Upcycle Your Christmas Cards – Christmas Card Ornaments

upcycled christmas card ornaments text

Now that Christmas is over, I’m sure you have a plethora of Christmas cards you don’t really know what to do with. At least I know that’s what happens to me every year! The photograph ones I keep in a photo album, but the actual Christmas cards are not so easily dealt with: they’re so pretty, you hate to throw them away… but what can you do with them?

This year, I hit upon a creative solution: Every year at Christmas, I like to help my boys make some ornaments they can give as gifts to various family members. One year it was cinnamon ornaments, and another year they were made with salt dough. I feel like the whole process teaches them the joy of giving as well as the joy of creating, and family members (grandparents especially!) love to receive their little handmade treasures – a total win-win!

This past Christmas, I took on an ambitious project for their ornament gifts; and in the end, their role was minimal (probably shoulda waited ’til they were a little older), but I loved the final result anyway! What I particularly love about this project (which I originally found on Pinterest , of course) is that it is made of recycled materials. In particular, it makes use of Christmas cards, which are so beautiful… but so plentiful. You can only use them for gift tags so much, and then even that gets a little old, ya know? I was thrilled to find this unique and creative usage for all the Christmas cards I’d been hoarding in a little box.

Christmas card ornament

This isn’t as simple of a craft as I usually undertake, and I actually did have to buy some items specifically for this project (never happens!), but I love the result. I might make some more next year and give them as gifts myself!

Upcycle Christmas Cards into Christmas Card Ornaments

christmas card ornament 3

Christmas Card Ornaments

Summary: Upcycle your old Christmas cards into these beautiful ornaments.

You will need:

  • Mason Jar Rings
  • Christmas Cards
  • Acetate Sheets (I found a pad of “mock” acetate at Michaels)
  • Hot Glue Gun & Glue
  • White Glue
  • Foam Adhesive Stickers
  • Glue Dots
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon

Instructions

  1. Choose a Christmas card with a picture or motif that will fit within the frame made by a Mason jar ring. Place the jar ring on the card, and trace around the edge of the ring with a pencil. Cut out the circle you traced, and glue the picture to the back of the ring.
  2. Cut out one or two small details from the remainder of the card (or from complementary cards), and attach them to the circle with a foam sticker to create a 3D effect.
  3. Place the ring down on a sheet of acetate paper. With the hot glue gun, glue all around the edge of the ring, adhering it to the acetate. Allow it to cool and dry completely, then trim the paper and the dried glue close to the edge of the ring.
  4. Pour some glitter onto a plate. Drizzle some glue around the outer edge of the acetate, then place the ornament face down in the glitter. Shake off the excess glitter and allow to dry.
  5. Cut out one or two more small details from a Christmas card, and affix them to the front of the acetate sheet with a glue dot.
  6. Tie a ribbon around the ring, creating a loop at the top so it can hang. (You might need to secure the ribbon with just a bit of hot glue.)

christmas card ornament 2

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DIY Inexpensive Wall Art – Personalized, Customized, and Absolutely Lovely!

I haven’t posted much about my decorating skills, because, uh… I have none. I’m seriously lacking in that department. I’m always amazed at the genius and creativity of all those bloggers out there who look at an object and say, “Sweet! I can make THAT out of THIS!”, when “THAT” has absolutely nothing in common with “THIS”, and the end result is always extraordinary. I am not that kinda girl. I look at “THAT” and see… well, THAT.

So as you can see, creativity is not one of my strengths. Not even close! And that, my friend, is why I am inordinately proud of this recent project I completed! Because you know what? I completed the project start-to-finish without consulting Pinterest or any of those creative types (unless you count my DH, who has a degree in graphic design, and whose opinion was invaluable when it came to choosing the colors and papers). And I think the end result is absolutely lovely!

