Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

“Use What You Have” DIY Advent Calendar

Monday, November 26th, 2012

 

It is that time of year again and that means another Advent season.  You don’t have to have a fancy advent calendar to celebrate the advent season, in fact, I have a DIY Advent Calendar made from items you already have in your home. This free DIY Advent Calendar is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season without breaking the bank.

Today I wanted to share with you a “use what you have” Advent calendar that we created last year. It was such a hit that I plan to make another one for this year! This requires no pricey materials and is based around what the holiday season should be all about… being together!

In the years past, we have always had a Christmas Jar of activities. Each day we would randomly draw from a set number of activities and enjoy a holiday activity together as a family. This year, our life with our two children has become increasingly busy and scheduled. We have two school schedules, extracurricular activities, homework, holiday programs, holiday family events, and so much more going on. Our life of leisure seems to have taken a detour and I have had to be more thoughtful in our approach towards carving time out for what we would hope to accomplish this year.

I wanted to create our own countdown to Christmas in a creative way, but I didn’t want to spend any money on it. I decided to use what I had to create our homemade Advent filled with fun activities and wanted to share with you what we created!

 

Homemade Advent Calendar

Supplies needed:

A large circle punch (in scrapbook supplies at craft store) or a jar or glass for tracing
Tape
Scrapbook or festive holiday gift wrap
Ribbon
Marker
2 Muffin Tins
A picture frame stand or a place to prop your finished tins


I began this project by punching out 48 circles. On half of these write the numbers 1-24 and on the other half you can write fun activities to do with your children in anticipation of the big day.

Stick your holiday activity folded up inside of each muffin tin and then attach the numbered circles to each individual muffin tin. Secure with tape on both sides to hold your activities in securely.

Break out your trusty calendar and jot down the activities for each day to remind yourself what you need to plan for and what supplies will need to be purchased to accomplish the activities.

Add a little festive ribbon to the top of your muffin tin. Display the muffin tin by using a picture frame stand or finding a sturdy wall to prop it up with. Have your child draw an activity each morning to complete as a family.

 

Here are 24 Ideas for Advent Activities

1. Decorate the Christmas tree.
2. Big bubble baths with holiday music playing.
3. Go to the library to pick out holiday books.
4. Special popcorn and hot cocoa snack with a holiday movie.
5. Head to a holiday concert.
6. Decorate gingerbread houses.
7. Make Christmas cards for your special friends.
8. Watch a holiday movie.
9. Color a holiday coloring page.
10. Bake Christmas cookies.
11. Go see holiday lights.
12. Go see Santa in your local downtown.
13. Write a letter to Santa.
14. Pop popcorn & play a board game together.
15. Host an ornament decorating party.
16. Make gingerbread waffles or gingerbread donuts for breakfast.
17. Wrap holiday gifts while listening to holiday music together.
18. Go to the dollar theater and see a movie.
19. Go see the Christmas lights in your pajamas.
20. Deliver holiday treats to your friends & the firefighters in town.
21. Watch your favorite holiday movie.
22. Open one gift early.
23. Go caroling.
24. Do a holiday puzzle together

Total cost for this project was zero and very little money will be spent to do these activities together. The memories I hope to create with my children though, I hope those will be priceless!

Do you do an Advent calendar or have a special way your family celebrates the countdown to Christmas? I would love to hear your ideas!

Pin It

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes In A Jar

Monday, November 26th, 2012

I have a theory that any gift given in a little jar is a tad more special and certainly cuter if it is packaged sweetly in a jar. These no-bake peppermint cheesecakes in a jar are a perfect gift to give and full of that peppermint flavor we crave around the holidays. The best part about these isn’t the jar though, it is the, “no baking required,” feature that I happen to love the most.

This year I wanted to create holiday hostess gifts that would long be remembered, but quickly be used. What could be more memorable or useful than a tiny cheesecake in a jar?

The possibilities with this fun food craft are endless. Convert your favorite no-bake cheesecake into a sweet gift and decorate your jar with your favorite craft technique whether it is spray paint, decoupage, or a scrap of fun fabric.

