Friday, November 28

Inexpensive, last minute gifts....

Do you have a last minute person you need to buy for? A party you want to show up with a hostess gift for? Well here are some cute ideas I have gathered from friends, family, myself and searching the web and have written down in my little holiday ideas book throughout the years. I hope these are able to help someone out as the countdown to Christmas keeps ticking. These would be great for teachers, co-workers, secretaries, family members, friends. Some are handmade, some are storebought, all are quick and easy. I have estimated a rough dollar amount it cost me to do the same thing. I have used every one of these ideas and they were all a hit. Everything varies from a few dollars up to $15. Though there are always ideas for sprucing up the idea a little more spending a bit extra if you felt froggy.

Recipes $varies
This can be as cheap as just a few dollars a person if you are making a lot of sets. Make a yummy pie, cookies, bread or other treat. Put it in a decorative tin or wrap and then tie a pretty ribbon around it with the recipe attatched to the ribbon.

Let Me Count the Ways $Free
This is awesome for a grandkid to give a grandparent, or even to give your sweetie. Get a pretty box or jar. Then write out on strips of solid but pretty paper 365 happy memories or reasons why you love them. Then print a little card explaining they are to take out 1 strip of paper a day so they always start their day remembering they are loved. This can be a free project if you have supplies on hand.

Candles $5
Go to the dollar store and find a pretty glass flat dish/plate. 3-5 inches. Then buy a few votives or 1 med sized candle. You place them on the plate, tie up with pretty mesh or sheer fabric and a pretty ribbon around the top. Another idea is to buy them 1 of every kind of small votive you find that you think smells good. You can easily gather 10 for around $5. Then package them up in a row in a box and let them try out to find their favorite scent.

Cookies $5
The more sets of these you produce, the cheaper it is. You mix together all of the dry ingredients for sugar cookies. Then create a recipe for them to add the wet ingredients themselves. Put the powder in jar or pretty baggie and attach the recipe and a cookie cutter.

Kiddie Bath Time $5
I got 2 rubber duckies and a magic washcloth (they sell these at almost all dollar stores...the kind that come wrapped up soooo tiny and when you put them in water they expand to a full washcloth....they even almost always have cartoon characters on them). You could also just do a coordinating fun poofy thing. Then a fun bubble bath. Lots of times you can find a very cheap bath toy too to add.

Grill Master $5
You can add an inexpensive grill cleaning brush and grill tools set if you'd like to spruce the bag up some, but I went and found in the grocery aisle, a variety of sauces and rubs for grilling. Packaged them up all nicely and voila. A goodie bag for the grill master in your life. It's a great way for people to try things new without having to invest in it themselves.

Candy!!! $5
Puchase a few candy bars from the checkout aisle. Try to make them all similar sized. Wrap them in patterned paper all together and tie with a ribbon. I like to make a coordinating card too. Everyone likes candy!!!!!

Manicure set $10
Puchase a mini manicure set together with clippers, file, buffer etc or you can buy them cheap separately too. Add a little tub of polish remover (the kind with the sponge already in it) and get them a few bottles of pretty nail polish to go with it. I only spent about $5, but I managed to have 3 separate 50% off Rimmel nail polish coupons. So I put $10 to be safe...though it'll probably be closer to $8.

Art set $10
Awesome for kids. Get a little gift bag (or reusable tote...they sell cool bags all the time at the dollar store) and fill it with a box of crayons, a package of colored pencils, markers, paint set, color book, colored paper, a notepad, eraser, whatever cheap little art tools you can find. Be thoughtful of washable products if you are gearing towards a child younger than 5.

Movie Night $10
Go to the local blockbuster (almost everyone has one semi-near) and get a $4 gift card for a rental. Or you can go to Walmart and they have tons of movies to choose from for $5. Get a gift bag (if you have them around baskets or tubs are a better presentation, but bags work in a pinch always!) and fill with a little tissue paper at the bottom. Then arrange nicely a small box of popcorn, a two liter of soda or a few 20 oz, one movie box of candy per person(they sell them for 84cents at Walmart in the movie theatre style boxes), and the gift card/movie.