Here’s how this project evolved: I started with two picture frames that my DH had given to me for Christmas some years ago; and although I had pointed them out to him as a potential gift item, I had absolutely no idea what to do with them, so they sat largely unused for… umm…. a while. (Let’s just leave it at that.) The biggest problem was that I didn’t have enough actual pictures of people that were oriented in the same way (all vertical or all horizontal), and I also couldn’t figure out the best way to hang the two frames together, and where to put them, yada yada yada. Too many little problems for my pea-pickin’ little non-decorator brain to figure out.

But in our new place, I was determined to use them somehow, because – despite the issues they presented – they were beautiful frames, and my DH had given them to me. Thankfully, finding the spot on the wall was easy this time around. They fit perfectly in the space  between the built-in media cabinet and the curtains and would totally finish out the little tableau I was creating there.

Unfortunately, figuring out what to put in those dumb frames was still an issue. I pondered over it for quite some time, mulling a variety of ideas before settling on creating some type of text-based graphic design myself. Then I pondered a little longer, trying to come up with two words that were 5 letters each, were meaningful to our family, and made sense. Faith and family would’ve been perfect except for the minor detail that “family” has 6 letters, not 5. Love and hope? Only four letters, and not necessarily words that personally meant a lot to us. Pretty words, but nothing that struck a chord in me.

Finally, I settled on using our initials. Not a perfect solution, I guess, because if our family grows, then we have to redo them! But for now, it works beautifully: they are both meaningful and personal, and the 3 characters balance nicely in the middle of the 5 slots.

I love the finished result, and these frames -inexpensive wall art that they are!- make me smile every time I see them. The colors complement the overall color scheme in our living area (gray, blue, brown with some black/white accents) and help to create a put-together look. But what I love best is that this art is personal to me! It’s not something I picked up on sale at Michaels’ or from the clearance rack at Marshall’s, and that makes all the difference in the world.

What I love second best is the price! I already had the frames on hand, and the paper cost less than $10. The whole project came together in one afternoon, and wasn’t that difficult at all. Actually, it was really quite easy!

DIY Inexpensive Wall Art

I used:

  • 2 frames with 5 openings, with matting included
  • 2 sheets of blue open scrollwork scrapbook paper
  • 2 sheets of black open scrollwork scrapbook paper
  • 4 sheets of sturdy silver scrapbook paper
  • 1 sheet of sturdy white linen scrapbook paper
  • 1 sheet of sturdy black linen scrapbook paper
  • tape
  • glue stick
  • craft knife

I measured and cut the scrollwork and silver papers to fit the openings in the mat, then I taped them to the back of the mat (scrollwork paper first, then the silver background). I alternated the blue and the black scrollwork papers to create a balanced but varied design.

Then I drew the letters freehand  (my DH actually drew the ampersand template for me because my ampersands kept coming out like “S”‘s, lol) onto a piece of paper that was cut the size of the mat opening, making sure the letter filled the space but was neither too large nor too small. Then, using scissors and the craft knife, I cut the letters out to create templates, which I used to cut out the actual letters on the sturdy linen paper. Again, I used black for one set of initials and white for another to kind of balance out the look but keep things fresh.

Then I just used my glue stick to carefully adhere the letters to the scrollwork paper through the opening in the mat. Once they dried, I put the mat back into the frame, put the backing on the frame, and secured it. Then my DH hung it on the wall, and… DONE!

Not bad for ten bucks, eh?

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Cute Coffee Cozy – You’ll Never Guess What I Upcycled to Make It!

I love re-usable coffee cozies, mostly because I hate waste. Those disposable ones at the coffee shops always seem so pointless, but then I have this little problem of accidentally throwing away the re-usable kind. Henceforth and therefore, I have no desire to spend any amount of money or time on a re-usable coffee cozy (as cute as some may be, and I’ve seen some awfully cute ones!when it’s just going to end up in the trash one day anyway.