These gifts can easily be personalized and will be a fun treat for whoever you might share them with. I guarantee if you made me one of these as a hostess gift, I would have you over and over again…just for that Oreo crust alone!

Make a batch of these and keep them on hand for those unexpected occasions where a gift is needed! It also could be a lovely reward for yourself after all of that hard holiday preparation you have been doing. You deserve it.

5.0 from 1 reviews
No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes In A Jar
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
A sweet & simple no-bake cheesecake in a jar that you can give to someone special for the holidays. This is the perfect little hostess gift, teacher gift, or neighbor gift to share!
Ingredients
  • 10 Half Pint Ball Jars
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 cups of chocolate sandwich cookies (approximately 17 cookies)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream, whipped
  • Red food coloring
  • 20 peppermint candies
  • 3 freezer bags
  • 1 rolling pin
  • For decorating jars (optional): Red Spray Paint, Green Grosgrain Ribbon, and Hot Glue
Instructions
  1. Place your chocolate sandwich cookies in a freezer bag and use a rolling pin to smash the bag of cookies until they become cookie crumbs. Add your melted butter and sugar to the bag and mash the bag in your hands until the three ingredients pull together to create your crust and are well incorporated.
  2. Take the lids off of your glass jars and place them on a cookie sheet to contain the mess. Spray each of the jars with cooking spray. Put two spoonfuls of cookie crumbs into each jar and use the back of the spoon or your hands to press the crust into each jar. Slide the cookie sheet of jars back into the freezer to chill while you prepare the filling.
  3. In a large bowl, beat your cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually pour in a can of sweetened condensed milk until it is smooth. Stir in your peppermint extract and red food coloring, approximately three drops, to achieve a pale pink color. Mix all of these ingredients well. Fold in your whipped cream.
  4. Remove your tray of jars from the freezer. Using a standard ice cream scoop, add one scoop of filling to each of your jars. Use the back of a small spoon to smooth the filling on top until it is level and smooth.
  5. Remove the wrappers from your peppermint candies. Place the peppermint candies into a double-bagged freezer bag and use your rolling pin to smash these into small pieces to garnish your cheesecakes. Sprinkle the broken peppermints on top of each one.
  6. Screw the lids back on your jars and put these back into the freezer. Freeze for two hours or until firm.

 

How To Decorate Yours Jars:

Remove the bands from the jars and set aside. Outside or in a well-ventilated area, spread your jar lids out on newspaper. Shake your spray paint well. Slowly and evenly, spray your spray paint back and forth until all of the lids are covered with the spray paint. Allow these to dry for at least thirty minutes.

Plug in your glue gun and allow it to heat up. Tie grosgrain ribbon (any width you desire) into a small bow.  Place your spray-painted lids on top of your jars and screw the bands into place. Squirt a tiny dot of hot glue on the back of your bow and place it on top in the center of your lid.  Hold it in place for a minute. Sit back and bask in your crafting glory.

 

Looking for more sweet Peppermint Gifts to share?  Take a peek at our recipe for Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows, Candy Cane Peppermint Bath Salts, and DIY Peppermint Mocha Coffees you can enjoy or share this holiday season!

Pin It

Creatively Wrapping Gifts With Goodwill Items

Friday, November 16th, 2012

If there is one thing I love even more than creating handmade gifts, it is wrapping gifts especially for each recipient with creative gift wrapping. Today I am over at the Goodwill Tips Blog to share with you some beautiful ways to wrap your gifts with thrift store items. You are going to absolutely love these ideas and you will especially love the savings you will experience by buying your materials at the thrift store instead of the gift wrap aisle.

Can’t wait to hear from you over here on your creative wrapping ideas!