Game Night $10
I spent $10 because I went and paid for a Book of Hoyle (also called According to Hoyle) that was a little paperback citing all the rules to over 200 card games. You could also go online and find directions and official rules to just a handful of fun games and print them out on pretty paper (come on most of you are LIVE for that kind of project!!!!!) and give it along with a deck of cards. Try making a mini album even.

Just Add Ice Cream $10
This time of year you can find a little set of ice cream bowls for less than 3-4 dollars. Though I have found them year round in the housewares dept of Walmart for $1-$1.50 each. The little glass pedastal bowls. I went to the grocery aisle and bought the waffle bowls instead. Those are yummy. Then buy toppings. Little jars of fudge, caramel, strawberry sauce, sprinkles, nuts, don't forget cherries!!! Then if you want to give them a $5 gift card to pick up 1-2 things of ice cream you can. I didn't include that in the price because it's not necessary, just a little extra idea.

Coffee Lover $10
A cute mug, a flavored creamer, several mini bags of flavored coffee and sugar packets or small resealable package.

Scrapbooking kit $15
You can make your own mini kit. Buy or make a mini album. One that's 6x6 or smaller and has 12 or fewer pages are perfect for getting started. Think brag book sized. 5 papers all coordinating patterns, 5 papers all coordinating solids, a multicolored pack of brads (just find one that matches best), a roll of doublesided Scotch tape, and a pen. Then you can make or purchase enough embellies to stick to the pages you need to fill. Well, they will need to fill. A smaller book will be good to have one sheet of embellies for a few pages, and they can always add more if they see fit. I would go with a theme here. Like a vacation album, a holiday album, all about grandkids album, etc. Then you could just get 4-5 packages of grandkid themed (or whatever theme) embellishments. You can also add a sheet or two of letter stickers. Or even a decorative punch. If you shop sales at the scrapbooking super stores and use your 40% offs wisely...this can be very cheap. If you want to save more money, but spend more time, you can create the album for them so they just need to add photos.

Pasta Dinner $15
Arrange in your gift bag or basket, a box of pasta, a jar of spaghetti sauce, a loaf of bread, a package of parmesan cheese, a bottle of wine or other drink. I have found around the holidays it's easy to get little cute things to add like a cute shaker for parmesan, or a cute set of spaghetti plate/bowls. There are always extras you can find like that to add to any gift set if you want to spend a little more. But I find that if you are trying to get the biggest effect for the least amount a simple spaghetti dinner is something anyone can enjoy.

At the Carwash $15
Pick up a bottle of ArmorAll, windex wipes, a chamois, car soap and a sponge. Walmart even has detailing brushes for like $1.50 I just saw. Add a car safe cleaner and put it all in a bucket for washing your car.

Emergency Kit $15
A cute little gift idea that is so useful. Get a pretty little bag and fill it with a small sewing kit (you can find these anywhere less than a dollar), a little mirror (they make adorable ones in little girls makeup kits, clear nail polish for runs in hose, nail clippers, nail file, small brush, travel sized fruity spray, travel sized tooth brush/paste, a mini screwdriver (they sell them that just flip from phillips to flat head at the hardware store soooo cheap. Travel sized lotion, a few small ponytail holders, 2-3 safety pins, small lint brush, a Tide pen, a few band aids (I have been lucky enough to find mini first aid kits with a few bandaids and a few small wipes of antibacterial ointment for just a dollar), chapstick, breath spray or mints, tylenol, tissue. Put all of these items in a small pretty bag the person can keep in their car. I even added a tiny coin purse with $2 in quarters tucked in, just in case you need to use a pay phone or something.

I hope some of these ideas are fun for you to create and give you ideas. I'd love if you shared some of yours. If you run out of time just remember: There is always the standby bottle of wine with a pretty corkscrew if you get desperate at the last minute. Liquor stores are always open. LOL!