When I was on my organizing spree earlier in January, I cleaned out my sock drawer. (Yes, my sock drawer.) In there was a lonely old slipper sock that had lost is mate a loooonnnngggg time ago and was merely biding time in the dark old drawer, waiting for me to sadly end its life. Only I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that, the poor lil’ slipper sock having been worn only a few times before being reduced to singlehood, and thus in excellent condition still. (I think I have already mentioned that I hate waste.)

As I sat staring at the spinsterly sock, waiting for inspiration to strike… it did! Inspiration, I mean. It struck! This perfectly good slipper sock (that was not dirty in the least, thankyouverymuch!) could have a new lease on life with a new purpose and a new design! All it would take was a snip of my scissors and what was old would be new again.

Almost gleefully, I grabbed a pair of scissors and made two short cuts (don’t worry, it didn’t hurt a bit). Reluctantly disposing of the heel portion – but only because no inspiration struck as to what I could do with that ridiculously shaped tube – I ran into the kitchen and tried first the toe and then the band. And woohoo! It worked! Perfectly, I might add. 

Why, yes, indeed. I turned that lonely – but adorable – slipper sock into not one, but TWO adorable coffee cozies that, being free, will not cause me one moment’s grief if they happen to be accidentally disposed of. (OK, well, maybe a tiny moment, because they are awfully cute!)

So. Happen to have any spinsterly spare socks lying around your house in lonely dark drawers? (Of course you do, who am I kidding?!) Give them a new lease on life and release them from their loneliness with a fresh purpose as your own adorable little coffee cozy.

The best part? Everyone will think you knit it yourself by hand. (*snicker*)

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A Simple Christmas Tip #18 – Use Cereal Boxes to Make Gift “Baxes”


If you want more information, click here or on the graphic itself to take you to a full-length post on the topic. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

Come back tomorrow for another quick tip to help you simplify your Christmas by focusing less on spending and more on celebrating.

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Upcycle an Oatmeal Canister

I love turning trash into treasures. Egg containers, coffee cans, empty jars and bottles… none of them are safe from me! I love figuring out new ways to use them instead of just throwing them all away. Join me at Homemaker’s Challenge today where I show you how to turn an empty oatmeal canister into a toilet paper dispenser that will beautify your bathroom (really!).

Sharing at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

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An UNO Birthday – The Decor

Benjamin bday collage

Last weekend was my Baby Boy’s first birthday, can you believe it? An entire year has passed since he was born! And as you can imagine, planning a birthday in the midst of all the holiday mayhem was, to say the least, challenging.

My friend Leigh Ann of Intentional by Grace came to my rescue with a simple but fun first birthday theme that she had come across on Pinterest for her own child’s first birthday. The idea was so charming, I had to steal it (my apologies to Leigh Ann, who had the idea first!). And many thanks to the awesomely creative people who come up with these ideas in the first place. I am totally in your all’s debt! (And so are my kids, because Mommy could never come up with such cool stuff from her own head!)

The birthday theme idea, of course, was based on the game UNO. You know, for the number one. (In case you were unaware, “uno” means one in Spanish. Just in case you needed to know that.) As it happened, I had an old box of UNO that was missing quite a few cards (not to mention that someone put a new box of UNO in my stocking!), so I took that as a heaven-sent serendipitous sign that the UNO party was just meant to be.

One thing I LOVE (L-O-V-E!) about this theme is that the decorations are so terrifically cheap (a good thing considering the state of our bank account right after Christmas!). I used random supplies I had around the house to throw together some fun decor that was bright and cheerful and just screamed “party!”. All the decorations were made with that same a-few-cards-short-of-a-full-set! Add to that non-investment, 2 paper plates, a long string of curling ribbon, a stick of hot glue, and some random pieces of tissue paper (oh, and 2 pieces of felt), and you have the sum total of the items needed for UNO party decor.

The other thing I love is that it has a built-in color scheme: red, blue, green and yellow (plus a little black). Easy peasy. No thinking necessary.