 

Pin It

Knitted Coffee Cozies

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The giving season is just around the corner and for those that make handmade gifts for the holidays, it is time to start our engines! Today’s craft project is for easy knitted coffee cozies that can keep your coffee nice and cozy during the cooler seasons. These coffee cozies are the best mindless-activity-my-kids-have-hours-of-sports-or-I-need-an-excuse-to-catch-up-on-t.v.- and-sit-on-my-couch-without-guilt type of knitting project.

Why should you throw this on your knitting needles? First, it is a great yarn stash buster. You know all of those tiny balls of leftover yarn that you don’t know what to do with? You now have the perfect excuse to use them up!

Trying to think of the perfect gift to give to your child’s teacher, principal, bus driver, hostess gift, postal worker, best friend, or your mom that will cost you $5 or less? Well, this is the perfect project for you.

Looking for a gift for the person who has everything? I bet they don’t have a cute sweater for their coffee!

If you know how to knit in the round, you can do this project.  If you don’t know how to knit in the round, YouTube and Knitting Help are your BFFs.

I do not love knitting on three needles and I have not mastered magic loop knitting yet so I like to knit on tiny 12′ circular needles.  This is the exact set I bought and they are what I use when knitting all tiny knitted projects like this. These are one of the best tools in my knitting arsenal and help keep me out of practice with double-pointed needles.

I found my coffee cups and individual packets of Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Hot Chocolate at our local Gordmans. If you don’t have one of those stores, I am sure you could find something very similar at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx.

Use more of your scrap yarn to tie your cocoa packets or make your own homemade hot cocoa mix or homemade vanilla chai tea mix to include with your gift.

This gift cost me about $5, but I’m not telling the recipient’s that. I love when I spend $5 and make someone’s day. I have a feeling this little treat is going to do that for a few of the special helpers in our lives.

Rest assured, many $5-10 gift features will be happening these next two months! In the meantime, be sure to visit my list of 36 handmade gifts you can create for the holiday season!

Don’t forget to friend me on Ravelry! It’s where I share all of my fun knitting projects that I have been working on!

 

Grab the free and easy pattern over here!

 

Disclosure: The knitting needles are an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily!

Pin It

Creative Father’s Day Gifts Your Dad is Sure to Love

Friday, June 8th, 2012

t’s no secret that I love my dad like crazy!  Last year we got the opportunity to celebrate him at a dinner in honor of his 35 years of employment with Bayer. This picture of my sister & me with him is one of my favorites from that evening together.  Sadly, for us, our brother has moved to New Orleans so one piece of our puzzle was missing in this picture. He actually has three kids that are so proud of him and adore him!

I had a blast sharing with you my gift ideas for Mother’s Day, over on the Kenmore Genius blog,  and I can’t wait to showcase some of my favorite Father’s Day gifts that I have given my dad over the years. I hope you will find these ideas inspiring for this gift-giving season.

Head on over to my article on, “Creative Gifts Your Dad is Sure to Love,” to learn about my favorite gifts that I have given my dad(s) over the years!

Don’t forget that this year I also have an awesome DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jar that you can make and fill with your dad’s favorite cookies. I highly recommend these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Sea Salt Cookies for the perfect sweet and salty combination!

Pin It

Father’s Day Craft: DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

 DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars

I am so excited to share with you a fun craft today that you can do to spoil the dads in your life this year for Father’s Day. Today I am showcasing this EASY DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jar that you can create using some inexpensive supplies and fill with your dad’s favorite treat.

Before I get started, I want you to know that crafting is not easy for me. I really do think I was born lacking a natural crafting gene. I actually did this craft twice and failed at it the first time. I made a huge craftastrophe in my kitchen, dripped paint all over the place, and was about to give up. This craft took me THREE trips to the store and an entire day to execute. Once I figured out the best way to do it though, I felt like a craft rock star and tackled this project in less than an hour with amazing results. I just think it is nice to hear the behind-the-scenes stuff once in awhile. I have complete confidence that with this tutorial you are going to get to enjoy all of the rock star status without the drippy paint all over your kitchen.

 DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie JarsLet’s get started with our picture of supplies and the (approximate) cost of the materials for you to recreate this craft.

