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Christmas presents hot cocoa cookie treePhoto by pinkcandy/iStockphoto.com

Anyone who knows me, knows cooking is not my specialty. That’s why I’m not one of those bloggers who takes a picture of whatever masterpiece she made for dinner and shares the recipe. I can, however, bake quite well. Maybe it’s because I’m good at following the directions in a recipe. Anyway, food of (almost) any kind makes great gifts. Here’s a sampling of ideas. Click here for Part 2. On Wednesday: Stationery/albums/calendars and jewelry/personal accessories.

Part 3: From the kitchen

Berry bread recipe

myrecipes.com | Howard L. Puckett

39. Bake small loaves of quick breads. Wrap them in wax paper and tie on a recipe card with baker’s twine.
Five quick bread recipes

40. Fill a basket or gift box with homemade candies or cookies.
Homemade candy recipes
Book: Cookies

41. Whip up several batches of homemade fudge—some with nuts, some without. Cut it into squares. Wrap first in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil to maintain freshness. Place in holiday tins. Creamy chocolate fudge recipe

42. Go Tex-Mex with jars of homemade salsa and a large bag of nacho chips all bundled up in a fiesta serving dish. Feliz Navidad. Chipotle salsa recipe

The Primal Blueprint Cookbook

marksdailyapple.com

43. Select a cookbook and choose a recipe from the book. Attach a card to the front that includes the recipe name and page number. Place the cookbook and ingredients for the recipe in a basket.
Suggested book: The Primal Blueprint Cookbook

44. Make homemade sugar cookies. Decorate them with colored frosting and sprinkles. Include the recipe and cookie cutter with the gift.
Seven sugar cookie recipes

45. Prepare homemade soups or dinners that can be frozen for future use.
Homemade soup recipes

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Handmade Christmas presentsPhoto by zoranm/iStockphoto.com

Handmade Christmas-themed gifts often double as decorations, so you might want to give these gifts early so they can be properly enjoyed during the holiday season. Or maybe the gift is making some of these together with family or friends. Either way, these crafts get in you in the holiday spirit, and they’re fun to make. Click here for Part 1. On Monday: From the kitchen.

Part 2: Christmas-themed crafts

Felt Christmas stockings

womansday.com | Eric Roth

28. Make a felt Christmas stocking. Stuff it with a bottle of wine, sparkling apple cider, homemade salad dressing, etc. Personalize the stocking to fit the personality of the receiver. You can also make a stocking out of a dish towel.
Stocking template and instructions
Salad dressing recipes

29. Knit a Christmas stocking.
Book: Christmas Stockings: Holiday Treasures to Knit

30. Make holiday-scented potpourri. Mix together cinnamon sticks, dried orange peel, whole cloves, evergreen clippings, and dried lemon peel. Half fill cellophane florists’ bags and tie with ribbon. Yule Simmering Potpourri recipe (scroll down)

Crosstitch ornaments

crochet4you1.tripod.com

31. Cross-stitch a holiday ornament. Draw your own design on mini graph paper. Stitch. Frame in a small embroidery loop and add a ribbon for hanging.
Patterns for the ornaments shown
Free easy Christmas cross-stitch patterns

Argyle applique ornament instructions

32. Decorate a small Christmas tree with homemade ornaments, miniature toys, cookies, or potpourri bags for a shut-in friend who can’t take care of decorations this year.
Homemade ornaments and instructions
Beaded snowflake ornaments

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Handmade Christmas presentsPhoto by JurgaR/iStockphoto.com

Why Christmas when we’re in the throes of summer? I know. I worked six years in retail. In my experience, nothing incited people’s groans more than Christmas being stocked on the shelves in August. However, I think this a worthy exception. After all, if you’re going to have a handmade Christmas, you can’t very likely undertake the proposition in December, now can you?

I’m excited to share this prodigious list of Christmas gift ideas that I compiled years ago. I forgot that I had it, but Tracie reminded me when she asked for inexpensive handmade gift ideas that I might have come across in my search for camp crafts.

This is the first of seven parts that I will post over the next few weeks (MWF). Keep in mind I culled most of these ideas from the internet years ago, but I added ideas I found recently plus a few of my own. I hope these ideas will inspire you to create your own unique gifts. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! On Friday: Christmas-themed crafts.