Oh, and by the way, this party theme is not just for one-year-olds! Any kid, or even adult, who loves games or numbers would have a blast with this party theme!

UNO wreath

This UNO wreath was a last minute inspiration that I literally whipped up in 2 minutes. And then I still had a ton of UNO cards, so I whipped up another one in a couple more minutes. This one’s a no-brainer, people. Take a large sturdy paper plate, and fold it in half. Cut out the inner circle, leaving the outer ring to form your wreath shape. Knot a ribbon around the top, then tie it into a bow. Lay the plate flat on a table, and use hot glue to attach UNO cards to the plate to form the wreath. I tried to match up the top left corner of each card to the top right corner of the previous card, slanting each one at a slight angle.

tissue paper pompom cluster I made these tissue paper pom-poms using up some tissue paper languishing in my present-wrapping-box. I will spare you my own garbled attempt to explain how to make them, and direct you to this great picture tutorial instead. I used the colors from the UNO theme – red, blue, green and yellow. Black would be a nice addition, but I didn’t have black. I could have hung these up individually, but my DH and I decided to hang them together in a cluster above the birthday cake to draw attention there. It was a great choice! The cluster had more impact than individual pom-poms would have, I think.

UNO garland To make an UNO garland, you’ll need to start with a tremendously long piece of curling ribbon (I used red because it’s what I had.). To secure the cards to the ribbon, you’ll want to tie a knot on each one. To do this, start with a long piece of curling ribbon. Punch a hole in the top of an UNO card, and thread the ribbon through it, leaving about 6″ or so on the left for hanging. Tie a knot and pull it taut just above the card. Then thread another card through the ribbon, once again tying a knot. Keep adding the cards one at a time, tying the knot for each one, until you come to the other end of the ribbon, once again leaving about 6″ or so for hanging. Voila! An UNO garland!

another UNO garland

Even the birthday boy was part of the decor! Check out his designer onesie:

UNO onesie I used two pieces of felt (Warning: do not try to use peel’n'stick felt. It doesn’t stick. Just so you know.), one blue and one white (you couldn’t tell that yourself, could you?!). I cut a rectangle to fit the front of his onesie out of the blue felt and attached it via the adhesive on the back of the peel’n'stick felt. Bad decision. I should have hot-glued it on, because it wouldn’t stay put once we got to the party. Lesson learned! Thankfully, the white felt was not peel’n'stick! I cut out a slanted oval to fit in the center of my blue rectangle and attached it with hot glue (And it stuck. Like glue.) I also cut out some mini little “1″s from the white felt and glued them to the top right and bottom right corners. Then I cut  a larger “1″ (all of them attempting to replicate the UNO font) out of the blue felt and stuck it to the white oval. To this day, I do not know where it is. *Sigh* If you want a more permanent onesie, of course, you can skip all the gluing, and use iron-on backing and/or sewing it to secure around the edges. I was just going for the effect that day, so it wasn’t a really big deal that it wasn’t a permanent design.

Ain’t he a cute little model?!

UNO model

Not shown (because I don’t have a picture) are the table decorations, which consisted mostly of black plastic table cloth, scattered with all my leftover UNO cards (yes, I still had more!). I considered running the UNO cards through our shredder to make confetti, but I ran out of time. It made more impact anyway, I think, leaving them whole.

scrapbooking Because, of course, there is no way Baby Boy will remember his first birthday years from now, we (all the guests at the party) made a scrapbook for him. Each person decorated one page and wrote a personal note to him for his birthday. The pages all have an empty spot where I can insert pictures from the party (I predict I will finish this in time for his 21st birthday party). I did the same thing for My Certain Little Someone’s first birthday, and I wanted Baby Boy to have the same special scrapbook.

Each piece of UNO decor was awfully QUICK, I can tell you that! The tissue pom-poms were the hardest part, but once I figured out how to make them, the process went more quickly. I made the garland while watching TV one night, and it was done before the show was over, so it didn’t take all that long.