Wednesday, November 19

Holy macaroni I'm done!!!!

You all remember how you all told me I was crazy for making all my cards different? Well turns out you were right and I admit it. LOL. I ran out of embellishments after 16 cards and decided if I was going to have to buy more then I was following the brilliant advice of making them all the same basic template and just switching the colors around. Here are the last cards. There are 2-3 more styles but my camera just died, so sharing will have to be later. There are 8 of every style. I should have probably used patterned paper but I went with colored cardstock because it's what I had plenty of on hand.

I went out and bought some really pretty glittery to/from tags from the store. Like $2 for 16 makes them tons cheaper than any embellishment from a craft store! These have to/from on the back, but once they are stuck no one will know. They are like 2.5x3 inches. I just matted them twice and then used coordinating glitter dust paper for the perpendicular strip. The glitter dust paper has the same texture of glitter as what is on the little pictures.
On the last one I wanted to follow the same basic idea, but I decided to triple mat it with the middle mat bigger so I could try some patterned paper. Well I couldn't find any to match and got the bright idea that I could emboss it somehow and if all else failed it'd be a great chance to complain to my husband that I NEED that cuddlebug! LOL. Well my daughter had these fashion plate things that you put the paper on and then color over. It's supposed to give texture to the outfit designs you create. Well a white colored pencil over the swirly plate and this is what I ended up with. I like it fine enough, but shhhhh don't tell DH. I'm still working the guilt trip angle. LOL.

Tuesday, November 18

Drowning in Christmas cheer

I am still working on Christmas cards and I am still following the bright idea of making them all different. I have received tons of great advice on how to streamline the process to make it more of a mass production and still have them be handmade with my style and I am going to do that as soon as I finish up the 20 I started. I have 75 total. Though if you are on my Christmas card list and you get a store-bought card, you'll know I failed. LOL.

My reason for them all being different is I'm trying to just use up the cardstock, ribbons and embellishments that I have on hand that are leftovers or just never used before I go out and purchase pieces. I have also recycled a few Christmas cards from years past. Hacking them up for parts and then creating pieces with those parts.

Here are a few of the cards I worked on tonight that are my favorites. The first one photographed funky. It's a solid red on the left, but since it's that metallic paper you can see the reflection of whatever was next to me while taking the pic.

Sunday, November 16

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Or so they keep telling me. I decided to take on the job of making Christmas cards this year. I have searched for sketches and found ideas all over and sat down with my piles of stuff and started trimming. Well almost 5 hours later, I have 4 cards!! Did I mention I decided to stifle boredom by making them all unique?? What was I thinking? LOL. Well the last two only took about 15min each, so I thinking the process will be flowing now. There was a lot of trial and error on those first two cards. This was only my second time sitting down to make cards. I wanted to share the progress I've gotten done:

Friday, November 7

How to make a gift box

We all have seen pretty little gift boxes. Ranging in size from a few inches to hold small trinkets and jewelry, to several feet long to hold decadent bath robes. These are so easy to create yourself that the next time you see them for sale for several dollars that's just plain as it gets, you will chuckle knowing you can make them yourself. Now using this technique you really won't be able to get bigger than a 10" square box because most decorative cardstock and trimmer/scorers are only designed for 12x12. Your total dimensions can't exceed 12 inches (that is width + depth + depth). Also make sure you read to the end before trying as I tend to add tips as I think them!

In this example I'm going to show you how to make a 6" square box that is 2" deep. Then I will show you how to create the same box with your specified dimensions with a simple calculation.

You will need the following supplies:
2 sheets of thick cardstock in whatever color or pattern you desire. *
A paper trimmer
A scoring blade **
Adhesive ***

*I like to use 2 coordinating pieces so the top and bottom don't match, but coordinate.
**If you don't have a scoring blade then you can attempt the folding by measuring out your dimensions where I state to score it and simply draw a pencil line and fold it on the line and use a stiff object to press it into a nice crease.
***The thicker the paper...the stronger the adhesive needed. I use thick cardstock and double sided sticky tape works great.