For this craft you will need (all found at Walmart):

1 Gallon Cookie Jar (over by the jars in the kitchen section)- $7.44

Krylon Chalkboard Spray Paint (in the home improvement section)- $3.97

Avery Removable Wall & Window Signage Sheets (over by the office supplies)- $9.97 for 5 sheets

16 count chalk (in office supplies)- $.47

Scissors (in your craft supplies)

1 sheet of heavy cardstock (in your craft supplies)

 

 DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars

 DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars

First, pull out your Avery Sheets. These are probably among the most awesome find EVER for creating labels and signs. My brain is buzzing with the possibilities for these. Focus, Amy, focus…

For this craft, we are going to use the Wall Application Side for spraying with chalkboard spray paint. This is the side that has the sticky side that is removable and adjustable… perfect for people who can never get anything on their projects perfectly straight.

In a well-ventilated area covered with newspaper or cardboard, place your Avery sheet. Shake the can vigorously for two minutes. Hold can 10-14 inches away from your project and begin spraying. Spray a thin coat in a sweeping motion beginning off the surface and continuing off the other side. Follow this pattern horizontally and then vertically. Wait fifteen minutes or so and then apply another coat.  They should be dry and ready to cut in about an hour.

 DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie JarsPrint out my FREE Chalkboard Conversation Bubble template on some heavy-duty cardstock. Use this template to cut out your chalkboard conversation bubbles. You should be able to get two labels from each sheet with this size label.

 DIY Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie JarsWrite your chalk message on the conversation bubble and then adhere the message to your cookie jar. These Avery sheets are sticky, but do not leave a residue or tear. They are heavy-duty so if Dad wants to peel it off and give the jar a good wash, he can and then place the label back on.

I filled my jars with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Sea Salt Cookies for each of my dads. I can’t wait to give these them and I especially love that this craft cost about $10 in supplies for each one. Not too shabby!

Grab your free conversation bubble template HERE

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

 

Looking for more Father’s Day gift ideas? Be sure to check out my Power Pack for Your Superhero Dad and my idea for an Easy Movie Gift Basket for a special dad in your life!

Pin It

Great Gifts to Give Teachers From Goodwill

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The end of the school year is upon us and if you missed showering your teacher with gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week, I have some fun gift options for a final thank you for all the hard work your teacher has put in this year.

You may not think of Goodwill as a spot for accessorizing your teacher gifts, but I am showing you how to dress up thrift store items to create beautiful gifts for your teachers. Join me over at the Goodwill Tips Blog for great teacher gifts that you can create from Goodwill supplies!

What is one gift you love to create with Goodwill supplies for your teachers? We would love to hear your ideas!

Pin It

Creative Mother’s Day Gifts on a Budget

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to honor our moms! Each year we try to do something special for my mom and mother-in-law. I have found that often the simplest of gifts are the most treasured, especially if they are hand delivered by my children.

Today I am over at the Kenmore blog sharing a few of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts that are not only creative gifts to create, but they are also very easy on the wallet. Head on over there to get the scoop on my top gifts to give.

Enough about the giving though, let’s talk about the receiving. After all, it is your day too! What is your dream Mother’s Day gift this year?

Pin It

Teacher School Supplies Cake

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Hip, Hip, Hooray for amazing teachers! Teacher Appreciation Week is fast approaching (May 7-11), and it is time to begin thinking of some fun ways to shower your favorite teachers with some appreciation. What says I appreciate you more than a school supplies cake to replenish their school supplies?

Every single day, I count my blessings for the amazing school and the teachers that are in my kid’s lives. We wanted to show our teachers just how much we appreciate them with a special gift this year. Today I wanted to show you how to make a school supplies cake for your favorite teacher. The best part about this is that this project can be accommodated to your own budget. You can stock up on cute fillers at the dollars store, you can add tiers to the ceiling OR you can keep it simple with just a couple of layers. Whatever you budget, this project can fit with this easy craft.