Part 1: Home & garden crafts

DIY tile coasters

curbly.com

1. Make a set of tile coasters using 4-inch ceramic tiles. Paint a simple design or decoupage napkins, paper or photos onto them. Glue felt on the back to protect surfaces from scratches. Then tie them with a holiday ribbon.
Tile coaster instructions

2. More coasters to try using recycled magazines, buttons, or fabric:
Woven magazine coasters
Woven button coasters

Quilted fabric coasters

3. Personalize a picture frame. Choose a plain picture frame and decorate it with polymer clay, acrylic paints, seashells, beads, ribbon, etc.
Paulownia wood picture frame

Embroidered napkins with buttons

marthastewart.com

4. Make a set of inexpensive cloth napkins into a special gift by adding a personal touch. Add a monogram to each one with cross-stitch, embroidery, needlepoint, or embellish with buttons, appliques, or stencils. Include a set of handmade napkin rings.
Fruity button embroidery napkins
Recycled fabric napkin rings

5. Storage boxes are decorative and useful. Get several different sizes from a craft, office, or stationery store and decorate them with paints or decoupaged paper. Stack the boxes inside each other. Stacking storage boxes

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DIY yo-yo headbands brooches hairpins

These yo-yo headbands, brooches, and hairpins were the sixth and final camp craft I had planned. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for them at girls camp last June, so we’re saving the supplies for next year. In these samples, I hand-stitched them to a stretchy headband, pin backs, and a bobby pin. The brooches look great pinned on a scarf or hat, and the headbands are cute alone or in multiples.

Yo-yo headband

After you make a few yo-yos, I’m sure you won’t want to limit yourself to just these accessories. Try sewing them onto a tote bag, purse, hat, belt, scarf, or shoes. Or a sweater, t-shirt, tank top, or socks. Or sew them onto pillows, pillow cases, towels, quilts—you get the idea. I just made small yo-yos for these projects, but you can make them any size you want. Have fun!

Yo-yo headbands

Special thanks to all my friends who spent hours cutting circles with me. We had fun chatting and working together. Don’t worry, ladies, our work will pay off next year!

UPDATE 7/2011: I just added the photos above from this year’s girl’s camp. The yo-yos were a success. For an alternate craft using most of the same supplies, check out our fabric flower headbands.

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Resin pendant necklaces

Resin pendants close-up

Devon at girls camp

Resin pendants at girls camp

These resin pendant necklaces are the final craft that we made at girls camp last June. (I planned one more craft that we didn’t have time for in the end: yo yo headbands and pins. I’ll share that craft next week.) They were inspired by bethtastic’s amazing photo necklaces. We chose something from nature or created a scrapbook-paper design to embed in the resin. The girls embedded blossoms, leaves, twigs, bugs, and spiders. One girl even put the tick that had been removed from her body in her pendant. And some girls embedded their .22 shells saved from shooting at the camp rifle range.

Although the girls loved the pendants, I wouldn’t recommend this as a camp craft. Four reasons: 1) The process is quite involved and doesn’t lend itself to group participation, 2) It requires some special tools, 3) Cold weather delayed the typical 24-hour cure time, and 4) The end result was unpredictable. Almost everything from nature floated out of place and changed color (usually yellow or brown), some more dramatically than others. It became a science experiment to see how each pendant would turn out.

A special thank you to my lovely and talented sister-in-law, Devon, who single-handedly taught the girls how to wrap the wire (or did it for them) and attach their ribbons and cords. Read more »

DIY subway tile name plates

Camp crafts

All you scrapbook fanatics are going to love these. The girls at camp took this idea and ran with it. I wish I had photos of all their great plaques. These subway tile nameplates to stick on your bedroom door were inspired by a reader, Josie, who asked me for suggestions for what to do with some leftover white tiles that were given to her. I thought of the ceramic nameplate that I’ve had since I was a child, and decided white subway tiles would make excellent nameplates. We decoupaged scrapbook paper and added stickers, rhinestones, ribbon, etc., but you can use whatever artist’s medium your heart desires. Paint? Glitter? Knock yourself out. Read more »

DIY fleece alphabet pillows

Fleece pillows at camp

Alphabet pillows at camp

I anticipated that this these pillows might not be as well-liked as the other camp crafts because hand stitching is rather time consuming. Surprisingly, these fleece alphabet pillows were very popular at girls camp.

I got the idea from a book titled 101 Crafts Under $10 from the editors at Butterick. Their craft is called “Felt name pillows.” The Butterick editors ironed the rest of the name in smaller letters onto the pillow, which I loved but decided was too difficult for camp purposes. We used fleece instead of felt because it’s softer and cheaper.

The hardest part (for me) was drawing and cutting out each letter of the alphabet in cardboard for the girls to trace onto the fleece, but you won’t have to make the whole alphabet.

Mostly everyone made a pillow out of their first initial, but I thought it would be cute to make “X” and “O” (kiss and hug) pillows. I used red embroidery floss on the “X” and charcoal floss on the “O” so they coordinate. Read more »

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