Step 1:
For the bottom of your box you need the first sheet of cardstock. Keeping in mind you are creating a 6" box in this example. You will need to cut your 12x12 cardstock into a 10" square. You will score the cardstock at 2" and 8". That is 2" from each end. Then you rotate it 90 degrees and repeat. Creating a paper with score marks that look like this:

Step 2:
You will then pick the short sides and make 2" cuts stopping at the score line. In the case of square boxes, any two opposite sides will do. Your cuts will be where I have drawn the blue lines below:

Step 3:
You will then bend to create a nice crease all of the parts marked pink in the picture directly above. Those are all of your score lines. It is easier to crease all of the score lines in this step than it is to crease as you go.

Step 4:
You will apply adhesive to the tabs that are marked as solid blue squares below. You will be putting the adhesive on the decorative side (the side shown on the outside of the box) as they will be tucked in.

Step 5:
Fold those now sticky tabs in and use the short side 2" flap to cover them.

You may need to hold together or clip together to allow the glue/tape to fully adhere, but within moments your box bottom will be complete. Set it aside and we can begin working on the lid. As I said, I like to use a coordinating cardstock for the lid. The lid will not need to be as deep, so we will start by trimming our 12x12. You don't want your lid to cover the bottom you just worked so hard on...right?

Step 6:
Trim your 12x12 cardstock to a smidge over 7" square. I say a smidge, although it should be roughly 1/8th of an inch over. This is because you do not want to smash your box lid on top. You will want it to fit comfortably over your bottom so it requires approximately an 1/8th inch extra. A lot of trimmers do not have an 1/8th inch mark so if that is the case, it is completely okay to eyeball the extra smidge. =)

Step 7:
The steps will now be pretty similar to steps 1-5 above. Instead of scoring at 2" in from each side all the way around, you will score at 1/2 an inch all the way around. That will leave a 6 and 1/8th inch center.

Step 8:
You will make the same cuts as above in step 2. You will basically follow steps 3, 4 and 5 as well. To create your box lid. The total dimensions for your bottom will be 6"x6" and 2" deep. The lid will be 6 and 1/8th x 6 and 1/8th and 0.5" deep.

Now I told you it was quite simple to make the box any size, but that with 12x12 cardstock 10" is about as big as you can go. Well what if you wanted a box that was 4x4 or 6x6 or even 3x5. Easy Peasy. You will still follow the steps above EXCEPT for the initial score marks.

If you are making a perfectly square box then you will start with a piece of cardstock. Figure out how deep (tall) you want it and how wide you want it. If you want a 4" box that is 3" deep you will start with an 10" square piece of cardstock. Your beginning sheet will be always width+depth+depth. You will make the score marks all the way around at 3" instead of the 2" in the example above. Your score marks will always be placed at whatever inch mark you decided for the depth. The steps are the same as above after that. Including making the box lid with the extra 1/8th of an inch.

If you are wanting to make a box that is NOT square, but rather a rectangle, the steps are again nearly the same, with the exception of the beginning deminsions and score marks. In this case you won't start with a square sheet. You will figure out the size by the same steps as with a square sheet. If you want it to be 3"x5" and 3" deep you will cut your starter sheet to be 9"x11". 9" equals 3"wide + 3" deep + 3 " deep. The 11" equals 5" wide + 3" deep + 3 " deep. Your score marks will still be created at 3" all the way around and after folding them you will see you are left with a 3"x5" box!

I hope some of you will share your boxes. I make these all the time. Birthday paper, hearts for valentine's day, or Christmas paper for the holidays. You can even decorate it in a character theme for a box to send home birthday goodies in.

I will try to figure out how to post a video tutorial (for those that learn by seeing) and add several tips to make your box uniquely yours......