Monday, November 2, 2009

DIY: Handmade Christmas

About three years ago I switched over to an almost completely handmade Christmas. While I can't share this year's projects yet, here are several from years past and my DIY Christmas story.

Mixy Matchy Placemats
Mixy Matchy Placemats for my cousin whose girls were learning to set the table.

At the time I had off from work during November. "Off track time" (as we call our non traditional school breaks) sounds great, but actually sometimes it was a really lonely time for me. All of my friends work during the day. Infertility, malls, the holidays- the combination can get really ugly. So, I turned my craft therapy into a full on Santa's workshop and for so many reasons, it was one of the best choices I have ever made.

Gingerbread men for a Dallas Fan
 Cookies for a Dallas Cowboy's Fan.

The tradition stuck. It is time consuming, but it helps me feel connected to my family. I think of the recipients while I create. I hope that even if they don't love, need, use their gifts, at the very least they know I love them very much.
journal cover
Collage covered marble notebook for a friend who journals.

A handmade Christmas saves me money-mostly because I don't go to the mall and see/buy things for myself. Truly. Limiting my Christmas shopping also saves me from feelings of lack that the mall by design brings on. It allows me to be part of the Advent Conspiracy. (Read on, but then check out this video. It always gets me.)
B-Day Bunting
Reusable birthday bunting.

This year our school is on a traditional calendar and I will be celebrating all the December holidays with my beloved Crayons. There will be Christmas shows, report cards and parent conferences. It will put a crimp in my crafty ways. However, I am still commited to continuing my handmade Christmas. A more humble version to be sure.

Here are three things I have learned along the way:
1. Multiples are good.

Heat/Cold Therapy Set
Rice Heat Therapy Bags (tutorial here) -good for one...
Stack of Rice Heat Therapy Bags
and all! Seriously, the big bulk bag of rice made this project super thrifty!

Tote Bags
By the time I made two of these tote bags for my little cousins, I was on a roll. Becoming good at a pattern makes it quicker and much more enjoyable. This goes for any craft as well.

2.The difference between cheap and thrifty is the thought behind it.

Chic Flic Movie Quote Pillow
This pillow hardly cost anything to make, but I added favorite movie quotes to the patchwork making it very personal. The collage notebooks cost about a buck, but the personalization made it so much more.
Notebook for Berry

3. Men love cookies.


Speaking of handmade Christmas, did you see that I am hosting a Cute & Thrifty Play Kitchen Build Along?
Yup. For the next six weeks, every Wednesday I am going to post step by step directions on how to build your very own play kitchen out of a repurposed nightstand, end table, cabinet or small dresser.
From this:
Small chest
Donated Nightstand
To this:
New Bowl
Simple Blue Kitchen

In time for Christmas!

I even have plans for a "no tools" variation! Get the details here.

Be sure to check out all the other terrific DIY ideas at ASPTL and 12 Weeks of Christmas at Reds Writings.

DIY Day @ ASPTLTwelve Weeks of Christmas


Melissa @ Southern Mommas said...

you should add these to red writing's 12 weeks of Christmas- she is doing homemade items this week. You can add your link- these are great !
Her blog is
your little kitchens are precious!

Pat Harris said...

Oh my gosh!! I love the little kitchen ideas! How absolutely precious! I have to show Ron. Thank you for stopping by junkblossoms. The little cabinet would fit right in your little kitchen. Send me pictures of yours when it's done?

Jennifer Juniper said...

My group of girlfriends gets together for Christmas each year and draws names for a grab bag. Rule? Everything must be hand made using items around your home or using supplies costing $10 or less. It's amazing how creative this can make you! I can't wait to see what you make this year :)

Abbi said...

What neat ideas! Your play kitchen ones look so fun!
I am hosting A Handmade Christmas Carnival at my blog every Thursday until Christmas and I would love to have you (and lots of others too!) join me!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I love all of your gift ideas! Thanks for sharing them with us. :)

HollyLynne said...

Great projects! My Christmas presents are about 1/3 handmade, 1/3 purchased on Etsy and 1/3 storebought. The handmade and Etsy gifts always go over well! :)

Prairie Scraps said...

Boy - you have just some great gift ideas! I think I might make the rice bags this year, as I have been getting the new Glade soy candles, etc. for a Christmas gift of some sort, but didn't know how to make it special! That will certainly make it special! I am going to be checking back to see the kitchen tutorial...I have been trying to get a coffee table or end table for the last month second hand, but can't seem to get a good deal in our area! Can you believe people have coffee tables for $150 that are 80's style? Anyway, I look forward to learning more...

Jenny said...

That little kitchen is the cutest thing ever. Wow. I'm impressed. And your other craft ideas are incredibly clever, too. Thank you for sharing.

Jayne said...

Do you know how very talented you are!?!? Those little kitchen sets are absolutely fantastic. How on earth did you ever come up with such an idea. They could make you rich!
Thanks for sharing all your great homemade goodies!
Christmas Blessings,
Jayne at mysongwithin

Kelly said...

Love the kitchen set!!! I have 2 girls who would love those! Will be watching for those details!

Sandy said...

I am so glad that your first commenter on this post told you to go over to Keelie's 12 Weeks. If she hadn't, I would have, but so glad she did earlier!

I had already wanted to make the kitchen before September. Now, just maybe, I can try one for Christmas.

laterg8r said...

all your gifts are awesome :D so great to make a home made, heartfelt christmas :D

Shannon @ Silver Trappings said...

I love all your ideas! Men - food - good combination. I think I will do some food gifts for the men in our family this year! And I LOVE those little kitchens! Sooo cute!

Melodie said...

Fantastic ideas. This is why I am starting to buy my handmade gifts - because I just don't do as good a job as some people who are blessed with craftiness!