Supplies Needed (if you are replicating my cake):

1 square of sturdy cardboard (I used an old box)
Wrapping Paper
Sterlite 5.5 Quart Clear Storage Container
4 White Glues
2 boxes of 48 count crayons
6 glue sticks
48 No. 2 Pencils (two boxes)
1 package of ballpoint pens (any variety)
1 Ruler
1 square box of tissues
50 count tub of markers (I got the Crayola Pip-Squeaks Telescoping Tower)
Packing Tape
Regular Tape
A picture of your child
A Skewer
Rubber Bands
3 yards of ribbon (I used the Offray Polka Dot Red Ribbon)
Scissors

To begin, we are going to cover our recycled cardboard base with your favorite color of gift wrap.

In the center of your base, securing with tape as you go, stack two glues on each side of your Kleenex square. (Side note: if you see the glue standing up in subsequent pictures, just know that I quickly realized that they needed to be flat for the base to be flush with the cardboard base. This is the right way to do it.)

Slide your plastic container over your glue and tissue paper. This should all fit together really tightly. You can secure your storage container to the cardboard base with more packing tape.

Next, using more packing tape, add your tube of markers on top. I taped the lid on the markers to make sure that everything stayed secure.

Next up, we will add our two boxes of crayons. I secured these on top of the markers with more packing tape.

On each side of your crayon layer, add three glue sticks. I stuck these on with a little regular tape or you can use double-stick tape for this one.

Bundle your pencils up into two bundles of 24 pencils. Wrap each bundle with rubber bands. Slip your ruler between the two boxes of crayons and secure the ruler with tape on the inside of the two boxes. Add each bundle of crayons on each side of the ruler and then secure with masking tape.

With a little tape, add a little package of ballpoint pens to the front of your storage container.

Wrap your layer of pencils, your layer of crayons, and your storage container base in ribbon, with a simple double knot.

For the final touch, add a cute picture of your child with a message to their teacher. I did this in Picnik and it breaks my heart to hear that they will be closing their doors for photo editing. I found that PicMonkey is a great place to upload your photo and add text very quickly and easily. You can choose from a variety of fonts and colors.

Save your image once you have finished it. If you have a photo printer, you can print these out at home. I printed mine on 4×6 Kodak paper with my photo printer. If you don’t have a photo printer, Walmart offers one hour prints (for a 4×6) for $.09.  With a little tape on the back of your image, secure it to a simple skewer and then tuck it in and tape it to your ruler.

I couldn’t resist adding a sweet treat just for our teachers. I am working on making these Easy Felt Fabric Brooches for each of them as a fun little surprise. I can’t wait to make these in a few other colors and I know they will be the perfect accessory to their jackets this year!

Looking for more great teacher gift ideas? Look no further! Here is a round-up of my favorite gifts to give to the amazing teachers in our lives.

1. Raise Your Hand If You Mustache a Question Printable & Mustache Mug

2. Rolled Rosette Pins

3. Light & Fluffy Baked Cake Donuts

4. No-Slip Bookmarks

5. Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath Soak

6. Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Brownies

7. Easy Felt Fabric Brooches

8. Light Snickerdoodle Biscotti

9. Rolled Rosette Ribbon Rings

10. Fabric Flower Pins

11. Oreo Cookie Biscotti

12. Honey Nut Granola

What gifts do you have up your sleeve for you teachers this year? What gift has been the biggest hit? I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

Pin It

10 Unique Ideas for Projects To Do With Goodwill T-Shirts

Friday, April 13th, 2012

If there is one craft material I love, it is t-shirt material. You are going to love my post this week on the Goodwill Tips Blog because I am sharing ten unique craft ideas for projects you can create using t-shirts found at your local Goodwill store. Be sure to swing by to find out how to make these nine great projects, pictured above, and find my own cute t-shirt flowers made from a Goodwill t-shirt paired with a spray painted earring for a cute embellishment!

(All images belong to the bloggers. Please visit the Goodwill Tips blog for links to each of these great projects and the amazing bloggers that created them.)

Pin It