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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gift Giving for the Whole Year

I fully intended to have posted a couple of blogs in December with some great Christmas ideas, but the insanity level around here was at an all-time high and the blogs just never materialized.  I decided to not feel bad about it, after all, you’re probably too busy to read it anyway, and well, it just doesn’t really matter in the grand scope of things! 

This apparent lack of concern is a very new approach for me.  I’m actually the over-achieving, Type-A, obsessive-compulsive perfectionist of the family.  But I must say, the change in attitude has helped a lot with the stress I normally impose upon myself throughout the holidays.  I just have to keep reminding myself of the fortune cookie I got a couple of weeks ago.  It said something like, “Don’t worry about what you SHOULD do, concentrate on what you CAN.”  Great words of advice. 

So instead of worrying about the fact that half my gifts still haven’t made it to the post office or that I forgot to offer the eggnog and cider to our guests on Christmas Eve, I intend to sit back and drink that eggnog and cider myself while I watch my family play with the gifts that DID get finished.  Oh, and all those blog ideas?  Well, how ‘bout we turn them into projects and gifts you can make and use throughout the year?

For a quick and easy gift idea, try making one of these cute little gift tag sets:



These are some cute little gift tag boxes I made for teachers and a few friends.  I loved making these, they are such a simple concept and yet so versatile and VERY easy to personalize.  The original idea for these comes from the Splitcoaststampers website and were first presented to me by Stephanie G., a very talented Stampin’ Up demonstrator we know.  Later, Pam used this same concept as the basis for one of her classes on our fall cruise.  The tags can be put together in endless combinations, and I’m considering putting together some generic tag sets to use for birthdays, showers, and other gift-giving occasions.  If you want to see some more ideas along these lines, check out the Splitcoaststampers gallery.

Several of us belong to a Stampin’ Up! hostess club, and this month we learned how to make these lovely coasters/trivets.





We used Staz-on inks, Stampin’ Up! Craft Inks, Stampin’ Up Classic inks, stencils and stamps.  The tiles were baked at 350° for 10 minutes, cooled, and then sprayed with a sealant.  Felt pads on the bottom will protect your furniture.  I bundled up the four NOEL tiles in a pretty ribbon and presented them to my sister-in-law.  Monograms, names, special words, or even pretty designs can be used to personalize these for any occasion.

Speaking of monograms…




Last year, I made several monogram wall ornaments to give as gifts to my kids, nieces, and a few favorite teachers (see more in my December 2009 blog entry). 



This year, I had to make another one for my brand new nephew, Billy, and his two older brothers who live in another state, Todd and Ryan.  These are super cute and simple to make.  The cardboard letters are available at Hobby Lobby, or you can use wooden letters available at most larger craft stores.  Some 3-in-1 glue (it’s the BEST for sticking paper to chipboard!), patterned paper, and a little creativity can turn it into a very personal and lovely gift for people of any age.

Need something a little more elaborate or personalized?  What about a perpetual calendar?




I made this perpetual calendar for my mother for Christmas.  She’s a huge NASCAR fan, so I thought I’d do up her calendar in that theme.  It was a really fun challenge, and I’m really pleased with the results!  I’ve also seen University of Texas themed calendars, color-themed calendars, and really, just anything you can imagine!  If you’d like to give one of these a try, I teach it as a class (usually no more than 2 or 3 people at a time) and I provide all of your general supplies.  It’s a great deal, and you can create something completely unique!  For more information please see our website.

Okay, so you’ve made Aunt Sallee a really cute set of coasters for her sunroom.  You wouldn’t just throw it in any old box or bag would you?  This idea came from another awesome Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator (Sharon A.), what about making a super cute gift bag from an ordinary lunch sack?



Or what about making a beautiful tag?



I started making tags several years ago after another scrapbooker told me that she always makes a card with the scraps from every scrapbook layout.  She pointed out that your “theme” is already set, so are your colors…all you have to do is assemble it!  After she told me that, I started making LOTS of cards with my layout scraps.  But sometimes, there’s only so many red, white and blue cards that I need, so I decided to make tags, too.  Now, whenever I finish a page, I make a quick card and a tag.  All of these tags were made with my Cricut using a 5-inch "Tag1" shape on the Plantin Schoolbook font and various other cuts from other fonts.  The fun challenge with tags is that I sometimes try to make Christmas tags using non-traditional colors – like a pink and black snowflake card.  Some of them have turned out quite good, I think. 

So that’s it for my gift-giving, post-Christmas blog.  I hope your holiday season has been filled with all the good things in life:  friends, family, faith, food, and fun! 

Merry Christmas!
The Crafty Neighbor