Everything was super EASY, I assure you. OK, a slight learning curve on the pom-poms, but easier than other things I have done.

We’ve already covered how CHEAP these decorations were.

And HEALTHY as long as you don’t try to eat them.

Read the Rest of An Uno Birthday Series:

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Gifts from the Kitchen: Cardamom-Orange Coffee {To Go}

cardamom orange coffee to go

My friend Sheila of Alice and the Mock Turtle knocks my socks off with her creativity. Her active mind is always churning with ideas and new ways of looking at things to come up with such unique solutions and fun stuff of all kinds.

One of her recent blog entries totally blew me away with its simplicity and just sheer genius! She used empty tea bags to create individual instant coffee bags and dressed them up for gift giving. I didn’t even know you could buy empty tea bags! 

Anything with the word coffee instantly grabs my attention, so I was all over this idea like white on rice (or brown, I guess I should say) and I started thinking about how I could incorporate this into my gifts from the kitchen for Christmas.

And since I can’t leave well enough alone, I began dreaming of different flavored coffees – my own coffee blends, so to speak – that could be placed into these little tea bags for sheer coffee-drinking pleasure. Cardamom-Orange Coffee to Go is the result of that mental brainstorming.

coffee bag

Sheila had found these amazing press-and-seal tea bags that you can iron after filling to create a completely sealed envelope of coffee. For some reason which I can’t remember now, I opted to go with Teavana’s PerfecTea paper filters instead. These tea bags don’t require any ironing (not my favorite chore), but neither do they have any way to seal them at all. I found that for my own  use, simply folding over the top (as they were designed to do) was sufficient, and not even one teeny tiny coffee grind found its way into my coffee.

For gift-giving, though, I wanted to be sure that the envelope didn’t spill, so I simply used a doubled length of thread and a needle to make a running stitch through the top of the folded filter. I left a 3″-or-so length of thread on either side and tied those together into a knot. Not only did this keep the coffee grinds from spilling out of the bag, but it also created a useful handle for pulling the filter in and out of a cup of hot water. And it gathers, so it can be used to help squeeze out all the coffee goodness! The whole process took maybe 30 seconds for each coffee bag (and I am by no means a proficient sewer!).

Unfortunately, it’s too late for you to order the tea bags in time for Christmas at this point, but they may be available at your local Teavana store (or other tea specialty shop). If you can find the tea bags, filling them up is super quick and easy, making them a great Christmas gift or stocking stuffer!

Some gifting suggestions:

  • in a coffee-themed basket for a coffee lover (with mugs, coffee-themed decor, flavored syrups, etc.)
  • in a tin full of home-baked goodies
  • with homemade (or storebought if you’re running out of time!) biscotti
  • by itself in a jar, as Sheila suggested, together with cream and sugar
  • in a portable re-usable coffee mug (I did this for a friend)
I had some small “transparent archival plastic bags” (similar to these, except not self-sealing), that I used to hold the coffee bags, both to help keep the coffee fresh, and to give it a nice clean look. You can just use a plain old zip-top plastic bag if you don’t have anything like that, or a jar, like Sheila used.
And just to make it all the more elegant for gifting, I even created some tags to go with my original coffee blend. I made it into a PDF just for you, friends! Cardamom-Orange Coffee {to go} label
Now… what to put in the coffee bags?! You can just use some plain good quality coffee beans, like Sheila did, or you can get all adventuresome with me and try out some exotic homemade naturally infused flavored coffee blends! I’ve been working on this cardamom-orange coffee flavor for a couple weeks now, so I’ll share it with you, but the sky is the limit as far as what you can put into the coffee to flavor it. Pretty much any spice or dried (dried to the point where it can be powdered) fruit can be added to the coffee beans to produce delicious flavored blends. If you experiment and come up with an awesome new flavor, tell me about it so I can try it, too!
And here’s a tip: the easiest way to get dried orange zest is to take the peels from an orange or clementine and set them out in a single layer on a plate to dry. When they’re completely dry, run them through the coffee grinder. I even just added a couple of the pieces of orange peel into the grinder with the whole coffee beans.
To use the tea bag, just place about 3 tsp of this coffee blend into the bag, seal as desired (or as required by the manufacturer), then place in a coffee mug. Pour 6 oz of hot water over the coffee bag and allow it to steep for several minutes, or until desired strength. I found that the tea bag filter limited the strength of the coffee, so any more than 6 oz of water resulted in a rather weak cup of coffee.
Once you have your little tea bags full of this yumminess, you will have super QUICK coffee at the ready wherever you are. You can fill your to-go cup with hot water , place one of these babies in there and run out the door!
Just as EASY as plain old coffee! OK, dealing with the paper filters is a little more effort, but not much.
Purchasing the filters is some additional expense that I normally don’t have, but for gift-giving, it can’t be beat! Definitely a CHEAP option for all the coffee-lovers in your life. And it’s way CHEAPer than buying the famous nationwide-brands line of naturally infused flavored coffee blends. Or even their instant coffee (does anybody really pay that much for instant coffee? You do? May I ask in the name of heaven WHY?!)
Infusing your coffee with natural elements like orange zest and cardamom is a lot HEALTHY-er than purchasing the artificially (read: chemically) flavored kinds available elsewhere.

