did get some pictures of the plates:

photo 1photo 3photo 4

As you can see, these are all in progress, but I you get the general idea. They were fairly easy to do in concept–roll the slab, let it dry out a bit, roll a stamp over the whole slab, use giant cookie cutters, place in mold, take out and sit on the table to flatten out the bottom in the middle. It takes a while to do though, between waiting for the clay to dry and polishing off the piece. I have not gotten any of these back from the initial firing yet, but I am cautiously optimistic that they will be awesome, ;).

Anyone else into pottery?

Planning a Kid’s Crafting Party: Choosing Crafts and Making Supply Lists

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I am going to have a bunch of kids in my house in just over a week, and they will be expecting to do fun craft projects tomake presents for their friends and families. I guess that means it is time to choose crafts and make sure we have supplies, huh? I will need to consult the other mom that is helping with the planning, but I have some tentative plans.

Craft: Salt Dough Ornaments 

Supplies

salt
flour
water
skewer for making a hole in top
yarn for hanging
acrylics paints
paint brushes
paint markers

Do Ahead

Make the dough and bake the ornaments

Do at the Party

Paint the ornaments
Add yarn hangers when dry

I have the link above solely for the recipe; we will make other, simpler-to-paint shapes like candy canes and stockings. I think this will be popular because it will be quick and easy and fun to do.

Craft: Mod Felt Coasters 

Supplies

Ruler
White pencil
Assorted colors of wool felt
Scissors
White felt
Spray adhesive

Do Ahead

Maybe make an example?
Cut the colored rectangles ahead?

Do at the Party

Let the kids cut the rectangles?
Spray the adhesive on the white felt and place the rectangles
Let dry and cut into coasters

I need to decide whether or not to cut out the rectangles ahead of the party. I think it would make the craft go more quickly, but then it seems like we aren’t letting them do a big part of making it. I will need to do a trial run and see how long it takes, and then decide, but I am kind of leaning to cutting ahead and just letting them assemble and cut into individual coasters.

Craft: Scrap-Supply Magnets

Supplies

Small round magnets
Buttons
Ribbon
Fabric
Decals
Glue Gun

Do Ahead

Make some samples
Sort supplies

Do at the Party

Let the kids’ imaginations run wild!

I think this is another fun one that the kids will have a good time doing. There are so many different ways to make these that they will really be able to make some unique magnets.

Craft: Dragonfly 

Supplies

18 gauge wire
Wire cutters
Fabric window screening
Scissors
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Gold spray paint
Gold bead trim
Gold glitter glue
Sharpened pencil
Florist tape
Large wooden bead for the head
Small flat bottomed jewels for decorating the body and wings

Do Ahead

Print templates and directions

Do at the Party

Let the teenagers do all the work

This is the craft that I picked for the more independent teenagers. I don’t anticipate having to do much with this, 14 year old girls should be able to handle it on their own.

I need to talk to the other moms coming to the party and see if they want to do something different. I also want to try all of the projects once without kids, so we can help them better. And, I need to figure out how to set up the stations for each craft. But, I think this is coming together!

Planning a Kids’ Crafting Party: Possible Projects

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A friend of mine suggested we do a party for the kids to make gifts this year, and I think it is a great idea. I know my kids will love it, and we can get a lot done in a short period of time if we plan ahead a bit. To that end, here some projects we may want to do at our party, which will be on December 10th.

  1. Cool ornaments

  2. Water decals on ceramic mugs–I am trying to convince the boy to do original art for this one; he is oddly reluctant
  3. Make some salt dough ornaments ahead for painting
  4. Felt coasters
  5. Scrap-supply magnets–these are so cute, and I think the kids would have fun making them
  6. Glittery snowflake ornaments
  7. Geometric soaps–I am iffy on giving soaps as gifts, but it looks like something the kids would enjoy doing
  8. This dragonfly craft might be fun for my 14 year old and her friends

This list seems a bit heavy on the ornaments, but I think we can probably pick a few crafts from this list and set up a nice party. I need to look at the supply lists and see if we need to do prep work before the party for these to help narrow the list down. I should probably also consult with the kids and my fellow party giver. I think this is a good starting point, though.