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Gifting from the Kitchen in Style {the QECH way}: Brown Paper Packages

Now you can trick out your canisters with the best of them, and transform your empty egg cartons into muffin holders. We’re going further into upcycling gift wrap territory by using an even lowlier receptacle: the lowly shopping bag. 

Not a plastic one. I haven’t figured out how to beautify those yet. No, I am speaking of the lovely, sturdy brown paper bags that you can find at places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or even a few mainstream grocery stores.

And it doesn’t take much to beautify a brown paper bag, honestly. In fact, all you have to do is cut it apart and wrap it with the outside facing in. Does that make sense to anyone here? No? OK, I’ll try again.

Step by step transformation of a grocery bag into wrapping paper:

  1. Remove the handles. Just pull ‘em off!
  2. Cut straight down along one corner of the bag, all the way to the bottom.
  3. From there, cut off the bottom of the bag.
  4. Lay the bag out flat, with the designs from the outside facing up.
  5. Lay your gift on top of the bag and wrap as you would any present.
Clear now? OK, good.
This works best if you are wrapping a box, which makes it a little more difficult for using to gift from the kitchen. It’s easy enough, though, to line a cardboard box with tissue paper and place carefully wrapped homemade goodies inside. Some things I think would work particularly well wrapped this way:
  • a collection of salt dough ornaments
  • homemade jam or other canned goods
  • a selection of homemade chocolates and truffles (you can find some great recipes in our HealthyHolidays free eBook!)
  • themed gifts such as a spaghetti dinner (with noodles and sauce), ice cream fixings, or movie night
And of course, it’s limited only by your creativity! Whatever you need to wrap up can be wrapped in this style. Furthermore you can dress it up in a lot of different ways. I had some fun when I was wrapping presents the other night for my family, coming up with some different ways to dress up the paper bag.

Use fancy or plain string and tie it in the old-fashioned way with a big ol' bow on top.

The easiest way to dress up brown paper: pretty fabric ribbon in any design or color. You can also write directly on the package in a coordinating marker or pen.

Cut apart old Christmas cards, and punch holes into them. Tie them onto the package for instant - and free - decoration.

Add natural elements - either real or fake - like cinnamon sticks, poinsiettas or sprigs of pine boughs.

Tie on a candy cane for embellishment. Other ideas: trinkets and small ornaments.

If you go to Trader Joe’s, their bags right now actually have some adorable designs on the side panels that make great gift wrap for small gifts! If you don’t have Trader Joe’s bags, you can accomplish the same thing by drawing designs with markers.You could also use stamps and other tools of the scrapbooking trader for a similar effect. (Hint: Set your kids to the task!)

Check out the fun print from the side panel of the Trader Joe's bag!

I find that the brown paper actually has a rustic elegance that is easily adaptable to both fun and glitzy looks. I even prefer it to wrapping paper, and plan to wrap the majority of my presents in it this year!
It’s almost as QUICK as using a roll of wrapping paper.
It’s almost as EASY: the paper is definitely more stiff and is therefore a little more difficult to work with. However, that same quality also makes it a lot sturdier.
It’s certainly CHEAP! I love taking trash and turning it into something useful and beautiful.
And it’s HEALTHY, I suppose. Healthy for the earth, at any rate.
Here are some more creative ideas for wrapping with what you have around the house from My Blessed Life.
Shared at Frugal Friday, and

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Gifts from the Kitchen: Salt Dough Ornaments (Including Wheat-Free Version)

This is not an edible gift from the kitchen, but it is made from common ingredients that everyone has in their kitchen. And it’s made in the same manner as sugar cookies or other rolled cookies, by rolling out the dough and using cookie  cutters to make the shapes. Just don’t eat it. And if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

And this particular from-the-kitchen gift can also be made together with your little ones, making it a perfect gift for grandmas, grandpas, aunties and uncles who will oooh and ahhh in delight. (If you happen to be the grandma, grandpa, auntie or uncle of My Certain Little Someone and Baby Boy, just pretend you didn’t see this post and don’t forget to ooh and ahhh in delight!) My 3-year-old Certain Little Someone helped me in every different phase of this project: mixing the dough, cutting out the shapes, poking the holes with a straw, painting, and even threading the ribbon through the hole.

I even have a wheat-free version for you, in case your child, like mine, is allergic to wheat and would break out in hives if he touched dough with wheat flour in it. The non-wheat version is very similar, it just requires more salt than the original. I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill rice flour on Amazon’s Subscribe & Save is often the cheapest wheat-free flour available.

You still have time to make these before Christmas, but be sure to allow several days for the ornaments to dry thoroughly. You can also dry them in the oven on the lowest setting for several hours, but I haven’t personally tried that. I’m just afraid to burn them!

I tried adding some peppermint extract to make some Christmas-scented ornaments, but after painting and sealing them, it was kind of pointless. If you choose to leave them au naturel, then you can add some scented oil or extract, about 1/4 tsp.

To make a dark color, you would need a lot of food coloring. Which is OK, because you’re not going to eat it! I squeezed quite a bit of food coloring into my dough for a beautiful pastel color, so I would recommend adding the food coloring before adding the water so you don’t alter the texture of the dough.


The brown rice flour ones are, predictably, a little more fragile than the wheat flour ones, so it would be helpful to keep those ones nice and thick to prevent crumbling.

These aren’t QUICK because they take a while to dry.

They are relatively EASY – perhaps not as easy as a cut and paste project, but definitely do-able, even with children.

This is definitely a CHEAP gift idea. Even the paint was only a couple bucks, and I had a can of sealer hanging around. Cheap enough to give to all the myriad aunts and uncles we have around here!

HEALTHY? Well, I wouldn’t eat it if I were you.

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Gifting from the Kitchen in Style {the QECH way}: Tricked Out Canisters

Homebaked goodies are a delicious frugal gift this time of year (that everyone loves, even if they groan at the thought of one more sweet treat), but there’s always the dilemma of how to present them. You saved all that money by making the gifts yourself, only to go and spend a fortune on the packaging? Doesn’t make sense, does it? That’s why I’ve learned to put together some pretty creative – and even elegant – packaging without spending a dime. I just scrounge around my house and come up with junk that does a decent job of containing my kitchen creations, and then dress it up a bit for the occasion.

It looks a lot better than it sounds, I promise.

Last week, I showed you how to make a cute little muffin (or truffle) holder using a humble egg carton. This week, we’re going to take a plain old can to new heights of fashion it never even dreamed existed.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of can. Ideally, it should be large enough to hold approximately a dozen cookies (although vegetable cans would make cute little mini-gifts, too), so we’re thinking more along the lines of a canister. For example:

  • coffee tin
  • oatmeal container
  • formula can
  • large can of pumpkin puree
It can be metal or cardboard, doesn’t really matter. Just so long as it’s cylindrical, hollow, and capable of containing cookies, it will work.
Here’s how you turn it into a rock star:
First, clean the container. Nobody wants your coffee grinds in their Christmas cookies. Sometimes a simple rinse will suffice, especially if it’s a more fragile cardboard container. As long as there’s no residual dust or goo from the original contents, then you’re good to go.
If it has a wrapper, peel it off. It will just get in the way.

my naked can

Grab some kind of decorative paper, like:
Here’s the trickiest part of the whole thing, so pay attention:
You will need to cut your paper to fit your canister. I used scrapbook paper this time, so that’s what we’re going with in this example (but I’m sure you can figure out how to adjust these instructions to any kind of paper you choose to use!).
First, measure the height of the can, then mark that measurement on the back of your decorative paper.
Use a ruler to help you draw a straight edge the length of the paper, using this measurement as your guide. Cut the strip of paper.
Glue each end of the strip of paper and press it firmly onto the canister, wrapping it around as tightly as you can, and smoothing out any wrinkles as you go. My piece of scrapbook paper didn’t quite fit around the circumference of the canister, as you can see.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, you have several options:
  • Make a focal point out of the blank space by using some complementary paper to fill it in. You can even write a greeting here or use it as a gift tag, or use it as a backdrop for a  big dramatic bow.
  • Cut another strip of the same paper and glue it over the gap for a more seamless look.
  • Find a larger piece of paper that will fit all the way around.
I went with option #1, as you can see. If you want to do the same, here’s how:
Measure the space, adding about 1/2″ on either side, and cut out your piece of complementary paper. Glue it on, smoothing out wrinkles as you do. You may need to clip it on with some clothespins to hold it in place until the glue dries. You can leave it at this, and simply tie a big bow around the canister, and centering it here. Or you can add some embellishments if you have a lot of scrapbooking materials. I took yet another piece of complementary scrapbook paper and centered a square of it on this patch. I wrote “Merry Christmas” on it to add some festive flair.
Here’s what it looks like with a bow. I think it doesn’t even need the Merry Christmas label, but it’s too late now.
On to the last bit now. If your container has a lid, you will want to decorate it, too. This part’s a little bit tricky, too, because you’ll want to cut out a circle that fits inside the rim of the lid. Trust me, it won’t work to try and glue a circle that goes all the way to the edge. The best way that I found to do this is to set the lid upside down on a surface, and place the paper (decorative side down) on top of it. Feeling the inner edge with your fingers, trace your pencil around it. Cut out this circle, then glue it (decorative side up, naturally) on to the top of the lid.

Yes, I know, I should have chosen papers that complemented the lid color!

If you don’t have a lid, or don’t want to deal with the lid, no worries! The solution is quite simple. Simply poke a hole on either side of the canister, about an inch down from the top. Make sure the holes are lined up halfway through the diameter of the can, so it won’t wobble when you’re done. If you have a metal can, you will need to use a hammer and a sharp nail to make the holes, but if your can is cardboard, any sharp object will do the trick. (Just be careful, I dont’ want you to poke your eye out!) Once you have your evenly spaced holes, thread some ribbon through them and tie a bow to form a handle. Cover your treats with tissue paper or a tea towel.

Voila!

This is a pretty QUICK project, too (unless you have to dig out all the papers from their hiding spot like I did).
It’s also very EASY, and very forgiving. Pretty paper covers a multitude of errors!
Very CHEAP, almost free (especially if you use clearance scrapbook paper!).
HEALTHY all depends on what you put inside it!

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